History and Pre-Law

Being a History Major at FSU is a great preparation for going to law school and becoming a legal professional. Studying History provides you with the skill set necessary for a legal career. History is the foremost major at FSU that teaches you expository writing and persuasive written and verbal argumentation. The History Major at FSU prides itself on both its breadth and depth – yet it will also allow you to focus more on a particular theme or area. Additionally, completing the major requirements will equip you with world cultural literacy.

The top six skills a student can acquire with a History degree:

1. Framing and conducting research

2. Gathering & analyzing data

3. Critical thinking & problem solving

4. Persuasive Communication, verbal and written

5. Team work, collaboration

6. Project & time management

An FSU History degree will also allow you to learn about the historical context in which laws were developed.

Courses that have Substantial Legal Content

AMH2097 Nationality, Race and Ethnicity in the US – Immigration Law

Nationality, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States (LS-HIS/W/Y). This course explores the history of immigration to the United States. Topics include the evolution of ethnic cultures and the role of race in adjustment, and related conflicts from colonial times to the present.

AMH3351 Political History of US to 1877 – Supreme Court + Constitutional Law

U.S. Political History to 1877. This course covers the colonial and revolutionary background of U.S. politics. Topics cover U.S. political parties and elections from the 1790s to 1877, emphasizing the presidency and the groups and issues that have influenced political parties.

AMH3352 Political History of US from 1877 – Supreme Court + Constitutional Law

U.S. Political History from 1877 to the Present. This course studies U.S. political parties and elections from the end of Reconstruction to the present. Special emphasis is placed on the presidency and on the groups and issues that have influenced political parties.


The Evolution of Organized Crime. This course discusses the evolution of organized crime in the United States, the social and legal factors that contributed to its development, and the ethnic groups involved.


This course explores developments in Southern political history from 1607 to 1965, focusing on the role of the region in shaping national debates. It examines the South as a place inhabited by diverse groups of people, as a laboratory for ideas and political theories and institutions, and as a set of ideologies and images that still impact American life.


U.S. Immigration History. This course explores the histories of different immigrant and migrant groups and how they have shaped and been shaped by the United States.


Twentieth-Century United States Foreign Relations. This course covers the responsibilities of global power and how American foreign policy changed to meet rapidly altering circumstances.

AMH3320 Mass Incarceration – Punishment & Incarceration

This course examines the phenomenon of punishment in the United States, focusing specifically on the emergence of mass incarceration since the 1960s and 1970s. How did 2.3 million Americans wind up behind bars? How did nearly one million Americans end up on the sex offender registry? What sorts of behaviors and identity markers—whether sexual, racial, or otherwise—have subjected certain populations to punishment? What has this punishment looked like at various points in US history? This class tackles these and other questions, tracing (in rough chronological order since the American Civil War) the long and short origins of mass incarceration.

#*EUH3930 Special Topics/ Eur. History: CSI: Old Regime – Legal/Forensic Medicine

In the present day we often take the concept of medical expertise for granted. That is to say, we depend upon a qualified body of experts whose legitimate knowledge and expert status inform judges, juries and wider society. But what happens when experts get it wrong? What makes a medical expert? When should her/his evidence be relied upon, when should it be questioned and by whom? How far is expertise affected by things like the status and gender of the expert and the bodily evidence?

An historical approach to medical expertise can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the related issues in both past societies and our own. Medico-legal experts now, as in the past, carry the responsibility of interpreting medical evidence within a specific legal framework and conveying their conclusions to the court in a convincing and authoritative manner. Now, as in the early modern period, decisions about the future of victims/defendants are often made by judges or juries on the basis of this evidence. The smooth running of this system depends on the legitimacy of the expert’s knowledge and expert status and their ability to successfully perform the role of medico-legal expert in the judicial arena, negotiating the acceptance of their expertise by judges, juries, jurists, lay witnesses and wider society. If their expert status is revealed to be fraudulent, or their expertise based on a mistaken assessment of the evidence, the consequences can involve tragic miscarriages of justice.


