Directed Studies in Historical Research

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
HIST 4490
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
N/A; directed studies
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
HIST 4490, Directed Studies in Historical Research, enables students to complete an independent research project on a regional, thematic or comparative historical topic through a structured and rigorous process of historical inquiry. Students will gain experience in locating and working with original source materials, refine their writing and analytic skills, and practice communicating history to diverse audience. Students may choose to integrate a public history or digital history component into their project. Directed studies projects are supervised and evaluated by a faculty member in the History department. Students must first meet with the faculty supervisor and receive written approval of the proposed directed studies project. Students must also provide a list of courses completed and in progress in History as part of the application process. Permission from the Department Chair and the approval of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences is required before registration can be completed. NOTE: Students cannot take HIST 3390 and HIST 4490 in the same term.
Course Content

The topic of the directed studies research project will be developed collaboratively by the student and the faculty supervisor. The research project does not need to be wholly original but must represent a new approach to a historical research question based on close work with primary sources. Students will engage in the practice of history inquiry, apply historical reasoning, and situate their research within larger theoretical frameworks.


Learning Activities

This course involves independent study with supervision provided weekly throughout the semester. Students will complete an extensive directed study of a comparative or thematic issue in History under the direction of a supervisory faculty member. Students will complete various components of an original research project and gain mastery in discipline-specific writing skills, as well as refining their overall writing ability. Students will refine their research skills, and will undertake significant primary and secondary research, including the use of digital archives. Students may also engage with the presentation of history to the wider public through a community engagement or applied research component of the directed studies project.


Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. The faculty supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the research project complies with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline provided to the directed studies student at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

 An example of one evaluation scheme:

A multi-stage research project comprised of the following components:

  • Reading and research journal 10%
  • Research proposal 10%
  • Historiographic or methodological analysis 10%
  • Literature review and annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources 20%
  • Research presentation 10%
  • Research paper 30%
  • Précis/abstract of findings 10%
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).

  • Students will refine and extend their ability to analyse and interpret complex historical documents.
  • Students will be introduced to the principles and practice of archival research and the use of original source materials.

2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history). Students will complete longer and more complex writing assignments that demonstrate the abilty to:

  • plan and complete the multiple stages of an original research project,
  • write a research proposal,
  • identify and analyze a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources,
  • write an annotated bibliography,
  • build historical arguments based on a wide range of historical evidence, and
  • revise and refine successive drafts of an essay.

3. Participating in active and informed historical debate through discussion and presentation (discussing history).

  • Students will engage in regular, structured and extended discussion and debate of their course reading and progress on their research project with the faculty supervisor.
  • Students will refine their ability to deliver a formal research presentation.
  • Students will gain familiarity with writing a précis of their research project.

4. Investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history).

  • Students will gain familiarity with ethical research practices in History.
  • Students may be introduced to the theory and practice of oral history.
  • Students may plan and design a public history project or a digital humanities project.
  • Students may collaborate with community archives, heritage organizations and cultural institutions in public history projects.
  • Students may present their original research findings to public or non-specialist audiences.
Textbook Materials

The faculty supervisor will assign a selection of primary documents and scholarly journal articles, and at least one academic monograph on the broad theme of the research topic.

Students will develop reading lists of primary and secondary literature, annotated bibliographies, and other resource lists on their chosen topic or theme as part of the research project, in consultation with the faculty supervisor.



60 credits completed, including a minimum 15 credits in History. 6 credits in History must be at the second year or higher level, with a minimum of 3 credits in History at the third year level. The student must be in good academic standing.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 4490
Acsenda School of Management (ASM) ASM GEN 4XX (3)
Athabasca University (AU) AU HIST 4XX (3)
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO HIST 4XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU HIST 4XX (3)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) CMTN HIST 2XX (3)
College of New Caledonia (CNC) CNC HIST 2XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR HIST 4XX (3)
LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) LCV HST 1XX (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC HIST 4XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HIST 4XX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) No credit
University Canada West (UCW) UCW HIST 4XX (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 499 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HIST 489 (3) or UFV HIST 490 (3)
Yorkville University (YVU) YVU GES 3XXX (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023