Skip Navigation

Breadth and Depth

Historical Breadth and Depth

Requirements and Personal Plan

Historians must develop a broad sense of and approach to the study of history. The breadth requirement is designed to help history majors achieve this. Majors must complete course work engaging history across chronological and geographical fields. Students must design a plan to develop a sense of both breadth and depth through the courses they elect. This plan must be drawn up in collaboration with the major advisor and must be submitted for approval to the department faculty. This plan must address how the student will develop historical breadth across: a) chronology and b) geography.

At the same time, we urge students to become especially knowledgeable about one geographical area, chronological period, or historiographical theme.  The depth requirement can be satisfied by taking at least three courses at the 100 or 200 level within a particular period and geographical field.  Your personal plan should include an explanation of how you intend to demonstrate depth.  Ideally, you will be able to write a research paper in your depth field in a 300-level seminar.

The plan should be submitted to the department as early as possible, but not later than March 1 of the junior year.

Things to consider in crafting your plan:

It is obvious that different regions of the world have very distinct histories. Looking at the histories of different periods and regions helps one understand what is particular to specific regions and times, and what is common across them. Such study helps one develop comparative questions. It also helps one to perceive the peculiarities or commonalities of the questions and perspectives of historians who focus on specific regions and periods.

Historians commonly divide the past into chronological periods. Standard periods include ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern. In order to fulfill this requirement given current department staffing, students must take courses focusing significantly on periods before and after the year 1800.  Students should also take course work from at least three different geographical regions. Regions might include Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, South America, Africa, and Australia.

Finally, there are many different types of historical breadth. Students may choose to develop their historical breadth and depth in more topical or thematic ways. A student who chooses this path must petition the department with a rationale and a plan for their proposed course of study.