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Examinations

In order to progress to dissertation stage, students must, in addition to passing their 20 courses, fulfil the following requirements:

  • Modern Languages Exams
  • Qualification Exams
  • Candidacy Exams

 

 Modern Languages Examinations

All candidates for the Ph.D. must pass examinations in German and either French or Italian.  Each examination will involve translating one page (approximately 200 words) of scholarly prose accurately and into idiomatic English, and then writing a short summary, not a translation, of a second passage.  The exam is two hours long. Use of a paper dictionary is permitted. Students are urged to attempt these examinations as early in their careers as possible. The examinations will be given in October and March at dates set by the Graduate Chair; in exceptional circumstances, they may be offered at other times. The modern languages examination requirement should be fulfilled by the end of the student’s third year. Failure to pass these exams in a timely fashion may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program.

 

Qualification Exams

The Qualification Exam is given at the beginning of a student’s fourth semester in the program, usually in the first two weeks of the semester. The Examination Committee is chosen by the Graduate Chair and consists of at least three examiners, including the Graduate Chair. The examination has written and oral components, as follows: 

1. Written Translation Exam in two ancient languages

The student takes translation exams in two ancient languages. In each exam, the student translates three passages from the four offered by the examiners. In the weeks before the exam, the student will have the opportunity to draw up a list of authors and texts with which they feel familiar. The examination will be prepared in conjunction with this information; however, the exam will include passages not drawn from this list. The use of a dictionary is not permitted. 

Time: usually 2 hours for each exam, typically taken on two consecutive days.

NB: If a student passes one or two language components at the Qualifying Exam stage to a sufficiently high standard (deemed “high pass”), they may be exempted from the translation requirement in this language/these languages at the Candidacy Exam stage (see below, no. II 5).  

2. Oral Exam in two historical fields

After the end of classes in the fall semester, the student will be given a list of approximately 20 questions in total from two historical fields. Of these, the student chooses three for each historical field around which the oral exam in will revolve, and informs the Graduate Chair of their choices at least one week before the date of the oral exam. 

Time: usually two hours. The oral exam is normally held 7-10 days after the written translation examinations.  

Failure to pass parts of the Qualification Exam might constitute grounds for dismissal from the program. If a student fails one or several of the components of the Qualifying Examination, the Graduate Chair in consultation with the Examination Committee decides whether the student will be given the opportunity to retake the exam. Characteristically, all requirements have to be fulfilled by the end of the fourth semester in the program.

 

 

Candidacy Exam

The Candidacy Exam consists of a sequence of exams characteristically to be taken over the course of a student’s sixth semester in the program and the subsequent summer. Coursework and modern language requirements must have been met by the end of a student’s sixth semester. Courses graded “incomplete” do not count towards the coursework requirement. The Graduate Chair appoints the Examination Committee, consisting of at least three examiners, including the Graduate Chair. The exam has written and oral components, as follows:

1. Written History Exam in one historical field: 

At the beginning of a student’s sixth semester in the program, the student takes a written exam in one historical field. The exam is typically organized in four sections along the major chronological divisions and focuses on the history, sources, modern scholarship, and methods of studying this field. The students will answer one of three questions from three of these sections. Questions are prepared by the Exam Committee in consultation with those faculty members of the Graduate Group who have taught the student. 

Time: usually three hours. 

2. Written History Exam in a second historical field

In the middle of a student’s sixth semester in the program (usually in March), the student takes a written exam in a second historical field. The exam is typically organized in four sections along the major chronological divisions and focuses on the history, sources, modern scholarship, and methods of studying this field. The student will answer one of three questions from three of these sections. Questions are prepared by the Examination Committee in consultation with those faculty members of the Graduate Group who have taught the student. 

Time: usually three hours.

 3. Oral Exam on Historical Approaches (focusing on two chronological periods) 

The oral exam is taken toward the end of a student’s sixth semester in the program, usually shortly after classes have ended. The exam focuses on two historical approaches such as social history, political history, environmental history, gender studies, cultural history etc., each of them in their application to a distinct chronological period (see examples below). The two chronological periods must come from two distinct historical fields. In the exam, students should demonstrate familiarity with the historical background, primary sources, modern scholarship, and the respective methodological considerations.  Periods and historical approaches are defined and agreed upon by the candidate, the Graduate Chair, and the Examination Committee. They are subject to approval by the Graduate Chair and the Examination Committee at least four weeks before the date of the exam. One of the chosen approaches and chronological periods may be related to the prospective dissertation project. 

Time: usually 3 hours. The oral exam also includes a discussion of the Dissertation Prospectus (see below, no. II 4).

Sample list of chronological periods and historical approaches*

Sample list of chronological periods*

Greek History: Early Greece; Archaic and Classical Greece; Later Classical and Early Hellenistic Period; Late Hellenistic and Roman Period

Roman History: Archaic Rome to Middle Republic; Late Republican Period; Early Imperial Period (Augustus – Flavians); High Empire; Late Antiquity – Early Medieval Period

Early Islamic History: Late Antiquity, Muhammad, and the early Arab empire; Abbasids and the later formative period 

Sample list of historical approaches*

Social History

Political History

Cultural History

Gender Studies

Economic History

History of Ideas

History of Institutions

History of Religion (incl. religious beliefs and practices)

Environmental History

Material and Visual Culture 

*These are examples. The student should discuss their choices with the Graduate Chair and other faculty members of the Graduate Group. The respective periods and approaches must be approved by the Graduate Chair and the Examination Committee.

 

 4. Dissertation Prospectus

A full dissertation proposal outlining the topic, structure, goals, and methodology of the dissertation, along with a research bibliography, must be submitted to the Graduate Chair for distribution to the examiners at least two weeks before the Oral Exam. The Prospectus will then be discussed during the Oral Exam (see above, no. II 3). 

If the submitted Prospectus is deemed unsatisfactory by the Examination Committee, the examiners will decide whether the student should revise the Prospectus within a specified time frame and re-submit it for further discussion, or be dismissed from the program.

 

5. Written Translation Examination in two ancient languages

The student takes written translation exams in two ancient languages in the summer immediately following their sixth semester in the program. In each exam, the student translates four of five passages as set by the examiners. The use of a dictionary is not permitted. 

Time: two hours for each exam, usually taken within the same week.

NB: If a student’s translation in one or two ancient languages in the Qualification Exam was deemed “high pass” by the Examination Committee, the student may be exempted from the translation requirement in this language/these languages at the Candidacy Examination stage (see above, no. I 1).

If a student passed the translation exam in one or two languages in the Qualification Exam at a high standard (but not deemed “high pass”), the student may petition to take one or two translation exams for the Candidacy Exam already at the beginning of their third year in the program. The Graduate Chair and Examination Committee decide whether the student should be given this option in consultation with faculty who has taught the student in the respective language(s). Students are encouraged to discuss this option with the Graduate Chair and other faculty.

 

Upon successful completion of the Candidacy Exam, the student is advanced to candidacy.

Failure to pass parts of the Candidacy Exam might constitute grounds for dismissal from the program. If a student fails one or several of the components of the Candidacy Exam, the Graduate Chair in consultation with the Examination Committee decides whether the student will be given the opportunity to retake the exam or be dismissed from the program.

  

Administration of Examinations

The Graduate Group Chair will choose at least three examiners, including the Chair, for every Qualification and Candidacy Exam.