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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) and if it runs for the full year, you'll see A/B at the end of the course code. 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 the Undergraduate Calendar for entrance requirements for all programs.


  • Specialized Minor in Commerce for students completing a Single Honours Humanities degree
    This option is available for students who enter a single honours B.A. degree program in Art History, Classics, Communication Studies, English, French, History, Linguistics, Multimedia, Philosophy, or Theatre & Film Studies. In order to be eligible, students must have completed must have completed ECON 1B03 with a grade of at least B-, and one of MATH 1M03 or ECON 1BB3. For full details, check the Undergraduate Calendar.
  • Other 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 (scroll down to the bottom of the programs page to see a list of 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 Course List 1 (see 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.

  • ARTHIST 1A03 - World Art and Cultural Heritage I
  • ARTHIST 1AA3 - World Art and Cultural Heritage II
  • CLASSICS 1A03 - Introduction to Classical Archaeology
  • CLASSICS 1B03 - An Introduction to Ancient Myth and Literature
  • CLASSICS 1M03 - History of Greece and Rome
  • CMST 1A03 - Introduction to Communication
  • CSCT 1CS3 - Studying Culture: A Critical Introduction
  • ENGLISH 1A03 - Literature in English: Shorter Genres
  • ENGLISH 1AA3 - Literature in English: Longer Genres
  • ENGLISH 1C06 A/B - A History of English Literature
  • ENGLISH 1CS3 - Studying Culture: A Critical Introduction
  • FRENCH 1A06 A/B - Introduction to French Studies: Advanced Level
  • FRENCH 1Z06 A/B - Beginner's Intensive French I
  • GREEK 1Z03 - Beginner's Intensive Ancient Greek I
  • GREEK 1ZZ3 - Beginner's Intensive Ancient Greek II
  • HISTORY 1CC3 - The Rise of Empires, 500-1950
  • HISTORY 1DD3 - The Making of the Modern World, 1750-1945
  • HISTORY 1EE3 - The Historical Roots of Contemporary Issues
  • HISTORY 1FF3 - Exploring History in a Small Group Setting
  • HISTORY 1M03 - History of Greece and Rome
  • LATIN 1Z03 - Beginner's Intensive Latin I
  • LATIN 1ZZ3 - Beginner's Intensive Latin II
  • LINGUIST 1A03 - Introduction to Linguistics I
  • LINGUIST 1AA3 - Introduction to Linguistics II
  • MMEDIA 1A03 - Multimedia and Digital Society
  • MUSIC 1A03 - Introduction to the History of Music I
  • MUSIC 1AA3 - Introduction to the History of Music II
  • PEACEST 1A03 - Introduction to Peace Studies
  • PHILOS 1A03 - Philosophical Texts
  • PHILOS 1B03 - Philosophy, Law and Society
  • PHILOS 1C03 - Philosophy in Literature
  • PHILOS 1D03 - Philosophy and the Sciences
  • PHILOS 1E03 - Problems of Philosophy
  • THTRFLM 1T03 - Introduction to Theatre, Cinema and Society

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.

Courses included on Humanities Course List 2 (see 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:

  • ART 1TI3 - Making Art and Understanding Technology & Images
  • ART 1UI3 - Making Art and Understanding Images
  • CHINESE 1Z06 A/B - Mandarin Chinese for Beginners
  • FRENCH 1C03 - Introduction to the Culture of France (Taught in English)
  • GERMAN 1B03 - Intermediate German I
  • GERMAN 1BB3 - Intermediate German II
  • GERMAN 1Z06 A/B - Beginner's Intensive German
  • HUMAN 1QU3 - Insight and Inquiry: Questions to Change the World
  • HUMAN 1VV3 - Voice and Vision: Words to Change the World
  • ITALIAN 1A03 - Intermediate Italian I
  • ITALIAN 1AA3 - Intermediate Italian II
  • ITALIAN 1Z06 A/B - Beginner's Intensive Italian
  • JAPANESE 1Z06 A/B - Beginner's Intensive Japanese
  • LINGUIST 1Z03 - Sounds, Words & Meaning in Modern English
  • LINGUIST 1ZZ3 - Sentence & Communication Structure in Modern English
  • MUSIC 1B03 - History of Western Music c. 1820 - c. 1890 *
  • MUSIC 1BB3 - History of Western Music c.1600 - c. 1820 *
  • MUSIC 1CC3 A/B - Harmony *
  • MUSIC 1D03 A/B - Aural Skills *
  • MUSIC 1EE6 A/B - Solo Performance *
  • MUSIC 1GB3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster Concert Band *
  • MUSIC 1GC3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster University Choir *
  • MUSIC 1GF3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster University Flute Ensemble *
  • MUSIC 1GJ3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster Jazz Band *
  • MUSIC 1GP3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster Percussion Ensemble *
  • MUSIC 1GR3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster Chamber Orchestra *
  • MUSIC 1GW3 A/B - Ensemble Performance: McMaster Women's Choir *
  • POLISH 1Z03 - Beginner's Polish I
  • POLISH 1ZZ3 - Beginner's Polish II
  • RUSSIAN 1Z03 - Intensive Beginner's Russian I
  • RUSSIAN 1ZZ3 - Intensive Beginner's Russian II
  • SPANISH 1A03 - Intermediate Spanish I
  • SPANISH 1AA3 - Intermediate Spanish II
  • SPANISH 1Z06 A/B - Beginner's Intensive Spanish
  • WOMENST 1A03 - Women, Culture, Power
  • WOMENST 1AA3 - Women Transforming the World

    * 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.