International School History - International Baccalaureate - Internal Assessment - Examples

The IB Internal Assessment is the single most important work the history student does whether at Standard or Higher Level. Perhaps the greatest challenge with the IA is knowing where to start. The following examples constitute a selection of some of the best examples by students at the International School of Toulouse and the British International School of Bratislava and are presented as a source of inspiration for those looking for an idea. The 'starred' examples *, have been chosen to illustrate particularly interesting approaches, original ideas or my personal favourites; although not the only examples of Level 7 work in this collection, most of these were awarded full marks, or close to full marks by the examiners.

If you have produced a Level 7 Internal Assessment and would like to share it here, send me an email at this address.

Uday Rai Mehra
Did the USSR Place Missiles in Cuba to Protect Her Existence as a Socialist Nation?
   
Cuba – the only socialist nation in the Americas – faced a threat from the USA – the USSR’s greatest rival – following the Bay of Pigs invasion and the USSR as the vanguard of communism, needed to uphold their “obligation to...protect Cuba” (Khrushchev). The challenges facing Khrushchev’s regime, both from within the Soviet Union and from China and the USA, posed a hreat to his image as a strong leader.  
Torge Mecker
West Berliners during the Berlin Airlift
An important role?
Roberta Kovacs *
The problem of transnational history textbooks
Hungary-Slovakia and the Treaty of Trianon
Having lived in West Berlin during the Airlift, my grandparents told me a lot about it since I was a small child, increasing my interest in the topic. In most books the emphasis is more on the superpowers, USA and USSR, the airlift pilots and the significant individuals, like Ernst Reuter and General Lucius D. Clay. But people tend to forget that the ordinary Berliners also played an important role. The Treaty of Trianon, signed in 1920, was the peace Treaty that dealt with Hungary at the end of World War I.. Hungary was to lose more than two thirds of its inhabitants and territory to neighbouring  countries such as Czechoslovakia.. This investigation assesses why there are difficulties in producing transnational history textbooks using Slovak-Hungarian controversies surrounding the Treaty of Trianon as an example.
Stephanie Radoja
National Service in 1950s Britain
A positive experience
Viliam Mojto
The fall of the Berlin Wall
The strengths and weaknesses of oral history
Everyone was issued with supplies; beret, shirts, kit bag, etc. and spent 2 weeks “parading, learning your left foot from your right, how to clean your shoes and make your bed” . They were all given the standard army haircut and issued with a National Service Number.Most of these men had never been away from home and suffered from homesickness: “It felt odd … at first … I seemed to be awake a considerable time, trying to come to terms with the unknown world that lay ahead. As said by Timothy Garton Ash, ‘The disadvantages of the witness against the historian are those of partiality in space, time and judgment.’ This is, I believe the case of my oral history source as well. The witness recalls what followed just immediately after people have managed to cross from one side to another and describes the atmosphere at that moment as well as reactions of the people. Yet we are not provided with anything that preceded this event or that followed this event because the narrator is in limited time span.
Clare Roberts *
“The Great Fire of Smyrna” (Izmir 1922)
Heritage and controversy
Viktoria Meszaros *
Nicholas Winton- The Power of Good
The film director as historian
The events of Smyrna in 1922 are surrounded by a cloud of disagreement and national pride. As Reşat Kasaba writes in Izmir 1922: A Port City Unravels, it “serves no historical purpose to impute guilt or ascribe indiscriminate victimhood for an entire people forever” ; when the past is presented from a perspective that aims to justify either one of these points of view, it creates “a distorted picture that cannot do justice to the actual record of events” . “The possible sources are endless, for human creativity knows no bounds” and the director, akin to the historian, has to undertake a process of selection- that will unavoidably lead to the omission of certain aspects- according to the judgment of an individual who I generally regard, from the evidence, as first an artist and then a historian. The historian, however, is less concerned with his literary abilities than the more important “scrutiny of his historical scholarship”...
Veronika Melasova
Slovak resistance in WWII
An oral history case study
Julia Schvarcova
The Velvet Revolution 1989
A Czech and Slovak comparative study.
Intrigued by my family’s history in the Second World War, I became interested in the Slovak resistance against Nazis. This investigation evaluates the value of the oral history using case study interviews with my father grandmother and about my grandparent’s involvement in the underground activities.

