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a breadth of breadth courses

I’m a first year student and having a hard time choosing a simple Breadth requirement course that doesn’t involved Math under the 4-5 category. I’m worried if I don’t do it during my 1st year it will be too hard 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year…
Any suggestions would be really appreciated!



ah, the time-honoured tradition of avoiding math. i know it well.

i got moved you never seen comedy central GIF by Broad City

a great way to look for courses is the faculty of arts and sciences’ timetable. you can click on “advanced search” and look up courses based on which breadth requirement they fulfill. you can also see other course information such as when and where the course is held, any enrollment blocks that may be on the course (priorities, exclusions, etc), how many people are in the course or on the waitlist, and who teaches the course. since you’re looking for courses to fulfill breadth 4 and 5, you could filter your search by that and look through the courses and see if there’s anything that interests you.

you mention that you’re worried about doing breadth in the upper years. though it’s true that a lot of students fulfill their breadth requirements in the first year, it won’t be “too hard” to do it later on. first year is transitional, and the transition can be difficult. if something in the sciences is super out of your comfort zone, there’s no harm in waiting until you’re more comfortable with university life to do breadth.

and since you asked for suggestions… here is my PERSONAL (and i greatly emphasize, PERSONAL), suggestions for breadth courses that look interesting that still have space:

this is a survey course designed for non-scientists and assumes that students have no background in math or science at all, so this sounds perfect for what you’re trying to do. the course outline also mentions that the course explores popular scientific topics, so it might be stuff that you’ve heard of before. also, the course title itself sounds pretty dope.

these are astronomy classes designed for students with no background in science. they explore “our place in the universe.” i feel like everyone i know has taken these before for breadth; it’s super popular. i mean, tons of people take it and they manage to fill con hall every semester so… it’s gotta be aight, right? plus, space is pretty cool.

a course about ancient civilizations and how they responded to where they lived. if you’re a history buff or want to learn about the truly stark environmental crisis we are currently in (compared to the environmental changes that the ancients experiences)… then this is the course for you!

the title is a tad misleading, and i promise you (and your concerned parents) that this isn’t a class about narcotics. this is a class about pharmacology and the creation of pharmaceutical drugs. it looks like it could be super interesting, especially if you’re interested in the health sector or how pharmaceuticals are made but not necessarily the SCIENCE and CHEMISTRY behind it.

breadth can be really daunting, i know that the thought of having to take a university-level course outside of my comfort zone terrified me– in fact, i didn’t do breadth until my second year.

meryl streep hunter GIF

that being said. i hope this helps!



PS- don’t forget that the last day to add F or Y courses are september 19th! 


the scary world of degree requirements

Hello! I’ll be a first year student soon and I was look at the breadth requirements page and I don’t get what any of it means? FCEs? 100 series? 300+ series? What??



welcome to u of t and the annoying and confusing world of degree requirements!

basically, you need 20 FCE (full course equivalents, which means you could take 20 full year courses, 40 half year courses, or any mix as long as it adds up to 20 full course equivalents) to graduate. within those 20 credits, there are certain requirements that you need to fulfill. according to this, you need to have at least 6.0 FCE of 300/400-level courses with at least 1.0 400 series, and no more than 6.0 100-level courses.

but what does this all mean!??!

the “level” of a course denotes what year that course is meant to be taken in. 100 being first year, 200 being second year, etc. you can tell what “level” a course is from the first number in the course code. for example, ENG140 is a first year or 100- level course. of course, these levels are all suggested and oftentimes upper year students take a lower level course in order to complete requirements. as long as you don’t go over the max of 6.0 100-level courses and as long as you take at least 6.0 300+ level courses, you’ll be good!

this brings us to the elusive breadth requirement. the breadth requirement is the university’s way of making sure that we turn out somewhat well-rounded. there are 5 “categories”, all corresponding to a different area of study. you need to complete 1.0 FCE in 4/5 categories or 1.0 FCE in 3/5 categories and than 0.5 FCE in the remaining two categories. for the most part, whatever program you’re interested in will fulfill at least 2 or 3 of the categories, so you just need to look at completing the other 2 or 3. though a lot of students decide to get their breadth requirement out of the way in first year, it doesn’t really matter when you do it, as long as they’re done before you graduate.

