100- and 200-level courses

These courses, which are taught at the 100 and the 200 level, are intended both as foundation courses for majors and as electives for non-majors. They are intended both to teach students about large segments of the past and to foster the development of basic skills in the areas of reading, interpretation, and writing. Although some instructors may build their courses mainly on textbooks and anthologies, others may assign more advanced material. Instructors ordinarily require at least one paper as well as a final examination.


Perspectives (509:299) should be taken as soon as possible after a student has decided to major in History (preferably by the end of the sophomore year by students who matriculated here as first-year students and by the end of the junior year by transfer students). It is intended to acquaint students with different ways of thinking about history (historiography) and with techniques of doing and presenting historical research. It emphasizes development of skills with regard to interpreting primary and secondary sources, the posing of questions, conducting on-line and print-based searches, and discussing findings both orally and on paper. It usually combines a certain amount of common reading about the topic of the course as a whole with intensive reading on topics about which students prepare substantial papers. To give some idea of the demands of this course, here are three sample syllabi for the course: 1, 2, 3.

300- and 400-level courses

These courses, which are intended mainly for but not limited to majors, should foster both the acquisition of advanced knowledge and the development of advanced competence. They should familiarize students with significant places during particular periods and with significant events and developments, and they should also refine students’ abilities in the areas of interpretation and writing. A central purpose of these courses is to help our majors enhance skills they have begun to acquire in Perspectives. The amount and the difficulty of assigned reading will be greater than in introductory courses. Students should normally expect to encounter a mixture of scholarly writing and primary sources. They may also be asked to select readings for themselves and/or to discuss readings and sources critically. In addition to taking final (and perhaps mid-term) examinations, they should expect to do more writing outside of class than is expected at the introductory level and to make greater use of library and on-line resources.

Independent Study

The Independent Study option (510:499, 512:499, or 516:499) exists to enable students to pursue a well-defined interest not met by the Department’s regular course offerings. Students wishing to pursue an Independent Study must receive permission from and make arrangements to do so with a member of the Department, typically a full-time faculty member with whom they have already taken regular course work.  Students should be aware that an Independent Study course typically requires more time and effort than a regular course.

The Honors Program

Students who are enrolled in the honors program (509:495), which entails 3 credits of work under the supervision of an honors adviser, must do a substantial piece of independent research. This should result in a paper of at least 30 pages. Students are expected to have taken Perspectives before undertaking an honors project. This course is to be taken in addition to the 33 credits needed to satisfy the requirements for the History Major.