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McMaster University

Faculty of Humanities

Humanities I

Humanities I: A General First Year Program

If you are admitted to the Faculty of Humanities, you will start by taking a general program called Humanities I. This gives you the chance to explore fully the direction you wish to take in higher education, before deciding on a specific degree program at the end of your first year. It allows you both to continue with subjects you have enjoyed at high school and to broaden your horizons by trying out others (such as Linguistics or Peace Studies) which you may not have encountered before.

How Humanities I Is Made Up

Humanities I is made up of 30 units of courses. At McMaster, a course is generally worth either 3 or 6 units. A 3-unit course usually lasts for one term and a 6-unit course for two. You can tell how many units a course is worth by looking at the last digit in the course code (e.g. 1A03 or 1B06). A student taking a full-load will usually complete Humanities I in one academic year, taking 15 units of courses in each of the fall and winter terms.

Flexibility and Choice

As a Humanities student, you will have a great deal of flexibility when creating your Level I program and will be able to choose from a wide range of courses, including those offered by other faculties. However certain requirements must be met. Students must take at least 12 units of required Humanities courses (see tab above for course list 1). The remaining 18 units of courses can be chosen from the Humanities (course list 1 or 2) or other Faculties, providing you meet the prerequisites of individual courses.

A Gateway to the Level II Program

Humanities I acts as the gateway to your degree program. The most common requirement for entry to a Level II Humanities program is completion of any Level I program with 3 or 6 units of Level I courses in that subject. By selecting courses that meet the program entrance requirements of a number of different disciplines, you can increase your options for Level II. Entrance requirements for individual programs can vary, so check any that interest you carefully! See our programs page for more information on Humanities programs and the Faculty, Programs and Schools section of the Undergraduate Calendar for entrance requirements for all programs.


If you are planning to complete a Minor in another subject, you should use your Level I electives to begin working towards it. Check the Faculty, Programs and Schools section of the Interdisciplinary Minors.

To meet Humanities I requirements, students must complete a total of 30 units of courses. At least 12 units of courses must be selected from the list below. The remaining 18 units can also be chosen from this list, or from Humanities Course List 2, or from courses offered by other Faculties. The following Course List 1 options are offered in 2014/15:

  • Art History 1A03, 1AA3
  • Classics 1A03, 1B03, 1M03
  • Communication Studies 1A03
  • Cultural Studies & Critical Theory 1CS3
  • English 1A03, 1AA3, 1CS3, 1C06
  • French 1A06
  • Greek 1Z03, 1ZZ3
  • History 1CC3, 1DD3, 1EE3, 1FF3, 1M03
  • Latin 1Z03, 1ZZ3
  • Linguistics 1A03, 1AA3
  • Multimedia 1A03
  • Music 1A03, 1AA3
  • Peace Studies 1A03
  • Philosophy 1A03, 1B03, 1E03
  • Theatre & Film 1T03

Note that students may take a maximum of 12 units in any one subject and a maximum of 12 units of Beginner's Intensive Language courses.


  • The Faculty highly recommends that students should register in courses that will meet the entrance requirements for at least two programs, rather than restricting themselves to a single program option for Level II . For most programs, this means taking 6 units of Level I courses in that subject. However, there are several exceptions, so check entrance requirements for individual programs carefully. See our programs page or the Program Listings section of the Undergraduate Calendar
  • B.A. Program Option
    It is also recommended that students give themselves at least one 3-year B.A. program option. In Humanities,  B.A. programs are available in: Art History, Classics, English, French, History, Philosophy, and Theatre & Film Studies.
  • Minors
    If you are planning to complete a Minor in another subject, you should use your Level I electives to begin working towards it. Check the Undergraduate Calendar to see if a Minor is available in a specific subject and what the requirements are.

The Humanities courses listed below do not lead to a program, but may be taken as electives by students in any Level I program (subject to course prerequisites). Language courses can be used towards completion of a Minor in the particular language where a Minor is offered. The following Course List 2 options are offered in 2014/15:

  • Art 1UI3, 1TI3
  • Chinese 1Z06
  • French 1Z06
  • German 1B03, 1BB3, 1Z06
  • Italian 1A03, 1AA3, 1Z06
  • Japanese 1Z06
  • Linguistics 1Z03, 1ZZ3
  • Music 1B03, 1BB3, 1CC3, 1D03, 1EE6, 1GB3, 1GC3, 1GF3, 1GJ3, 1GP3, 1GR3, 1GW3*
  • Russian 1Z03, 1ZZ3
  • Spanish 1A03, 1AA3, 1Z06
  • Women's Studies 1A03, 1AA3

    * Non Music students who wish to take Music courses other than Music 1A03 and 1AA3 must make arrangements with the School of the Arts for qualifying tests.