Types of Courses

Sources and Methods Seminars (1S-99S)

These seminars constitute the required “skills” class for the major, and are designed to train students in the use and interpretation of primary sources, in critical analysis of secondary work and in historical research and writing. They involve study of a wide range of sources -- archival, quantitative and published sources, including census returns, government documents, court cases, travelers' accounts, novels, newspapers, literature, visual images and film, etc. These seminars also engage with historians’ divergent interpretations of sources by exploring key debates in secondary work. Students are asked to write a series of short papers and a longer project. These courses are usually taught by advanced graduate students who undergo a competitive process to design the course; they are designed for freshmen and sophomores considering or beginning the History major and should be taken as early as possible in a student’s course of study. 

Introductory Lecture Courses (1-99)

Designed for undergraduates in general, no matter what their major or their developed skills, these lecture courses address issues of broad interest and/or current affairs. They illuminate the origins of current issues and the benefits of historical analysis for an understanding of them. These courses are not designed like the usual survey course-they are concerned instead with the major problems of analysis and interpretation with which historians, in particular, are concerned.

Lecture Courses (100-199)

Lecture courses cover the narrative history and interpretation(s) of a given historical period or topic. Instructors are encouraged to expose students to both primary sources and interpretation.

Colloquia (200-299)

These small-group discussion classes are oriented primarily around major topics of historical study. Instructors are encouraged to expose students to both primary sources and interpretations and to encourage students to make oral presentations.

Research Seminars (200S-299S)

Research seminars train students to sustain a primary research project and to present their research findings in a 15-20 page paper. Instructors are encouraged to identify a body of documents for use in the seminar, introduce students to issues of analysis and historiography, and provide students with the opportunity to present oral reports and to rewrite their papers.

Stanford Introductory Seminars in History

These seminars are designed primarily for students at the freshman and sophomore levels. Those taught by History faculty members may be applied towards the 4-course small group course requirement for the History major and towards subject-area designations (Field, Concentration, and Cluster).

Graduate Courses

Graduate Colloquia (300 level)

The Department regularly offers a wide array of colloquia for graduate students. Colloquia can be regionally and chronologically organized or in terms of themes. The purpose is to expose graduate students to major historiographical issues in particular fields. Graduate colloquia usually meet once per week, for 2-3 hours.

Research Seminars (400 level)

The History Department has a very distinctive definition of a research seminar. Graduate students are expected to produce works of history using primary sources. Two research seminars are required to be taken during the first two years of study. Because conducting original research is time consuming, each research seminar can be taken for two quarters, although this is counted as only one of the two research seminars required. Research seminars are for 2-3 hours weekly, although the format varies. Some faculty teach for three or four weeks and then reassemble the class to present their research findings in a seminar format.

Graduate Directed Reading Courses (399W)

The Department recognizes that it can not provide coverage for all our students interests and faculty offer independent research courses to students who have particular topics they wish to explore. Students and faculty meet regularly over the course of the quarter to discuss their readings. Graduate directed reading courses should generally be taken credit/no credit when there is no written work, but when written work is required, it should be taken for a letter grade. Directed reading may be taken in preparation for oral exams for the credit/no credit grading basis. Credit is assessed on the basis of the work load taken by the students.

Graduate Research Courses (499X)

Graduate research courses are similar to graduate directed reading courses in terms of offering independent research courses to students who wish to explore topics not offered as research seminar courses. These courses, like the research seminars, require written work and should be taken for a letter grade. Graduate students who have completed all course work will enroll in graduate research courses for credit/no credit when writing or researching their dissertation until terminal graduate registration (TGR) is reached.


Last Updated April 28, 2006