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Friday, May 21, 2010

History / Historical Studies Course Review UTM

Again, this is in no way exhaustive of a list of the courses that are offered at UTM. There are TONS of history courses at UTM.I kind of found history to be tougher than political science in some sense because of the short half courses that require tons of more work than full year courses, but the payoff is great because I learned in a whole new perspective than I would have if I only took political science.

HIS101: Intro to historical studies: Professor Tavakoli

If you’re going into history or any other history related major, I think you have to take HIS101. This was probably the toughest course for a lot of first years only because it was an introduction to all the major philosophers and writers of historical theory and sometimes it’s just hard to grasp. It’s very writing focused, and you must develop your writing skills through this course. I don’t think that Prof Tavakoli teaches this course anymore, but when he did, he was great. Sometimes he would go off on a tangent, but I did learn a lot from him. But I must warn you, this is a hard course. Don’t take it if you don’t need to. But do take it to improve your writing skills if you are concerned about this.

HIS201: Intro to Middle Eastern studies: Professor Farah...

I honestly feel really bad but I do not remember the professor for this course! I took it in the summer when it was a very short course and it has changed considerably since I’ve taken it. Overall, the course was fairly easy and the material was very easy too. There was only one essay, a presentation, and a midterm test as far as I remember. The presentations were all about Islam in the modern world, which were very interesting topics. I have heard from people who have taken the course with other professors and all have said it’s generally very easy.

HIS250: Intro to Russian History: Professor Borzecki

One of my favourite professors in the history department! I loved taking Russian history with him. This course was very straightforward which I loved. It had one essay (which is a big component of the course and you are required to hand in a proposal early to determine a topic), a midterm and the final exam. The topics were really interesting and taking it in light of my Russian politics course it really helped me define some of the historical routes of Russia’s dilemmas. Borzecki’s lectures are very interesting, but be prepared to write a lot of notes; he gives a lot of details and all are important for the midterm and the final exam.

HIS261: Intro to Canadian History: Professor White

I took this course in the summer and it was very good, especially as an intro course to Canadian history. The topics were broad. There was one midterm, an essay and a final exam. The topics were easy to grasp and Professor White really loves what he teaches so it’s always great to have someone who is enthusiastic about the topic. This is a fairly easy course, all that is required is to take good lecture notes and to really listen to the overall themes that are discussed in the course as those were all on the final exam.

HIS295: Intro to African History: Professor Neil Marshall

So this course started off a bit rocky. Apparently we were supposed to have a professor, but he never showed up to the first day of class. The next week, a TA came in and said he would teach the course. Professor Marshall was really nice, but he had everything going against him when he started teaching this course: there was no outline, no syllabus, no readings in the bookstore, etc. He did the best with what he was given for this course. The course was really interesting and I learned a lot but to be honest, I learned more at home doing the required readings and assignments than attending the lectures because they just generally seemed disorganized to me. I got a really good mark in this course though and Prof Marshall did help me a lot in my final essay. I remember there were a couple small assignments and a big essay at the end of this course.

HIS307: Russian Revolutions of 1917: professor Borzecki

This was a great course as well with Professor Borzecki. He just really knows how to make courses interesting in Russian history. I liked this course because it looked at a particular chunk of Russia’s history and a very interesting chunk (the best story was about Rasputin). The course it’s fairly straightforward although I found the amount of information that was needed for the final exam was a bit much. You really need to memorize a lot for this course. There was one essay, one midterm and a final exam. The midterm was the easiest. A note on Borzecki’s courses: make sure that you find the best sources possible for the essay topic as the essay sources are scrutinized for their content and accuracy by the professor and all essays are marked by him.

HIS338: The Holocaust and Nazi Germany: Professor Wittmann

I think this has to be my favourite and most interesting course I have ever taken in university, and the one that I have learned the most from. I never intended to take this course, it just happened to fall into my schedule, but I am so happy I took it. First of all, it provided such an amazing perspective about a topic that I thought I had general knowledge about. The detail and the way that professor Wittmann lectures is amazing. We had a concentration camp survivor to come speak to us at the end of the class and it was an experience I will never forget. This course really did change the way I looked at the holocaust and Germany’s history and law in general. It was kind of hard as they graded fairly tough, but I ended up with a fairly good mark in the end. There is a book review, an essay, a midterm and a final exam for this course. The final exam is not as tough as the midterm in my opinion. The book review was probably the hardest component of this. There are also tutorials which I recommended that you attend as they helped me a lot for the final exam.

HIS366: Diasporic Histories and Cultures: Professor Rima Berns McGown

Such a wonderful course with such a wonderful professor. I really enjoyed this course. It was incredibly interesting and we discussed a lot of current and relevant issues regarding identity and race and religion of various peoples around the world. Professor McGown is such a delight and is very insightful and really conducts the class very well in group discussions. We saw a lot of movies that were really good in this course. It was fairly easy as long as you did the readings. There was a short intro to yourself, two short assignments and a major essay where you synthesize several novels that were supposed to be read into an essay. It was fairly easy if you can handle reading five novels in a semester. They were all interesting though which made it better.

As always feel free to ask me any questions about my experiences regarding history coruses at UTM in the comment section below. I always answer questions!