Queensu History Essay

History Degree Programs and Plan Requirements

Degree Programs:

History – Major (Arts) Bachelor of Arts (Honours) [BAH]
History – Medial (Arts) Bachelor of Arts (Honours) [BAH]
History – Minor (Arts) Bachelor of Arts
History – General (Arts) – Bachelor of Arts [BA]


MAJORS: you need 60 units in History seminars and lectures: 6 units must be in Canadian history
MEDIALS: you need 42 units in History seminars and lectures: 6 units must be in Canadian history
MINORS/GENERAL: you need 30 lecture units in History, and NO seminars. 6 units must be at the 100 level and the remaining units should be taken from the 200-299 range. 6 units must be in Canadian history
 (*please see Arts & Science Calendar)

History courses at Queen's are divided into two types: lecture courses and seminars. Lecture courses introduce students to the material of history and its writing. Seminar courses provide small-group environments for intensive study, discussion, and debating of key history topics. Seminars are fundamental for the development of skills necessary to pursue the discipline at the graduate level.

Second-year core seminars and upper-year seminars form a fundamental and compulsory part of the program for students pursuing a BAH degree with a major or medial concentration in History.

History minors, medials, majors and students in other degree programs are encouraged to take 200 level lecture courses at any time in second, third, or fourth year.

History 515: Independent Study Project

A 515 (Honour's Thesis) is not required of any student. They are purely optional; in any given year only 5 to 10 complete a 515. The key purpose is to provide a student with an opportunity to explore a theme not covered in a course. Normally (but not always) a student will have a rapport with an instructor, established in a previous course, and then will explore a topic in greater detail in the 515. Some students with a clear idea of what they wish to pursue in graduate history studies have also found the 515 useful. But it is by no means required for admittance to graduate school.

Requirements as specified in the Calendar, 2017-18:

Available to fourth-year students taking a major or a medial concentration in History who have maintained a GPA of 3.30. The project may be either a research paper involving the use of primary and secondary sources, or a more broadly conceived independent reading program. Students must obtain the approval of the supervising instructor and of the Undergraduate Committee for any project submitted.

HIST 515 is worth 6.0 units and can be used as a substitute for some of your History option courses in 2A on Solus (generally 200 level lectures).

Typical Timeline / How to Enroll in the Hist 515:

In the spring or summer before your final undergraduate year, find an instructor capable and willing to supervise your topic. Work on your topic (bibliography, proposed course of research) sometime before September.

Go ahead and and add yourself to Hist 515 on SOLUS during registration in the summer, or during Open Enrollment, but your enrollment in this course is conditional upon the approval of your 515 research proposal in mid-September. See next paragraph...

A printed paper copy of your proposal (approved and signed by your supervisor) must be submitted to the History Main Office byFriday, September 15, 2017-2:30 pm. An electronic copy should also be submitted to the Undergraduate Chair at hist.undergrad@queensu.ca  The proposal will then be considered by the Undergraduate Committee. You will receive an email notification before the end of open enrollment regarding the status of your proposal.

If you have questions, please get in touch with either the Undergraduate Chair or the Administrative Assistant (Debbie Stirton).

Guidelines for 515 Proposals

The purpose of 515 Proposals is to ensure the Undergraduate Committee that students undertaking 515 projects have set feasible goals for themselves. Proposals should demonstrate that students have both realistic research plans and realistic essay topics in mind. The committee typically defers to the wisdom of the Faculty Advisor on History 515 proposals. However, diffuse and rambling proposals, sweeping research agendas, and grandiose essay topics may prompt the Undergraduate Committee to recommend that the proposal be revised. Proposals for History 515 need not be lengthy or detailed. However, they should incorporate the following basic elements.

The proposal should describe

  • the historical issue or problem to be addressed and its basic importance
  • the basic ideas and hypotheses of the project,
  • the methods or approaches the student will use,
  • the body of materials that the student will draw on and the ease of access to the material,
  • how the project fits within the current literature in the field
    (i.e. a brief summary of the relevant historiography that will inform or frame the study).

Project Proposals need not be any longer than 3 or 4 pages, including the bibliographical material. The final bibliography will surely be longer than the one submitted for approval in September.

Typically, Hist 515 theses are 50 to 60 pages long, plus endnotes/footnotes and bibliography.


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