Jerusalem: Holy City

Jeremy Smoak

Jerusalem: Holy City

Ancient Near East department

Jeremy Smoak

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from 36 users

Ratings

Bad
Overall 3.5
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 2.5
Easy
Heavy
Workload 2.4
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 3.8
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.9
Helpful
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Tags

  • Needs Textbook
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Uses Slides
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Participation Matters
  • Engaging Lectures

Grades

Winter 2019
30.9%
25.7%
20.6%
15.4%
10.3%
5.1%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2018
29.3%
24.4%
19.5%
14.6%
9.8%
4.9%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2017
22.0%
18.3%
14.6%
11.0%
7.3%
3.7%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2017
25.7%
21.4%
17.2%
12.9%
8.6%
4.3%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Summer 2016
26.3%
21.9%
17.5%
13.2%
8.8%
4.4%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Spring 2016
23.9%
19.9%
15.9%
11.9%
8.0%
4.0%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2016
27.4%
22.8%
18.3%
13.7%
9.1%
4.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2016
24.3%
20.3%
16.2%
12.2%
8.1%
4.1%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2015
34.4%
28.6%
22.9%
17.2%
11.5%
5.7%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2015
33.3%
27.8%
22.2%
16.7%
11.1%
5.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2014
30.1%
25.0%
20.0%
15.0%
10.0%
5.0%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Summer 2013
40.0%
33.3%
26.7%
20.0%
13.3%
6.7%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2013
39.5%
32.9%
26.3%
19.7%
13.2%
6.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2012
37.1%
30.9%
24.7%
18.6%
12.4%
6.2%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

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1 of 3

Reviews

Quarter Taken: Fall 2020 Submitted Dec. 31, 2020 Grade Received: A

If I was evaluating this class only based on Dr. Smoak, I would be giving a much nicer review. The material in this course centers on Jerusalem and the biblical mythology and history surrounding it, so having prior religious education is advantageous. While I did not find the material in this course particularly interesting, Dr. Smoak was a clear lecturer and always willing to stay on Zoom after class and clarify anything that did not make sense. He was also very understanding of the unique pandemic circumstances; he extended the due dates of several papers and assignments, made the midterm and final very straightforward, and even instituted a generous curve once all grades were implemented, which is honestly the only reason I received the grade I got.
Now, in terms of workload, this course is ludicrous. On paper, it just looks like a few readings twice a week and one short response as well as two 6-8 page essays, one being a literary analysis. For a 5-unit GE Writing II course, that doesn’t seem too bad, but my TA expected an advanced comprehension of each and every article and chapter and turned every discussion section into 50 minutes of regurgitating facts, which disadvantaged anyone who was reading the stories for the first time. He marked off points without specific justification on reading responses and essays. I’m not sure if he has grasped the concept that highlighting a sentence and saying “not clear” is lazy and insufficient feedback.
Anyway, I digress. This quarter was Dr. Smoak vs. the condescending and infuriatingly aloof TAs, and Dr. Smoak won in the end. Do not listen to reviews that say that this class is easy, because it is only easy if you have a very light schedule and are a naturally good writer. I’d prefer death over taking this class again.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2018 Submitted Jan. 11, 2019 Grade Received: A

The organization of Professor Smoak was kind of difficult to deal with to be honest. He doesn't post the lecture slides online and most of the lecture during class is commentary on the minimal notes put on the slides that he does present, so it was difficult at time trying to figure out what to take notes on and what to ignore. This class is writing-intensive (as it is a Writing II course) including two main papers, weekly reading responses, and an in-class midterm and final.

For the weekly reading responses, they're mostly graded on completion and answering the prompt (I got 10/10 on most of them just writing boring responses). The weekly reading itself is another reason I'd dock the class on being disorganized. I didn't really know how the reading pertained to the class. He assigned weekly reading under the schedule but it wasn't mandatory so no one actually did it.

