Achaemenid Civilization and Empire of Alexander
Most Helpful Review
Your experience in this class depends very much on your TA, as they are the ones grading all your work. With the online environment, the lectures were asynchronous, and the discussions were synchronous. However, during the later half of the quarter, Professor Shayegan decided to make the class synchronous after he realized "he missed giving live lectures," but lectures were still recorded and posted on CCLE. The professor is a very nice person, and he explains very clearly in all his lectures. However, they were a bit bland, as he was reading off the slides most of the time, but that was really helpful oddly enough since there was so much material. Also, he provided lecture notes every week which were also really helpful. Although they weren't as in depth as his lecture slides, they were a consolidation of all the main points from his lectures each week.
I had never taken a history course at UCLA before this, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I took this class as a GE, but I was also interested in the topic. The workload is definitely pretty heavy since there's a lot of readings necessary for this class. However, this class is by no means difficult. It's definitely possible to do well even without completely remembering everything from the readings. One thing that may be slightly difficult from the reading is understanding primary sources and analyzing them. I had never analyzed a translated historical primary source before so it was definitely an adjustment in the beginning.
Here's the grading distribution
30% Participation and Attendance in discussion
30% Final Paper
20% Midterm Paper
20% Primary Source Analysis Paper
None of the assignments were insanely difficult although writing papers can be time consuming depending on your familiarity with writing historical analysis papers. All the assignments in this class are writing assignments. The primary source analysis paper was open book, and we were given weeks to write it (only 1000-1500 words). The midterm and final were take-home tests, meaning we were given the whole weekend + Monday to complete it. However, the professor and the TA would release the question bank a week in advance so we could prepare ahead of time. Out of the question bank, the professor would choose a few prompts that we'd have to address on the midterm/final. Although there was no word limit, it's recommended each answer to each prompt be around 500-750 words. One con is that the midterm and final were closed-book so there's quite a few things to memorize before each test.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this class. Of course, I'd only recommend you take this class if you have some interest in history or at least the topic of this class. I would take this class again with Professor Shayegan and even other classes he'd be teaching. My TA was also really nice and helpful, so I definitely had a good experience with this class.