Programme Description

The History major offers students the opportunity to explore the complex relationship between our understanding of the past and our experience of the present. Through the study of history, students will learn to interpret past events, understand societies and peoples, and recognise patterns and structures in history. They will also attend to the ways in which historians’ narratives of the past often reflect contemporary concerns and assumptions.

Course offerings in the History major span a wide range of geographical regions, such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Indian Ocean. They also address important thematic issues such as empire, colonialism, modernisation, urbanisation, science and technology, migration and diaspora, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and material culture. In consultation with History faculty, students will have the freedom to shape their own pathways in the major according to their geographical and thematic interests.


For Class of 2019 and onwards:

The History major comprises three components – required courses (two), History major courses (seven), and a capstone project (the equivalent of two courses).

Required Courses (two)
The History Major has two required courses, The Historian’s Craft and The History of History.

History Major Courses (seven)
• At least two History courses at intermediate levels or 3000-level or courses outside of the History major at the intermediate level that have been approved by the student’s faculty supervisor.

• At least two History courses at the advanced or 4000-level or courses outside the History major at the advanced level that have been approved by the student’s faculty supervisor.

Note: Neither the two required courses (The Historian’s Craft & The History of History), nor a course that has been counted by a student as Historical Immersion, count towards satisfying this component of the History major programme. Students should plan their pathways within the major in close consultation with the Head of Studies of History or his/her faculty supervisor.


Required Courses

The Historian’s Craft: The Historian’s Craft is a course that instructs students in a wide range of historical practices and introduces them to important modes of practicing history, including history as craft, history as science, and history as literature. Students will learn about the wealth of available sources through which to access the past, such as newspapers, memoirs, letters, government documents, photographs, and material artefacts. Through a close study of these sources, students will gain an understanding of the multiple ways in which such historical documents or artefacts can be interpreted and analysed. This direct engagement with primary sources will be a principal area of focus in this course. This course should be taken by the end of Year 3.

History of History: Practitioners of every discipline benefit from having an understanding of their discipline’s history. This is especially true for historians, whose work demands an acquaintance with the history of the writing practices and modes of conceptualising the past to which they are heirs. The History of History introduces students to a wide range of historical approaches and seeks to develop an understanding of major historiographical traditions in Europe and Asia. Through an engagement with foundational historical texts, students will learn about the diversity of ways in which the past has been represented, narrated, and interpreted; they will also explore how historians’ interpretations of the past are themselves embedded in specific historical contexts. This course should be taken in Year 4.

Survey History Courses (2000-level courses)
Survey History Courses have been designed to introduce students to large themes and narratives, based on a region, either defined by territory or by ocean. There will be a new series of Survey Courses introduced in AY2017/2018, and AY2018/2019, as the list below shows. These courses are chronologically and geographically broad in nature. Some of these courses may act as prerequisites for 3000 and 4000-level courses offered in the Major.

  • History and Culture of Southeast Asia
  • Chinese Migrations to Southeast Asia
  • Atlantic World
  • The Mediterranean World
  • Northeast Asia and the Pacific World
  • The Indian Ocean World

Intermediate History Courses (3000-level courses)
Intermediate History courses focus on research methods and the writing of history. Students will explore various methodologies and approaches to history, such as cultural history, social history, economic history, intellectual history, gender history, and micro-history. They will also examine the different ways in which historians have written about and conceived of the past.

Sample Intermediate courses:

  • Arts of Myanmar
  • Asian Religions
  • Modern Vietnamese History and Literature
  • Drug Empires in History
Empire, Slavery and the Making of the Americas
  • Empires in Modern East Asia
Pompeii : Art, Urban Life and Visual Culture in the Roman Empire

Advanced History Courses (4000-level courses) 
Advanced courses can be thematically, and, or, methodologically based, and emphasize a sophisticated level of engagement with historiography, as well as a deeper probing of primary sources. Students will be expected to write a research paper, on a topic of their own choice, conducting an extensive primary sources research in the process. Advanced History are usually taken in the fourth year, unless prior approval has been given by the instructor teaching that course. Please note that some 4000 level courses have prerequisites.

Sample Advanced courses:

  • Ancient Economies of the Mediterranean and Western Asia
  • Comparative Empires and Colonialisms
Rise of the West and the Great Divergence
  • India as a Rising Power, 1947 to Present
  • The Problem of Evil from the Enlightenment to Auschwitz
  • Signs and the State
  • Imperial Outlaws: Social Deviants in the Age of Empires


The purpose of the capstone project, a year-long undertaking, is to provide History majors with the opportunity to conduct original research. The final product may take the form of a traditional academic dissertation or a non-traditional project. The precise nature of the project is to be determined in consultation with the major advisor.

In the first semester, students will participate in a seminar designed to help students develop their ideas on a research topic, produce an annotated bibliography, literature review, and a dissertation proposal. The seminars will provide constructive learning environment where students will have the opportunity to share their work in progress with their peers and faculty members, as well as to discuss and critique each other’s work. By completing a capstone project, students will have accomplished the aim of conducting original research based on primary sources work. The capstone experience will culminate in the end of the year presentation, during which History seniors will showcase their final work, present their projects to the larger college community, and field questions and answers.


The History minor is designed to provide a solid grounding in history for students who are pursuing other majors. It allows students to design a curriculum that will not only support their respective majors, but also encourage non-majors to pursue a historical perspective in their own areas of interest. The History minor consists of five courses. All students are required to have taken The History of History by Year 4. Three of the remaining four courses are to be chosen from any of the survey and intermediate (2000/3000-level history courses) or advanced or 4000-level History courses offered. Historical Immersion (HI) courses as part of the Common Curriculum, do not count towards this component of the minor programme. It is recommended that students undertaking the History minor choose a strong methodological, chronological, or geographic theme from their History courses. This theme can be constructed in consultation with the Head of Studies for History.