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McMaster University

Faculty of Humanities

Level 1 Humanities, Music and Studio Art FAQs

What program am I in?

  • If you have been accepted into the Faculty of Humanities, your first year program is called Humanities I. If you are in Music I. If you are in Art, your program is Studio Art I.
  • You won't enter a subject-specific program until Level 2 and will apply for your admission to this program towards the end of your Level 1 year. 

How many units of courses should I register for in my first year at McMaster?

  • To meet the Humanities I and Studio Art I requirements, you must complete 30 units of courses, which is the maximum load.
  • Students in Music I take 33 units of courses.

How do I know how many units each course is worth?

  • Each course is worth either 3 or 6 units. A 3-unit course usually lasts for one term, and a 6-unit course usually lasts for two terms (although there are some exceptions - for example, quite a few 3-unit Music courses run for a full year). Courses that run for a full year have an A/B at the end of the course code, e.g. ENGLISH 1C06 A/B, or MUSIC 1CC3 A/B.
  • You can tell how many units a course is worth by looking at the last digit in the course code. For example, Italian 1Z06 Beginner's Intensive Italian is worth 6 units and runs from September-April. ENGLISH 1CS3 Studying Culture: A Critical Introduction is worth 3 units and will run either September-December or January-April.
  • The first digit in the course code indicates the level of the course (1, 2, 3 or 4).

How many courses should I take each term?

  • Your course load should be balanced between the fall (September-December) and winter (January-April) terms. For most people this means taking 5 courses (or 15 units) each term.

Do I register in the summer for all my Level I courses?

  • Yes. When registration opens for you in June, you will choose and register for courses for the full academic year, i.e. both Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 terms.

Are there enrolment limits on courses?

  • Yes! All McMaster courses have a fixed number of places available, which are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, you should try to register as early as possible (preferably on the day registration opens) if you are very keen to get into specific courses. If the course is already full, you will be notified immediately so you can make an alternate selection.

What if I change my mind about taking a course, after I've already enrolled?

  • If you decide that you want to change some of the courses you have enrolled in, you can do so. It is possible to make adjustments to your registration in Fall and Full-year courses until the end of the change period - Wednesday, September 16, 2015. The change period for Winter Term courses runs until Wednesday, January 13, 2016. You should bear in mind that some courses may be full if you try and add them at the end of the change period.

Do all my courses have to be from Humanities?

  • No. If you are a Humanities student, you must register for at least 12 units of Humanities courses (chosen from course list 1). The other 18 units can be chosen from courses offered by Humanities (course list 1 or 2) or other faculties, as long as you meet any prerequisites individual courses may have.
  • If you are a Music student, you must register for 21 units of required Music courses. Your remaining 12 units can be chosen from courses offered by Humanities (course list 1 or 2) or other faculties.
  • If you are a Studio Art student, you must register for 18 units of required Art and Art History courses. Your remaining 12 units can be chosen from courses offered by Humanities (course list 1 or 2) or other faculties.
  • See Required Course Lists for Humanities, Music, and Studio Art.

Can I take any Level I course?

  • As long as you meet your Humanities I, Music I, or Studio Art I requirements, you have a great deal of flexibility in choosing your courses.
  • Most Level I courses are open to everyone, however some courses have prerequisites, which means you must meet certain conditions in order to take them. For example, you may have to have a specific U/M, or be registered in a certain program (e.g. Engineering I). Other courses may only be taken if you have already completed a preceding McMaster course. Be sure to check in the Undergraduate Calendar beneath each course description, to see if the course you want has any prerequisites.
  • Some courses may have an antirequisite, which means you cannot take the course if you meet that condition. For example, since GERMAN 1Z06 A/B Beginner's Intensive German is for those with no prior knowledge of the language, U/M German and other McMaster German courses are the antirequisites for the course.

If I'm not in the Music I Program, can I still take music courses?

  • Yes. Music IA03 and 1AA3 are open to non-music students. If you wish to take other courses normally restricted to Music I students, you must contact the School of the Arts ( to request special permission. Normally you will have to take a qualifying test.
  • MUSIC 1EE6 SOLO PERFORMANCE is a course open to non-Music students who wish to take private tuition in their main instrument. Performance level equivalent to RCM Grade 8 is required. Interested students should contact the School of the Arts as soon as possible over the summer to arrange an audition. Additional lesson fees are charged for this course.
  • If you would like to take one of the Music ensemble courses, you should audition at the beginning of term in September. If successful, you'll be able to register for the course by changing your registration during the change period. In the meantime, register for another course that you would take should you not pass the ensemble audition. If you pass an audition for a music ensemble, you can also chose to participate out of interest, and do not have to take it as a course credit.
  • Search for Music courses in the Undergraduate Calendar for more details.