i hope this helps! i know this is a lot and can be really confusing. don’t hesitate to reach out to your college registrar to set up an academic advising session just to figure some stuff out. it can be really helpful.

see you on campus in september!

 happy loop yay celebrating kermit GIF




course selection frenzy

Hello! I got into u of t St George and first I just wanted to say thank you to all the admins of aska! There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding uni when you’re a senior, but this site was a haven for all my questions. So thank you 🙂 And now that I got in I have even more questions haha. Course selection! I don’t know anything about what I’m supposed to do! How many courses do I choose? How many credits do I need to graduate? Can I only choose courses revolvin from major and/or minor? Thanks again!!


hello young one!

thank you! it’s always nice to get fanmail!

as for your questions about course selection, it’s understandable that you have no clue what’s going on! i felt like i was wandering through an impermeable haze of confusion during the summer before my first year so i totally feel you.

for first years, you’ll find out your course enrolment time (when you can log onto ACORN and enrol in courses) on july 21st. actual course enrolment starts july 27th. basically, you log onto ACORN, find the courses that you want to take by typing them into the website’s search bar, add them to your enrolment cart, and then click the enrol button on july 27th. DON’T FORGET TO ACTUALLY ENROL IN YOUR COURSES. i know tons of people who forgot because they thought that adding them to their enrolment cart enrolled them automatically. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. it’s like online shopping, you gotta check out after you put ’em in the cart.

as for how many courses, most people do 5 FCE (full course equivalents) per year in order to graduate in 4 years (you need 20 FCE to graduate, 5 times 4 = 20). of course, that is just a suggestion. some people take less and then take either an extra year or two to graduate or make up for it with summer courses. it’s all up to you! i wouldn’t suggest taking more than 5 in the first year though. while it is possible to take up to 6 FCE per year, it’s nice to be able to just figure out your pacing and see how heavy uni courses are before taking on extra courses.

in your first year (i’m also assuming that you’re in artsci), you can take any classes you want, though you should take the courses that are relevant to your programs of interest. you should also do some research on the programs that you’re interested in and check out their preqs. you can find programs and their requirements in the faculty calendar.

i would also suggest looking at the breadth requirement. though you do have your entire undergrad to fulfill these, a lot of people like to get these out of the way early. there are also a lot of breadth options in first year, such as the first year seminar classes. also, you are only allowed 6.0 100-level courses throughout your degree, so it might be a good idea to plan out how you’re going to use them.

i really hope that this helps! looking forward to seeing you on campus in september!




the consequences of failing a course


I wanted to ask that if I fail a course which I do not need for my program
of study and have just taken it as a breadth requirement, what will the
consequence be?
will I have to retake the course? will I be put on probation? will I be
kicked out of uni?
So I just wanna know what exactly will happen since I don’t need it as a
pre req for my program of study!




great question. since it’s not required for your program, you won’t have to retake the course unless you really wanted to retake THAT specific course. in terms of how many times you can retake the course, you’re allowed to the retake the course as many times as you want until you pass the course (but why would you do that unless you need to). once you receive a passing grade in the course, you won’t be able to retake it to achieve a higher grade without the permission of a registrar.

if you fail a course, a grade point of 0.0 will be assigned for that course, but you’ll only be put on academic probation if your CGPA is lower than 1.5. academic probation is a whole other story but they have a helpful chart to show you how it works.

don’t worry, you won’t be kicked out of uni!





to math or not to math

Hi aska! This problem has been bugging my for a while now. The English Major Program requires completion of 0.5 FCE in BR5. I have a transfer credit from IB HL Physics. Does that count towards the POSt? Degree planner says it does but I’m not sure cause the department website states CR/NCR doesn’t count towards the program. Does the transfer credit fall under that cause technically it doesn’t contribute towards my GPA? All these requirements are hella confusing. Thanks in advance!


