Honours major: History (16 courses)

General major: History (10 courses)

Minor: History (6 courses)


Course Details

Gods and Thrones: The World to 1914

This course will focus on the rise, development, and interaction of the major civilizations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia from the Neolithic era to modern times, and their experience of the rise of European colonialism and increasing global contact through to the beginning of the twentieth century. Themes covered include global trade patterns, the diffusion of world religions, the emergence of
empires, the power of culture, and globalization.

A World at War: The Turbulent Twentieth Century

This course introduces the major events of the twentieth century, with an emphasis on global trends and the global dimensions of international conflicts and cooperation. Topics include World War I; the rise of dictators; World War II; the Cold War; decolonization and the emergence of the ‘Third World’; cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s; trade, development, and terrorism; and the global resurgence of religion.

Pre-Modern Art History

Beginning with the era of pre-history and proceeding through Greek, Roman, Christian and non-Western art, the course concludes with the Neo-Classical period. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of the visual arts within their philosophical, theoretical, historical, and cultural context.

Modern Art History

The course traces artistic expression from romanticism to modernism, post-modernism and contemporary art. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of the visual arts as expressions of their philosophical, theoretical, historical, and cultural context.

HIS-211 or permission of the instructor

History of Theatre I

This course is a survey of the history of theatrical production from prehistory to the Renaissance, including the theatre of Asia. Using primary sources, dramatic texts and theatre history texts, this course will help students understand theatre as a living form, suited to its historical context and changing over time. This course is essential for theatre majors and minors and helpful for students of dramatic literature.

History of Theatre II

A continuation of HIS-213, examining the history and dramatic text of theatre from the Renaissance era to the present. Readings from selected dramatic works is included.

Introduction to Classical Western Mythology

An introduction to the central myths and stories that have shaped the literary and cultural imaginations of the Western world. Readings will engage paradigmatic narratives from Greek and Roman mythology.

ENG-103 or 104; HIS-105 or permission of the instructor

Church History I

A study of the Christian Church from the first century through the Middle Ages, focusing on the development of doctrine and ecclesiastical institutions.


Church History II

A study of the Christian Church from the Reformation to the present, focusing on doctrinal development and divergence, the division of Western Christendom, the impact of the Enlightenment, and ecumenical initiatives.


Canadian History: Pre-Confederation

A survey of the history of Canada from the earliest times until the conclusion of the colonial period. Special emphasis is placed on the unfolding of Canadian society under the formative influences of conflicting intellectual currents and religious beliefs against the background of the constraints of the physical environment.


Canadian History: Post-Confederation

A continuation of HIS-221, covering the time from the founding of national institutions to the Harper years.

HUM-120 or HIS-108

History of the United States: From Colony to Superpower

A survey of American history from the colonial period to the present. Special emphasis will be given to the colonies as transplanted European societies, their transformation into a nation through revolution and constitution-building, the crisis of the Civil War, and the development of the United States into a modern urban-industrial democracy and 20th century global power.

HUM-120 or HIS-108

Medieval Europe

This course provides an overview of the history of Europe from the breakdown of the western Roman empire to the Renaissance, covering religious, intellectual, artistic, political, and social developments.


Early Modern Europe: 1450-1789

An examination of the social, political, and intellectual history of Europe from the late Middle Ages to the revolutionary era. Topics will include the origin and nature of the Reformation, the wars of religion, European overseas expansion, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution as the course explores the development of European states in the larger world.


Islamic World to 1683

This course introduces the first millennium of Islamic history, from the time of Muhammad to the height of the Ottoman and Mughal empires. Geographically stretching from Spain in the west to Java in the east, and from Zanzibar in the south to Tashkent in the north, Islamic civilization in this period encompassed a vast zone of cultural exchange. Themes include the origins and development of Islam; the emergence of Islamic philosophy, science, and art; the rise and fall of Islamic states; shifts in socio-economic patterns and institutions; and regional differences.


Ancient Philosophy

Developing more or less parallel to the history course on Asian philosophy, Ancient Philosophy traces the beginnings of Western philosophy, focusing largely on ancient Greece and Rome. Particular emphasis will be on reading the entirety of what are sometimes known as “The Twin Pillars of Oxford University”–Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Ethics–though attention will also be given to major works in the Epicurean and Stoic traditions.

Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

Formerly PHL-232. This course explores the development of Western philosophy in two phases. The first phase takes us from the collapse of the Roman Empire and St. Augustine through to the development of the medieval university and Thomas Aquinas. The second phase explores key thinkers coming out of the “three Rs” – the Renaissance, Reformation, and Scientific Revolution – focusing especially on Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Leibniz.

The Rise of Atheism

The Enlightenment or ‘Age of Reason’ witnessed the rebirth of a radical new form of skepticism that started with Descartes. In this course, the ramifications of this skepticism are traced through the early atheism of Rousseau and agnosticism of Hume up to the crucial faith-reason divide of Kant. The subsequent post-Kantian explosion of atheism in both continental philosophy (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida) and analytical philosophy (Russell, Flew, Dennett) will be explored, concluding with some responses by contemporary Christian philosophers.

Philosophy of History

A treatment of selected topics relating to historical consciousness and the nature of historical knowledge. Both classical and contemporary positions on historical explanations will be considered.

One other philosophy course

History and the City of God

This course explores the origins of the contemporary discipline of history, how it functions in its academic context, and the ideological currents more influential in the discipline today. Beginning with Augustine’s City of God, students will engage with Christian reflections on theoretical questions in the study of history and bring them into conversation with other important contemporary schools of thought, with the goal of developing their own mature Christian perspective on the nature and meaning of history.