Can I take studio art courses as electives?

  • Yes! While most Level 1 art courses are restricted to students in the Studio Art I program, the School of the Arts offers two elective art courses that are open to any student and no previous art experience is required. The courses are ART 1UI3 MAKING ART AND UNDERSTANDING IMAGES and ART 1TI3 MAKING ART AND UNDERSTANDING IMAGES AND TECHNOLOGY. Art History courses can also be taken as electives.

How do I qualify for admission to a Level II program?

  • Admission to a Level II program will depend on your academic performance in Level I as well as the courses you have taken. You'll need to have taken the required courses - usually 3 or 6 units of Level I courses in the program subject(s) - and have achieved the minimum academic standard for the program of your choice (3-year B.A., 4-year honours B.A., or 4-year combined honours B.A.).
  • See the undergraduate programs listings for specific entrance requirements to Level 2 Humanities programs.
  • Please note that Multimedia is a limited enrolment program. Entrance to the program is quite competitive and is based on academic performance in Level I.
  • Entrance to the Justice, Political Philosophy and Law program is also limited. Admission is based on Level 1 grades as well as a supplementary application which students must submit by April 30 at the end of their first year.

Do I have the option of a B.A., single, or combined honours program in all Humanities subjects?

  • No. While all three program types are available in several Humanities subjects, some are only offered at the honours level (single and combined). Peace Studies is only available as a combined honours program, which means you must take it with another subject. Check our programs page for more details.

I am interested in subjects which are only offered as 4-year honours programs. Why do you recommend that I also register in the Level I qualifying courses for a 3-year B.A.?

  • As a Humanities I student, you should register in the qualifying courses in at least one subject that is offered as a 3-year B.A. program. This way, even if you're intending to take a degree in a subject which is only offered at the honours level, you'll have a back-up plan and would still be able to continue at university, should your end-of-year grades be too low to qualify for entrance to your chosen honours program. Students who enter a 3-year B.A. program and whose grades then improve sufficiently, are able to transfer into an honours program.

Is it possible to combine subjects from different faculties in an honours degree program?

  • Yes. It is quite common for students to combine Humanities and Social Science subjects in a combined honours program. You must meet the admission requirements for both programs. Most Social Science programs require at least 6 units of Level I courses in that subject, however some (such as Psychology) may have additional requirements. Be sure to check program requirements in the Undergraduate Calendar for any area in which you may wish to specialize, so you can choose the right Level I courses.
  • Combinations of subjects from Humanities and faculties other than Social Sciences are not possible, apart from the special B.A. honours programs in Philosophy and Biology, Philosophy and Mathematics, French and Mathematics, History and Mathematics, and English and Mathematics.
  • If you're doing an honours degree in Humanities, it's also possible to complete a Minor in a Social Sciences, Science or Business.

What is a Minor?

  • If students in Honours programs concentrate a sufficient number of elective courses in one area during their degree, they may have the option of declaring a Minor in that subject upon graduation. Minors usually require the completion of up to 6 units of Level I courses and a further 18 units of upper level courses in a subject. If you are interested in completing a Minor, it's a good idea to include at least 3 units (and 6 units of courses if offered) in that subject in Level I. Scroll down to the end of the Undergraduate Programs page in the Calendar to see which Minors are offered, including the interdisciplinary Minors, Archaeology, Globalization Studies, and Jewish Studies.
  • A brand new and very exciting option for students entering Humanities this year, is the Specialized Minor in Commerce. This is available for students completing single honours degrees in the following Humanities subjects: Art History, Classics, Communication Studies, English, French, History, Linguistics, Multimedia, Philosophy, or Theatre & Film Studies.

When do classes begin? What are the term dates?

  • This year, the first day of class will be Tuesday, September 8, 2015. You can find all the sessional dates for the 2015/16 academic year here.

How do I get my Entrance Award?

  • Your entrance award is calculated on final average (of courses completed by June 30) and will be deposited directly to your student account.