As for the in-class tests, the midterm was pretty hard and the final was super easy. His midterm had multiple concepts that weren't listed on the study guide (note: he tests on quotes where you need to know specific words to finish sentences/fill-in-the-blank which were pretty hard, so read the passages he puts on the study guide very carefully). I think he realized that the midterm was harder than he had anticipated, so the final was super easy (I got an 88 on the midterm and a 98 on the final, which was much shorter and a lot easier).

For the papers that we had to write, this would probably be my biggest gripe with the class. Professor Smoak and the TA's don't really help that much in writing these papers unless you go out of your way to ask them in office hours to elaborate. During section and lecture, they will tell you what they want to see in the essays, but will hardly give any helpful examples to follow. The prompts for the paper are broad and definitely confused me in the writing process because they had so many facets that I had to narrow down into a single thesis/paper. I eventually went to the TA's office hours to ask for help on this paper and while my writing itself didn't seem that much better/different, I guess it mirrored what HE specifically wanted to see, so I ended up clutching an A.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2020 Submitted Dec. 31, 2020 Grade Received: A-

Terrible, terrible class with a boring professor and extremely callous TAs. The workload does not look like much when it’s on the syllabus, but once you’re actually trying to dissect what the hell the essay prompts are, you start to realize how intense this course is. Dr. Smoak wasn’t the most engaging person ever; it didn’t help that on Zoom, his more interactive slides didn’t work too well. However, I will give him credit for extending assignment deadlines, curving the class, and making the midterm and final very manageable. To do well in the class, I would recommend that you come in with significant knowledge of biblical stories (especially Genesis and the Gospels) because if you do you won’t waste time scrolling through the Bible when collecting evidence for your essays. Also, do all the readings because your TA may expect you to have read all of them in discussion. That being said, your TA kinda determines your grade in this course, so if you have a bad one, you’re kinda screwed. Don’t sign up for Aaron’s discussion section(s) because if he doesn’t like your writing, he will not give you an A no matter how hard you try. Smoak saved this class from being complete and utter trash. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you sign up.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2020 Submitted Jan. 6, 2021 Grade Received: A-

When I first signed up for this class, I was excited to have a class that put together history and English because I thought it would be more interesting than other Writing II options, but it wasn't like I thought it would be. I couldn't really enjoy lectures because I knew the information would be important for my papers, and I couldn't just write the papers because I needed to gather useful info from lectures first. This isn't a specific knock against the professor, just something I wish I had realized before I started the class.
They say you don't need prior knowledge, but as someone fairly familiar with the Bible even I struggled to follow the intricate details stressed by the instructors. This class is definitely easier for students who have prior Biblical knowledge (and I felt very bad for those who didn't).
I understand your TA's will be a constant determining factor throughout college, but my TA only offered 15 minute Office Hours, so there was no way for me to go over my papers (or even homework assignments) in depth because he didn't offer more time. This, of course, was very discouraging because your TA is the one grading your papers and when you can't meet with them or understand what they want from you, it makes it extremely hard to know how to improve. I will say, though, that my TA's comments did overall help me on my revised paper even if I couldn't go over it in person.
I felt like the grading was fair, but my main issue was not being given the opportunity to see what an A level paper looks like. We would occasionally see snippets of a "good" thesis or paragraph, but it was a struggle to write a "good" paper when both the TA and Prof never gave you more specific guidance on what "good" looks like.
On a positive note, the final and midterm were very straightforward and the professor did a great job of giving us clear study guides that related directly to the exams we took. He really tried to adapt to online learning, and I am sure the in-person exams would have been harder than the assignments/exams we took (which was much appreciated).
And a neutral note, there is a looooot of homework and assigned reading. I didn't end up reading most of the companion book because for me it was a lower priority than writing the essays and homework, but like any Writing II class there are a LOT of writing assignments.

