Degree Requirements

As an Arts student, you are required to fulfill the faculty-wide requirements for your degree, as well as the requirements for your specific program.

Overview of requirements

Degrees/RequirementsWriting & ResearchLanguage ScienceLiterature Outside Credits Upper-level CreditsArt Credit Minimum
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)1⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
Bachelor of International Economics (BIE)22
Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS)3⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
Bachelor of Music (BMus)4⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)5⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
Second Degree (BA)6⎼⎼7
Second Degree (BFA)6⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼7

1 students entering the BFA program in 2017 or later
2 this requirement is completed through BIE Cohort Required Courses
3 this requirement is completed with BMS Core Required Courses
4 the research component of this requirement is completed by the work in fourth-year performance lessons in BMus
5 requirements for the BSW program are completed prior to entering the program
6 Arts Academic Advising will work with Second BA/BFA students to determine if any Degree Requirements can be waived based on prior study
7 Arts Credit Minimum Requirement is 36 credits for second degree studies

Writing and Research requirement

As an Arts student, you must fulfill six credits towards the writing and research requirement, comprised of three credits in a writing-focused course and three credits in a research-intensive course. Plan to take your writing course at the start of your studies, and your research-intensive course near the end.

Writing component

Being able to read, write, and research at the university level is fundamental to your future academic success. Your writing course will prepare you with skills you will need and use throughout the remainder of your degree, regardless of your academic focus. Take a course that fulfills the writing component in your first year at UBC, or within your first 30 credits.

If you do not complete a course that fulfills the writing component within either your first 54 credits or, for transfer students, your first year in the Faculty of Arts, your registration will be blocked. If this happens to you, you will receive an email notifying you that you will not be able to advance in your degree or register for more courses until Arts Academic Advising approves your plan to complete a writing course.

To satisfy the writing component, complete one of the following:


If you fail a writing component course, you’ll either need to repeat it or take a different writing course as you cannot graduate without satisfying this requirement. Before you register again reflect on why you struggled, and think about what you need to do to succeed in your second attempt. As part of this process, consider accessing UBC resources like Arts Academic Advising, the Learning Commons, or Arts Peer Academic Coaches for learning and planning support.

If you fail the writing component twice, but otherwise meet continuation requirements, you may continue your studies but will be restricted to a reduced credit load of nine credits maximum per term (Winter session) and nine credits over the entire Summer session with no more than six credits per term. These credit restrictions remain until the writing component is successfully completed. You will not be able to graduate if you do not satisfy the writing component.

Research component

Your research component course is your opportunity to contribute to knowledge in your field and to engage with the scholarly community.

You must successfully complete three credits in a research-intensive course between 30 and 120 credits of your Arts degree. Typically, you will register in a research-intensive course specified for your program (major).

Research-intensive courses often have prerequisites and some will be restricted to majors in the discipline. Be sure to investigate your options early so you can ensure you will be prepared.

View approved research-intensive courses:

Qualifies as a research-intensive course:

  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 443 “National Narratives in Chinese Literature and Film”
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 447 “Korean Women’s Literature”
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 490A 001 “Asian Classics: Partition of India in Film and Narrative” taught in 18W
  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 490H 001 “Asian Classics: Representations of the Chinese Ghost” taught in 20W Term 2 and 21W term 2 (section 002)
  • Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENS) 303D “Representations of the Holocaust”, taken as part of the “Witnessing Auschwitz” Global Seminar (other sections of CENS 303 do not qualify)
  • Computer Science (CPSC) 436 “Topics in Computer Science – Video Game Programming” taught in 17W and 18W
  • Computer Science (CPSC) 455
  • Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (GRSJ) 401 “Body, Gender, and Society”
  • Haida Gwaii Semesters (HGSE) 350 “Case Studies in Haida Gwaii”
  • MATH 344 taught in 2020W only
  • NEST400A "Interconnections in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean" (taught in 2020W)
  • Public Policy and Global Affairs, PPGA591I and PPGA591J, taught in 2021W

Does not qualify as a research-intensive course:

  • Asian Studies (ASIA) 478
  • Linguistics (LING) 447H “Topics in Linguistics – American Sign Language” taught in 17W and 18W
  • JAPN 452 taught in 16W
  • 400-level Political Science (POLI) courses taught as Student-Directed Seminars



Language requirement

As an Arts student, you are encouraged to fulfill the language requirement within your first 60 credits.

To fulfill the language requirement, you must complete one of the following:

Prior to admission, and while still in secondary school, you can complete a language course (excluding English) at a level equivalent to BC Grade 12.

  • This option is particularly recommended for students who have knowledge of a language but no secondary school or university transcript to prove competency.
  • If you are planning on completing a proficiency examination to meet the language requirement, plan well-ahead.
  • Arrangements for proficiency testing must be made through the department providing instruction in the language.
  • If a language is not taught at UBC (e.g. modern Arabic, Greek, or Hebrew) contact Arts Academic Advising in your first year of study to confirm the possibility of testing in your language.

  • View a list of UBC courses that fulfill the language requirement.
  • Most of these courses have prerequisites, so we strongly advise that you begin working towards this requirement in your first year.
  • Some courses have placement tests and may not be offered every session, so be sure to plan ahead and check the course schedule or contact the department.

