What Are the 6 AP World History Themes?

If you’re studying AP World History, you’re likely familiar with the six AP World History themes. These themes, created by the College Board, are used to organize the course content and provide a framework for understanding world history. In this article, we’ll explore each of the six themes in detail.

1. Interaction Between Humans and the Environment

The first theme focuses on how humans interact with their environment and how this interaction has changed over time.

This includes topics such as climate change, natural resources, agriculture, and urbanization. Understanding how humans have impacted their environment can give us insights into current environmental challenges and potential solutions.

2. Development and Interaction of Cultures

The second theme looks at how cultures develop and interact with one another over time.

This includes topics such as language, religion, art, music, and literature. By studying different cultures throughout history, we can gain a better understanding of our own cultural identities and how they have been shaped by interactions with other cultures.

3. State-Building, Expansion, and Conflict

The third theme examines how states are built and expanded through conflict over time.

This includes topics such as empires, nationalism, revolutions, wars, diplomacy, and globalization. Understanding the history of state-building can help us make sense of current political conflicts around the world.

4. Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems

The fourth theme looks at how economic systems have developed over time and how they interact with one another across cultures. This includes topics such as trade networks, labor systems, capitalism vs socialism debates etc.. By analyzing economic systems throughout history we can understand why particular economic policies work or don’t work in different contexts.

5. Development and Transformation of Social Structures

The fifth theme examines how social structures have developed over time and how they have transformed.

This includes topics such as gender roles, social hierarchies, family structures, and migration patterns. By studying the history of social structures, we can gain insights into current social issues and potential solutions.

6. Technological Innovation and Exchange

The sixth theme focuses on how technological innovation has transformed societies over time.

This includes topics such as transportation systems, communication networks, medical advancements, and industrialization. Understanding the history of technology can help us make sense of current technological developments and their potential impacts on society.


In conclusion, understanding the six AP World History themes is essential for success in the course. By understanding these themes and how they interact with one another, students can gain a more comprehensive understanding of world history as a whole. So dive deep into each theme and explore all the subtopics that come under it to gain an in-depth knowledge of AP World History.