hey there,

unlike CR/NCR courses, transfer credits (and that includes transfer IB credits) can count towards breadth requirements. if degree explorer is saying your IB physics credit counts towards the BR5 requirement for an English major, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

another way of checking would be to take a look at your academic history on ACORN; if the credit counts as a BR5 credit, then it will say so underneath the transfer credit. and if it’s a BR5, then it should meet that English major requirement!

as a matter of fact, i had a weirdly similar situation to you. i did an english specialist and had first-year transfer credits from another university, and my physics transfer credit (or maybe it was chem?…it’s all a blur now) was used to fill that same requirement for my English specialist!

maybe you’re like my doopleganger or something. whoa.




afraid of breadth categories 4 and 5? say no more!

Hi Aska!

I am trying to pick out my first year courses and am in need of a bit of assistance.

I noticed that the courses you can take have breadth requirements attached to them. Let’s say you are taking a course which covers a Creative and Cultural Representations Breadth Requirement but you are also taking this course as a requirement for your program. Does this course still cover the Breadth Requirement even though it’s going towards your program?

Also, I was accepted to U of T in the Humanities and let’s just say, I’m not that “gifted” in the science and math category. Can you recommend any First Year Seminars or even courses for individuals who aren’t that strong in the sciences and mathematics?

Thanks so much! 🙂


hey there,

oooh, a first year! do you feel excited? do you feel like you have all the potential in the world? does your heart flutter as you page through the course calendar? good. be excited. it’s an exciting time.

chandler no idea excited

a typical first year around course enrolment time

yep, courses can count towards breadth and program requirements simultaneously.

if you’re worried about filling your category 4 and 5 breadth requirements, then i would say: don’t be afraid! there are many, many more courses available at the university than there are at the high school level. you may stumble upon some science/math courses that you’ve never even heard of, but that might just be right up your alley, “gifted” or not.

also keep in mind that you don’t need to fulfil all (or even most) of your breadth requirements in first year. if you’re feeling uncomfortable with taking a category 4 or 5 breadth course going into your first year, that’s a-okay. you have three more years in which to fill them. first year is a transitional period, and it’s not a crime to try and make that transition easier.

since you did ask, however, here is my PERSONAL list of interesting-looking breadth 4/5 courses, divided into 1st year/upper year and by breadth category:


1st Year Courses

Upper Year Courses


1st Year Courses

Upper Year Courses

i hope that’s helpful! best of luck with course enrolment on the 28th. may the odds be ever in your favour.



wait what

Hola! I’m a 1st year student at York thinking about transferring to utm. I know uoft first years have to take certain courses before they can choose a major, but since I already have a major here at York, does it mean I’m exempted from meeting the breadth requirement? [First-Year Seminars (199 courses) are open only to newly-admitted, Faculty of Arts & Science students (3.5 credits or less).] If not, is there any way I can skip taking those courses? Cheers!



i appreciate your upbeat tone and can-do attitude. i also appreciate the Hawaiian spin on your question. i do get the feeling, however, that you’re kind of just using a lot of uoft jargon without REALLY understanding what it means. and hey, i get that it’s confusing – if it was easy to understand, my job wouldn’t exist- but it’s making your question a little bit tricky to interpret.

so, let me try and clear some of the confusion, at least: breadth requirements are a requirement that all faculty of arts & science students must fulfil in the course of their degree. the requirement is that you take a certain number of credits in each of five categories – or ‘breadths’ – of knowledge delineated by the faculty.

you can fulfil the requirement either by taking 1.0 credit in 4 of the 5 breadths, or 0.5 credits in 3 of the breadths and 1.0 credit in the other 2. i know it’s confusing. read it over a few times if you have to.

these breadth requirements have nothing to do with your program(s) (what you call a major, which means something different at york than it does here, but never mind that for now). the breadth requirements are the same regardless of your field of study. SO you can’t be exempted from the breadth requirements, but some of the transfer credits you get will almost certainly go towards filling some of those breadths you need to cover. for example, you may have taken a course at york that transfers over as 1.0 credit in the breadth 1 category. in that case, you would not be required to take any more credits in the breadth 1 category (though you would be welcome to do so, if you wanted to).