Science requirement

In order to ensure the development of an understanding and appreciation of scientific methods, applications, and reasoning, you must complete six credits chosen from approved courses administered by the Arts, Science, Forestry, Land and Food Systems, Medicine, or Applied Science faculties.

You are not permitted to earn credit for two or more courses with significant overlap, so consult the credit exclusion list to see which courses overlap before registering.

Qualifies as a science requirement:

  • SPPH 381C, Environmental Impacts on Human Health, taught in 17W, 18W, 19W, 20W, 21W and 22W
  • ARCL 325, Paleoanthropology
  • ASIC 220, Introduction to Sustainability
  • APBI 100, Soil and the Global Environment

The following courses satisfy the science requirement and are well suited for students with little or no science background.

Anthropological Archaeology

  • ARCL 140: Bones: The Origins of Humanity
  • ARCL 203: Archaeological Methods
  • ARCL 228: Forensic Anthropology
  • ARCL 235: Controlling Nature: Plant and Animal Domestication
  • ARCL 326: Primatology
  • ARCL 345: Molecular Archaeology

Applied Science

  • APSC 366: The Art of the Possible: An Introduction to Engineering for Non-Engineers

Arts and Science Interdisciplinary

  • ASIC 200: Global Issues in the Arts and Sciences
  • ASIC 220: Introduction to Sustainability


  • ASTR 310: Exploring the Universe I: The Solar System
  • ASTR 311: Exploring the Universe II: Stars and Galaxies

Atmospheric Science

  • ATSC 113: Applied Meteorology


  • BIOL 343: Plants and Peoples
  • BIOL 344: Human Heredity and Evolution
  • BIOL 344: Human Heredity and Evolution
  • BIOL 345: Human Ecology
  • BIOL 346: Microbes and Society

Cellular, Anatomical, and Physiological Sciences

  • CAPS 210: Exploring the Human Body: How does the body work?

Earth and Ocean Sciences

  • EOSC 310: The Earth and the Solar System
  • EOSC 311: The Earth and its Resources
  • EOSC 312: The Earth System and Environmental Evolution
  • EOSC 314: The Ocean Environment
  • EOSC 315: The Ocean Ecosystem

Food, Nutrition, and Health

  • FNH 200: Exploring Our Food
  • FNH 250: Nutrition Concepts and Controversies


  • GEOS 102: Introduction to Geographical Biogeosciences: Climate and Vegetation
  • GEOS 103: Introduction to Geographical Biogeosciences: Water and Landscapes

Land & Food Systems

  • LFS 340: First Nations Health and the Traditional Role of Plants


  • MATH 335: Introduction to Mathematics

Natural Resource Conservation

  • CONS 127: Observing the Earth from Space


  • PHYS 340: Revolutions in Understanding the Universe
  • PHYS 341: Physics of Music
  • PHYS 343: Physical Science by Inquiry

Population and Public Health

  • SPPH 301: Understanding the Sociocultural Determinants of the Health of Populations
  • SPPH 381C: Environmental Impacts on Human Health

Literature requirement

As an Arts student, you must complete six credits in literature.

All incoming students who wish to take any Chinese, Japanese, Hindi-Urdu, or Korean literature courses are required to complete a placement test with the Department of Asian Studies to obtain placement approval for registration. Students without this approval should deregister before the first withdrawal deadline.

Qualifies as a literature requirement:

  • African Studies, AFST 370 taught in 20W and 21W
  • Asian Studies ASIA 336, 395, 412, 413, 431 and 461
  • Central, Eastern, and Northern European studies, CENS 201 Section 004, taught in 20W term 2 only
  • English ENGL 200
  • English ENGL 409K taught in 17W
  • German GERM 206
  • German GERM 404 Religion and German Literature
  • History HIST 403B taught in 17W or 18W
  • History HIST 403F Seminar in the History of International Relations – Graphic Novel. Section 201, Term 2 2020W
  • Italian Food Cultures ITST 380
  • Near Eastern Studies NEST 401
  • Persian PERS 451
  • Scandinavian Studies SCAN 332B (taught in 18S and 19S only)
  • Scandinavian Studies SCAN332A (taught in 2021W only)

Does not qualify as a literature requirement:

  • Asian Studies ASIA 444-001 (taught in 2019W only).
  • Chinese CHIN 2nd transfer credit preclusions for CHIN 431 and 433
  • Chinese CHIN 3nd transfer credit preclusions for CHIN 481, 483, 491 and 493
  • English ENGL 112 and ENGL 229
  • French FREN 401 and FREN 402 (2021W and onward)
  • Sanskrit SANS 300 taught in 16W

Credit requirements

In order to earn your degree, you must complete a set number of credits, including outside credits, upper-level credits, and the Arts credit minimum.

Appealing a degree requirement

If you believe you have already met a Faculty of Arts degree requirement (writing and research requirement, literature requirement, or science requirement), submit an appeal for exemption form in order to be assessed for an exemption based on your transfer credit or prior study.

Note: The language requirement cannot be appealed through this form. Please contact Arts Academic Advising to inquire about language requirement appeals.

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