The Undergraduate Program in History

History is the study of how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives. The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Africa, Middle East, the Americas, and Asia. While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. China or Brazil) or period of time (e.g. Antiquity or the 20th century). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present.

Student Goals

Students in the History Concentration will:

  • Approach the study of the past from a multicultural perspective
  • Understand the nature of evidence and its relation to different historical methodologies
  • Develop expertise in at least one chronological and geographical field of study
  • Hone their writing abilities
  • Produce a body of original, historical research

**Please meet with a concentration advisor before filling out the ASK concentration form. You can find out who will be your concentration advisor by looking at the concentration advisor page.**



Courses in the "Premodern" era (P) 2
2 Courses in 3 different geographic regions 6
Field of focus  4
Capstone Seminar  1
Any combination of courses that fulfill the four requirements above for a total number of 10 courses*   
Honors (optional)
3 additional courses related to writing a thesis (one of which, HIST 1992, can count towards your 10 concentration requirements)

*Any HIST course can fulfill two or more of the above requirements. For instance, Professor Cope's HIST 1966Q, Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Latin America, can count towards fulfilling a Latin America geographic distribution as well as a premodern (P) requirement. Depending on the student, it could also count towards a field of focus and as a capstone seminar.

Cross-listed courses count as "internal" HIST courses

Cross-listed courses have a HIST number and a number from another department and counts towards the required 8 HIST courses. With very few exceptions, cross-listed courses are taught by faculty with an appointment in the History Department. Please see this page for a list of faculty with cross-listed courses.

Two possible "external" courses

Subject to the approval of the concentration advisor, 2 of the 10 required courses may be courses highly relevant to a concentrator's coursework that do no have a HIST number. Always consult your concentration advisor about a non-HIST course you think could count towards concentration requirements.

  • Up to 2 classes without a HIST number can count towards the concentration if:
    • the course is taught by a historian in another department. For example, Professor Robert Lee is a historian, and his course, ETHN 1650B, Asian Americans and the Racial State: Exclusion and Internment, could count as one of the 2 "external" courses; and/or
    • the course is not taught by a faculty member whose PhD work was primarily in the discipline of history, but takes a historical approach and enhances a student's field of focus or coursework in a significant way. 
  • Courses from other Brown departments may not be applied toward the "P" chronological requirement.
  • EXCEPTION: up to 3 "external" classes can count if student spent a year or more away from Brown. 

This partial image from the History concentration form shows where the two "external" courses can be accommodated into coursework for a History concentration.

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For an updated list of the Geographical and Chronological designation of our courses, please see this Google Sheet.

In 2015-16, we inaugurated a new numbering system.  You can find the new number of an old course, and see what a newly numbered course used to be called.