All Things Academic, Student Life

All things academic: Course recommendations

As a third-year student at McGill, I’ve taken my fair share of courses at the university—90 credits worth to be exact. Some were hard, some were reading-heavy, and others were just plain boring. To help you avoid the pitfalls of an elective gone wrong, here are some of my favourite courses I have taken at McGill so far.

PSYC 331: Inter-Group Relations

Semester I took it in: Winter 2023

Professor I took it with: Jordan Axt

Why are people prejudiced? What factors contribute to differential outcomes between groups? How can we combat discrimination? If these questions interest you, Inter-Group Relations is the course for you. The class delves into research and theories related to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, with an emphasis on racial inequities. Professor Axt, who runs the McGill Intergroup Cognition Lab, provides fascinating lectures with real-world examples and interactive components. PSYC 331 does not use a textbook and instead relies on YouTube interviews with experts in the field and Vox articles to supplement the lecture material. One important note is that this course requires PSYC 215: Social Psychology, but I promise, sitting through the prereq is worth it. 

WCOM 250 (formerly CEAP 250): Research Essay and Rhetoric

Semester I took it in: Winter 2022

Professor I took it with: Zachary Abram

If there is one class at McGill that I believe should be mandatory for all undergraduate students, it is this one. Tackling topics such as concision, grammar, purpose, and style, WCOM 250 teaches students the art of essay writing. I can honestly say that this course is what took my writing from high school to university level. The course includes rhetoric and citation workshops along with lectures and group discussions designed to help students improve their writing. Students can submit multiple drafts of assignments and receive feedback on each one, creating a collaborative learning environment between students and their professors (and a great way to boost your grade). 

PHIL 237: Contemporary Moral Issues 

Semester I took it in: Winter 2022

Professor I took it with: Stephanie Leary

Contemporary Moral Issues analyzes modern-day topics, such as the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements through a philosophical lens. The course introduces students to argument-building, and philosophical writing, making it a great elective for those with no prior experience in philosophy. Professor Leary’s slides are crystal clear and, despite some of the readings being challenging, she does a great job of explaining them. The class also has weekly conferences, which are a great way to engage with your classmates and TAs.

PSYC 204: Introduction to Psychological Statistics 

Semester I took it in: Fall 2022

Professor I took it with: Jessica Flake

You may think I’m crazy for including a math course on a list of fun electives. But, trust me on this one: PSYC 204 with Jessica Flake is interesting, fun, and easy if you put in a little effort. The course details basic statistical principles, including means, standard deviations, and t-tests with examples that are relevant to students’ lives. The grading scheme is nicely distributed between attendance, online homework (with multiple attempts per question), tiny tests, a final exam, and extra credit points for participating in psychology studies. 

CHEM 181: Chemistry of Foods 

Semester I took it in: Now

Professors I took it with: David Harpp and Joe Schwarcz

No list of electives would be complete without Chem of Foods. This fully online, asynchronous course allows students to work through short videos at their own pace. The professors are highly engaging and their passion for the subject can be felt through the screen. Plus, you can use your notes for the exams, as they are fully online and open-book. 

Honourable Mentions:

CANS 301: Topics in Canadian Studies: Leadership in Canada

BIOL 115: Essential Biology

PSYC 471: Human Motivation (PSYC 215 is a prerequisite)

PHIL 242: Topics in Feminist Theory

FREN 201: Le français littéraire (FRSL 431 or a placement test is a prerequisite) 

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