Academic program



History has been defined as the collective memory of things said and done, arranged in a meaningful pattern. Such knowledge of the past supplies context, perspective, and clarity in a diverse and changing world. The members of the history department offer widely differing views of the history of a broad variety of peoples, yet they agree that the study of the past provides meaning in the present and informed choices for the future.

The study of history teaches an appreciation of both change and continuity, the critical examination of evidence, the construction of arguments, and the articulation of conclusions. In addition to teaching and to graduate studies in history and law, majors find careers in related fields such as work in museums and archives, public service, indeed any profession requiring skills of research, analysis, and expression.

Courses in the history department are designed to be taken in sequence: first, introductory survey courses (100-level), then more specialized intermediate courses (200- and 300-level), and ultimately advanced seminars (301). While nonmajors are welcome in any history course, all students are encouraged to begin their study of history with 100-level courses. More information on the history department is available on the website (www.bates.edu/history).

Major Requirements



1) Majors should develop a depth of knowledge within a particular field of history that can be defined in terms of geography or chronology. They choose a track from one of the following fields:
Africa
Asia
Europe
Latin America
United States
Premodern history (ca. pre-1500)
Early modern history (ca. 1500-1800)
Modern history (ca. 1800-present)

The track includes at least three courses that must be taken at Bates: 1) one 100-level survey; 2) two or more 200-level, 300-level, or Short Term courses.

2) Majors should develop a breadth of knowledge across time and space.

They must take at least one course from each of three chronological fields:
Premodern history (ca. pre-1500)
Early modern history (ca. 1500-1800)
Modern history (ca. 1800-present)

They must take at least one course in four of five geographical fields:
Africa
Asia
Europe
Latin America
United States

Majors may use the same course to count toward both a chronological and a geographical requirement. The same course may not be used to count toward multiple chronological or multiple geographic requirements.

3) Majors must take a 301 seminar during their sophomore or junior year and before studying abroad.

4) Majors must take HIST 399 in the semester prior to writing their thesis.

5) Majors must complete at least ten courses, including a senior thesis (HIST 457 or HIST 458). Not more than one Short Term course may count toward the major.

Senior Thesis

Senior history majors write a thesis in the fall (HIST 457) or winter semester (HIST 458). Thesis writing develops the skills learned in previous courses and demonstrates the ability to work independently as a historian. To facilitate thesis planning and advising, all majors must complete a thesis proposal (information available on the department's website) before taking either HIST 457 or HIST 458. Ordinarily, students should be on campus the semester prior to writing the senior thesis.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Departmental Honors

Each spring, the department invites outstanding junior majors to become candidates for graduation with departmental honors. There are three principal advantages to this program for the qualified student: first, the two-semester schedule, with two course credits, allows more time for the maturation of the project and grants twice the academic credit for the related research and writing; second, the mutual understanding of the honors candidate and the thesis advisor that the completed work is to be presented to other interested readers also contributes to an enhanced relationship and a shared commitment that it be brought to a satisfactory conclusion; third, the quality of this relationship and of the completed work can inform much more substantive letters of recommendation, based on the student's demonstrated competence, discipline, and independence, the personal characteristics most sought by professional schools and potential employers alike.

Departmental invitees must discuss proposed topics with the preferred advisor before the beginning of the academic year. They must produce sufficient written work of sufficiently good quality by the end of the fall semester of the senior year to justify formal nomination by the history department to the college's honors committee. They must also present their work to a faculty panel, including an outside examiner, at the end of the winter semester in an oral defense.

External Credits

Majors must take a minimum of eight history courses from Bates faculty members. This means that students may use a maximum of two credits taken elsewhere (transfer or off-campus study courses) toward the major requirements, subject to department approval. To request that an external course count toward the major or minor, students should submit a copy of the syllabus to their academic advisor, preferably before they register for the external course. To be eligible to count for department credit, the course should include material beyond lectures and exams, including some combination of outside reading assignments and substantive written work that includes instructor feedback. Advanced Placement credits, awarded for a score of four or five on the relevant examination, may count toward overall college graduation requirements but do not count toward the history major or minor.

Minor Requirements


The minor in history consists of at least six courses, five of which must be taken from Bates faculty members. Not more than one Short Term course may count toward the minor. The courses must include:

1) a 100-level course;
2) a 300-level course;
3) at least one course grounded in African, East Asian, or Latin American history.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Courses applied toward a minor in history may not be taken pass/fail.