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How to select courses

As a Freshman Program student you will be using the web to have your course selection approved by a Faculty adviser and will not be assigned to a departmental program adviser during your first year at McGill. However, you are encouraged to consult departmental advisers about specific academic information pertaining to prerequisites, courses and departmental programs. Their advice will enable you to have a better understanding of the departmental programs you may choose. B.Sc. students should also refer to Major Program specific advice.

Advanced standing

Advanced standing of up to 30 credits may be granted to students who obtain satisfactory results in International Baccalaureate, French Baccalaureate, Advanced Levels, and Advanced Placement results. If you expect to receive credit and exemption from one or more of the basic science courses, you should not register for those courses, as you will not receive credit twice for the same material. Please consult the admissions information about course equivalences for further details.

Course load

The normal course load is 5 courses each term (total of 10 courses per year) or 30 credits for the year; however, you may wish to start at a slower pace and register for 4 courses in your first term. Because some of the basic science courses are worth four credits, four science freshman courses per term may total 30 credits for the year; consequently, you may wish to take only 4 courses in order to avoid being overloaded. If this is the first time you are studying in English, we strongly recommend that you take only 4 courses during your first term.

Courses administered by Faculties outside of Arts and Science

B.Sc. students

You may choose courses outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science as elective credits, up to a maximum of 6 credits during the freshman year (3 credits per term). Please consult restricted courses outside the Faculty of Science and your Faculty adviser in order to determine which courses are permitted for credit.

B.A.&Sc. students

You may choose courses outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science as elective credits. Please consult e-Calendar section on Courses outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science and your adviser in order to determine which courses are permitted for credit. These courses may not be used as Arts elective courses.

Constructing a class schedule

When you are selecting your courses, you must make sure that you do not register for courses that overlap in time. There is a 10-minute break between classes to allow you to change rooms and buildings, so you can select courses that are back-to-back without causing problems.

If you plan to register for a multi-term course that spans both the Fall and the Winter terms, such as a language course, make sure that you register in the same section for both terms.

Postponing one of your Freshman courses

If it is necessary to postpone one of your Freshman courses, depending on your intended program, it may be possible to take the course at McGill during the summer session. Also, it may be helpful to know that you are permitted to take summer courses at another university and have the credits and exemption(s) transferred to your McGill degree. Please consult Study Away for more information regarding study away permission/approval for summer courses and the list of Basic Science Course Equivalencies for more information regarding exemptions from McGill courses.

Biology courses

Biological Sciences

It is recommended that you complete both BIOL 111 Principles:Organismal Biology and BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology in your freshman year. However, the crucial course is BIOL 112, as it is the prerequisite for BIOL 200 Molecular Biology , the core course for all biological science departmental programs. It is strongly recommended that you complete CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1 before attempting BIOL 112. BIOL 111 is a prerequisite for BIOL 206 Meth in Biology of Organisms and BIOL 215 Intro to Ecology and Evolution , core courses in the Biology program. If you plan to pursue the Major Concentration in Biomedical Sciences you do not need to take BIOL 111.

Physical Sciences

If you intend to pursue a departmental program in the physical sciences you do not need to take BIOL 111 or BIOL 112.

Psychology

If you plan to pursue a program in psychology, you should complete BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology and PSYC 100 Introduction to Psychology in your freshman year. As our psychology program is quite science oriented, knowledge of the concepts covered in BIOL 112 will help you in subsequent psychology courses.

Chemistry Courses

Biological Sciences

It is recommended that you complete both CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1 and CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2 or CHEM 115 Acc Gen Chem: Giants in Sci in your freshman year because these courses are prerequisites for CHEM 212 Intro Organic Chemistry 1 . CHEM 212 is a co-requisite for BIOL 200 Molecular Biology , which is a prerequisite for higher level biology courses.

Physical Sciences

If you intend to pursue a departmental program in the physical sciences you must take CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1 and CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2 or CHEM 115 Acc Gen Chem: Giants in Sci . These courses are prerequisites for higher level courses in the physical sciences.

