In history all but a few speciality seminars are open to all students. Moreover, history does not have prerequisites and our courses do not neatly build on each. In other words, students do NOT take lower level courses before registering for 300 or 400 level courses. Nor does a particular level number indicate that the topic of the class is more or less broad—it is possible to have an advanced class on a long time span and an introductory course dealing with one historical episode. What differentiates our classes is the level of difficulty and the work load demanded of the students. Broadly speaking, those differences are as follows:
100-level courses are designed as general introductions to the discipline of history. They cannot be applied towards a concentration or a minor in history, so they are targeted at the broadest possible audience. With this in mind, the workload is relatively light. They usually involve a lecture and a discussion section, and assessment is usually based on in-class exams. Research papers are not typically assigned, though there might be some short writing assignments.
200-level courses are introductory classes for history concentrators, and they come in two varieties. Some 200-level classes are large surveys covering major world regions or countries, and the workload in these classes would only be slightly heavier than a 100-level class. Others are seminars for concentrators, emphasizing historical methods and writing skills.
- 300- and 400-level courses have a relatively greater reading load than lower-level courses, and include substantial writing assignments. Some assign a formal research paper; others are based on a series of shorter projects. Although 300- and 400-level courses are harder than those at lower levels, they do not usually require any previous familiarity with the subject matter.