HIS-307/407 is the Capstone Course for the History program and is required for all majors in the 4th year.

Irenaeus to Grotius: Christian Political Thought

This course provides a broad introduction to great political theory in the Western tradition, with special emphasis on the history of Christian political thought. It will address perennial questions addressed by both Christian and non-Christian political thinkers, such as: What is justice? What is the foundation of political authority? What is the proper relationship of church and state? These questions will be approached more normatively (asking how societies ought to answer them) than descriptively (observing how they have answered them).


Classical History

A study of the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman civilizations of classical antiquity, focusing on the development of each civilization and its influence on subsequent Western history.


Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century

A thematic and comparative course examining the history of the totalitarian political movements of the twentieth century and their worldwide impact. The course will focus on four main areas: international fascism and Nazism; communism, both Western and non-Western; totalitarianism’s effects on the non-totalitarian world; and resistance to totalitarianism. Throughout the course, attention will be given to the religious nature of totalitarian systems and their historical conflict with other religious commitments, especially those of Christianity.

HUM-120 or HIS-108

Vietnam War in U.S. Culture & Film

A history of the shifting memory of the Vietnam War in American culture from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Special focus will be given to the transformation of the popular memory of the Vietnam War as influenced by, and evidenced in, film-media representations of the war over time. The course also addresses the international context of the war, popular understandings of Vietnam in the late 1960s, and the treatment of Vietnam veterans in American society in the postwar period.

HIS-108; HIS-233 recommended

Tudor-Stuart England

This course will trace the rise of England from the periphery of power in Europe at the outset of the sixteenth century during the reign of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, to a position of increasing might and opulence after the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 and the death of the final Stuart monarch, Queen Anne in 1714. Students will spend time considering the political, social, cultural, and religious transformations of England during this period, and seek to understand when, how, and why England became a modern nation-state.


Recommended: HIS-241

Modern Germany: 1740–1990

An investigation of the turbulent history of the German lands from the rise of Brandenburg-Prussia to the reunification of West and East Germany, with a focus on political and cultural developments. Course topics include Frederick the Great, the rise to power of the Second Reich and its role in World War I, Hitler and Nazi Germany, the Cold War, and Germany’s place in postwar Europe.

HUM-120 or HIS-108

Introduction to African History

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the broad outline of African history as well as explore some of the challenges specific to writing the history of Africa and acquaint students with some of the available primary sources. Topics include the social structure of African societies, the development of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the impact of European contact, the spread of Islam and Christianity, the rise of nationalism, and post-independence developments.

HIS-106 or 108

China: From Ancient Empire to Economic Superpower

This course explores the historical transformations that have led to the development of modern China. Topics include the rise of the Qing dynasty, contact with Western powers, the rebellions and revolutions that led to the fall of the Qing, the emergence of Chinese nationalism, war with Japan, the rise of nationalist communism, Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” the development of state-sponsored capitalism, and the role of China in globalization.


Modern Middle East

A survey of Middle Eastern history since the 18th century, with a focus on factors contributing to the realities of today. Example topics include the late Ottoman Empire, the impact of Western imperialism, Arab nationalism, Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel, the Iranian revolution, conflicts in Iraq, the origins of terrorism, and recent developments in the region.

HIS-106, HIS-108

Recommended: HIS-256


The internship course is designed to allow senior students majoring in history the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge of the discipline in an occupational setting. Internships are completed in a variety of organizations and students are required to observe and participate in a job-related capacity under supervision. See page 52 for information on internships.

Year 3 or 4 standing in the honours or general major and permission of the department

Patristics Seminar

An honours seminar exploring the patristic legacy in the Church. Reading a significant recent monograph on patristic thought and then turning to selected writings of some of the major church fathers; specific readings vary from year to year. Students will prepare a paper on one of the church fathers, drawing on what is known of his biography and historical setting to examine one of his writings.

HIS-216 or 218; acceptance into a History or POLIS honours major

Christianity in the Modern World

An honours seminar offering advanced examination of selected topics in the history of Christianity in the modern world. Specific topics vary by year but may include the development of evangelicalism, modern missionary movements, the rise and decline of religious liberalism, secularization in Western societies, and the growth of Christianity in the non-Western world.

HIS-216 or 218; acceptance into a History or POLIS honours major

The United States as a World Power

This course analyzes the history of American foreign relations from the colonial period through the twentieth century. Discussion centers on images, memory, race, religion, militarism, economic interests, national security, and corporate globalization as they shape the U.S. approach to the world, and the U.S. experience with the world. Students will also be challenged to think about and discuss the role of Christianity and Christians in foreign policy construction and decision-making.

HIS-231 or 232; acceptance into a History or POLIS honours major

Culture & Conflict in Modern Africa

A study of the role of culture in the conflicts which have troubled Africa in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will meet in a seminar format to be introduced to the secondary literature and to present the results of their individual research on topics chosen in consultation with the instructor.

HIS-256 or 351; acceptance into a History or POLIS honours major

Islamic Encounters

An honours seminar focusing on selected episodes, eras, and themes in the interaction between Islamic and non-Islamic societies and cultures, including encounters with Western cultures and societies. Topics vary by term but may range from the medieval era to the present.

HIS-256 or 357; acceptance into a History or POLIS honours major

Senior Research Project

A one-term undergraduate student research project, culminating in a substantial argumentative research essay. Students will propose a topic for approval by a faculty supervisor and the department, conduct a review of the existing secondary literature, undertake further primary and/or secondary research, publicly present their findings, and submit a final essay. For more information on setting up a senior research project see page 52 of the Academic Calendar.

Year 4 standing in the honours major; requires agreement from the supervising faculty member and departmental approval.

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