Types of Courses in the History Curriculum

The course numbering system used by the Department of History reflects the different types and objectives of courses offered at each level. The different course levels are distinguished less by degree of difficulty than by the purposes that courses at each level are intended to serve and the background knowledge they presume.

First-Year Seminars and Tutorials (HIST 102-199)

First-year seminars and tutorials offer students an opportunity to explore a historical topic in depth, to learn about the discipline of history, and to improve their research and writing skills. They emphasize the acquisition of skills required for the advanced study of history and are ideal for students contemplating a major in History. Because they serve as an introduction to the discipline, they are normally open only to first-year students, and, if space permits, sophomores; juniors and seniors are not permitted to register for them. Only one course of each type may count towards the major. All 100-level seminars are limited to nineteen students and focus on training in research and close textual analysis; they also include varied assignments that collectively stress the mechanics of writing and revision. 100-level tutorials stress the importance of interpreting historical evidence and evaluating the arguments made by historians; enrollment in tutorials is limited to ten students, each of whom is expected to write five or six interpretive essays and present five or six critiques of his or her student partner’s work. First-year seminars and tutorials both fulfill the College’s writing intensive course requirement.

Introductory Survey Courses (HIST 202-299)

These courses are open to all students and are intended to provide a basic understanding of the history of peoples, countries, and geographic regions over relatively long time-spans. They provide students with the background necessary for advanced study at the 300- and 400-level and are also designed for the historical contextualization of subjects studied in other disciplines in order to formulate historically-informed opinions.

Major Seminars (HIST 301)

Major Seminars explore the nature and practice of history, are required for the degree in History, and are normally restricted to History majors. Although these seminars vary in topic and approach, each focuses on the discipline of history itself, on the debates over how to approach the past, on questions of the status of different kinds of evidence and how to use it, on the purpose of the study of history, and on the nature of the very enterprise to which historians commit themselves. Focusing on those broad issues of methodology, epistemology, and historiography, these courses pose a number of questions: what kind of knowledge do historians claim to produce; what does it mean to study the past; how do historians approach the project of studying the past? They are intended to be taken by junior History majors; sophomores may enroll in these courses if they are planning on studying abroad in their junior year and if space permits.

Advanced Electives (HIST 302-396)

These advanced, topical courses are more specialized in focus than are the Department’s introductory survey courses offered at the 200-level and are normally intended to follow such courses. Enrollment may be limited. Because such courses sometimes presume some background knowledge, the instructor may recommend that students enroll in an appropriate introductory course before registering for an advanced elective. Such courses are open to first-year students and sophomores with the instructor’s permission.

Advanced Seminars and Tutorials (HIST 402-492, 495-496)

All History majors are required to complete either an advanced seminar (HIST 402-479) or tutorial (HIST 480-492, 495-496). Each seminar (normally limited to fifteen students) will investigate a topic in some depth and will require students to engage in research that leads to a substantial piece of historical writing. Advanced tutorials are reading and writing courses that offer an in-depth analysis of a topic in tutorial format; each student will be expected to write and defend five or six formal essays and prepare five or six critiques of his or her tutorial partner’s essays. Preference in 400-level courses is first and foremost given to senior History majors, especially those for whom the course is related to their concentration.D

Within each of these levels, courses are further divided by geographical area:

Africa & the Middle East 102-111 202-211 302-311 402-411
Asia 112-121 212-221 312-321 412-421
Europe & Russia 122-141 222-241 322-341 422-441
Latin America & the Caribbean 142-151 242-251 342-351 442-451
United States 152-191 252-291 352-387 452-471
Transnational/Comparative 192-199 292-299 388-396 472-479