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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 494
Course Title: Senior Seminar in History
Number of:
Credit Hours 3.0
Lecture Hours 3.0
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

The Senior Seminar in History is dedicated to the research and writing of a senior thesis. All participants are expected to apply the techniques of scholarship as generally accepted by the historical profession. The seminar is the culminating experience for graduation as a history major. Completion with grade of “C” or higher is required.  Prerequisites: HIST 294; HIST 121; HIST 122; HIST 101 or HIST 111; HIST 102 or HIST 112; and nine hours of HIST electives at the 300- or 400-level.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 294; HIST 121; HIST 122: HIST 101 or HIST 111; HIST 102 or HIST 112; and nine hours of HIST electives at the 300- or 400-level.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered Spring.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Required texts must include:

  • At least one reference manual (choose from texts 1-2);
  • At least one guidebook (choose from texts 3-7). Additional monographs or readers may be assigned as appropriate.

    The Chicago Manual of Style
    (University of Chicago Press)
    Category/Comments - reference manual
    A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Thesis, and Dissertations
    By Turabian, Kate L. (Univ. of Chicago Press)
    Category/Comments - guidebook
    The Modern Researcher
    By Barzun, Jacques & Henry F. Graff (Wadsworth)
    Category/Comments - guidebook
    Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing
    By Brundage, Anthony (Harlan Davidson)
    Category/Comments - guidebook
    The Elements of Style
    By Strunk, William & W. B. White (Longman)
    Category/Comments - guidebook
    Writing History: A Guide for Students
    By Storey, William Kelleher (Oxford Univ. Press)
    Category/Comments - guidebook
    Course Objectives

  • To appreciate the significance of cause and effect relationships in American and world history.
  • To analyze a broad range of source materials that provide evidence about significant historical topics.
  • To express themselves clearly and persuasively both orally and in writing about the past.

    Measurable Learning

  • Know events in American and world history.
  • Articulate a philosophy and theory of history that aligns with current historical research practices. Differentiate primary from secondary sources used in historical research.
  • Detect assumptions, bias and opinions in primary source materials.
  • Produce an original thesis using the Chicago Style.
  • Criticize the research methodology of a peer after reviewing a thesis draft.
  • Defend the evidence and argument of a thesis.
  • Explain the ethical and professional code of conduct approved by the American Historical Association.

    Topical Outline:

    Instructors should mentor participants, who will develop a senior thesis of at least 5,000 words on an appropriate topic of history. The research must be original and based upon primary sources. The writing must be in compliance with the Chicago Manual of Style for bibliography, outline, notetaking, drafts, and documentation. Theses will be distributed to the participants in the seminar and will be critiqued and defended. In addition, instructors are to assess learning outcomes for the major and report these outcomes to the Executive Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs office and department chairs on an electronic form to be provided. Topics should include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • The ethics of the historical profession
  • Implementing a research proposal
  • Bibliographies and references
  • Archival and online resources
  • Journals and monographs
  • Styles and conventions in historical writing
  • Plagiarism and proper citations
  • Notetaking
  • Writing the first draft
  • Revisions
  • Presentation
  • Seminar critiques and defenses
  • Careers in history
  • Assessment activities

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the History Assessment Test (HAT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 15

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Brian Kessel Date: November 22, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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