next up: i’m not sure why you quoted that little piece on 199 courses. 199 courses are not mandatory. if you don’t want to take them, you don’t have to. in fact, if you come in as a second-year student (that is, you have more than 3.5 transfer credits) you won’t be eligible to take any 199 courses. but don’t worry, it’s a very small collection of courses, and not taking one shouldn’t affect your degree at all; in fact, most people don’t take on, because they’re so limited.

also, utm doesn’t have 199 courses, so it’s even less relevant to you (though utm students are, of course, allowed to enrol in a certain number of downtown courses if they so choose).

i hope that all helps. i have a feeling this post will result in more questions than understanding, so feel free to keep ’em coming. also, enrolment services is a great starting point if you have general questions about the university. the calendar is also a great resourse. good luck deciphering the maze of confusion that is uoft policy and procedure.




disappointed in the course calendar, @ uoft

Hi there,

The timetable indicates that First Year Seminar *Nomos Basileus (‘Law the King’): The Idea of Law in Ancient Greek Thought* falls under Breadth category #2 and the course description puts it in Breadth category #1 so wondering which one is it for real.

Thanks for your help!


hey there,

i called up the lovely lovely people at classics and it is, in fact, a breadth 2 course.

shout out to the guy at the department who was majorly disappointed to learn that they made a mistake when he JUST CHECKED to make sure it was all correct like two days ago. we appreciate all your hard work, my man.

greek statue

the ancient Greeks, shown here looking at the course calendar






Happy Thursday. The strike is now over, so rejoice.

As for my question, are Breadth Requirements fulfilled at UTSC recognized at UTSG?? (I want to attempt an internal transfer and change programs.)

I’ve checked out the Transfer Explorer, and I’m wondering if you can confirm that the little box at the bottom of the white box that says “BR = number i.e. (2) ” thing at the bottom is in fact the Breadth Requirement specification.

Thanks so much!


hey there,

yes, UTSC courses can count for breadth requirements at UTSG. however, you have to be careful. a course that fulfils a certain breadth requirement at UTSC might not fill any breadth requirement at UTSG, OR it may fill a DIFFERENT breadth requirement. sneaky, sneaky.

transfer explorer is definitely the place to go to keep you on track for this kind of thing. if you type in a course and it tells you BR=2, for example, then that transfer credit will go towards the second breadth requirement group. here’s an example so you can see what it looks like in transfer explorer.

so basically – yes, you’re right. what am i even doing here? hmm.



P.S. thank you for indicating what campus you’re from, you’re truly amazing, and so beautiful, hopefully if i do enough positive reinforcement everyone will start specifying which campus they’re from alright bye.


pls let me leave, uoft


I am in last year with the intention of graduating in June and, after checking Degree Explorer, I saw that I was missing a credit from BR=5 :Physical and Mathematical Universes. I just completed AST201 this summer and I passed (I took it as CR/NCR because I am terrible at astronomy!). Anyhow, I am just a little worried; I was so sure that AST201 covered that requirement. Or do I have to take ENG287? (I wanted to take that initially, but AST201 worked better for my schedule).

If you could help me clarify this, I would be immensely grateful!


hey there,

AST201 definitely fulfils the 5th breadth req. category, so you don’t have to worry about that. second, credit/no credit can be used to fulfil breadth requirements, so that’s also fine.

my bet is that degree explorer has just been slow in updating the breadth requirement category from this summer.

we are still only in september, and this is a busy time for people who work with Portal. i’d give them a bit more time to update everything before you start to worry.

if you do want to make certain that you’ve done everything you need to graduate, what you can do is make a grad check appointment at your registrar’s office. then you can get confirmation from a real, live human whether everything is hunky-dory and you’re on track to graduate this june.




course pickins’ over the summer

What is the course selection like for summer section? Can I depend on certain courses (eg, breadth requirement fillers) to be available over the summer?


