Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

First Year Courses

Welcome to Queen's! If you are an incoming first year student, these are the courses you are eligible to enroll in. If you have any questions about History at Queen's please contact 

(Please note, F and W in the course code is used to indicate whether the course is offered in the Fall or Winter term. F courses start in September. W courses start in January. FW courses are full year courses from September to April. Pay careful attention to these when planning for course enrollment!)
HIST 121 FW : The Intellectual Origins of the Contemporary West

Co-ordinators: Dr. Jeff Collins / Dr. Ana Siljak​

This course is a survey of the major ideas in Western Civilization and the societies, cultures, and people, which helped to form them. Students will learn about the past by reading and discussing the great works of philosophy, history, and literature from antiquity to our contemporary world. The first half of the course (Fall term) starts with creation ideas in Hebrew thought and Greek myth, and ends with contact between Europe and the so called New World in the sixteenth century. Students will study the roots of modern society in the political and educational ideals of the ancient Greek city-states, Roman notions of justice and power, the Christian transformation of pagan antiquity, Islam and science, monks and knights in medieval Europe, and the rebirth of the arts and religion in the Renaissance and Reformation. The second half of the course (Winter term) continues the survey of themes and ideas from the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution to Romanticism, Marxism, liberalism, modern feminism, colonial exploitation, and the destructive theories behind Nazism and fascism. This course reveals how the past is very much alive in our contemporary society; an inheritance for better or worse most evident in ideas about politics, morality, religion, and education.   

The course is presented through a combined weekly lecture and seminar discussion format. Attendance in both is required. The weekly lecture provides necessary background to seminar discussions where groups of moderate size meet to discuss material read in advance. The readings are all excerpts of primary sources -- the actual writings of thinkers who lived in the times under discussion and influenced the development of Western Civilization. Students are required to do weekly assigned readings and to participate in class discussion. To do well in this course students must also attend lectures, complete assignments with care, and study for exams.​

6.0 units

HIST 122 FW : The Making of the Modern World

Co-ordinators: Dr. Aditi Sen/Dr. Joseph McQuade

This course is a thematic introduction to world history from prehistoric times to the present, with particular emphasis on the changing balance of power between regions of the globe and the contributions of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas to modernity. In questioning what has been a European-centered explanation for progress and development, this course examines ingrained patterns of thinking about non-European peoples, the environmental aspect of the north/south divide, the emergence of social inequalities within and between states, as well as the role of modern capitalism, colonialism and militarism in enforcing an order from which only a small percentage of the world's population benefit. In introducing students to conceptual tools and basic chronology, this course provides a firm foundation for future studies in history and the social sciences.

This course is in two parts: i) a lecture and ii) a seminar. There will be a lecture once a week of approx. 245 students usually led by professors, and a weekly seminar of some 30-40 students led by different seminar instructors. Lecturers will determine all in-lecture assignments and examinations. Seminar instructors will determine seminar assignments, mark all coursework and exams, and make decisions regarding your grades for the seminars

6.0 units 

HIST 124 FW : Canada in the World

Co-ordinator:  Steven Maynard

This course is a critical survey of the main social, economic, and political developments in Canadian history. The approach taken can be called "a history of the present." Approaching the Canadian past as a history of the present offers at least three advantages. First, it defamiliarizes some of the defining features of present-day Canada, such as liberalism, capitalism, or multiculturalism by subjecting them to historical scrutiny rather than treating them as timeless or taken-for-granted categories of Canadian history. Second, it questions the linear narrative of Canada's development from 'colony to nation' by exploring both the nation's own complicated history of colonizing and the competing claims of other nations within Canada. Third, it fosters a dynamic dialogue between the past and the present, and in doing so encourages us to consider the crucial role critical historical thinking can play in our everyday lives as we ponder news ways of inhabiting the world.

The course comprises three parts: a weekly lecture by the course coordinator; a bi-weekly, in-class seminar led by Teaching Fellows; and, in the weeks between seminars, exercises in self-directed learning. Course requirements - assignments, tests/exams, participation, etc. - will be set by the course coordinator and will be the same for all students in the course, while Teaching Fellows will supervise and mark the work of students in their particular sections. Written work will emphasize the art of book critiquing and the analysis of primary historical documents.

6.0 units

HIST 124 F/W :  Canada in the World (online)
Instructor: Emily LeDuc
An introduction to major themes and events in the history of Canada placed in a North American and world context. Topics include relations between peoples native to the Americas and newcomers, comparative colonialism, the emergence of nation-states and new social and cultural identities. Assignments emphasize analysis of historical texts and development of research and writing skills. 
6.0 units