BASc Programme FAQ
A: The Arts and Sciences degree has some similarity with Liberal Arts degree programmes but there are important differences.
Like Liberal Arts programmes, you can study a wide range of subjects on Arts and Sciences and there is a great deal of flexibility and variety. We also offer a major and a minor, like many Liberal Arts programmes.
However, on Arts and Sciences all students study an Interdisciplinary Core of subjects and must take a combination of Arts and Science subjects throughout the programme (see More about Interdisciplinarity).
These two features distinguish the Arts and Sciences BASc from many Liberal Arts programmes.
A: In the Core you will learn vital interdisciplinary skills. There are two ways you will meet interdisciplinarity in the Core:
1) Through fully interdisciplinary modules. For example, in our first year there is Interdisciplinary Methods in which you will take an object – say a mini car – or an event – say the recent tsunami in Japan – and examine how different subject specialists would approach these objects or events. What sort of questions would a chemist, or an economist or an expert in literature ask about the car? How would a physicist or sociologist think to analyse the tsunami and its effects? What methods would they use to find out the answers? What answers would they take as satisfactory, as providing explanations? By studying something from a variety of viewpoints you will gain a better understanding of different academic approaches and also of your own interests and which combination of subjects you wish to pursue.
2) Through learning
Core subjects that will help you to make your own interdisciplinary
example, all Arts and Sciences students must study a foreign language.
course, will help you make links with other cultures – vital in any
business, political or otherwise international role – as well as
to explore intellectual interests in other literatures, arts etc. The
Core also contains
a quantitative methods course: Exploring Complexity. This course will
you grounding in the sorts of quantitative and mathematical thinking
underpin a wide range of work, from financial analysis and computer
modelling in health,
to creating transport systems in cities and even to examining literary
texts to try to discover the identity of the original author.
Q: Will Arts and Sciences students have their own department or will they only have lessons in other departments?
A: Arts and Sciences students will have their own department and their own common room. In the Core, all Arts and Sciences students will study together. On the Pathways, Arts and Sciences students will mix with students from other departments as well as with other Arts and Sciences students taking the same modules.
A: The Pathways are much wider areas of study and thought than you would usually encounter on an undergraduate degree programme. This allows you to explore a much broader area in your first year before taking more specialist modules in years two and three. Please see the Pathways pages for more information.
The following simple way of classifying the Pathways may also help:
- Cultures: What we believe and what we create
- Health and Environment: How our bodies work and the effect of the world on us
- Sciences and Engineering: How we investigate and change our world
- Societies: How we are organised
A: There are 8-12 modules in each Pathway in year 1 from which you pick three. The modules are chosen to cover the broad subject areas but may have slightly different titles.
For examples, in Sciences and Engineering there are modules in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering Thinking, Maths, Earth Sciences etc. You must pick three of these as part of your Major.
As a further example, in Cultures there are modules in English Literature, Multiculturalism and Identity, Knowledge and Reality (Philosophy), History, Ways of Seeing (Design), Sociology of Religion etc. You must pick three of these as part of your Major.
Q: After I have chosen my 1st year modules, what modules are available to me in years 2 and 3 of Arts and Sciences?
A: Arts and Sciences is designed to offer you the maximum choice of modules at UCL and to encourage interdisciplinarity. To achieve this, in years 2 and 3 you will be offered a free choice of modules available at UCL across the entire university, but relevant to your specific Pathway. Your choice is subject to the following important constraints:
- The student meets the prerequisites for a module. E.g. you could not do year 2 modules in English Literature without the year 1 Arts and Sciences module in English Literature. Please note that although we aim to prepare you for a very wide range of choices in each department, there may be some modules at 2nd and 3rd year level which are not available due to prerequisites.
- The modules chosen fit in with the other modules on the student's timetable.
- The Pathway Representatives (and Programme Director) approve the choice of modules. (This is to ensure that the student works towards a coherent selection of modules - in line with the Pathway objectives - which complement each other and which allow for the best academic progression of the student.)
- (Please note that Sciences and Engineering students must take Arts and Sciences Maths as one of their 1st year Pathway modules, which effectively reduces the choice to two other modules in year 1 of that Pathway.)
A: The language requirement in the Core is for half a course unit (0.5CU) each year. You must take the same language in each year of the Arts and Sciences Core so that you get in-depth progression in this language. However, if you arrive at UCL with a strong background in languages, you may also be able to take language-based modules as part of your Pathway, alongside your Core language requirement. Please contact us if you require further details.
Q: Will I be at a disadvantage in my overall Arts and Sciences grades if I start a language from scratch?
A: No. All levels of language are marked independently and you will only be marked alongside others taking your level of language. Therefore you could start a language from beginner's level and still get better marks than someone who starts at a more advanced level.
A:This will vary greatly depending on which modules you are taking. For example, in some science modules with a laboratory component, you may have 6-7 hours per week, and for some humanities modules it may be only 2-3 hours per week.
Because you will typically take 4 of such modules per term, your contact time could vary between all little as 10 and as much as 20+ hours per week. Giving an average number for such contact hours may therefore hide as much as it informs.
The important thing is the quality of the contact time and, even more important than this, simply how much you are learning on the module. Looking at brute hours spent with 'a member of staff' will not give you a good idea of the quality of education or value of investment.
We give three examples of why this might be so.
1. Some universities may advertise '2 hours contact time per week' for a given component of the course, but if you look closer this might mean being in a large group of up to about 40 people, led by an inexperienced lecturer. This is probably less value to a student than 1 hour per week in a group of 10 students with an experienced lecturer.
2. On the Arts and Sciences, we will be 'flipping' many lectures in the Core courses. This means that students will get the content of the lectures via videocast or audiocast before the lecture slot. The lecture slots can then be used for a much more interactive and dynamic learning session than in the 'turn up and listen' model. It could be argued that this gives the contact time more value than if you sit in a lecture theatre, listening to a lecture.
3. Many courses now involve field work and project work which require a good deal of set-up time and thought by university teachers. On some of these courses you may, indeed, be left on your own quite a bit - but this is because the teachers have thought through the programme of learning and have designed the programme so that you will learn the most by doing your own work and research, punctuated by key contact points with members of staff. Thus although you may only see the teacher 2-3 hours per week, they have invested considerably more time 'up front' so that the course works for you as a learner.
These are just 3 examples as to why the question 'How many contact hours will I get?' may not always give the most helpful answer in determining the quality of your undergraduate education.