History debate topics for the classroom

History classes have the potential to unlock the doors of civilizations and traverse the landscapes of momentous events. To engage your students and get them fired up about history, we have curated a chronological collection of history-themed debate topics.

Moreover, many of the debates below are already available on Kialo Edu — simply visit our extensive Topic Library, choose a discussion, and have your students set sail on the seas of a historical adventure!

History debate topics from 3000 BCE to 500 CE

  • Were land management skills the main reason for the success of Australia’s Indigenous population up to 1788?
  • Was the Bronze Age more impressive than the Iron Age?
  • What was most likely the main cause of the Bronze Age collapse?
  • Which ancient civilization was more advanced between 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE: the Indus Valley or Egypt?
  • What is the most significant reason for historians knowing less about the Indus Valley than other ancient civilizations?
  • Did Chinese civilization from 2100 BCE to 1000 BCE benefit from its geography?
  • What was the main reason for the decline of the Harappan civilization in 1300 BCE?
  • Should we remember the Phoenicians?
  • Was Nebuchadnezzar II really the “King of Kings?”
  • What was the most significant impact of the Babylonian exile on early Judaism?
  • Which would be better to visit: ancient Egypt or ancient Greece?
  • Ancient Athens or Sparta: Which was the better place to live?
  • Should we admire Alexander the Great?
  • Did Emperor Shi Huangdi’s Legalist approach improve ancient Chinese civilization?
  • What was the most important factor in Hannibal Barca’s successful leadership of Carthage?
  • How did the Roman Empire become so great?
  • Was the Roman invasion good for Britain?
  • What was the main cause of the Jewish-Roman wars from 66 CE to 135 CE?
  • Is the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE still significant today?
  • Which ancient empire was most impressive: the Persian Empire, Macedonian Empire, Han Dynasty, or Roman Empire?

History debate topics from 500 CE to 1450

  • Did King Arthur really exist?
  • Were the “Dark Ages” really so dark?
  • What was the most significant factor in the spread of Islam in the seventh century?
  • What is the most significant legacy of the Islamic Golden Age?
  • In the Byzantine Empire, was the change from the provincial administration system to the theme system successful?
  • Do the Vikings deserve their bad reputation?
  • Where would you rather live in 900 CE: London or Baghdad?
  • What was the main reason for William’s invasion of England in 1066?
  • What was the main impact of the Norman Conquest?
  • Were the Crusades of 1095 to 1291 successful?
  • Were Jewish people targeted during the Crusades of 1095 to 1291 for religious reasons?
  • What was the most significant impact of Jewish people on medieval European society?
  • Was “Bad King John” really that bad?
  • Were the Mongol conquests a good thing in the end?

History debate topics from 1450 to 1700

  • Which Mesoamerican civilization was more impressive before 1540: the Aztecs, Maya, or Inca?
  • Was the weakness of the Byzantine Empire the main reason for the fall of Constantinople in 1453?
  • What was the main cause of the Tudor rebellions?
  • Which Tudor monarch was most successful?
  • Were Martin Luther’s methods reckless in starting the Protestant Reformation?
  • Was the dissolution of English, Welsh, and Irish monasteries between 1536 and 1540 a popular measure?
  • What was the main cause of Germany’s Peasants’ War?
  • Was religion the main reason for the success of the Ottoman Empire at its peak around 1500?
  • Should we stop telling the “first Thanksgiving” story?
  • What was the most significant challenge that Indigenous Americans faced with the coming of European civilizations?
  • Was the English Civil War caused by the actions of the King?
  • Was Aurangzeb an effective Mughal emperor?
  • Was the Japanese policy of restricting trade with other countries between 1639 and 1853 effective?

History debate topics from 1700 CE to 1900

  • Was the Omani Empire really an empire?
  • What was the main effect of the slave trade on African societies in the 1700s?
  • When considering the mid-1700s, are historians correct in grouping all sub-Saharan African societies together?
  • Was Catherine the Great an enlightened ruler?
  • Was the Industrial Revolution good for society?
  • Were financial problems the main challenge to the effectiveness of the Ancien Régime?
  • Was the American Revolution justified?
  • What was the main cause of the French Revolution?
  • Did the French Revolution need to be so bloody?
  • What was the main reason for the decline of the indigenous population of Australia after 1788?
  • Did Australia welcome all settlers in the nineteenth century?
  • What was the most significant reason for the collapse of Napoleon’s Empire in 1815?
  • Did the Revolutions of 1848 really “fail”?
  • What was the main cause of the American Civil War?
  • Could the Confederacy have won the American Civil War?
  • Should Americans see the Founding Fathers as heroes?
  • Is Queen Victoria a feminist figure?

History debate topics from 1900 to 1950

  • How effective was the Swadeshi movement in India?
  • Was the rise of the Labour Party the most significant development in British politics from 1900 to 1918?
  • What was the main cause of World War I?
  • Should the US have joined the League of Nations?
  • Did women in Europe gain more rights and freedoms as a result of World War I?
  • Should we see the suffragettes as heroes?
  • What was the main cause of the Russian Revolution in 1917?
  • Did the Russian Revolution betray its own ideals?
  • Was Stalin’s rule over Russia better than that of the Tsar?
  • What was the main cause of the Great Depression?
  • What was the most effective policy for ending the Great Depression?
  • Did the Nazis rise to power mainly because of the leadership of Hitler?
  • Was the Treaty of Versailles the main cause of World War II?
  • What caused the collapse of the Weimar Republic?
  • Was it surprising that Australia won the Battle for Kokoda?
  • Was the United States wrong to drop atomic bombs on Japan?
  • Was World War II the main catalyst for decolonization in Africa?
  • What was the most significant factor in the deterioration of relations between the USA and USSR between 1945 and 1963?
  • Was it the right decision to partition British India into two countries?
  • Would the Windrush Generation still have chosen to come to Britain had they known what awaited them?
  • What was the main reason for the Nationalists’ defeat in the Chinese Civil War?

History debate topics from 1950 to the present day

  • Did the Korean War really end in 1953?
  • Could South Vietnam have won the Vietnam War?
  • What was the most significant factor in US society becoming more affluent in the 1950s and 1960s?
  • What was the main reason for Japan’s economic growth between 1950 and 1968?
  • Was Rosa Parks’s bus protest the most important factor in advancing the civil rights movement?
  • Was violence justified to fight injustice during the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Has Martin Luther King Jr. been whitewashed?
  • Which country should govern Kashmir?
  • Is the US embargo of Cuba justified?
  • Was Mao Zedong right to involve the Chinese youth in his Cultural Revolution? 
  • Was Israel correct in considering the Six Day War a “war of no choice?”
  • Was reaching the Moon really the main aim of the US and Soviet Union’s space race? 
  • Did the Iranian Revolution of 1979 fulfill its promises?

Debate topics on the ethics of history

  • Can we ever truly know history?
  • Does history education focus too much on warfare?
  • Is the modern US an imperialist power?
  • Should British people be proud of the British Empire?
  • Should European countries pay reparations to their former colonies in the developing world?
  • Should history include ethical judgments?
  • Should history lessons focus on the history of your own country?
  • Should the British Museum return artifacts to their countries of origin?
  • Should we remove statues of problematic historical figures?
  • Should we teach the Great Man theory of history?

Looking for debate topics in more languages? We’ve got you covered! Explore our extensive collection to spark captivating class discussions with students, no matter the language you’re teaching in.

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