Most students who choose to take freshmen chemistry will register for CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1 and/or CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2 . Students who have a grade greater than 95% in their high school preparatory course may register for CHEM 115 Acc Gen Chem: Giants in Sci instead. Other students who wish to take CHEM 115 must obtain permission of the instructor. CHEM 115 and (CHEM 110 & CHEM 120) are considered equivalent from a prerequisite point of view. If you are planning or applying to medical school, note that some medical schools require applicants to have to general chemistry courses; at McGill students who take CHEM 115 would have to take an additional physical chemistry course such as CHEM 204 Physical Chem./Biol.Sci. 1 or equivalent to meet this requirement.

Mathematics courses - Calculus

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics currently offers 3 calculus streams, one for students with no previous background in calculus and two for students with a high school background in calculus: the regular stream and the accelerated stream.

MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus (4 cr)
and
MATH 141 Calculus 2 (4 cr)


For students with no high school calculus or who do not have a full course of high school calculus (3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).

MATH 140 Calculus 1 (3 cr)
and
MATH 141 Calculus 2 (4 cr)
For students with a full course of high school calculus (MATH 140 has 3 hours of lectures and a 1-hour compulsory tutorial; MATH 141 has 3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).
MATH 150 Calculus A (4 cr)
and
MATH 151 Calculus B (4 cr)
For students with a full course of high school calculus and who enjoyed it and did well in all their high school science courses (minimum of A- in high school calculus) (3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).

Both the MATH 139 and 141 and the MATH 140 and 141 streams cover Calculus I and Calculus II, whereas the MATH 150 and 151 stream covers Calculus I, II and III (this stream is a possible option for students planning to enter a program for which Calculus III [MATH 222] is compulsory). The MATH 139 and MATH 141 stream or the MATH 140 and MATH 141 stream are both suitable prerequisites for Calculus III.

Advanced Standing: If you have been granted advanced standing (credit and exemption) for Calculus I or Alpha (either MATH 139 or 140), you have the option of registering for MATH 141 in either the fall or winter term. You may also choose the MATH 150 and 151 stream.

Physics Courses

There are two streams of physics:

PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics
and
PHYS 102 Intro Physics-Electromagnetism
For students with no high school physics or who are weak in physics. This stream is adequate preparation for the biological science programs but not for the physical science programs.
PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves
and
PHYS 142 Electromagnetism & Optics
For students with high school physics and a solid background in mathematics. Note that calculus is required as a corequisite. This stream provides very good preparation for the biological or physical sciences programs.

Physical Sciences

The normal physics requirement for students who intend to pursue a program in the physical sciences is PHYS 131 and PHYS 142; you must complete this requirement in your freshman year. These physics courses require a solid background in high school mathematics and physics.

Biological Sciences

If you intend to pursue a Major Concentration in Biology or a Major Concentration in Biomedical Sciences, you should complete PHYS 101 or 131 and 102 or 142 in your freshman year. Knowledge of these courses will facilitate your understanding of the material in the U1 courses in this program, as well as being prerequisites for future course requirements.

Geography students have the option of completing either stream of physics.

students with an exemption for PHYS 101 and 102 who intend to follow a physical science program may take PHYS 142 for credit.

Deficient in High School Physics or Mathematics and Intending to Pursue a Program in the Physical Sciences

If you are concerned about your ability to handle PHYS 131 in your first term, you have two choices:

  1. You may initially register in PHYS 101 in your freshman year. At the end of the first term, you may request permission from the Director of Advising Services, Science to register in PHYS 142 in the second term. In order to obtain permission for this change, you should have completed the fall term with strong grades in physics and in your other subjects.
  2. You may prefer to complete PHYS 101 and PHYS 102 during your freshman year. You will then need to consult with your future physical science department to determine whether or not you will be admitted to their program. Their decision will depend on your grades in physics and in your other courses.

Arts introductory courses (B.A.&Sc. students)

In your freshman year, you are required to complete at least three Arts courses to be chosen from two of the following three categories: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Languages. A maximum of two courses may be selected from one category, and no more than two courses from any one department. These courses are selected from the B.A. & Sc. Freshman Program list of approved courses. Courses outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science are not used towards this requirement.