The Age of the French Revolution, 1715–1795. This course is a study of the 18th century and its transformation by the forces unleashed by the French Revolution. The radicalization of the Revolution is traced to the Terror and the overthrow of Robespierre’s dictatorship


Patriots and Pirates in the Atlantic World (LS-HIS/ X/ W). This class surveys the connections that together formed an Atlantic world between the Americas, Africa, and Europe in the era from 1500 to 1800. It focuses upon two foundational patterns: 1) patriotism, and related efforts to build identities, nation-states and empires, and legal/constitutional orders, and 2) piracy, including efforts to detach and/or reconfigure those empires and orders.


Preserving Historic Sites and Spaces. This course focuses on the identification, preservation, and maintenance of historic sites; the historic preservation movement.


Guns, Drugs, and Slaves: The History of Trafficking in the Modern World (LS-HIS/e-course/W). This course addresses the real world problem of global trafficking in weapons, drugs, and humans. Such trafficking causes tremendous harm in today’s world. Employing a variety of approaches from criminology, law, economics, and international relations, the course examines how and why trafficking became embedded in the modern world.

*WOH3440 History of Refugees, 0-2000 – Human Rights + Immigration Law

Global conversation about refugees has reached a fevered pitch, with powerful emotions and controversial policy suggestions emerging from across society. But contemporary understanding of refugees has been obscured by the erroneous notion that refugees and mass displacement are recent phenomena. On the contrary, human displacement has been a feature of global society for millennia (perhaps forever). The ancient Greeks pitied those in exile, like the love-struck Medea or the cursed Oedipus. The Israelites of the Bible yearned to return to their homeland. The twentieth century witnessed millions of Germans, Cubans, and Sudanese (to name but a very few) forced from their homes. This seminar sets out to investigate past episodes of refugee displacement in order to gain insight into displacement and accommodation today. A central theme of the course will be the definition of categories. Who counts as a refugee? How have societies in the past 500 years applied and marshalled the term refugee? Students will choose a final project assignment that will help prepare them for a career history, law, political science, or religious studies.

Courses providing Background to Changes in Society that have Precipitated Legal Changes

*AMH3930 Special Topics/Am. History: Racial Violence in Modern America

In this course, we will examine how racial violence has influenced modern American history and shaped the civil rights struggles of African American communities. The horror of racial violence has discouraged many from admitting or examining this painful part of our nation’s history. However, it is important to turn a lens on racial violence in order to honestly explore the ways in which African American communities have been repressed in the US. Additionally, leaving the legacy of racial violence in America unexamined allows for false narratives to emerge wherein aggressors may recast themselves as victims.

AMH3279 History of Your Life: The US in the 21st century

This course examines the history of the United States since 2000. In so doing, it seeks to familiarize students (most of whom were born around the year 2000) with the historical developments that have shaped their lives—the global “war on terror,” widening wealth and income inequality, the expansion of social media and automation, and intensifying battles over immigration and national and cultural identity.

AMH4220 U.S. Progressive Era, 1890–1920

This course includes a study of the development of domestic and foreign policy, the revolution of social thought, and the paradoxical path of reform in urbanized, industrial America. Emphasis is placed on the nation's effort to accommodate old values with the new realities.


The History of the U.S. and East Asia: 1850 to the Present (X). This course investigates the history of the U.S. and modern East Asia from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, covering political interactions and cultural encounters between Americans and Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese.

HIS3205 LGBTQ History

LGBTQ History (LS-HIS/Y/W). This course traces the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Western Europe and North America from the eighteenth century to the present day. The course showcases the historically contingent nature of homosexuality and gender identity, giving particular attention to the ways that sexual identity intersects with race, class, and gender.


*Courses that are currently taught with the generic Special Topics code (XXX3930).

# Designed for upper-division students, History majors.