Six lesson sequence on the Qin Dynasty

Teaching the Qin Dynasty

This is a deep dive into the Qin Dynasty, China’s first empire that ended in 207 BCE. Emperor Qin Shi Huang was China’s first emperor and played a significant role in shaping China’s future. However, the emperor is also known for his ruthless approach to law and order and his persecution of Confucianist scholars.

By the end of the unit, students will be able to answer the key enquiry question: What is the legacy of China’s first emperor?

What is in this unit?

We start with a quick overview of China’s first dynasties before the Qin, and an introduction to the Mandate of Heaven philosophy that explains the rise and fall of different dynasties. We also examine the timeline of ancient China which is continually reviewed throughout the unit to build a sense of chronology.

Lessons 2-6 introduce and examine Emperor Qin Shi Huang as a significant, yet controversial, figure in Chinese history. The Qin Dynasty began the Great Wall of China, standardised currency and writing systems, and centralised power. While learning about the first emperor’s reforms, students will also analyse maps of ancient China, philosophies like Confucianism and Legalism, and the writings of the famous Chinese historian Sima Qian.

The final lessons explain how the short-lived Qin Dynasty ended, giving rise to the Han Dynasty. We explore the famous tomb of Qin Shi Huang with the Terracotta Army. Students analyse the complicated legacy of the Qin Empire and how it has been interpreted differently by different Chinese regimes, including by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

Teaching the concept of Significance

This unit focuses on the disciplinary concept of ‘significance’ with the first emperor as a significant historical figure.

We also teach four important substantive concepts. 

Aligned to the Australian Curriculum

This sequence of six lessons is aligned to the Australian Curriculum version 9.0. This sequence will also work if you are still using the old version of the curriculum. 

Our Unit Guide has a larger table for both versions of the curriculum with checkmarks to note where each lesson is aligned. 

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