History KS3: Capitalism

A short animation for KS3 students about capitalism: its core beliefs, its followers and critics.

After defining the political ideology of capitalism and contrasting it with communism, the film explains that the rivalry between the two was the basis of the Cold War in the second half of the 20th century. It then outlines the basics of free market capitalism and its origins in Adam Smith’s book ‘The Wealth of Nations’. It goes on to look at how the development of capitalism led to the Industrial Revolution and the factory system. Finally, it explains that most modern Western economies are mixed economies, combining free market capitalism and state intervention.

Illustrative examples are chosen from popular schemes of learning so learners will be able to confidently apply their knowledge and appreciate the dynamic nature of the concept being explained.

This short film could be used to support learners who are investigating:

  • Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • The inter-war years: the Great Depression and the rise of dictators
  • At least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments
  • USA in the 20th Century

Teacher Notes

This short film can be used for whole class direct instruction or with smaller groups and individuals.

Since the film is designed to help students understand how capitalism works, it can be used as a flexible tool to help learners make connections and think about changes and causation leading to similarity and difference across time periods.

The film can be revisited throughout the key stage, depending upon learners’ differing needs and starting points, to help reinforce the umbrella term, consolidate knowledge and understanding and aid progression

Accompanying films from this series on Industrialisation and Communism might be helpful to students wishing to know more.

Suggested activities
Individually or in groups students, could predict the film content in advance, drawing up a key word list and, whilst watching, cross check what they thought with what they learned. This could help correct any preconceptions, assumptions or misconceptions.

Students could watch this film in conjunction with the Communism episode from this series, and draw up a table of similarities and differences between the two ideologies.

The film can be preparatory work, with students encouraged to watch and generate questions before a sequence of learning

Students could initially watch and then later ‘write the script’ or provide a voice over, recalling information from memory by way of retrieval practice in a storyboard style.

Students could actively watch whilst answering a series of questions generated by the teacher tailored to the period under study. Students could then create a summarising pyramid.

Students could be encouraged to draw a diagram to represent their understanding of how capitalism works in practice.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd Level in Scotland.

More from this series: