2017-18 General Catalog

201 Humanities
(831) 459-2982

Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

History is the stories humans tell about the past. For professional historians, those stories are based on evidence that is carefully collected and rigorously interpreted. Both the evidence and interpretation are passionately debated in the classroom, in articles and books, and in the public sphere. This makes history a dynamic enterprise. Students of history ask new questions, find new evidence, incorporate more voices, and reconsider old assumptions. Studying history enriches our understanding of the world by deepening our knowledge of the past and by pushing us to ask new questions that provide insight into our own time. Our History Department is committed to helping students learn to think historically, which entails asking not just what happened, but why it happened the way it did.

Thinking historically cultivates the empathy and imagination necessary to understand multiple perspectives on events both past and present.

It is impossible to understand the world we inhabit, including its complex global conflicts, climatic transformations, and fundamental shifts in understandings of individual identity, without history. Yet, as much as history can illuminate the present, its study also requires recognizing that often, “the past is a foreign country,” where words, ideas, and even bodies themselves operate on radically unfamiliar terms. Our department’s strengths in transnational, gender, environmental, cultural, and social history, including critical race and ethnic studies, enable students to engage in a variety of approaches to studying history. 

This training prepares students for a wide range of careers and equips them to be engaged citizens. History majors develop skills in critical reading, effective research, analytical thinking, and clear, persuasive communication. Such skills are the essential foundation for jobs directly connected with the field, like teaching, becoming a researcher, and working in public history venues such as museums, archives, and libraries. These skills are also invaluable to careers in law, business, government, foreign service, management, publishing, journalism, social media, and many other areas. The ability to identify and access salient information, evaluate it critically, and use it to engage in constructive debate is essential for navigating a complex, dynamic, and global world.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the history major graduate with the following:


Understanding of a basic narrative of historical events in a specific region of the world.

Critical Reading

The ability to distinguish primary and secondary sources.

The ability to evaluate historical ideas, arguments, and points of view.

The ability to evaluate competing interpretations and multiple narratives of the past.

Research and Evidence

The ability to gather and assess primary historical evidence.

The ability to compile a bibliography.


The ability to present clear and compelling arguments, based on critical analysis of diverse historical sources, and effectively communicate your interpretations in written essays and/or other media.

The ability to develop a research question and complete a well-supported piece of historical writing about it.

Scope and Thematics

Through completion of a combination of courses, become familiar with the history of:

  • The pre-modern world

  • The modern world

  • Transnational or transcultural circulations of ideas, people, and material goods

  • One or more national histories

  • Regional comparisons

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 12 courses is required for the major. No more than four of the minimum 12 courses may be lower division. A minimum of 40 upper-division credits must be completed within the history major course requirements. The history major does not have any admissions requirements, examinations, or prerequisites, and does not limit the number of students it will accept into the program. It is strongly advised that students complete at least one introductory history course before declaring the major but it is not required. Students may declare the history major as early in their academic career as they would like.

At UCSC, the history curriculum offers three broad, geographically defined regions of concentration:

  • The Americas and Africa

  • Asia and the Islamic World

  • Europe

Each history major selects one of the three regions of concentration listed above as their area of emphasis. In consultation with the history undergraduate program coordinator, the student plans a program of study that will also fulfill the following distribution of courses:

Course Requirements

Region of Concentration (5 courses, plus 1 comprehensive requirement)

I. At least one lower-division survey course within their chosen region of concentration.

  • Americas/Africa: History 10A, 10B, 11A, 11B, or 30

  • Asia/Islamic World: History 40A, 40B, 41, or 44

  • Europe: History 65A, 70A, or 70B

Transfer coursework may or may not apply toward the survey course requirement; consult the history undergraduate program coordinator.

II. Four additional courses in the region of concentration, three of which must be upper division.

III. One comprehensive (exit) requirement: All students must complete either a research/readings seminar (HIS 190 series, 194 series, or 196 series), or a senior thesis (HIS 195A and 195B) in their area of concentration. Detailed information on the comprehensive exit requirement can be found below.

Breadth Requirements (4 courses)

IV. Two courses from each of the remaining two regions of concentration.

Historical Skills and Methods (1 course)

V. HIS 100, Historical Skills and Methods

Elective Requirement (1 course)

VI. One upper-division history elective from any of the three regions of concentration.

Students often choose to satisfy the history major course requirements listed above according to some general theme of special interest to them: religion, social movements, science and environment, and gender, to name a few. Faculty and staff advisers will assist the students who choose this option with their course selection.

Distribution requirements. Among the 12 courses required for the major, at least three must meet chronological distribution requirements. One must be set before 600 A.D., and two must be set in periods prior to the year 1800 A.D.

Interdisciplinary coursework. The History Department encourages its majors to take upper-division courses in disciplines related to history, including sociology, literature, community studies, politics, Latin American and Latino studies, and others. Students who wish to substitute one such appropriate upper-division course for a history elective must obtain approval from the History Department. These courses are subject to the limitations described below under the "Transfer credits and substitutions" section.

Comprehensive requirement. A comprehensive exit requirement in the student’s chosen region of concentration can be fulfilled by completing an exit seminar (one quarter: 190 series, 194 series, or 196 series) or a thesis (two quarters: courses 195A and 195B). Please consult the department website for a more detailed description of these courses.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. History students fulfill the upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement by completing a comprehensive exit requirement in their chosen region of concentration. Students may complete an exit seminar (one quarter: 190 series, 194 series, or 196 series) or a thesis (two quarters: courses 195A and 195B). Please consult the department website for a more detailed description of these courses and refer to the updated DC information in the  Disciplinary Communication Chart.

In addition to all coursework, history majors must complete a senior check and exit survey in the first quarter of their senior year. Students who do not submit their senior check for review may have their graduation date delayed. Please consult the department website for a more detailed description.

Honors in the history major. Honors are awarded to the top 10-15 percent of graduating students per quarter; highest honors may be granted to approximately the top five percent. Honors are determined by the Undergraduate Education Committee in consultation with the History Department faculty. The department considers each student’s GPA in the history major, supplemented when appropriate by an assessment of work in the senior capstone course or honors thesis preparation. The history major GPA is calculated based upon all history courses attempted at UCSC; grades from courses taken outside of the department will not be calculated into a student’s history major GPA, even in cases when the student is allowed to use said courses toward their history major degree requirements. Summer, fall, and winter graduates will be reviewed at the end of each of their respective quarters. Spring graduates will be reviewed using their earned history major GPAs as of the spring announcement of candidacy deadline.

UC Education Abroad Program. All history students are encouraged to consider studying abroad. UCEAP offers students an opportunity to study abroad in 43 countries with more than 300 program options. A variety of academic programs are available: language and culture programs facilitate language acquisition; "focus" programs allow students to concentrate on a plan of study applicable to their major. More than half of all EAP programs are in English, and there are traditional semester and year-long program options. Subject to the limitations described below under "Transfer credits and substitutions," up to three courses in history completed through EAP may be applied toward major requirements. Consult the History Department website and speak with the undergraduate program coordinator for further details.

Transfer credits and substitutions. History majors must complete a minimum of five regularly scheduled history courses plus the comprehensive requirement taught by members of the UCSC history faculty. Intensive history majors must complete a minimum of eight. Subject to the limits indicated in parentheses, courses from the following categories may also be applied to the history major:

  • Transfer courses taken at another institution (limit of 3)

  • Education Abroad Program (limit of 3)

  • UCDC (limit of 2)

  • UC in Sacramento (limit of 2)

  • Related upper-division courses taken in another UCSC department (limit of 1)

  • Independent and field studies (limit of 1)

Requirements for the Minor

Students whose major area of study is not history may nonetheless find that a minor in history makes an invaluable contribution to their studies. For the minor in history, eight history courses, five of which must be upper division, are required. There is no senior comprehensive requirement for the minor.

Graduate Program

The Ph.D. program in history at UCSC emphasizes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to historical studies. The History Department offers a rigorous program of instruction and independent work that trains students in the techniques of original historical research and equips them to teach university-level courses in history. The department only admits those highly motivated students who are most qualified to pursue advanced studies in history. The department also only admits those applicants who can best benefit from the specific strengths of our faculty. Just as the work of most professional historians centers around research and teaching, training in these areas constitutes the two essential poles of the graduate program in history.

Research and Teaching

In preparing graduate students for research and teaching at the university level, the department offers training in three geographically and chronologically defined fields: U.S. history, European history since 1500, and East Asian history since 1600. U.S., European, and East Asian history are defined as primary teaching fields; each graduate student is required to choose one. Students of U.S. history may incorporate Latin American history in their coursework. Every year the faculty in each field offer introductory readings seminars and classes on more specific topics (see below for information about course offerings). Each graduate student also prepares a second teaching field different from the primary field and can choose from among U.S., European, East Asian, or world history. Ph.D. students may also petition the graduate committee to prepare a secondary teaching field in African or Latin American history.


