History

The Department of History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

About the major

History is the study of the past and its interpretation in the present. Historians make sense of the past by analysing evidence from written, oral, visual, digital and material sources in light of historical context. Using a range of approaches, they examine past events, processes and relationships, interpreting their origins, significance and consequences.

In a major in history you can study different periods, places and cultures, from the Medieval through to the present-day, from Australia and China to the United States and Europe.

You begin with junior units that survey broad periods and regions and a variety of different approaches, and develop skills of historical analysis and evidence-based argument. In your second and third years you take senior-intermediate units focused on the histories of particular nations or themes explored in a variety of different times and places, and expand your research skills and ability to employ historical methods. You complete the major with a senior-advanced unit involving an independently framed and researched project centred on primary sources, history outside the classroom or historiography.

When you have completed your major in History you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of more than one period, place or culture of the past.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the variety of approaches to interpreting the past, such as political, economic, social, cultural, intellectual, biographical, transnational, ethnographic and gender history.
  3. Identify and interpret written, oral, visual, digital and material primary sources and secondary materials such as monographs, scholarly articles, websites and documentaries.
  4. Examine historical issues by undertaking research that begins with a problem, establishes its historical context, and uses methodologies chosen from a range of disciplines to solve that problem.
  5. Analyse historical evidence, scholarship and changing representations of the past, using the skills of sifting through information to weigh its significance and close reading of various texts.
  6. Construct an evidence-based argument or narrative in audio, digital, oral, visual or written form.
Pathway through the major

A major in History requires 36 senior credit points, including at least 24 credit points of core units of study of which 6 must be taken at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for History. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Junior units of study survey a broad period and region and a variety of different approaches. You can choose from three different units of study in the first semester and four in the second, according to your interests. To progress to senior-intermediate (2000 level) units of study you complete any 12 junior credit points in History or Ancient History.

Each junior unit in History involves two hours of lectures and one hour of tutorials each week, and 4500 words of assessment including a source analysis, outline and final essay answering a set question, and an exam that examines the breadth of your knowledge, as well as your participation in tutorials.

Senior units (2000-level)

You must complete two junior units before you can do a 2000-level unit. You have a choice of approximately 8-10 units each semester, focused on the histories of particular nations or themes explored in a variety of different times and places.

Each senior intermediate unit involves two hours of lectures and one hour of tutorials each week, and 4500 words of assessment, including a bibliography, outline and a final essay, an exam or journal, and participation in tutorials.

Senior units (3000-level)

You must complete four 2000-level units before you can do a 3000-level unit. You have a choice of three units: the Primary Source Research Project; History Beyond the Classroom; and the Historiography Research Project – each focused on an independently framed project .

Each senior unit involves a one-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial each week, and 6000 words of assessment, involving a proposal, bibliography, outline, drafts and a final 4000-word project.

Sample degree plan including a major in History
Sample Pathway - History major
First Year S1

Junior HSTY unit

- choice of 3

Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2

Junior HSTY unit

- choice of 4

Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) HSTY unit

- choice of 8

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) HSTY unit

- choice of 8
Senior unit Senior unit
S2

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) HSTY unit

- choice of 8

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) HSTY unit

- choice of 8
Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 Senior (2000 or 3000 level) HSTY unit Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2

Senior-advanced (3000 level) HSTY unit

- choice of 3

Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Honours

Those seeking further training in historical research and method can enrol in honours, which is a one-year program undertaken at the end of the Bachelor of Arts degree. The program involves seminars in which students explore a variety of historical fields and approaches, and a thesis on an independently framed and researched historical problem. For some people, the honours year is a critical step on the path to further study. For others, it is the culmination of their formal education, an experience that helps them refine their skills in research, analysis and writing, extend their intellectual range, and develop the body of personal and professional skills needed to see a major project through to completion.

To be eligible to undertake Honours a student must have completed 48 senior credit points of History including HSTY2691: Writing History, and have an average grade of credit or above in those units.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

Contact/further information

The SOPHI office is on Level 3, Quadrangle A14, phone +61 2 9351 2862, fax +61 2 9351 3918

email: , website sydney.edu.au/arts/history