History Curriculum Overview

The History undergraduate program is designed to take you through a series of stages in developing knowledge, skills, and practice of history.  Though there are no prerequisites in History, you will benefit from moving progressively through the History curriculum.  Even those of you not intending a major or minor in history will find the following overview useful in considering what History courses might be appropriate to your interests.

Our First Year Courses (100s) 

are introductions to the study of history focusing on particular eras and themes through a global lens.   Drawing comparisons and connections across societies and regions, first-year courses will expose you to a range of approaches, problems, and sources prevalent in the field of history.  These courses combine lectures in large classes with instruction and discussion in small group tutorials.  You will develop the ability to analyze historical writing, express arguments using historical evidence, work those arguments into essays, and present arguments and information orally.

Our Second Year Courses (200s) 

provide a more in-depth introduction to the practice of history through courses with a regional and/or thematic focus.  Each course includes particular attention to four key areas of historical practice: primary-source analysis, historical writing, library and media skills, and public history.  The goal of second-year courses is to expose you to a body of historical material on a given subject, and to develop your capacity as historians.  Second-year courses give a solid grounding in historical thinking and writing that prepares you for upper level courses in history.  Second year courses usually consist of lectures and tutorials.

Students may apply for the major, honours, or joint major programs after taking 12 credits of history in their first two years.   Starting for majors declared in 2015, at least 6 of these credits must be at the 200 level.  It is possible, though not advisable, to complete the 200 level requirements in the 3rd year.

Many students in 2nd year consider going on exchange in their 3rd year through Go Global.  The History Department offers transfer credit for most history courses taken abroad.

Our Third Year Courses (300s) 

are on specialized topics and/or chronological periods.  These courses combine breadth of coverage and depth of analysis, while also incorporating historical writing and other historical skills introduced at the lower level.  These courses form the heart of the history major.  We encourage you to develop a regional and/or thematic focus (Canada, China, History of Science, for example), while also taking a range of courses outside your specialty.  These courses tend to be smaller than lower level courses and include ample opportunity for discussion.

Our Fourth Year Courses (400s) 

come in two forms: advanced, thematically focused lectures (with discussion) and small seminars.  All history majors must take a capstone research seminar at the 400 level.  In capstone seminars, you will do common readings around a particular theme, while also developing your own research agenda. Capstone seminars culminate in the production of a 15-20 page paper synthesizing your original research.