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Haverford College
Department of History

Curriculum

The history curriculum emphasizes less the accumulation of facts than the critical analysis of primary source material. Coursework introduces students to historical methodologies used to interrogate the past and the fundamentals of historical research and writing. Courses and seminars explore the various contexts — e.g., social, political, religious, intellectual — within which people have tried to understand their world.

Major Requirements

The history major requires eleven (11) courses distributed across the curriculum:

2 introductory courses (100-level courses)
7 core courses (200-level courses and at least two 300-level seminars)
2 research thesis seminars (400-level seminars)

100-level courses:

Students must take two introductory courses from any of the following:

HIST 111a-b: Introduction to Western Civilization
HIST 114: Origins of the Global South
HIST 115: Postcards from the Atlantic World
HIST 117: Modern Mediterranean History
HIST 118: Introduction to the History of Science
HIST 119: International History of the United States
HIST 120: Chinese Perspectives on the Individual and Society

100-level courses introduce students to broad historical themes and lay the foundation for further study in history. The introductory courses emphasize primary sources and the methods historians use to understand those sources. Students develop their analytical and writing skills through the essays and research papers they produce during the semester. Students typically take the 100-level courses during their first year at Haverford.

200- and 300-level courses:

The core of the major is comprised of seven (7) courses arranged across the following fields: U.S. history; early-modern European history; modern European history; Latin American history; East Asian history; History of science. By taking classes at Bryn Mawr, students have been able to create additional fields to meet their particular interests. Students build a curriculum that includes two (2) classes in each of three (3) different fields and a final class from any field. Students may take only two fields in the same geographic region, where such a distinction is relevant.


Prof. Hayton's History of the Scientific Revolution class discuss their work with rare books in Haverford’s Special Collections.

200-level courses typically focus on a topic or theme — e.g, the history of American women, the French Revolution, or the Scientific Revolution — and afford students the opportunity to explore that theme in great detail. The department encourages students use these courses to broaden their understanding of history, both its methodologies and areas of study.

300-level courses are research seminars.

Of the core courses, at least two must be 300-level research seminars. In addition to providing students with a much more intense study of a particular topic, the research seminars help students develop their sophistication in historical methodology — research, analysis, and writing. Students are encouraged to take their first seminar during their junior year. Students frequently use the research seminars to explore topics that they then develop into their thesis project.

400-level thesis seminars:

During their senior year students conduct the research for and write a senior thesis. Although faculty guide and advise students during the process, students have considerable freedom in constructing their own thesis projects and conducting the research necessary to realize those projects. During the autumn semester students identify a topic, conduct the research, and write a substantial thesis proposal. The second semester is devoted to writing and revising the thesis. For a fuller treatment of the thesis, please see below.

Requirements for Honors

Honors in history will be granted to those senior majors who, in the department's judgment, have combined excellent performance in history courses with an excellent overall record. A grade of 3.7 or above in a history course is considered to represent work of honors quality. High Honors may be awarded to students showing unusual distinction in meeting these criteria.

Cooperation with Bryn Mawr College

The history departments of Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College offer complementary courses. All courses offered by either department are open to students of both colleges equally, subject only to the prerequisites for particular classes. Both departments encourage students to take advantage of the breadth of offerings this arrangement makes possible.