Until they pass the qualifying examination and are formally advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must be in residence at UCSC and are expected to complete a minimum of 10 credits each quarter to maintain normal academic progress. Completion of a minimum of 10 courses of 5 credits each (in addition to History 280A, 280B, and 280C) is required for advancement to candidacy. Courses taken are graduate seminars, independent study courses, and most upper-division undergraduate courses.

Students are required to take the following before advancing to candidacy:

  • History 200 (year 1, fall quarter); History 201 (year 2, winter quarter); History 202 (year 1); History 280A (year 1, fall quarter) 280B (year 2), 280C (year 1 or 2);

  • one research seminar during the first four quarters: History 204A, or 204C, or 204E;

  • second teaching field: two courses in American, European, East Asian, or world history;

  • outside courses: two quarters of graduate coursework outside the History Department;

  • readings courses in the appropriate field: East Asia—History 230A, 230B, 230C (China) or History 242, 243, 244 (Japan); Europe—History 251A, 251B; U.S.—History 210A, 210B.

Graduate students in East Asian history specialize in either modern Chinese or modern Japanese history, but all students in the East Asian program will be prepared to teach both. The core curriculum for East Asian history consists of three China reading seminars (courses 230A, 230B, 230C) and three Japan reading seminars (courses 242, 243, 244) taught in sequence over three years, covering such topics as foundational historiographies, gender, social movements, and transnational circulation of people, commodities, and ideas. Over the course of the three years to the qualifying examination, China students will be expected to take all three China seminars and at least two of the three Japan seminars. Japan students will be expected to take all three Japan seminars and at least two of the three China seminars. Additional coursework in research methods as well as occasional independent studies will also be available, and students are encouraged to take classes that have a wide range of faculty in other departments across the campus.

Foreign Language Requirement

No prior foreign language preparation is required for admission with a primary teaching field in U.S. history. Two to three years of college work, or its equivalent, in at least one foreign language is required for admission to the European program. Students who choose East Asian history as their primary teaching field will be required to have completed at least three years of college-level Chinese or Japanese prior to admission; more years are recommended. Depending upon the student’s intended field of research, Japanese language study may also be required of China specialists as part of the graduate program of study.

Students with a primary teaching field in U.S. history are expected to demonstrate a reading competency in at least one foreign language prior to taking the Ph.D. qualifying examination. Students in all other teaching fields must demonstrate a reading competency in at least two foreign languages prior to taking the Ph.D. qualifying examination; competency in one of the languages must be demonstrated by the end of the sixth quarter of enrollment. Usually, competency will be demonstrated by passing a reading examination administered by a member of the history faculty. Students who believe that they have already demonstrated competency through previous coursework or through their performance on a standardized test should petition the graduate director to waive this language requirement.

M.A. Degree

The master of arts (M.A.) degree is awarded to all Ph.D. students after two years in residence, successful completion of 12 courses of 5 credits each and two courses of 2 credits each, demonstrated competency in one foreign language (for those in primary teaching fields other than U.S. history), removal of all Incomplete notations (I) on record, and approval of a M.A. essay of 25-30 pages.

The M.A. Essay

Students are required to produce a substantial research essay grounded in original research in primary historical documents. A successful essay will reflect a general understanding of the field of inquiry along with a critical grasp of the scholarship that currently defines the field; deep knowledge of the specific subject under investigation; the application of appropriate analytical models; and a well-supported interpretation of the materials explored. This essay could (but need not) be a segment of a larger project; but it must be a complete, self-contained essay in and of itself.

Students enroll in course 201, Directed Research Colloquium, the winter quarter of their second year. While taking course 201, students work intensively with a faculty reader in the preparation, crafting, and revising of the essay. The final draft, approved by the reader, must be submitted to the graduate committee by the spring quarter deadline (usually mid-April). The deadline will be noted in the department’s call for M.A. essays.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination (QE) emphasizes field mastery, integration of material from different fields, and focused preparation for dissertation research. The QE is a three-hour meeting during which a student presents and discusses a dossier that has been submitted to the student’s committee at least three weeks in advance. The examination is taken by the spring quarter of the third year. Prior to taking the QE, all incomplete notations (I) must be cleared from the student’s record. Additionally, the student must be registered the quarter the examination is taken.

The four examination fields are designed in consultation with the student’s QE committee members. Students prepare for the examination through regularly offered courses and independent readings courses sponsored by the examiners. Students are required to take at least two courses in each of the four fields. The fields are as follows:

  • Primary Field of Concentration. One of three fields: U.S. history; European history 1500 to the present; East Asian history 1600 to the present.

