What Are the AP World History Periods?

If you are a student of history, the AP World History exam is one of the most important exams that you will take. This exam tests your knowledge of world history from the beginning of civilization to the present day. One of the best ways to prepare for this exam is by understanding the AP World History periods.

What Are the AP World History Periods?

The AP World History course is divided into six different periods. These periods cover different eras in world history, and each period has its own themes and topics that are covered in detail.

Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations (to c. 600 BCE)

This period covers the emergence of human societies, the development of agriculture and early civilizations, and how humans interacted with their environment.

Some key topics covered in this period include:

  • The emergence of Homo sapiens
  • The development of agriculture
  • The rise of early civilizations
  • The impact of geography on human societies

Period 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies (c. 600 BCE to c. 600 CE)

This period covers the rise and fall of empires, major religious movements, and cultural exchanges between different regions.

  • The expansion of empires such as Rome, China, and Persia
  • The spread of major religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Cultural exchanges along trade routes such as the Silk Road
  • The emergence of new technologies such as papermaking and gunpowder

Period 3: Regional and Transregional Interactions (c. 600 CE to c. 1450)

This period covers the rise of medieval Europe, the spread of Islam, and the growth of trade networks.

  • The rise of medieval Europe
  • The spread of Islam and the Islamic empires
  • The growth of trade networks such as the Indian Ocean Trade Network
  • The impact of Mongol expansion on Eurasia

Period 4: Global Interactions (c. 1450 to c. 1750)

This period covers the Age of Exploration, the Renaissance, and the rise of global trade networks.

  • The Age of Exploration and European colonization
  • The Renaissance and its impact on Europe
  • The growth of global trade networks such as the Atlantic Slave Trade
  • The emergence of new technologies such as the printing press and gunpowder weapons

Period 5: Industrialization and Global Integration (c. 1750 to c. 1900)

This period covers the Industrial Revolution, imperialism, and the emergence of new political ideologies.

  • The Industrial Revolution and its impact on society
  • Imperialism and colonialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
  • The emergence of new political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and nationalism
  • The impact of technological advancements such as railroads and steamships on global connections

Period 6: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments (c. 1900 to present)

This period covers major world events in the 20th century including World War I, World War II, decolonization movements, globalization, and modern political and social movements.

  • World War I and its aftermath
  • World War II and the emergence of the Cold War
  • The rise of decolonization movements and the end of European imperialism
  • The impact of globalization on economies, societies, and cultures
  • The emergence of modern political ideologies such as feminism, environmentalism, and populism


Understanding the AP World History periods is essential for success on the AP World History exam. By mastering the key themes and topics in each period, you can develop a strong foundation in world history that will serve you well in college and beyond. So take the time to study each period in detail, and immerse yourself in the fascinating story of human history!