Overall, it is not an easy class and if you want to improve you really need to find someone outside your class instructors who can help give you feedback on your essays. Prof Smoak is a nice professor, but I struggled to understand what my TA expected from my writing- for those who will take the class, try to understand what your TA expects because it will help you earn the grade you want. I wish the instructors had been more open about showing us what an A paper looks like, but the feedback and grading were (in my opinion) fair. I am grateful for the curve he gave us, but the class was harder and less enjoyable than I thought it would be.
(To anyone who wants to take it, though, I say go for it! Just be prepared for the workload and the extra effort you have to put in to understand what the instructors want from your writing. But don't be scared to take the class, just be prepared when you start it)

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Sept. 26, 2020 Grade Received: N/A

Selling "Jerusalem: One City Three Faiths" by Karen Armstrong email me if you're interested! marisachu24@g.ucla.edu

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Jan. 21, 2020 Grade Received: A

I enjoyed this class a lot and it really helped me fulfill a number of requirements including writing II, a GE, and a lower division requirement for my planned entrepreneurship minor. The teacher was a really cool and nice guy who taught the class in a really engaging way. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the city of Jerusalem from a few different perspectives and in different ways. His tests were pretty fair (although if he has a section where he tells you to memorize dates he wants you to really memorize dates; he actually gave us the events and we had to write the exact numbers on the midterm). The homework was just one page, double spaced writing prompt about interesting topics once a week and I thought it was really easy. Also, those writing assignments were really cool because all of what you think and write about in them led up to what you could use for your actual papers in the class which also weren't too hefty compared to other writing II classes. Overall I'd highly recommend taking this class with professor Smoak.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2018 Submitted Feb. 7, 2019 Grade Received: A

This is probably my favorite class that I’ve taken at UCLA. The professor is very knowledgeable and is able to explain the topics thoroughly. Being that he lived in Jerusalem for a number of years, I would say that he is certainly an expert on the material. He gives you thorough study guides for the tests, and does not expect you to know anything that he did not mention in class. There are two writing assignments, but they are not bad at all. Being that I’m not a writer, I was very concerned going into a writing to class that it would be too much of a workload and that the essays would be too hard. This was certainly not the case. The professor was more than willing to help any students with questions, and was very helpful when discussing the essay in office hours. I would 100% recommend this class, as well as any other class taught by this professor.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2018 Submitted Dec. 13, 2018 Grade Received: A-

I absolutely loved taking this class with Prof. Smoak. He was funny during lecture and the lectures were engaging. This is probably the best class I've taken at UCLA so far. It does help a little if you have some prior knowledge to Christianity or Judaism, which could probably be a problem for some people. Since it is a writing class your TA probably plays a big factor in whether or not you like/do well in the class. I had a great TA. The workload isn't heavy: a one page reading response every week, 2 papers, 1 midterm and 1 final. The midterm and final were pretty easy (the final was easier) and not worth much of the grade but mostly meant to help you get information about your paper. Paper #2 is a research paper and required a lot of effort, but it was still interesting.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2018 Submitted Dec. 6, 2018 Grade Received: B+

This class has a pretty light workload. Each week there is a 1 page double spaced reading response that you turn in each discussion section for a grade. There are only 2 tests and the 2 essays that you have to write are both pretty easy. However, the TAs grade harshly and the writing portions of the tests are graded harshly as well. This isn’t an easy class to get an A in, but the workload is totally doable.

Selling the textbook “Jerusalem: One City Three Faiths” for $8. (It’s $10 if you want to rent it at Ackerman). Email me at 4ajv29@gmail.com if you’re interested

Quarter Taken: Spring 2017 Submitted Nov. 4, 2018 Grade Received: B

It's an interesting topic to learn of. It is friendly towards people who are not familiar with Christianity and Judaism. It is a little less friendly for the most of us who are not familiar with the geography in the Middle East. While geography isn't tested on, Smoaks refers to land around Jerusalem during lecture in a way that implies we should know about the geography. His lectures are not boring and it's somewhat important to attend them. Your TA kinda decides if you're going to enjoy this class or not. I had a terrible TA, he graded our papers hard and was condescending in section. I strongly felt that if I had a different TA I would have stressed less about this class. There's 2 papers and weekly reading responses with the second paper about your research on a building in Jerusalem.

1 of 3

Tags

  • Needs Textbook
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Uses Slides
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Participation Matters
  • Engaging Lectures
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