Location: Marion McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building
6135 University Avenue
Room 1158
P.O. Box 15000
Halifax, NS
B3H 4R2
Telephone: (902) 494-2011
Fax: (902) 494-3349
Website: www.history.dal.ca
Email: history@dal.ca


Just as people need to know who they are and how they arrived where they are, groups, communities, states and nations need a sense of their own past as part of their culture.

The academic study of history is concerned to discover as much as possible of the reality of the past and to interpret human behaviour in its changes through time. It is a unique subject, scientific in the way it uses evidence, but still an art because the reconstruction of the past requires a disciplined imagination and an effective rhetoric for the communication of meaning.

The contemporary world is one of intensive specialization, in which the varieties of human knowledge have increased well beyond the capacity of any individual to command them all. These developments have reinforced the role of history as the foundation of a person’s education, because history can never exclude any branch of human knowledge, although individual historians will want to select that portion of it especially relevant for them. History’s field of study will always be the entirety of the human experience.

The subject of history does not have a monolithic body of knowledge. Historical understanding is a matter of interpretation, of offering explanations for events and movements which are subject to constant revision by scholars. Arguments, scepticism and controversy are thus the very stuff of history. The history student does not merely acquire a particular mass of information, but learns to think independently.

Especially in the 3000 and 4000 level courses, students gain more than sophistication about substantive areas of history. They also develop transferable skills for oral and written communication, for presentations of findings to groups, for group and independent research, for computer literacy in the human sciences, for research skills in primary and secondary materials, and for the application of foreign languages.

A degree in history provides a superb background for students planning to enter professional careers in fields such as law, education and journalism, as well as those interested in pursuing graduate study in history or related social science and humanities disciplines.

Degree Programs

All BA programs are governed by the general requirements of the College of Arts and Science for degrees, as set out in the University Calendar. See the Degree Requirements section for complete details, particularly with respect to Distribution Requirements, the Writing Course, the Language Course, and Arts and Science Electives. Before registering for the second year, each student in the College of Arts and Science must declare a subject of concentration. Once a student has declared History as the subject of concentration the following degree programs apply.

Courses in the History Department are grouped numerically in several geographical, chronological, subject and other areas: for example, Canadian, American, British, African, Medieval and Early Modern European, Modern European, Science and Technology, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to select a distribution of courses from different areas in order to experience the variety and richness of history.

However, students planning to take a minimum of 30 credit hours in History (above the 1000 level) are required to choose at least three credit hours above the 1000 level in each of four categories (A, B, C and D). See details under History Degree Requirements.

Students who wish to build up a greater specialization in history than the minimum requirements outlined below may do so by taking courses of an historical nature given by the Departments of Classics, Economics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Spanish and Latin American Studies, Theatre, etc.

History students interested in obtaining an Emphasis in Canadian Studies along with their Major or Minor in History should consult the Canadian Studies calendar entry for information on requirements and for a list of History courses approved with Canadian Studies.

Students who wish to concentrate in a particular area of history should acquire the appropriate language skills, especially if they intend to pursue graduate study in it.

The following outline presents the MINIMUM departmental requirements for each program and should be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Faculty.

(Note: This requirement applies to students who start their BA degree in Fall 2014 and after.