Honors Program

Honors Program

Seminars are the normal mode of preparation for students majoring in history in the Honors Program. Majors in the Honors Program will complete at least nine total credits, one of which will be the Senior Research Seminar (HIST 091) in which students write a research paper based on primary sources. This course is only offered during the fall semester. The department encourages students to suggest possible research topics in their sophomore papers and to select topics by the end of their junior year. Six of these credits will be three double-credit seminars; Honors Majors must also have a pre-1750 course and a non-USA/Europe course. Honors Majors will revise one paper per seminar for their portfolio submitted to external examiners. Revised papers will not be graded but will be included in the portfolio to provide examiners a context for the evaluation of the written examination taken in the spring of the senior year. Students may substitute Honors Thesis (HIST 180) for one of their seminars. The thesis and revised seminar papers for the Class of 2014 are due by May 2.

Minors in the Honors Program will complete one double-credit seminar in addition to three credits taken at Swarthmore (AP, transfer credit, and courses taken abroad do not count; one approved history course in the Classics Department may count) and include one revised paper from that seminar in their portfolio. This revised seminar paper is due by May 2.

Seminars are a collective, collaborative, and cooperative venture among students and faculty members designed to promote self-directed learning. Active participation in seminars is, therefore, required of all students. Evaluation of performance in the seminar will be based on the quality of seminar papers and comments during seminar discussions, in addition to the written examination. Because the seminar depends on the active participation of all its members, the department expects students to live up to the standards of honors. These standards include attendance at every seminar session, submission of seminar papers according to the deadline set by the instructor, reading of seminar papers before coming to the seminar, completion of all reading assignments before the seminar, respect of the needs of other students who share the reserve readings, and eagerness to engage in a scholarly discussion of the issues raised by the readings and seminar papers.

History Class

Students in seminars take a 3-hour written examination at the end of each seminar and receive a grade from the seminar instructor for their overall performance in the seminar, including the written examination. Seminar instructors will not normally assign grades during the course of the seminar, but they will meet periodically with students on an individual basis during the course of the semester to discuss their progress.

The department reminds students that the responsibility for earning honors rests squarely on the students' shoulders and will review on a regular basis their performance in the program. Failure to live up to the standards outlined previously may disqualify students from continuing in the Honors Program. Students earn double-credit for seminars and should be prepared to work at least twice as hard as they do for single-credit courses.

The revised seminar papers are written in two stages. During the first stage, students confer with their seminar instructor about what paper to prepare for honors and what revisions to plan for these papers. Seminar instructors will offer advice on how to improve the papers with additional readings, structural changes, and further development of arguments. The second stage occurs when the student revises the papers independently. Faculty members are not expected to read the revised papers at any stage of the revision process. Each revised paper must be from 2,500 to 4,000 words and include a brief bibliography. Students will submit them to the department office by May 2. Examiners will be notified of any late submissions and a students' honorific may be impacted by a late submission.

The department encourages students to form their own study groups to prepare for the external examinations. Although faculty members may, at their convenience, attend an occasional study session, students are generally expected to form and lead the study groups, in keeping with the department's belief that honors is a collaborative, self-learning exercise that relies on the commitment of students.