Understanding Modules


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:

    • Geographic Breadth (United States, Europe, World, as well as Canadian history) – see I. below
    • Chronological Depth (pre-modern as well as modern history) – see II. below
    • Level (Introductory to Advanced) – see III. below

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:

  • The Minor requires an additional 4.0 courses
  • The Major requires an additional 7.0 courses
  • The Specialization and the Honours Specialization require an additional 9.0 courses


Helpful Tips!

  • You can use one course to meet multiple requirements – for example, students who take History 2401E (Medieval Europe) 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, in addition to fulfilling one of their essay course requirements.
  • History course numbers indicate both the level and geographic area of each course, so you can use them to be sure you’re meeting those requirements.
    • The first number refers to how advanced the course is – a 1000-level course is Introductory and designed for first year students. A 4000-level course is very advanced, usually specialized, and aimed at students in Year 4 (although once you have taken two courses at 2200-level or higher, you may enroll in one). 
    • The second number (in the hundreds place) refers to the geographic focus of each course (for all courses except those at the 2100 level). Courses that focus on the history of Canada, for example, have a two (2) in the hundreds place (for example, History 2201E). Here’s a list of all these geographic/topical numbers:
  • 2 = Canada
  • 3  = USA
  • 4 = Europe
  • 5 = Latin America
  • 6 = Asia, Middle East, and Africa
  • 7 = International/Comparative
  • 8 = historiographical, methodological, or thematic approaches
  • At the 2100 level, the third number (in the tens place) designates the geographic focus of the class, so for example History 2131 is a 2100-level U.S. history course.

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:

  • United States 
    • History 2301E – U.S. from Colonial Period to the Present
  • Europe
    • History 2401E - 3rd - 15th centuries
    • History 2403E - 16th and 17th centuries
    • History 2404E – the long 19th century (1789-1918)
  • World
    • History 2501E - Latin America
    • History 2601E - Modern China
    • History 2605E – Japan
    • Histories 2606E, 2607F/G, 2608F/G – Middle East/Islamic
    • History 2611E - Korea

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.