Major Overview

We believe that a critical understanding of the past cultivates a deeper appreciation and understanding of both the present and future. Upon graduation, you will have a profound knowledge of historical trends across cultures in at least two different geographical or thematic areas; you will be able to critically assess the value of information by identifying, interpreting, and narrating significant historical data; you will learn how to discuss a historiographical work by identifying the basic motivations and methodological approaches of the author within the discipline of History; and you will be prepared for further study and work through your mastery of reading primary texts and writing historical essays.


The educational goals for this major are as follows:

  • You will practice the craft of historical research and writing. You will be able to:
    • Identify and ask historical questions.
    • Understand how people, ideas, and geography intersected to create historical movements.
    • Construct a factual narrative of historical events and historical change.
    • Identify periodization and understand change over time.
  • You will be able to demonstrate knowledge of historical events and periods and their significance. You will be able to:
    • Place events, people, and movements within their proper historical context.
    • Distinguish between parallels and differences between previous historic moments and their present situation
  • You will develop the following skills that are critical to historical thinking:
    • Understand the differences between primary and secondary sources.
    • Interpret primary and secondary sources in a critical way.
    • Construct written historical arguments in a persuasive way.  
    • Present your historical arguments to your peers in small group discussions and in oral presentations.
  • You will be able to explain and critique the historical schools of thought that have shaped the understanding of their fields of study. You will also be able to:
    • Understand how race, gender, class, ethnicity, and religion shape historical narratives.
    • Engage with how history shapes thought, policy, and actions that pervade the world around you.

Learning Environment

There is perhaps no better place than Paris to delve into the enriching exploration of history. You will find that the legacy of this vibrant city remains visible in its world-renowned monuments and museums, which is why regular visits to sites around Paris, as well as other important cities across the continent, are integral to our program. We also incorporate diverse disciplines into our curriculum, including art history, film, comparative literature, and psychology, in order to help you place history within its proper geographical, temporal, and cultural contexts. As you see the power of the past come alive in the classroom and in the city, you will recognize that ultimately, history is a way of understanding the full human experience.

Major Components
Build Your Degree

With every single one of our majors, you’ll find a carefully curated medley of core courses and electives, which will provide you with the tools you need to establish an unshakeable foundation in the principles and concepts fundamental to your growth within your disciplines of choice. Many majors also enable you to specialize further within the broader area of study.

Core Courses

Core Courses

We aim to help you develop a range of skills, capacities, and modes of inquiry that will be crucial for your future since employers and graduate schools are looking for the critical thinking and innovative problem-solving skills that are associated with a liberal arts education, including sophisticated writing abilities, willingness to pose difficult questions, and an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts surrounding a topic or decision.

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Each elective provides you with entry to a variety of subject areas which you can choose among to further focus your studies. With the help of your academic advisor, you’ll be able to tailor your major so that it most effectively prepares you for the next step in your academic and professional journey.

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Core Courses

The History core courses, which you must take as part of the major requirements, will provide you with the tools you’ll need to ground your present and future studies. Your introduction to the fundamentals of History will help pave the way for your successful completion of other History courses.

HI1001 History Of Western Civ. Up To 1500

Surveys the development of Western civilization and culture, from the ancient civilizations of the Levant, Greece, and Rome, through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

HI1005 World History Up To 1500

This seminar surveys basic themes in world history from the origins of humanity until about the year 1500 AD. Major themes include the rise of civilizations in Mesopotamia, India, East Asia, Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, the role of technological change as a motor of historical development, the role of imperial states in the ancient world, the development of major world religions, the establishment of trade routes and other forms of contact between the main civilizations.

HI1008 History Of Asian Civilization I

This course examines the major civilizational development of civilization in East Asia from prehistory to the end of the sixteenth century. We will examine the histories of China, Korea, Japan, with a focus primarily on China. You will also be asked to think comparatively, examining not only how the different countries and regions developed in East Asia, but also how East Asian developments compare with the “West.”

HI1015 History Of The Middle East I

This course surveys major themes in the ancient (pre-Islamic) and medieval history of the Middle East. It is organized around two parts. The first surveys successive civilizations and empires that rose in the region or invaded and dominated it, from the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Hittites, the Phoenicians, the Persians, to the Greeks and the Romans/Byzantines. The birth of Judaism and Christianity is presented in this part. The Second covers the rise of Islam, its expansion and the Caliphate it established from the 7th to the late 13th century, when the Mongol seized Bagdad.

HI1002 History Of Western Civ. From 1500

Continues History 1001, from the Renaissance and the Reformation through commercialism, Absolutism, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the industrial and social revolutions of the 19th century to nationalism and socialism in the contemporary Western world.

HI1006 World History From 1500

This course provides an introduction to world history from the early modern period to the late twentieth century. Students will attain a sound grasp of the world history approach through study of the political, economic, and social connections and networks generated within and among these societies.

HI1009 History Of Asian Civilization II

This course examines the major development of civilizations in East Asia from the 16th century to the present. We will examine the histories of China, Korea, Japan, focusing primarily on China. You will also be asked to think comparatively, examining not only how the different countries and regions developed in East Asia, but also how East Asian developments compare with the “West.”

HI1016 History Of The Middle East II

This course examines the historical development of the Middle East from the rise of the Ottoman Empire to its decline, and later from colonial rule to national independences. It covers the Arab World, Turkey and Iran and follows four main general themes: Reform, Colonialism, Nationalism and Revolution. The course is divided into two main sections which are organised chronologically and thematically. The first part of the course deals with the formation of the Ottoman Empire, its expansion, and the rise of Safavids in Persia. It then covers the reform movements in the Ottoman and Persian (Qajar) Empires, the influence of Europe and the political and social upheaval brought about by the outbreak of revolutions in the early 20th century. Indigenous responses to European penetration and indigenous reform are analysed through an understanding of revolutionary movements, and the rise of nationalism. The second part of the course examines the emergence of states in the Arab World, the British French accords and declarations, the question of Palestine and the Zionist activism and the debates around Secularism vs. Islam.

HI1003 The Contemporary World

Beginning with the bipolar world of the Cold War, focuses on ideological struggles of the West, East, and Third World and the reactions of nations to the politics of the superpowers. Topics range from decolonization to the rise of the new Asia, African independence, the reemergence of the Muslim world, the collapse of communism, globalization and clash of world cultures.

HI3050 History Workshop

The History Workshop is a course in the historian's craft that will give students an opportunity to learn about the discipline of history. Students learn how to pose researchable questions(problematiques), to gather evidence, and to present their findings before an audience of their peers in a seminar setting. May be taken twice for credit.

HI4090 Senior Seminar

The Senior Seminar is designed to offer students an opportunity to discuss a series of topics or issues around a table in an intimate setting between students and a faculty director. Each student is expected to undertake a research project and to make an oral presentation in class. A final paper will be required. The Senior Seminar may be taken either junior or senior year, but only after completion of the Workshop.