Part III: Personalities in the Twentieth Century

Option 24 Mikhail Gorbachev 1931 to 2000


Principal focus:
Through the study of Mikhail Gorbachev, students gain an understanding of the role of this personality in a period of national or international history.

Students learn about:

1 Historical context
  • Cold War and détente
  • Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
  • the Brezhnev era
  • Reagan’s renewal of the Cold War
  • Soviet economic and social problems
  • nationalist movements within and outside the USSR

2 Background
  • family background and education
  • early roles within the Communist Party
  • technocrat

3 Rise to prominence
  • General Secretary of the Communist Party
  • death of Andropov and Chernenko
  • policies of Glasnost and Perestroika

4 Significance and evaluation
  • relations with the USA
  • relations with Eastern Europe
  • end of the Cold War
  • collapse of Eastern Europe
  • evaluation: for example visionary, traitor to communism?


HSC Question for this section:
  • One question in two parts that is generic to the 27 personalities.
  • Students answer the question in relation to the personality they have studied, with an expected length of response of around eight examination writing booklet pages (approximately 1000 words) in total.