Placement Information for Courses in the History Department

The History Department offers courses that cover a wide range of chronological, geographic and thematic focuses in history. Most courses are open to nonmajors, with few if any prerequisites. The course numbering system is designed to correspond loosely to introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. 


Introductory-level history courses (numbered in the 100 range) assume little or no previous college- or university-level experience in studying history, either in general or in the specific regions covered by the courses. They are appropriate for both students new to the department’s offerings and those who wish to broaden their historical knowledge by studying a region, topic, or period that they have not previously explored.  


Intermediate-level courses (numbered in the 200 and 300 range) usually focus on a narrower region, topic, or historical period. Although most intermediate-level courses have no prerequisites (see the individual course listings), they assume a more defined interest on the part of the student and are appropriate for those who wish to enhance their understanding of the specific topic as well as their analytical and writing skills. Courses at the 200 level typically aim to strengthen students’ ability to analyze primary documents and other sources as they deepen their historical understanding of a region; some courses may require individual research projects. Intermediate courses at the 300 level typically present students with historical topics that have been analyzed extensively by leading scholars and ask students to dig into the theoretical and evidentiary debates underlying divergent conclusions. Although the reading and writing requirements for intermediate courses vary, the workload for 300-level courses is not necessarily heavier than the workload for 200-level courses.


Upper-level courses (numbered in the 400 range) include both research seminars and Honors thesis courses. Research seminars may require the permission of the instructor or have prerequisites that vary according to individual courses. These courses are appropriate for students who have demonstrated an ability to work with historical sources and to write shorter, evidence-based analytic papers. In research seminars, students will do background readings on the particular topics and will then go on to research and write a 20- to 25-page paper, based on both primary and secondary sources, under the supervision and guidance of the faculty member teaching the course. The completion of at least one such research seminar is a requirement of the History major. The research paper a major writes in a 400-level course also counts, together with successful completion of HIST-301, toward completing departmental comprehensive exam requirements. Students who wish to write an Honors thesis in their senior year should be in contact with a member of the department or the department chair late in their junior year to discuss possible topics.

Please see our Major page for more information.

Last Updated: 14 Aug 2018 TLR