History 495

HIST 495: Senior Seminar

Prerequisites: HIST 295 (completed with a “C” or better); History major; senior standing; completed 12 credit hours of 300-level HIST courses; or permission from instructor

Credit Hours: (4) Four hours seminar
A seminar focusing on a topic, or related group of topics in European, United States, and/or non-Western history. This seminar will serve as a senior capstone experience for History majors bringing together critical thinking, research, writing, and communication skills. Specific topics of seminars change each semester in accordance with the interests of instructors and needs of the department. This course will encourage engagement in primary and secondary sources, historical analysis and argument, and an understanding of historical interpretation. Completion of a senior writing project is required.

Note(s): HIST 495 is required for all History majors. It may not be used to fulfill coursework in the three fields of required history courses. May be taken for credit more than once when topics differ.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

This seminar will provide an opportunity for students to practice the ways in which historical specialists work and interpret events. Students will read critically; analyze information; and process, organize, and report their findings. Through the study of such issues as historical causation and the role of the individual in history, students will learn how to make use of the past and acquire practical research, writing, and speaking skills. Students will put into practice the tools and techniques of professional history. The actual focus and content of History 495 will vary depending on the instructor. The nature of the course necessitates that a narrow field of study be the focus of these seminars so that students may delve into both the primary and secondary material available to understand fully the historical issue at hand.

Individual professors have the discretion to determine the weight of each of the graded components for their class.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The nature of the senior seminar dictates a seminar-style course. Seminars are discussion-based classes with a high level of student involvement. Students will read, reflect upon, and write papers about selected topics and discuss and defend their views in group discussions. The senior seminar will provide a collaborative environment in which students can assist other students in reading, analysis, and writing. Directed readings, research, and writing will lead to the production of an significant piece of historical scholarship.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. Students will practice thinking critically and analytically about historical issues, acquire a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of pertinent historical events and processes, and cultivate a familiarity with the concepts of historical argument and interpretation.

2. Students will develop disciplinary research skills by designing strategies to locate and analyze primary and secondary source evidence, processing and organizing the resultant data, and composing proper citation and bibliographical entries.

3. Students will apply their critical thinking, research, and compositional skills to the creation and presentation of thesis driven essays that discuss, for example, historical social, economic, political, and/or cultural developments and that address issues such as the causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.

4. Students will develop an awareness of significant content and issues relevant to the subject matter of the course as determined by individual instructors.

Assessment Measures

Assessment of the students’ success in mastering historical interpretation, research, analysis, and writing will be made by evaluating students’ ability to write and discuss analytical pieces on assigned readings or primary source material. Typically, students are expected to engage in reading, discussion, oral reports, writing of formal papers based on individual research, and critiques of each other’s work. Individual professors will determine the exact methods of assessment. Completion of a 20-25 page writing project is expected.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval

Revised March 5, 2013


October 2010 Reviewed and Approved by Sharon Roger Hepburn, Chair