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The History Department offers a wide range of courses each term. Unlike some departments, our courses do not build upon each other in ways that require you to take a 100-level course before taking a 200-level course, and so on. Accordingly, students may take courses at any level without prerequisites. However, course numbering reflects levels of difficulty and workload.

Students, particularly first year students, who are interested in exploring college-level history should consider taking one of our fun and engaging 100-level gateway survey courses or first-year seminars.

Professor Kira Thurman (back left) and students at restaurant Madras Masala, where they met for lunch and discussed British consumption of Indian food and the politics of authenticity for her course, History 407: "Global Cultural Encounters."

Some Gateway Courses

History 101: What is History? introduces students to new ways of thinking critically and internationally about the world we live in—its past, present, and future.

History 102: History of the Present traces the historical connections of events, phenomena, and trends that make headlines today.

History 103 and History 104 are topics courses that provide an introduction to history in the humanities and the social sciences respectively through changing topical foci. Recent offerings include "Michigan's History" and "Terrorism in History."

History 238: Zoom: A History of Everything provides an overview of "big history," an emerging field that addresses the history of the universe, earth, life, and humanity as a single unified whole.

History 248: Jesus Comes to Asia: Conversion and its Consequences in Asia provides a broad introduction to the study of Christian conversion and its legacy in the regions now known as South, East, and Southeast Asia.

History 272: The Modern Civil Rights Movement traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from its origins in the early twentieth century through the 1960s and beyond.

Some New Courses

History 280: The Civil War Era in US History examines the most important event in US history by examining not only the battles, but also the relation of the Civil War to the wider world, the impacts it had on every aspect of American society, and the ways it helped shape the origins of our own time.

History 282: A History of the Economy examines how the economies that we know today were created, exploring the complicated stories behind the values, social norms, power relations, and unstated assumptions that constitute economic life.

Featured Themes

Contemporary Issues

History 224: Global Nuclear Proliferation

History 231: Who Owns History?

History 241: America and Middle Eastern Wars

History 244: History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

History 296: Gender, Sex Differences, and Addiction: Girls Gone Wild

Revolution & Radicalism

History 313: The Revolutionary Century: France, 1789-1900

History 332: Russia and the Soviet Union: Reform, Revolution, and the Socialist Experiment

History 349: Revolutionary Movements in Modern Latin America

History 354: War, Rebellion, and Revolution in China Through Two Centuries

The Big Picture

History 238: Zoom: A History of Everything

History 239: The World Before 1492

History 240: The World Since 1492

History 300: The Beginning and the End: A History of Cosmology

Race, Sex, and Gender

History 235: History of Law and Social Justice

History 272: The Modern Civil Rights Movement

History 324: Muslims in Contemporary Europe

History 327: The History of Sexuality


Course Fair

Each term, the department's Course Fair offers an opportunity for students to mingle with faculty and fellow undergradautes while exploring the latest History course offerings. Students may also talk with advisors about majoring or minoring in history.

Course Numbering

In the History Department, all but a few specialty seminars are open to all students. History courses do not have prerequisites and do not neatly build on each. In other words, students do NOT have to 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. 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 two lectures and a discussion section each week; assessment is typically based on in-class exams. Research papers are not usually 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 be only slightly heavier than a 100-level class. The others are seminars for concentrators, emphasizing historical methods and writing skills.
  • 300- and 400-level courses have a greater reading load than lower-level courses, and include substantial writing assignments.  Some instructors assign a formal research paper; others require 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.

History 395: Independent Study

History 395 is the designated, all-purpose number for independent-study courses. For the most self-motivated, well-organized, and ambitious students, this option is available to explore topics not otherwise covered. History 395 might involve a special research project or an intensive reading list of secondary sources in a particular field. Students must obtain the consent of a faculty member who has expertise in the topic proposed for study, and together they formulate a syllabus of individualized readings and writing assignments. Generally the student meets with the faculty supervisor biweekly for discussion and planning. History 395 can be elected for 1-4 credits (1-3 in the Spring and Summer half-terms). A minimum of 3 credits is necessary for the course to count toward the history major. Enrollment in an independent study course requires an override authorized by the supervising professor, who can email approval to the student service staff. 

Study Abroad / Transfer Courses

The History Department encourages students to study abroad and many students take courses over the summer at US institutions near their homes. Before electing courses off-campus, it is important to discuss the classes and programs with a faculty advisor, the ADUGS or the DUGS. Please note, this will give you a good idea how the course will fit into your program, but final approval is possible only after the course is completed and the credits transferred.

When a transfer or study abroad course appears on your UM transcript, it does not necessarily mean that the History Department will accept it for either general major/minor credit or as a direct replacement for any particular course we offer. Different countries and institutions have different academic norms and customs, and what constitutes an upper-level course at one institution might not equal an upper-level course here.  Faculty advisors determine whether a particular course counts for History credit as well as what level it meets and whether it fulfills distribution requirements.

Faculty advisors approve transfer and study abroad credits for the History major and minor in formal appointments made through the online advising system.  Before the meeting, you should fill out the Transfer/Study Abroad Credit Approval Form (PDF) and bring the completed form as well as evidence of your coursework, syllabi and papers to your advising appointment. 

Please note that the department does not give credit for online courses. Credit from community colleges often does not transfer at levels higher than the 100 level and thus is usually not eligible to fulfill requirements for the major or minor.

Grade Grievances

The History Department policy for grade appeals and other course-related grievances follows LSA guidelines.  Instructors are expected to set fair and consistent grading procedures for their courses.  If the instructor uses the grading rubric consistently for each student, then the Department assumes that the final grade is correct.  However, students can inquire about a grade and subsequently initiate a grade grievance (PDF) if they think that a grade was unfairly given. 

Academic Integrity Policies

The Department of History honors the principles of academic integrity and expects faculty andstudents alike to uphold the core values of honesty, fairness and respect.