  • Area of Concentration. This is a subfield of the primary field of concentration with a focus on the student’s specific area of research interests.

  • Second Teaching Field. Chosen from the above list of primary fields, with the addition of world history, or, where appropriate, a comparative, thematic field such as gender, colonialism, Latin American, or African history.

  • Outside Field. One field outside history, such as anthropology, feminist studies, history of art and visual culture, Latin American and Latino studies, literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, or history of consciousness. Students select a field of topical, thematic, or methodological relevance to their dissertation. The student’s faculty adviser must approve the outside field.

The four examination fields must be defined and preliminary reading lists (see below) filed with the department no later than the student’s eighth quarter of residency.

A pass or fail will be given after the examination based on the student’s knowledge and research preparation as demonstrated by his or her dossier. In order to pass the QE, all areas must receive passing marks from each member of the committee. Immediately following the exam, the QE committee chair will complete and submit to the History Department the Report on Qualifying Examination form. If a student does not pass the QE the first time, they may retake only those sections not passed. No one will be permitted to take the QE more than twice.

Qualifying Examination Dossier Requirements

The QE dossier includes four parts, each of which should be prepared in consultation with the student’s primary academic adviser and with the advice of the examiners. The examination will focus on the dossier. All examiners, including the examiner from outside the department, will participate in all segments of the examination.

The dossier includes:

1. An essay reviewing the state of the scholarship in the student’s primary field of concentration. This essay should reflect the student’s general, broad competence in his or her field as well as a mastery of the theoretical issues and historiographic debates in four to five areas that represent their primary area of expertise. The essay may reflect the thematic focus of a research fields as well as work completed in an outside field (literature, anthropology, etc.).

2. One syllabus, possibly two syllabi (the number to be decided in discussion with the student’s primary adviser), that demonstrates the student’s preparation to teach across the breadth of their primary field at the introductory level. The syllabus should be annotated to show how each class session would be prepared: principal sources for lectures, principal questions for discussion, reasons for assigning particular readings, etc.

3. A syllabus (annotated in the same fashion as described in section number 2 above) in the student’s second teaching field, accompanied by a brief (three- to five-page) statement of principal issues. The exact content of these items will be decided in consultation with the examiner in the secondary teaching field.

4. A prospectus that includes an evaluative survey of the literature relevant to the student’s proposed research topic, a detailed discussion of the archival resources, and a consideration of the theoretical issues to be engaged.


  • Although no specific segment of the dossier focuses upon the coursework completed outside the History Department, it is expected that this work will be incorporated into different sections of the portfolio, particularly the research prospectus.

  • Complete bibliographies must be appended to each piece of the QE dossier.


The dissertation represents an extensive, book-length project grounded in research in original historical documents. A successful dissertation will reflect a broad and deep understanding of the field of inquiry, a mastery of the scholarship that currently defines the field, detailed knowledge of the subject of study growing out of dedicated research, and the incorporation (and explicit rejection of) appropriate interpretive models.

M.A. in History (Terminal)

The Department of History offers an M.A. degree in history for those individuals who are interested in postgraduate work, but who are not planning to complete a Ph.D. It is a degree program that can fulfill in-service education requirements for current teachers as well as for future teachers earning a single-subject credential in social studies. Part-time enrollment is allowed.

Each student will be required to choose one of three areas of specialization (U.S., Europe, East Asia). To complete the degree, each student must pass a total of 12 courses of 5 credits each and two courses of 2 credits each including courses 280A, 280B, or 280C. Students must also write an M.A. paper of 25-30 pages. For students specializing in Europe, U.S., and East Asia, the curriculum is nearly identical to that taken by Ph.D. students in their first two years, except that there is no language requirement.

Course Requirements

  • History 200 (year 1, fall quarter); History 201 (year 2, winter quarter); History 202 (year 1, spring quarter)

  • one research seminar during the first four quarters: History 204A, 204C, or 204E.

  • two courses of 2 credits each including History 280 (year 1), 280B (year 2), 280C (year 1 or 2)

  • seven electives of 5 credits each, two of which must be taken outside the History Department. Courses taken are graduate seminars, most upper-division undergraduate courses, and independent study courses.

  • two reading seminars in the area of specialization:

    • U.S.: History 210A, 210B
    • Europe: History 251A, 251B
    • East Asia: History 230A, 230B; 230C, 242, 243, 244.

Further details about the graduate program are available from the Department of History website: http://history.ucsc.edu.

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Revised: 09/01/17