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Understanding History Modules - Overview

History modules are designed to give you a broad base of historical knowledge and skills in Years 1 and 2, and the flexibility to study topics in depth that interest you most in Years 3 and 4.

There are three kinds of requirements to keep in mind:

You will need a certain number of courses in each of these categories, but how many depends on whether you are specializing, majoring, or minoring in History. Students earn 1.0 credit for a year-long course, 0.5 credit for a half-year course. All modules begin with a 1.0 first-year course (with a course grade of 60% or better for admission to all modules). After that:

                                                                                                                                                                

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I. Geographic Breadth Requirement

Students in all History Modules must take a second year course that ensures a broad understanding of the history of Canada.  Most students take History 2201E, Canada, Origins to the Present.

Students who specialize or major in history are also required to take at least one year-long course at the 2200-level or higher in each of the following areas: the history of the United States; the history of Europe; and the history of other parts of the world (Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, or Africa).

II. Chronological Depth Requirement

The History Department requires all students majoring or specializing in history to take one course that focuses on the pre-1800 period.  Unfortunately, there is no number code for pre-1800 courses.  The module descriptions in the Academic Calendar list all courses that focus on the period before 1800 except for those offered on a purely temporary basis, called Special Topics classes.  Special Topics classes that satisfy the pre-1800 distribution requirement are listed on the Department website, in the Course Information Section of the part of the website labelled “Undergraduate.”

III. Courses at Different Levels

First and Second Year Courses - Courses in Years 1 and 2 are typically lectures with enrollments generally larger than 25 students (up to 250 students). In most of these courses, except for those offered at the 2100 level, students meet weekly in small tutorials to analyze documents and debate historical arguments.  Most third and all fourth year courses are seminars.

A. Introductory Courses – Year 1 (Courses numbered 1000)

All students who plan to pursue any module in History must take one of these courses and earn a 60% or higher in the course.

B. 2100-level courses – Open to Students from across the Campus, with no priority given to students in History modules

All students, including those from other departments and faculties at Western, may enroll in 2100-level classes without seeking any form of special permission; they are open to students who have not taken the Department’s introductory classes.  They are aimed at students who are not enrolled in a History module, but majors, specialists, and minors may take them. Students in History modules may apply only one of these courses towards a History module.  Specializers and Majors may do so only if they receive a grade of 75% or above.  2100 level classes do not satisfy the Geographic Distribution Requirement.

C. Foundations Courses (especially designated second year classes) – Open to Students from across the Campus, with priority in enrollment to students in History modules

The Foundations Courses are a subset of 2000 level classes that provide a broad geographic, thematic, and chronological overview of national and regional histories.   All provide tutorials.  These courses are designed to teach skills (historical analysis and writing) as well as content.  Students need to have mastered these skills in order to succeed in advanced courses, so we require that students take them in Year 2.  Students may take more Foundations Courses than the minimum required number of Foundation Courses if they wish to do so. The Foundations Courses include:


C. More Advanced or Focused Courses – Open to Students from across the Campus, with priority in enrollment to students in History modules and, in the case of 3000 and 4000 classes, a requirement that students have taken History classes at the 2200-2999 level

The History Department offers a broad range of upper level lectures and seminars to permit students to pursue their interests in a more intensive fashion. All students, including those from other departments and faculties at Western, may enroll in classes number from 2200 to 2999 without seeking any form of special permission or having taken the Department’s introductory classes.  However, students in History modules are given priority in enrollment.  Enrollment opens to students who are not in History modules late in July.   Most 3000-level classes and all 4000-level classes are seminars (capped at 22 and 18 students respectively) that require active engagement by all participants.  In these classes professors grade all student assignments. The coursework is generally more demanding than at the 2000 level. These classes can also be used to satisfy the Geographic and Pre-1800 Requirements.  Classes at the 3000 level generally require that students have taken one history course at the 2200 level and above, and courses at the 4000 level require students to have taken two classes at the 2200 level or above.  These prerequisites may be waived for students from other departments and faculties who are able to demonstrate to the instructor that they have the skills necessary to succeed. Students must obtain a Special Permissions form to permit enrollment when this is the case. Students in all modules are encouraged to consider taking both 3000- and 4000-level classes.

Understanding History Modules - Rationale

Western students who take history degrees, whether they specialize, major, or minor in history, must study the history of Canada, either from the beginning of European settlement to the present or from Confederation.  For this reason all history modules require students to take a year long course on Canadian history, either History 2201E or History 2205E.  The Department seeks in this way to promote the development of aware and responsible Canadian citizens.