hey there,

here’s the thing that a lot of incoming students get confused by: there is no such thing as ‘breadth requirement courses.’

to clarify: there’s no distinct category of courses that exist just to fulfil breadth requirements, and nothing else.?every course at uoft fills a breadth requirement. capice?

alright, so let’s extend the logic a little. if every course can fulfil a breadth requirement, then what you’re asking is whether you can depend on every course to be offered in the summer term. and unfortunately, you can’t. the summer term is sort of like an abbreviated version of the fall/winter term – only the highlights are repeated.

however, the question you’re likely trying to get at is, ‘can i depend on the courses i’m interested in, that i’m going to take to fulfil certain breadth requirements, to be offered in the summer?’

and the answer to that is: maybe.

if a course was offered last summer term, then it is more likely that it will be offered again this coming summer (that timetable can also give you a pretty good idea of the range of courses that are offered during the summer).

if a course has multiple sections and large lectures this term, then it’s also more likely that it’ll be offered in the summer.

unfortunately, you can’t depend on any courses to be offered for certain. every year, each department decides which courses it’s going to offer, and until the timetable comes out for each term, there’s no way to know for certain what they’ll decide. some courses are a safer bet than others, but there are no guarantees until that summer timetable comes out in late april-ish.

best of luck with your course selection, my friend,



finishing it ALL in first year

Hey aska!I was wondering, how necessary is it to finish all or most of the breadth requirements in the first year? Everyone has told me so far to finish as much as I can first year, but the courses that I’m taking, I need, and they only fill 3 breadth requirements. I’m in Humanities so group 1, 2, and 3 are covered, but not 4 or 5. I feel like it’s more important for me to take classes I need/really enjoy for first year just because I heard it’s the most difficult and taking classes that you’ll enjoy will make it easier for you to do well.So what do you think oh wise one?


hey there,

it’s not at all necessary. if you can cover 3/5 breadth requirements in first year, that’s pretty good. something that might be helpful if you’re not keen on the science-y end of the academic spectrum, is to leave some space in your degree for 100-level courses that you can use to fill those 4th and 5th categories whenever you like (since the university will only let you take 6.0 100-series FCEs total during your degree).

there’s nothing wrong with taking 100-level (or even 200+ level) courses in later years to satisfy breadth requirements. just make sure that you’re comfortable doing them whenever you decide to, and that it doesn’t get in the way of any of your plans for future years.

oh yeah: it’s a good idea to plan out your future years. not because you’re likely to follow that plan all four years, but because it gives you an idea of the possible roadblocks ahead, and how you might solve them. as long as you have an idea when you can fit in those breadth req’s, it’s not at all a big deal if you don’t do them right away.

and yes, it is important to take courses you’ll enjoy – first year or not. parents and relatives will try to convince you to take courses or follow career paths you’re not interested in using all manner of trickery. regardless of what they say, you have to remain a stubborn mule and keep pushing for doing exactly what YOU want to do.

even if that means putting off a couple breadth req’s for a year or two.




all courses are breadth req’ courses

are there enough 200-level (or even 300-level) courses for me to take specifically during the summer to fulfil my breadth requirements? i know we can only take 6 100-level courses for credit so i’m wondering if i should “save” the opportunity to take a 100-level course for a breadth requirement during the summer.


hey there,

saving 1.0 100-level FCEs for breadth requirements is a pretty smart idea, though not mandatory. p.s. you can use those 1.0 100-level FCEs whenever you like, not just during the summer – just so you know.

as for 200+ level courses which can be used to fulfil breadth requirements…that doesn’t really make sense. EVERY course in the faculty of arts & science fulfils a breadth requirement. and plenty of those are offered during the summer. so yeah, i’d say there are enough. i don’t know which breadth req you want to fulfil though, so i don’t know what to recommend.

however, you can take a look at the summer timetable from 2014 to see what courses were offered. if they were offered this summer, it’s likely (though not certain) that they’ll be offered again next summer, so that’s one way to at least partly plan things out.

best of luck,


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