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HIST 103 World History I: Patterns of Civilization to 1500

Does the world have a history? This course is based on an affirmative answer to the question. A history of the world must be more than a mere compendium of facts about disparate societies and traditions. In this course students study the interactions among far-flung civilizations in ancient and medieval times. However, for most of the period considered in this course, those interactions were quite limited. Therefore, a coherent account of human history as a whole before the modern era emerges in large measure from comparisons among independently developing societies, and from a search for common patterns of development. Both similarities and important differences receive due attention. Topics include: the change from hunter-gatherer societies to sedentary agriculture; the rise of cities, social stratification, and the beginnings of written culture and organized religion; the complex civilizations and empires of West Asia, East Asia, Africa, Mesoamerica, and Europe; gender relations across civilizations in the ancient world; and the beginnings of technological and cultural divergence in the medieval world.
3 Undergraduate credits

Effective August 24, 2002 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • To acquire and improve writing and communication skills by submitting essays that require the organization, analysis, synthesis, and explanation of historical facts and original argumentation.
  • To acquire familiarity with the main themes and events of world history, from its beginnings to 1500 C.E., as outlined in the course description.
  • To practice critical and analytical skills on historical theories, controversies, and debates as well as on primary sources.
  • To understand and be able to explain the historical significance of both primary and secondary sources.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Employ the methods and data that historians and social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
  • Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods and cultures.
  • Use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • Develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.

Fall 2024

Section Title Instructor books eservices
50 World History I: Patterns of Civilization to 1500 Wagstrom, Thor A Books for HIST-103-50 Fall 2024 Course details for HIST-103-50 Fall 2024