Social Studies Course Descriptions

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Social studies curriculum at Randolph-Macon Academy, a U.S. boarding school that offers the advantage of an international population.

The study of the past and how it applies to the future is at the root of the social studies curriculum at Randolph-Macon Academy.  The social studies curriculum is also tailored to challenge and encourage students to grow in their breadth of knowledge, skills in finding and applying information, and in honing the ability to think, write, and speak clearly. 

World History II

World History II surveys the history of civilization from the Renaissance to modern times, with an emphasis on cultural development and the outstanding personalities who have shaped human progress. From the start of the Renaissance to the revolutions that make up the modern period, students will gain a better understanding of the forces that have shaped modern cultures around the world.

Honors World History II

Honors World History II covers the history of civilization from the Renaissance to modern times, with an emphasis on cultural development and the outstanding personalities who have shaped human progress. Honors World History II places a special emphasis on critical thinking, reading, and writing skills concerning the political, social, and economic developments and ideas that have shaped the past and are shaping the present time.

United States History

United States History is usually taken in the junior year, and provides an in-depth study of America’s history from its beginnings to the present day. U.S. History is the story of an evolution—of the physical landmass as the country spreads across the continent; of the changing composition of society; of the revolutions and transformations in institutions, industry and government; and of the ever-changing role of America on the world stage.

Advanced Placement United States History

This course has two purposes: to teach the main lines of American political, social, and economic history, and to develop the analytical skills necessary to develop a sophisticated understanding of the process of historical continuity and change.  In addition to the enhanced course content, students learn and practice expository writing in order to prepare for the Advanced Placement exam, which is required of enrolled students.  Students completing both semesters with a “C” or better can earn six college credit hours with dual enrollment at Shenandoah University.  Students must earn a B or higher in a 10th grade level history course and in 10th grade English or equivalent to qualify for this course.

United States Government

United States Government is a full-year course taken in the senior year. This course provides students with an in-depth look at the foundations and functions of American government. Major themes and topics of study include the history of American democracy and government; the Constitution and Bill of Rights; citizenship; political parties and the election process; Congress and the legislative process; the Presidency and the executive branch; the federal bureaucracy; and the Supreme Court, the lower federal courts, and major landmark decisions.

Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics

This course involves the study of general concepts used to interpret American politics and familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute US politics.  In addition, the course provides students with frequent practice in writing analytical and interpretive essays such as thematic essays in order to prepare for the Advanced Placement exam, which is required by all enrolled students. The pre-requisites for the course are a B or higher in United States History and the most recently taken English course.

Advanced Placement Modern European History 

This is a college-level course open to juniors and seniors, surveying events in Europe from the end of the Middle Ages to the present.  This course is intended to educate the student in relevant factual data, covering intellectual, cultural, political, diplomatic, social and economic developments. It provides the student with the necessary skills and abilities to analyze and interpret a variety of historical sources and materials, for success in higher academic scholarship. The course includes extensive instruction in analysis and interpretation of a wide variety of primary sources. Throughout the year, students will learn how to interpret and evaluate various historical media including primary sources. The Advanced Placement Test is required to receive credit for this course.  The pre-requisites for the course are a B or higher in World History or United States History and the most recent English course.


Criminology is the study of the making and breaking of laws, and society's reaction. This course will examine a wide range of subjects, including a variety of theoretical perspectives, types of crime and their typology, as well as how we respond to crime. Students will understand how these factors impact broad societal issues.

20th Century Warfare

The world in 1900 was poised on the threshold of one of the most remarkable periods of change in human history.  This class explores the clashes between nations and how these were affected by industrialization, the rise of mass politics, the collapse of monarchical orders and the coming of mass urbanization. Some focus is placed on strategy, tactics, and weaponry.

AP Psychology

This course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students learn about the explorations and discoveries made by psychologists over the past century, the differing approaches to biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic, and sociocultural perspectives, and the basic skills of psychological research.


Sociology is the study of the groups, behaviors, and institutions of human societies. Sociology examines a wide range of subjects, including race, gender, and social class. Students will understand how these factors impact broad societal issues, like crime and education, but also the personal issues of one's identity. A goal of this course is for students to use this knowledge to gain a better understanding of their own culture and the cultures of others.

AP Art History

AP Art History is designed to provide the same benefits to secondary school students as those provided by an introductory college course in art history. In the course, students examine major forms of artistic expression from the ancient world to the present and from a variety of cultures. They learn to look and analyze works of art within their historical context, and to articulate what they see or experience in a meaningful way. A meaningful way to experience works of art is learning to frame an understanding that relates how and why works of art communicate visual meaning.

Principles of Economics

An introduction to microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics analyzes corporations, consumers markets and income and how they interact.  Macroeconomics analyzes income and products of nations, employment, inflation and money. This course is designed for students with an interest in a career in business and finance.