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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!


Anonymous said...

Hey I was wondering how hard is it to get a 4.0 in HIS338?

Marz's Bar said...

HIS338 was one of the harder history courses, so I'm thinking that compared to another 300 level history course it may be harder to get a 4.0 in. They make this course hard because it is such a special interest course and everyone wants to take it. But it is the most interesting history course there is (in my opinion)

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for replying! :) The thing is I'm going into second year and like most first years I kind of screwed up my GPA (2.75) so I'm looking for a class that I know I can get a 4.0 in if I put in the hard work. Do you have any recommendations for any electives of that nature? I'm in the Bio specialist.

Marz's Bar said...

No problem! :)
If you're looking for an easy 4.0, I honestly don't think that history courses are the way to go. They involve too much work, and a lot of the marking is subjective so you might get stick with a TA who is hard, or you might get lucky; its all a gamble.
For an easy 4.0, I would recommend CCT220 (semiotics). This was the easiest course EVER! I'm not sure if you need CCT100/101 as a pre-req, so check it out. But if you don't then try to get into that course. Generally, the CCT courses are really easy, so try for those. Also GGR208 is a really great course (so interesting!) and really easy as well. If Professor Leydon is teaching you're in for a treat because he's one of the most hilarious and interesting professors on campus. Geography courses are generally easy, but you have to be careful because some of the TAs will mark hard, and usually people slack off in these courses so its easy to fall off the wagon and get stuck with a bad mark in the end.
Also, try diaspora studies. I loved diaspora studies courses and they are really easy and interesting. If Rima Berns-Mcgown teaches any of those courses then you are guaranteed a good mark and a great discussion and lecture from her too. Hope that helps!

Peter said...

I'm actually planning to take that diaspora studies course with Berns-McGown. I need one more history course for the semester though, I'm trying to decide between His371 (The Americas: Interaction and Inequality with Williams) or HIS318 (Canadian Environmental History: Contact to Conservation) with MacDowell.

Haven't found much info on these courses or profs so would appreciate any insight.

Your blog btw has been very helpful.

Marz's Bar said...

Hey Peter,
Thanks for the compliment.
Unfortunately I haven't taken a course with either Williams or MacDowell, or any of those courses that you've listed there. But I have a friend who took Canadian Environmental History and she said that it was really easy, but she does not know the name of the professor that she took it with. It would be a hit and miss. I would say take whichever one seems more interesting!

Anonymous said...

hello Marz's Bar,

im currently taking intro to russian history with PRof Borz. im kinda finding it tough because his lectures are really dry and he doesnt really stay on point while he lectures.

I was wondering if you can help me out in what i can do too get a good grade on the midterm or what i should be expecting.

Thank you

Marz said...

I'm sorry it has taken me a while to reply, I realize that your midterm may have already happened.
As for Prof Borzecki, his lectures can seem dry, but all the material is testable. Even the details that you feel are irrelevant, he will test you on them. So my word of advice would be to make notes on everything. I personally didn't like how Russian wars were constantly talked about, but they were all on the midterm / exam, so I'm happy I made a note of these. With professor Borzecki, he will not test you from the book solely, so make sure you go to lecture and take good notes and you should be fine.

Anonymous said...

do you have the old mid term?

Marz's Bar said...

No, I'm sorry, I do not.

Anonymous said...


For the category of medieval history and ancient cultures, what classes do you suggest i take to fulfill that requirement for my history major.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

hey im first year psychology student at utm. i had to drop chem since after the dec exam so now i have to take 2 half year classses to cancel out the credit i lost with chem. I applied for sociology, one of the political science courses, religion and intro to first year history. most of these classes has a big waitlist since it is so late now, and the class i have best chance of getting into is intro to history since the waiting list is relatively small. How writing intensive is that class? is there any presentations or written exams? Is that class hard compared to psychology or biology? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi, i read the above post. But could you possibly state some programs or courses which would act as gpa boosters :) thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey do you know what are some good 3rd sociology courses.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of HIS338...I think they've recently upped TUT participation to 20 percent of the final mark. It's helpful, but I think the trade off has been an increase in reading. Upwards of 100 pages a week.

As a fourth year student who is balancing the most reading intensive year ever with prep for grad school applications and stuff..I've got to ask:

what were your experiences with the reading? Did they apply much to the tests? I find that Wittman's lectures are so dense..and she rarely touches on what we've read directly! I don't see how we can be expected to synthesize so much info into an hour long midterm!

Thoughts? Oh, and I'm not the kind of person who's essentially asking if I can get by with skipping all the readings. I'm just wondering if it's alright to miss a couple here or there..or even skim through some.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like upwards of an 80 percent just fyi. Need to keep my GPA consistently at that level (currently a 3.75 overall)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I wanted to ask you if there was any presentations in HIS101 or not. Are there? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I wanted to ask you if there was any presentations in HIS101 or not. Are there? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi your blogs are very informative. I'm wondering if you had a blog for geography

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