The History Department offers a large number of courses, taught by approximately sixty faculty, that cover all periods of recorded human history. The Barnard History Department offers its own set of courses, almost all of which are open to Columbia College and General Studies students. You will also find additional history courses and historians in related departments (Classics, Religion, MESAAS, EALAC, etc.).
Courses in United States history have traditionally been the most popular, but the departmental offerings also address the histories of the Ancient World, Europe, Latin America, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Some courses cut across geographical boundaries to deal with transnational themes. Other courses focus on religious, intellectual, social, economic, legal, or political history, as well as historical theory and method.
There are two course structures: lectures and seminars. Lectures, worth three points, generally meet twice a week for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Some lectures have additional discussion sections, which may be required. Lectures range from the very large (over 300 students) to the very small (fewer than 15). Therefore, the nature of the classroom experience will vary. Most lecture courses require a midterm and a final examination; many require a research paper. 1000-level lectures are broad surveys of extended historical periods; 3000-level courses are more specialized lectures and seminars. Course numbers do not represent a sequence and (with a few exceptions) most courses do not require prerequisites. However, students typically find it useful to move from the general to the more specialized courses.
Seminars, worth four points, are generally smaller; most are capped at 15 students. Seminars explore narrower topics more deeply through concentrated reading in the secondary literature on a topic, primary source research, or both. These classes meet once a week for 2 hours. The workload for seminars is heavier than for lectures, with more reading and more written work. Seminars normally do not have a final examination, but rather require a substantial final paper. Few seminars have prerequisites, though students who have taken a lecture course in a field will often find themselves better prepared to address the seminar's content.