Western civilization is an incredibly broad and diverse domain, stretching back thousands of years. Depending on who is defining it, a paper on Western civilization could cover any time from the present back to ancient Egypt or even earlier, and cover countless cultures, thinkers, ideas, wars and movements. Although Western civilization is a broad topic, your research paper should not be. Narrow it down to one period, one cultural progression or even one person to make it more manageable.

Ancient Monuments

Western civilization has produced countless impressive and lasting monuments, many of which are not completely understood. Pick an ancient monument that is not completely understood, such as Stonehenge or the Sphinx. Discuss the theories about who built it, when it was built, how it was built and what it was used for. Alternatively, explore one particular theory in depth and discuss all the evidence for and against it. Or explore a key artifact from Western civilization such as the Rosetta Stone. Explain what it was, why it was important and what it allowed archaeologists and historians to understand that they didn't understand before.

Technology Evolution

Trace the evolution of a particular technology, showing how it impacted Western civilization. For example, the crane has allowed people to lift many thousands of times their own weight. Follow the evolution of cranes and show how they advanced construction techniques, allowing Western civilizations to build monuments and buildings that would have been impossible without them. Alternately, explore the connection between farming and civilization. Show how improvements in agricultural technology have allowed civilizations to support larger populations and show what effect this has had on the growth of Western civilization.

The Greek City States

The literature, culture and history of the Greek city states has profoundly influenced Western culture. The states lasted from the 8th century BC to the conquest by Rome in 146 BC. Profile one Greek city state during the classical age (4th and 5th century), the Hellenistic period (323 BC to the Roman conquest) or another era and explore its beliefs, history and relationship to the other states. Alternately, research the causes, events and results of one particular battle in Greek history such as the Peloponnesian War. If you prefer, research the influence of ancient Greece on the Roman civilization, Renaissance Europe, modern Western civilization or some other period after the end of Greek civilization.


Philosophers have had a great impact on the beliefs of Western civilization. Both ancient philosophers such as Socrates and Aristotle and modern philosophers such as Marx and Freud have shaped the way we think and the values of our society in far reaching ways. Select one philosopher and discuss his influence on Western civilization. What belief did he challenge, and what did he replace that belief with? How did he change the way people think? To what degree do people still hold his views and, if they don't, why not?