Teenagers could learn about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the impact of migration on the UK as part of a new history GCSE.
The course also includes topics covering Magna Carta, 20th century America and a section on the historical environment, which could see youngsters study a specific location such as St Paul's Cathedral or the Tower of London.
Mike Charman of AQA, the exam board that has developed the qualification, said subjects like Iraq and Afghanistan, which come under the wider world section of the course, have had a "huge impact" and will continue to have an influence for years to come.
The new history GCSE is set to be introduced in September next year, and follows a major Government overhaul carried out in a bid to toughen up the qualifications.
Under the reforms, GCSE history is assessed by exam only and at least 40% of the course must be dedicated to British history.
AQA said that its course includes three options for pupils to study themes that have shaped the nation over centuries, including the relationship and struggles between citizens and the state, Britain's changing national identity and the development of public health.
Students will also have to take one of four options for a "British depth study" which includes the historical environment topic. These are Norman England 1066-c1100, Medieval England: the reign of Edward I 1272-1307, Elizabethan England c1568-1603 and Restoration England.
And there is a period studies section in which pupils will study one of: America 1840-1895: expansion and consolidation; Germany 1890-1945: democracy and dictatorship; Russia 1894-1945: Tsardom and communism; or America 1920-1973: opportunity and inequality.
Mr Charman said: "History should help young people understand the world we live in today as well as the past. Topics like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a huge impact on today's news agenda and will continue to influence our lives for years to come.
"But of course students need to know about the more distant past too, so we're continuing to offer a wide range of topics already popular with students and teachers - ranging from medieval and early modern times to the First and Second World Wars. We also know that, with the changes to GCSEs, schools value an element of continuity as well as innovation - and giving them all the support and resources they need to teach this new qualification is a crucial part of our approach."