 

As T.G. Ash notes: “[But] if a land has to have a revolution, then it would be difficult to imagine a better revolution than the one Czechoslovakia had: swift, almost entirely non-violent, joyful and funny” ; describing the revolution on both sides of Czechoslovakia. Although there are differences to be found, as to what was their motivating factor in the resistance against the regime and how they were led, these minor differences did not divide the nation.
Lucia Suhányiová
“Heavy Water: A Film for Chernobyl”

Film makers and history
Isha Chauhan
Mao 1945-49
How important was military strategy?
'I was first told about the Chernobyl accident by my father, who had at that time studied at a university in Kiev. The little information I got from the conversation with him sparked my interest and therefore, Chernobyl seemed like a good topic for my Internal Assessment since it is one of the most memorable man-made disasters and its effects are still present and have a great influence on people.' Mao Zedong’s accession to power on October 1, 1949, was a moment of victory for the once insignificant Chinese Communist Party which overcame the Nationalists, who had attained power after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. This IA will examine the extent to which Mao’s successful military tactics were significant in his coming to power.
Zhenia Plotnikova *
Lies My Teacher Told Me
Objectivity in School History Textbooks
Simone Scully
Kent State
A turning point in the Vietnam War?
'[Through]...frequent use of personal pronouns “we” and “our”, American textbooks “indoctrinate blind patriotism: “Take a look in your history book, and you'll see why we should be proud”. Textbooks’ aim to sanitise history as “reliable, practical knowledge [enhancing] moral standards that…accelerate the acquisition of knowledge”, deprives students of objectivity all for developing universal moral attitudes.' 'Kent State became symbolic of “the deep political and social divisions that … divided the country during the Vietnam War era”, highlighting at home the horrors of war. The shootings made war blatantly public and incited massive student strikes. Although strikes may not have forced Washington to change its policies, they had an influence on the American people. '
Alex Newton
What were the causes of the Boston Massacre 1776?
Hannah Thompson *
How imaginative should historians be? 
A case study of “The Return of Martin Guerre”
'Though to be forever branded a “massacre”, the events of the fifth of March were, in truth, somewhat less dramatic. In the end, whether the “massacre” was planned or not (by either side), the confusion, the fear, the danger of the night make it hard to place blame unequivocally. In reality, we cannot say who was “guilty” because, when a mob clashes with armed men, there will be casualties, regardless of intent.' 'If Davis had not applied knowledge of sixteenth-century French peasant women to the evidence about Bertrande’s behaviour, it would be fairly useless. Creative empathy helps us acquire a good approximation of what Bertrande may have been thinking... This ‘approximation’ of her feelings is better than nothing: the conclusion that the simple facts would have given.'
Emma Wilcock
The role of women living in post-war Britain.
Family/oral history
Mimi Kirby *
Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier
The use of literature to the historian
'Directly after the war, women’s lives and roles within society and especially the perception that society had of women, changed. But this perception was easily reverted back to what it had always been: women at home and men earning. The 60’s brought a liberation for women, through contraception, divorce acts, music and fashion but whether this can be said to be directly linked with the war is a question...' 'The use of facts and the use of stylistic writing are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In writing convincing history, a gift for language and story-telling is usually required – art and history are intertwined and always have been. The influence of the author is inescapable in any account being told: indeed, if we follow the thrust of post-modern analysis then there is very little difference between history and literature'
Grace Brodie
Miners’ Strike of 1984: 
How did the Tories defeat the miners?
Ed Ritchie
How useful are documentaries to historians. Marcel Ophuls’ ‘Le Chagrin Et La Pitié’.
‘Regardless of the admirable unity and solidarity of the miners they were defeated by the Conservatives. How Thatcher managed to emerge victorious following the eleven-month bitter struggle can be looked upon as the result of four key factors; the aims of the government under her leadership, the unruly tactics of Scargill, the Tory preparation preceding the strike and the climate of political opinion in 1980’s Britain. In recent years documentary films such as ‘Fahrenheit 911’ and ‘The Fog Of War’ have cultured thousands of people... by using the case study of Marcel Ophuls’ iconoclastic documentary film The Sorrow and The Pity, which depicts how the people of France really conducted themselves under the extraordinary circumstances of Nazi rule, can we assess whether documentary films are valuable to historians.
Helena Tejedor
Spanish Civil War refugee children in the USSR
A case study of Manuel Arce
John Coleman
Sergei Eisenstein’s account of 1905 Russian revolution 
'The Spanish children that lived in those homes were the first people to be evacuated in Russia1most of them were evacuated to Siberia where, during the 38 days the train journey lasted, many died of hunger and cold. When they reached Sanmarkanda, they started to work in cotton fields or tank factories and they ate the cats in the area due to their hunger... Most of them are very thankful to Stalin.' During the 1920’s Great Russian filmmakers worked under the context of socialist realism and strived to create films that told the truth, or a truth. Filmmakers like Vertov used a technique called ‘cinema truth’, employing a hidden camera to capture the ‘truth’... Eisenstein used a technique called ‘montage’, making a third image ‘in the minds of the audiences’

Robin Webb *
The German Occupation of the Channel Islands:
July 1940 – May 1945 

Graeme Vance
Why did the Special Operations Executive send aid to Tito’s communist Partisans?