The History Department requires all students who specialize or major in history to take two further courses from a subgroup of what it terms Foundations Courses, all at the 2000 level.  All of the Foundations Courses cover broad regions, periods of time, and multiple themes.  Because these classes, as well as History 2201E and 2205E, are designed to teach skills in analysis and the writing of history essays that advanced courses will assume, the Department requires that students take at least two of the three classes required in the group of Canadian history classes and Foundations Courses in their second year of study.  It strongly recommends that the third class in this group be completed by the end of the student’s third year.  A further reason that the Department urges students to take all of the required Canadian and Foundations Courses by the end of the third year is to enable students to pursue questions or themes to which they were introduced in these courses in more specialized classes during their last two years at Western.  Students who minor in History are required to take one Foundations Course, and for the same reasons are urged to do so when they first enter the minor.  Students may take more Foundations Courses than the minimum required number if they wish to do so.

The Department’s Foundations Courses are divided by geographic area.   Students who specialize or major in history are required to take Foundations Courses from two of these three areas.  The areas are: the United States; Europe; and countries or regions outside of Europe and North America. The Department offers a single Foundation Course on the history of the United States, History 2301E.   The European Foundations Courses focus on the period from the third to the 15th centuries (History 2401E); the 16th and 17th centuries (History 2403E), and the period between the French Revolution and the First World War (History 2404E).  History 2404E is especially designed for students who did not take History 1401E, the Department’s introductory level European history class, but students who took History 1401E can also take History 2404E with profit.  The non-European  and non-North American classes offer the greatest variety, and include  histories of Latin America (History 2501E); modern China (History 2601E); Japan (History 2605E); the Middle East and the civilization of Islam (Histories 2606E, 2607F/G, and 2608F/G), and Korea (History 2611E).

The History Department distributional requirements are distinct from its requirements for Foundations Courses, but they can be met by the Foundations Courses and by any other class taken at the 2000 level and above that counts towards the History module.  The Department requires students who specialize or major in history to take one history course on the history of the United States, one European history course, and one course in World history, by which is meant a course that does not focus on Europe or North AmericaSince these are the same categories into which the Foundations Courses are divided, by taking two Foundations Courses students will at the same time satisfy two of the three part Geographic Distribution Requirement, but must also take one further class to satisfy the Geographic Distribution Requirement.  The History Department numbering scheme is designed to help students determine which classes fall into each category of its distribution requirements.  All History Department courses at the 2200 level and above that focus on the United States have the number three in the hundreds place, and will satisfy the United States history distribution requirement.  All History Department courses at the 2200 level and above that focus on Europe have a four in the hundreds place, and will satisfy the European history distribution requirement.   All courses at the 2200 level and above with the number five in the hundreds place focus on Latin America, and qualify as World history classes.  The same is true of all courses at the 2200 level and above that have the number six in the hundreds place, since these are classes that focus on the history of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.  Courses with the number seven in the hundreds place (international or comparative history) and the number eight in the hundreds place (courses with a historiographical, methodological, or thematic approach) do not generally fall into the World history category, because most in fact focus to a considerable degree on North America or Europe, even if the theme they cover is global in scope. 

Courses offered at the 2100 level, one of which may be counted towards credit in the specializations and major if students receive a grade of 75 or above, do not satisfy the Department Geographic Distribution Requirement. 

The History Department requires all students majoring or specializing in history to take one course that focuses on the pre-1800 period.  As with respect to the Geographic Distribution Requirement, this requirement may also be met by taking a Foundations Course.  The courses that satisfy the pre-1800 requirement are listed in the History Department module language in the Academic Calendar.  Special Topics classes that satisfy this requirement are listed on the Department website, since the numbers they are assigned do not provide a reliable basis for identifying the class that meet this requirement.

Students may meet the requirement that they take a course focusing on the period before 1800 and the Geographic Distribution Requirement by taking a single course.   For example, students who take History 2401E (Medieval Europe) or History 2403E (Europe and England in the 16th and 17th centuries) satisfy both the requirement that they take a class on European history and the requirement that they take a class on the period before 1800.

The History Department requires students who take the Honors Specialization in history to take two courses in history at the 4000 level or above.  Students who major or specialize in history (i.e., those not in the Honors Specialization) must take, respectively, two and three classes at the 3000 level or above, but are not required to take classes at the 4000 level.  Students who minor in history are required to take one course at the 3000 level or above.  Most 3000 level classes, and all 4000 level classes, are seminars (there are a few 3000 level classes with caps of fifty students).  The 3000 and 4000 level classes are run as seminars.  Professors grade all student assignments.  The level of the coursework is generally more demanding than at the 2000 level.  The History Department is committed to offering a broad range of upper level seminars to permit students to pursue their interests in a more intensive fashion and in an environment that requires active engagement by all participants, and encourages students in all its modules to consider taking both 3000 and 4000 level classes.

Students from other departments and faculties at Western may enroll in all 2000 level classes without seeking any form of special permission.  2000 level classes have no prerequisites, and for this reason are open to students who have not taken the Department’s introductory classes.  Most classes at the 3000 level require that students have taken one history course at the 2200 level and above, and courses at the 4000 level require students to have taken two classes at the 2200 level or above.  These prerequisites may be waved for students from other departments and faculties who are able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of instructors that they have the skills necessary to succeed in a class.  Students must obtain a Special Permissions form to permit enrollment when this is the case.