Placeholder for LessonBanner


Quick Links

Course Materials


There are no specific prerequisites for this class, although by this point we expect students to have some historical foundations, however shaky. Both the text and lesson materials target lower-division college students, and most concepts and ideas are presented as if this were the reader’s first exposure. Your best preparation would be to have a strong natural curiosity and a willingness to add to what you already know and to increase your mind’s working vocabulary. What you already know is less important than what you want to know.

Most students succeed in the course, but success here, as in all things, is more a result of willingness to work than any particular ability or intelligence. Make it your objective to learn, and enjoy the learning. Learning takes work and time, plain and simple. But if you can focus on learning the past rather than earning a grade, the process will be less stressful, more enjoyable, and you will probably earn a better grade.

I hope you will come to care deeply about the big questions life and history impose on us, and that your enthusiasm for discovery will be amplified. Don’t be the student for whom the only question that could have any personal relevance is “Is this going to be on the test?” There are more important and more interesting questions to pursue. Why am I the way I am? Why do I do what I do, value what I value, hate what I hate? How has history shaped me? How has my ignorance, thus far, limited my ability to enjoy and understand the world I live in? How has it limited the choices available to me? History can open new worlds to you.

BYU Course Outcomes

Demonstrate a basic geographical knowledge of the world, and more importantly, develop the ability to discuss how geographical and environmental realities, as well as cross-regional interactions, have impacted historical development.

Be able to identify major societies of the post-1500 C.E. era and make historical comparisons between them, in regard to political systems, trade and economics, social structures, religious beliefs, and gender roles.

Gain an appreciation of influential cultural works produced in a variety of modern societies and through them come to a clearer understanding of the fundamental values held by past peoples—including, how they understood the natural world, what it meant to be human, and their relationship with the divine.

Be able to analyze historical questions and issues clearly, assess historical information accurately, and distinguish between questionable and valid historical assertions.

Be able to read, analyze, and discuss both primary and secondary source documents dealing with world history (post-1500 C.E.).

Improve the clarity and grace of analytical writing.

Recognize and be able to apply the tools necessary for a lifelong appreciation of the study of world history.

Course Objectives

The course has two major themes, I think.

The first is to help you understand the contemporary impacts of past social, political, and environmental processes, such as science, liberalism, agriculture, industrialization, imperialism, urbanization, migration, population growth, socialism, religious conversion, environmentalism, and other core themes.

Second, the course will help you understand the causes and consequences of the encounters of cultures, particularly those between Western and non-Western societies, and consider how this type of contact changes both cultures, an event repeated over and over again in the last 500 years that is simultaneously destructive and creative.

Course Materials

You will need the following two books:

The ISBN for the Bulliet textbook is 978-1-4390-8475-5. This should ensure you get volume 2 of the fifth, full edition. You do not want the “Brief Edition,” nor do you want volume 1, nor volumes A, B or C. A used version of this edition will serve you fine and is often available at online outlets such as or

(Back to top)



Quizzes have sixteen questions each. They are based on readings, and are open book.

The quizzes appear in every odd-numbered lesson, and you should submit them after completing each associated lesson. They will help you focus your reading and identify some of the chapter’s key points and objectives. They will be graded on the same scale as the course, but as they are open book, their intent is help you learn more than to evaluate your performance.

Portfolio Assignment

The portfolio, which you will turn in at the end of the course, consists of 9 assignments, 8 Primary Source Analyses, and 1 book response.

Note:All of these items should be parts of a single document.

Formatting Your Written Work

To make sure that I can open and read your portfolio, please save all assignments in the same .RTF file.

Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, HIST202_JaneSmith_Portfolio.RTF.

Begin the document with your Book Response (you don’t have to complete it first, but it should come first), and add the Primary Source Analysis pages in order after that.

Add each part of the assignment to the document, following the directions in this Syllabus.

Primary Source Analysis

Primary Source Analysis papers make up 8 of the portfolio's assignments, and will be assigned in Lessons 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 13. You'll find the sources themselves in your textbook (Bulliet, et. al.), and I will identify them in each relevant lesson.

