Liberal Arts: Subject Areas & Courses

Liberal Arts

SAIC prides itself on the diverse array of courses and opportunities available to students in its Department of Liberal Arts, which is constituted by the areas of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and languages. In addition to the courses required by the department of your major, you will select classes from a broad variety of offerings that will expand your scope of knowledge and inform your artistic practices from outside the discipline.

You will study under writers, historians, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, and musicians who bring years of accomplishment and teaching experience in their respective fields to the classroom. Credit hour requirements in these areas vary depending on your degree program.

A brief sample of previous courses offered:

  • Contemporary Music Seminar: Cage to Sun Ra
  • Latin American and Latino/a Literature
  • Gay and Lesbian Literature
  • Geometry of Art and Nature
  • Biology of Sensation and Perception
  • Urban History
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Shakespeare
  • Ethics
  • Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Language: French, Spanish, Chinese, American Sign Language


First Year Seminar I and II

Your Liberal Arts education begins with a year-long course of composition and content-based writing classes split between English 1001 First Year Seminar I and English 1005 First Year Seminar II. These consecutive courses provide the foundation for more advanced study in the Liberal Arts. First Year Seminar courses are thematically-based, teaching English writing, grammar, close reading, and composition through themed courses inspired by literary, historical, anthropological, and sociological disciplines. Each of these First Year Seminar courses is designed and taught by instructors who bring years of expertise in their academic areas into the writing classroom. For a list of upcoming courses see our Courses page.

A brief sample of previous courses offered:

  • Social Space and the Artist
  • Art of Political Dys-course: Soviet Sci-fi
  • Anthropology of the Senses
  • American Writers in Paris
  • Mining the Cultural Archive
  • Memory and Imagination
  • Dangerous Ideas

English for International Students and Academic Access

The Liberal Arts department houses two academic enrichment programs: English for International Students and Academic Access.

Writing Center

SAIC offers free, hour-long writing tutorials at the Writing Center.


Your selection of Humanities courses include literature, philosophy, religion, music theory, and history. Courses and syllabi pull from Western and non-Western subjects, a variety of historical periods, and diversity of genres, approaches, authors, and subject matters. For a list of upcoming courses see our Courses page.

A brief sample of previous courses offered:

  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of Art
  • Philosophy of Sex
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Islam: History, Theology, and Thought
  • Contemporary Music Seminar: Hip Hop
  • Ancient Greek Plays
  • Music of Asia and the Pacific
  • Existentialism
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies


You can choose from language courses in Spanish, French, and Chinese. We also offer beginning and intermediate classes in American Sign Language. The goal of foreign language instruction is to widen students' horizons and opportunities by providing speaking, reading, writing, listening, and cultural skills that will serve students who travel, study abroad, or continue to graduate programs with foreign language requirements. For a list of upcoming courses see our Courses page.

Spanish I, II, and III

Beginning Spanish is intended to be an introduction to Spanish language for students with no previous exposure to the language. It is the first part of a two-semester Basic Spanish program. All four linguistic skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) will be developed via presentation and practice of basic grammar/syntax and phonetics, everyday idiomatic expressions/vocabulary, and communicative strategies. A variety of textual and audio-visual material will also be used to enhance listening and reading comprehension and to introduce students to multiple aspects of Spanish and Latin-American cultures.

French I, II, III

Details coming soon.

Chinese I and II

Chinese I provides an introduction to the Chinese language, including reading, writing, and conversational skills for basic communication. This class also contains cultural and linguistic information about the Chinese-speaking world. Using an audio-lingual approach, Chinese II teaches pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar fundamentals as essential elements in reading, writing, and understanding elementary Chinese. The course also covers necessary culture, customs, philosophy, and history which serve as keys to studying the Chinese language

American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) I is a basic introduction with an emphasis on conversational fluency. The course combines work in both expressive and receptive skills; students learn to recognize and produce signs in ASL with appropriate non-manual behaviors and grammatical features. Additionally, they explore the social and cultural contexts of ASL through readings and discussions. American Sign Language II is designed to further develop students' proficiency in frequently used signs and introduce complex grammatical structures and vocabulary. As a result, students continue to develop expressive, receptive, conversational, and basic translation skills in ASL while gaining competence in using some complex grammatical rules of the language. This course also familiarizes students with some cultural aspects of deaf communities.

Natural Sciences

Your choice of Natural Sciences offerings include biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, cognitive science, and mathematics. For a list of upcoming courses see our Courses page.

A brief sample of previous courses offered:

  • The Insect World
  • The Universe: History, Contents, and Evolution
  • Animal Behavior
  • Neuroscience and the Mind
  • Geometry of Art and Nature
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Mushrooms, Molds, and Medicine
  • Force, Energy, and Motion
  • Earth's History
  • The Elegance of Proof

Social Sciences

Your social sciences options include a wide array of courses such as history, anthropology, psychology, economics, and political science.

A brief sample of previous courses offered:

    • Food Chains: Farm, Supermarket, Plate
    • Introduction to Psychology
    • Cultural History: Modern America
    • Green Choices
    • Anthropology of Childhood
    • Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
    • Work and Leisure in American History