What Is a Rhodes History Class Like? Information for Prospective Students

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A World of Courses

The History major (11 courses) is extremely flexible offering a wide range of topics from around the globe and fulfilling many of the College’s Foundation requirements, leaving time for minors, double majors, interdisciplinary majors, or graduate school prerequisites.   Beyond two required courses, (“The Historian’s Craft” and “Senior Seminar”), students can choose courses in African, Asian, United States, European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern history over several centuries.  Coursework taken abroad or at an accredited 4 year institution may be transferred into the major if pre-approved by the department chair.

Sharpen Your Speaking and Interview Skills

History is the only department at Rhodes that prepares its majors to be confident public speakers.  All seminars at the 300 level require a substantial oral presentation, and most courses emphasize discussion throughout the semester.  Students often present their work on campus and at national and regional meetings of our honor society Phi Alpha Theta.

Sharpen Your Analytical and Writing Skills

History students develop extremely strong skills in analysis, argumentation, and clarity of expression by writing consistently throughout the major.  Courses at every level emphasize writing, and in 400 level seminars students produce a substantial essay based on original research.  Students often submit their work to our student-edited, peer-reviewed journal the Rhodes Historical Review and other publications (see copies of the RHR on the History website).  Students have co-authored published articles with faculty members. 

History Students Are the Best and Brightest

Rhodes History majors are among the best in the College and regularly win some of the most prestigious prizes, awards, and accolades on campus and in the nation.  They are routinely inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and for 4 years in a row history majors won the College’s highest academic honor, the Peyton Nalle Rhodes-PBK Prize.  History majors have won Watson Fellowships to travel the world, Fulbright Fellowships, Emerson Fellowships, and Truman Scholarships. In 2011, a Rhodes History major won the award given by the American Historical Association for the best published undergraduate paper in the US.

How Our Courses Are Numbered

History 100-level courses. Designed for first-year students and sophomores, these seminars focus on specific topics. These courses are writing intensive and fulfill one of the “written communication” requirements (F2i) under the Foundations Curriculum. Many also fulfill the “historical forces (F3) requirement.

History 200-level courses. Open to every student at Rhodes -- including first-year students -- these courses cover a broad chronological span or large geographical area and are introductory in nature. In addition to mastering course content, students will begin to learn to think historically through interpretive writing assignments that require them to draw from and engage with course material and readings. Such courses normally fulfill the “historical forces” (F3) requirement. Several of these courses also fulfill the “systematic analysis of human interaction and contemporary institutions” (F8) and the “cultural perspectives” (F9) requirements.

History 300-level courses: These research seminars focus on specific topics or time periods, while paying significant attention to historiography. Students are required to make a significant oral presentation. History 300 is normally a prerequisite or co-requisite for these courses.

History 400-level courses: These research seminars focus on specific topics or time periods, while paying significant attention to historiography. Students are required to complete a substantive research paper in which they engage substantially with primary sources. History 300 is normally a prerequisite or co-requisite for these courses.

AP Credit and IB Credit

The Department of History maintains the following policy with regard to Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits:  

  • A score of 4 on the AP U.S. History exam, the AP European History exam, or the AP World History exam receives 4 credits.  Students with minimum scores of 4 on two such exams will receive 8 credits.  In addition, a score of 5 on any one of these exams fulfills the "Historical Forces" (F3) Foundation requirement.
  • A score of 5 on the IB History exam receives 4 credits.  In addition, a score of 6 fulfills the “Historical Forces” (F3) foundation requirement.

Credit earned through AP or IB does not fulfill the requirements of the History major or minor but does count toward the 128 credits required for graduation.

Academic Integrity

All Rhodes College students pledge to uphold the Rhodes College Honor Code: "As a member of the Rhodes community, I pledge I will not lie, cheat, or steal, and that I will report any such violation that I may witness."

History students should familiarize themselves with the College′s guidelines involving plagiarism. The Rhodes Student Handbook provides a clear definition: "′Cheating′ includes plagiarism. Plagiarism is an act of academic dishonesty. A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge an indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

  • Quotes another person’s actual words, either oral or written.
  • Paraphrases another person’s actual words, either oral or written.
  • Uses another person’s idea, opinion, or theory.
  • Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material unless the information is common knowledge.

It is the student’s responsibility to consult the professor, an Honor Council member, or writing handbooks for procedure for properly acknowledging sources."

For a more detailed discussion of plagiarism, defined by the American Historical Association as the appropriation of  "the exact wording of another author without attribution," and the borrowing of  "distinctive and significant research findings or interpretations" without proper citation, see the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.

Transferring Credit from Colleges and Universities in the United States

In order to transfer credit from another domestic institution, the course(s) must first be approved by the Department Chair before the student invests time and money. The following guidelines apply:

  • Students should schedule a meeting with the Department chair.
  • Transfer credit may not be used to satisfy a foundation requirement.  This is College policy.  (Rhodes College Catalog 2010-2011, p. 60) 
  • To receive credit, the course must be taken at an accredited, 4-year college or university.  Online or distance education courses are not accepted.
  • The chair will only grant approval if a student has a course description and/or syllabus.
  • History courses taken at other institutions will be counted as the equivalent of a 200-level Rhodes course.
  • Students are discouraged from taking broad survey courses that Rhodes does not offer, such as World History, Western Civilization, or United States to 1877. Look instead for more specific themes or periods.
  • All 400-level seminars for History majors must be taken at Rhodes.

In cases where limited information about the desired course or program is available, the Department Chair may provide only provisional permission.  In that case, the student must provide the syllabus along with test and writing assignments in order for a final assessment of the coursework to be made.  Approval is not guaranteed.

Transferring Credit from Institutions Abroad

In order to transfer credit from a study abroad program, the course(s) must first be approved by the Department Chair before the student invests time and money. The following guidelines must be followed:

  • Students should schedule a meeting with the Department chair.
  • Students can fulfill the Foundation #3 requirement with a history course, so long as it is through a study abroad program that has been approved by the Buckman Center for International Education.
  • A course(s) taken through a Buckman Center-approved study abroad program can count toward the student’s major or minor requirements.
  • The chair will only grant approval if a student has a course description and/or syllabus.
  • History courses taken through Buckman Center-approved study abroad program will be counted as the equivalent of a 200-level Rhodes course.
  • Students are discouraged from taking broad survey courses that Rhodes does not offer, such as World History, Western Civilization, or United States to 1877. Look instead for more specific themes or periods.
  • All 400-level seminars for History majors must be taken at Rhodes.