'Independent Television aired the program “Island at War” in July 2004, depicting the Channel Islanders as “[laying] on their backs and [making] moaning noises" as the Germans invaded. From this emerged my question – to what extent did the Islanders collaborate with the Germans? My investigation was also personal, as my father is from the Island of Jersey... It is possible to come to the conclusion that without the aid of the SOE, the partisans may not have survived the war. With the Germans becoming closer to destroying them as a fighting force, the bounty upon Tito’s head and the betrayal of the Chetniks, the partisans could have been broken anytime between 1942-45. The SOE managed to switch allegiances just in time...

Justine King
Literature and History: Doris Lessing, a case study in the usefulness of literature to historians.

Katie Greer
How far were Republican divisions responsible for their loss in the Spanish Civil War?

'Hayden White argues that "an historical text is in essence nothing more than a literary text, a poetical creation as deeply involved in the imagination as the novel"....Literature enables historians to get inside the characters and understand and feel what it was like living through that time –  it brings history to life. '...are the historical filmmaker and the traditional, academic historian really very dissimilar? Both impose structure and meaning on ‘the past,’ in such a way that their views of it can be understood by others...the wish to show the past ‘as it happened,’ is a naïve form of history: since ‘the past’ is not a narrative, but a vast ‘foreign country’, it would be impossible to ‘accurately’ recreate, ‘as it happened'. 

Julien Bell
Was the Resistance French?
A case study of Toulouse 1940-1944

Russell Gay
The B-59 Submarine Incident:
A case study of the importance of declassified documentation

'However much one wants to argue over reasons of blood, nationality or motivation, whoever, is ready to run the risk of a hideous death to fight for a country that is not their own should be honored. Thus, I will conclude this essay by saying that it does not matter whether they were French or not, all that mattered was that they fought for a righteous cause.' 'The worldwide-web access provided by the Internet means that archives from most countries around the world can be accessed from anywhere by anyone. An amateur historian such as myself could not have undertaken research on this scale ten years ago...This research is possible solely due to declassification of documents by all the governments involved in this incident. '

Chiara Carnevale
Nostalgia: A case study exploring nostalgia in Italy and the portrayal of Benito Mussolini

Susannah Leahy
Cinema as History
Sir Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (website)

'...nostalgia is a feeling of longing for something, whether concrete or abstract, that reminds us of a time in our lives when we were happiest. Although the reality of the circumstances of those days may not be as blissful as we may recall, nostalgia gives us the power to eliminate the negative...as for people like my grandmother, it is almost impossible for them to escape nostalgia.' 'Creating a flowing narration requires the acceptance and proliferation of certain events and thoughts that would never on their own be accepted as fact... film, as a visual and empathic version of events, can be much closer to the truth of the past than pure “history”. To see figures of the past... to smell, hear, breathe India alongside him, is something beyond the creative capacity of the greatest academic historian.'

Sophie Ledger
Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of oral history: Evelyn Haddrell (Grandmother)

Marie Behrens
Was Hitler's 'euthanasia' policy distinctively Nazi?

'Through interviewing Evelyn Haddrell, I was able to open up the past and join her in her youth. To be in the presence of the past, the value is direct, one relives the past with the interviewee and shares their experiences. This value is perhaps non-quantifiable, as the value is human and based on personal feelings and a connection between human beings, which cannot be substituted or replicated...' 'Euthanasia was first brought up in the 1850’s, the German government had already thought about killing those that were mentally and physically ill, but they never put this into action. It later came up in 1920 when Professor of psychiatry Alfred Hoch M.D. at the university of Freiburg and Karl Binding a Professor of law in the university of Leipzig wrote the book  Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebenunwerten Lebens.'

Helen Coleman *
Who were the Greenham Common Peace Protesters?

Kathryn Goodall *
'Twisted Myths' 
Cathars: History vs. Heritage

'By researching and comparing descriptions of the women who in 1981, made ‘world history’ by continuing their local tradition of peaceful protest against the Greenham USAF base, I aim to discover whom the Peace Protesters outside Greenham Common near Newbury, Berkshire, England, really were.'

'A central difference between history and heritage is that history seeks to explore and explain whereas heritage clarifies from a present perspective...This research grew from my awareness of local heritage. I had seen ‘brown road signs’ promoting the “Cathar Country” and had visited Montségur on several occasions but before research, I was unable to fully appreciate historical fact and Cathar Heritage.'

Nic Hollingdale
Triumph of the Will 
Art, propaganda or documentary?

Erik Rademaker
The historical utility of photography:
A case study of Vietnam

'Triumph of the Will consists of many powerful and lasting images created from selection and editing and these scenes created an emotional response from the audience. Due to the distortion of reality by these shots and their role in the formation of opinion the film can be interpreted to be one of propaganda.'

Still images have a far greater impact on people because they can study one moment in time for length of time...  The look on the Viet Cong prisoner’s face and the smoky background create an atmosphere of fear. Although moving images and photography serve as significant historical sources, photography has a more powerful effect.

 

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