About the History Department Courses

This page provides an overview of the types of courses offered by the History Department. Please refer to this page when selecting courses to fulfill degree requirements.

Click here for the full list of undergraduate and graduate courses offered for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Course Numbers

Generally, course numbers indicate the following:

  • 70-, 80-, 90-, and 1000-level: undergraduate (view profiles of our undergraduate courses)
  • 2000-level: both undergraduate and graduate (view profiles of our graduate level courses)
  • 3000-level: graduate research

Undergraduate Courses

History 97: Historical Analysis

History 97. Letter graded. Starting in Spring 2014 History 97 has been redesigned.  This sophomore tutorial introduces students to forms of historical argument and ways of formulating historical questions through the study of a broad theme, emphasizing the development of skills in historical analysis and writing. Students will be sectioned into one of six thematic seminars, each led by a faculty member and supported by a graduate student tutor. The readings and discussions will vary according to the theme of each seminar, but the schedule of assignments and various methodological readings will be common across the seminars. The course will mostly meet as a seminar of 10-15 students and occasionally in smaller groups of 4-7 with the tutor. The course will also include a few plenary sessions, held in the evening, featuring faculty presentations and opportunities for course-wide discussion both formal and informal. History 97 is the cornerstone of the History concentration. It is required of all History concentrators and is normally taken in spring of sophomore year, the first semester in the concentration. Those joining the concentration late should take it at the first opportunity; it is offered only in the spring semester.  The themes of the seminar will vary somewhat from year to year.  The themes of the seminar will vary somewhat from year to year. In Spring 2014 the major themes will be the history of medicine; intellectual history; nature and the environment; empire; material culture; and the history of history itself. For questions please consult the History adviser assigned to each House, or the DUS or ADUS. To ensure sectioning if you are joining the concentration late, please consult Laura Johnson (lmjohns@fas). In Spring 2014 the head TF for History 97 is Tom Hooker (tshooker@fas)


Letter graded. Lecture courses meet twice or three times a week, and generally have no prerequisite. They are open to all undergraduates, both in History and outside the Concentration. Courses which have more than 18 students may also have weekly discussion sections which are led by Teaching Fellows (TFs). Discussion sections are designed to give students the opportunity to discuss the materials covered in lectures and in the weekly readings. The course grade will take into account regular attendance and participation in section.

Lecture Requirements: Ordinarily, these consist of a one-hour midterm, a 12-15 page term paper, and a three-hour final. Some courses, especially those with sections, may also require weekly response papers. Shorter module papers may replace the term paper. Weekly reading assignments for lecture courses generally run to 150 pages, though some courses may assign more readings. In courses where there are fewer than 20 students, the Registrar allows substitutions for the three-hour final exam. In courses with sections, it is the responsibility of the TFs to grade exams and papers under the close supervision of the instructor. If a course has more than 18 students but no section, the instructor may employ a grader. The grader is ordinarily a graduate student with an interest in the course. Graders are expected to attend all lecturers and be familiar with the assigned readings.

Reading Seminars

Letter graded. Reading Seminars are weekly seminars led by faculty. They meet for 2 hours and are discussion-based. Ordinarily, they are designed with advanced freshmen and sophomores as their primary audience. They aim to enhance students' skills in reading and interpreting historical arguments. Students will be introduced to important historiographical issues in different fields to better appreciate why historians have dealt with these issues in different ways over time; they will learn how to weigh these conflicting interventions in developing their own analyses of historical problems. All History concentrators are required to take one reading seminar, so they should be given preference when admitting students into the course. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.
Reading Seminar Requirements: In order to hone their analytic and argumentative skills, students in a typical reading seminar will be given a number of relatively small assignments. For instance, they might be asked to make weekly oral presentations and to write several short response papers and one longer paper (about 10-12 pages) based on the course materials. All papers will be graded by the faculty.

Research Seminars

Letter graded. Weekly seminars led by faculty, varying in topical content and scope according to faculty interest. Research Seminars aim to expose students to the historical literature on the topic of the course; to train them as far as possible in the use of primary source materials; to introduce them to problems of bibliography and historical method; to encourage them to think critically about their sources as they gather them; and to give them an opportunity to write history themselves. A graduate student tutor will be assigned to each research seminar to assist in every phase of the research and writing process. All History concentrators are required to take one research seminar, so they should be given preference when admitting students into the course. Enrollment is limited to 15 students. Requirements: The research seminar culminates in the writing of a major research paper by each student enrolled. The faculty instructor will grade students' research papers.

History 91r: Supervised Reading and Research

Letter graded and open to junior and seniors only. Occasionally, a student's interest cannot be accommodated by the range of courses offered in a given year. Under the supervision of a member of the History faculty, that student may devise a reading and research course to address his or her particular set of interests. The student is responsible for devising an appropriate reading list, which has to be approved by the faculty advisor. The student must also seek the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to enroll in History 91r. Requirements: The student and the advisor are expected to meet regularly (at least once every two weeks, preferably once a week), to go over the readings and discuss the issues they raise. At the end of the course, the student is expected to produce a paper at least 10 pages long, and to take an oral exam with two examiners, the course instructor and another member of the Department.

Graduate Courses


Letter graded. A proseminar is a graduate course ordinarily focused on historiography and usually taken to obtain appropriate background in a subject or area in preparation for a more advanced seminar.


Letter graded. A seminar tends to focus on more advanced and/or specific research topics. It usually limits enrollment to 12-15 students; and emphasizes student presentations and concludes with a significant research paper.

Graduate Readings and Research (History 3010)

Graded SAT/UNSAT. These courses are designed primarily to help students prepare for the General Exams. Students are expected to design an appropriate reading list under the close supervision of the faculty who will administer the Exam in the field being prepared, and to meet on a regular basis with that faculty. There are no formal requirements.