900 Years of History

Admit It! You want to know more about the individual majors offered through the St Andrews William & Mary Joint Degree Programme don’t you?  The History Program within the St Andrews William & Mary Joint Degree Programme is truly one of a kind. Given that both departments offer some of the best professors, courses, and expertise on a common topic, what would make a student choose one school over the other? The reality for a Joint Degree student is that he or she does not have to choose; the program brings the best of both departments to the forefront and allows its students to experience an unparalleled education.

History students at W&M have the flexibility to take introductory survey courses from all major regions of the world or more specific courses related to a given time period, culture, region, trend, or country.  After completing several of the broader survey classes, students are encouraged to dive into a specific passion, take courses in various topics, or charter their own hybrid track.  Many history majors at the College take a smattering of history courses (ranging from Maroon Societies to Modern Germany to the Rise and Fall of Apartheid).  True to the definition of liberal arts, W&M students take many courses outside the History Department (as only one third of their academic time will be taken up by their history major) by completing the General Education Requirements, tackling a double major or major/minor, or dabbling in other academic genres. We pride ourselves in flexibility of academic choice and the History Department is a prime example of this intellectual freedom at the College.

A history student at St Andrews University is going to be just that, a history student.  Opportunities to experience a chemistry course or learn advanced yoga are limited and in some cases impossible.  What a student in the ancient city on the Northern Sea will enjoy is a focused and intense study with an emphasis on understanding different approaches to the theory of these facts and stories.  Where the typical American student would be encouraged to absorb a wide range of facts and historical arcs while developing high level analytical skills, the UK student is trained to review the theories behind these historiographies in order to create different approaches all together.  This emphasis on manipulating materials paired with an intensely focused study creates a detailed and disciplined experience.

Joint Degree Programme students will be the first to reap the benefits of being exposed to both forms of education in a well planned and purposeful program. Students beginning their four year experience at W&M will enjoy the flexibility of the liberal arts system during their first two semesters, taking courses within the History Department but also continuing a language, enjoying survey courses, or tackling a new passion.  These students will work closely with their advisor to build a program of study tailored to their specific areas of interest.  Those students passionate about European topics might choose to dive into the French language, taking advanced courses throughout their time at both institutions. In this respect, students may take an advanced French literature course while concurrently learning about Voltaire’s influence on the French Revolution from a historian’s perspective.  The progression of course work and development of expertise in a certain region will evolve throughout the students’ ventures at both schools, culminating in an independent research project with a professor.  This depth of study allows the W&M student to acquire a focused grasp of a specific topic not usually found on the undergraduate level and the UK student to experience some unusually unattainable academic freedom exposing both groups to a different version of analysis not taught at their home institutions.

The St. Andrews William & Mary Joint Degree Programme offers the best of both university worlds as it offers students an intensity of education and breadth of knowledge without sacrificing the unique nature of either school.  These pioneering students will be able to experience both the highly disciplined and intensely academic world in the UK as well as the traditionally broad and flexible American liberal arts system.  In other words, students are able to have their intellectual cake and eat it too!

Want to learn about the English, Economics, and International Relations majors of the Joint Degree Programme?  Stay tuned.

Contributed by:
Amanda Norris ’07
Former Assistant Dean of Admission