Science & Technology

Five fun science electives that will satisfy your curiosity

Each semester, McGill students spend hours searching for courses that are both interesting and manageable. For those who are not enrolled in a Science major and are feeling particularly adventurous this semester, The McGill Tribune has compiled a list of five fascinating electives that are sure to pique your interest.

CHEM 181 – World of Chemistry: Food

Chemistry courses can often leave students fearful for their GPAs, but CHEM 181 is the exception. This course covers topics like the history of food, the relationship between diet and cancer, and cheese production. The course instructors—Chemistry department members David Harpp, Joe Schwarcz, and Ariel Fenster—fill their lectures with food facts and entertaining anecdotes that make each class exciting. Some highlights of the curriculum include lectures about cheese, chocolate, and wine. CHEM 181 is one of the few online courses taught at McGill and the bulk of the material emphasizes memorization. MyCourses provides full transcripts of the lectures, and the course’s exams are non-cumulative. This course is suited to students with a keen interest in healthy living and, of course, healthy eating.

COMP 202 – Foundations of Programming

In today’s world, programming experience is valued across the job market. This course may appear daunting to students with no prior experience, but COMP 202 is designed to allow novice programmers to get hooked on coding. There are multiple sections of this course taught every semester and students have access to all the lecture recordings for each section. For those interested in joining a research lab at McGill, a background in programming often sets candidates apart. While many students have the required knowledge to perform research, few can code and perform statistical analyses. Though programming can be difficult, it often leads to eureka moments when a solution is found.

PHIL 221 – Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science 2

This course is designed for students with little to no philosophy background. Science students at McGill are often trained to memorize facts. Later, they may find themselves avoiding humanities courses ranging from literature to philosophy in an effort to salvage their GPAs. If you find yourself in this position, you should consider this course. It covers the basics of science philosophy, as well as the development of modern science since the 18th Century. Topics include how the scientific method has been adopted by scientists and the influence of philosophy on scientific research and data collection. This course may also be rewarding for humanities students who want to explore how serendipitous a scientific discovery can be and how science and philosophy heavily influence one another.  

ATOC 184 – Science of Storms

In this course, students learn how extreme weather phenomena such as blizzards, hurricanes, and floods are formed. This course also explores these phenomena in the context of Montreal, a city with feverishly fickle weather. There is no final exam for this courseinstead, students must complete a group project that requires a short presentation about an assigned weather topic. All the lectures are recorded and there are two midterm exams, both of which are non-cumulative. This is a great elective for students from all backgrounds who want to understand the weather systems we live with.

MATH 180 — The Art of Mathematics

The Art of Mathematics allows students to gain exposure to mathematics concepts that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter, such as code breaking and logic. The purpose of this course is to give students with any background an appreciation for the beauty of mathematical concepts. Sidney Trudeau, the course instructor, discusses high school math concepts and more abstract topics like chaos in a way that is accessible to a wide range of students. This course is highly recommended for students who would like to explore math from a new perspective.

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