What is a primary source? A primary source is a letter, book, image, memoir, document, or other source of information that was created at the time of the events which the historian is studying. The historian locates primary sources, mines them of their information, and interprets them to write history. Primary sources are all the evidence we have to get at the truth about the past. What I'm asking you to do with the primary source selections in your text is play the role of the historian by questioning and analyzing their content, the first step toward writing history.

I am quite particular about the format of each paper:

First, do the lesson's reading assignments (course manual, textbook) as this can help you be informed of the source's context and can help spark thought. Second, read the source(s) carefully to learn what they say. Then, based on what the source says and your own intelligent thinking, answer the question I present in the course material for each. You must use at least the first half of the page to answer my question(s). You can continue to page end if you like on my question or at any point beyond the half page mark you can answer one of the questions in the textbook, at the end of the document(s). Or, even better, form your own question and answer it in the second half of the page. The historian's hardest job, in fact, is asking questions, not answering them; so if you feel ambitious and want to address an issue that interests you—express your own academic freedom—use the second half of the page to form and answer your own question. Make sure you state your question clearly before you start to answer it.

As these are thought papers, they have no right answers, so don't get stressed about being right or wrong. Few historians would get anything right if they had to rely on just one or two primary sources alone to answer a historical question. However, like a historian does, I want you to aim for the truth. Ask yourself if your thoughts, conclusions, or assertions are reasonable based on the source's content. This is an exercise. Its purpose is to force you to think, form your own opinion, and discover, if not the truth, the process of finding the truth about the past. The point, again, is to make you think, which is the principal skill or aptitude one should gain from a college education. Combined, these 8 assignments make up 50% of the portfolio's grade.

Book Response to Things Fall Apart

After reading the course material and textbook assignment for Lesson 10, read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Then respond to one of the following questions in no more than 750 words.

  1. Is Okonkwo a tragic hero or a cowardly failure? Would you be heroic or suicidal if overpowering invaders, against whom resistance was futile, destroyed your culture and turned your children against you?
  2. What, in your opinion, “falls apart” with the arrival of the British, and what is the primary cause of the coming apart?
  3. Or, form your own narrow question and answer it. Make sure it is of a scope (not too broad) that you can answer in the space allowed.

The paper should be double-spaced, and should not exceed 750 words (use your software’s word count feature). It should be carefully written and coherently organized. As the assignment is worded, this is not a book report, but a response. Don’t tell me what the book says; I’ve already read it—numerous times. Tell me what you think of what the book says. Notice the emphasis on thinking. I am not looking for any particular answers or opinions to the questions, but simply evidence that you can think for yourself and defend your opinions with coherent evidence and arguments. I have my own opinions, but I really love it when students convince me of something new. Ponder and brainstorm on paper before you formally put your words on the final assignment. About one third of the book-response grade will be based on the quality of your writing; two thirds on the quality of your thought. The Book Response comprises 50% of the portfolio’s grade.

(Back to top)


Midcourse Exam

To best prepare for the midcourse exam, you should carefully read your text book and course material. You will be required to identify locations on a map as well as match terms with their descriptions or definitions. To do well on the map and matching, master the material in each lesson’s Self Check (both items and places). The exam also consists of multiple-choice questions. To best prepare for these (in addition to careful reading), be able to meet the expectations listed at the beginning of each lesson under “Learning Outcomes.” The midcourse exam covers lessons 1 through 7.

The exam is closed book and will be proctored. The time limit on the midcourse exam is one and a half hours; you should have no trouble completing it in that period of time.

Final Exam

The final exam will be in all respects similar in format to the midcourse exam. It is not comprehensive but covers only the second half of the course, lessons 8 through 15. Again, review the Self Check terms and the Learning Outcomes. The time limit on the final is one and a half hours; it is proctored and closed book.

(Back to top)


Your grade in this course is based on the following five items:

8 Quizzes 16%
Eight Primary Source Analysis papers in the Portfolio Assignment 34% (17% each for the 8 Primary Source Analyses and the 1 book response)
Midcourse Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%

Grading Scale

Your letter grade is based on these percentages.

A 100 93
A- 92 90
B+ 89 87
B 86 83
B- 82 80
C+ 79 77
C 76 73
C- 72 70
D+ 69 67
D 66 63
D- 62 60
E (fail) 59 or below

(Back to top)

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

(Back to top)

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

(Back to top)

Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

(Back to top)