9 of the Coolest Classes at University of Virginia

The University of Virginia can seem like all work and no play when it comes to academics, but that’s far from reality. In fact, Mr. Jefferson’s university offers classes as quirky and unique as the students who attend it. No matter what major you’ve chosen, or which school of the university you’re in, here are 9 of the coolest classes at UVA.

1. RELJ 3490 — Jewish Weddings

Ever imagined yourself attending a picturesque wedding on UVA’s lawn? Take Jewish Weddings and you’ll get to do just that—in fact, you may even get to be the bride or the groom. This class will not only teach you the ins and outs of the wedding planning business, but it will give you a taste of the innovative new traditions of Jewish martial ceremonies. Plus, I hear there’s cake.

2. DRAM 2020 – Acting 1

Yes, you read that right. The entire basis of this class is ACTING. No tests or quizzes—just you, a tightknit cast (the rest of your 14 person class), and a spotlight. Not only is the class a creative outlet and stress reliever, but you also make 14 really close friends. One student gushed, “You really get to know and trust everyone in the class.” Best part about Acting 1? You don’t need any acting experience to enroll!

3. SLAV 2360 – Dracula

Twilight fans, this one is for you. Dracula investigates Slavic folklore, mainly focusing on vampirism. The reviews for this class are off the charts; every semester it has an endless waitlist of vampire enthusiasts just hoping to make the cut. Those lucky enough to snag a spot get an entire semester of Dracula pop culture, movies, and history. Grab your fake fangs and get in line, this is a class you won’t want to miss.

4. PHYS 1050 — How Things Work

Any of you non-science people still struggling to complete a science requirement? Well look no further—How Things Work is here to teach physics to those whose of us who cringe at the word alone. Not only will this class leave you cringe-less, but the lecture is actually fun! Professor Bloomfield is known to do cool experiments and demonstrations during class that will wake up even the sleepiest of students. In addition to being an interesting lecturer, but he’s an all around great professor too. Students love him so much that he’s become fondly referred to as “Grandpa Lou.”

5. ASTR 1270 — Unsolved Mysteries in the Universe

Students have affectionately compared this course to “reading a science magazine.” Professor Johnson genuinely wants students to think—literally—out of this world, and makes her class relatable and engaging in order to do so. Lectures are filled with YouTube videos, Comedy Central clips, and fun news reports in order to help students grasp how these mysteries of the universe are relevant in their lives. Discussing everything from the origin of life, to what lies beyond outer space, this class is sure to expand your view of the universe.

6. KINE 1320 — Scuba Diving

Yup—you can get college credit for learning how to scuba dive. Sure class is held in a pool not in an ocean, but hey it’s still the coolest credit you’ll ever earn. Offering sections for both beginners and for experienced divers, all levels of scuba skills are welcome in this course. This should be considered one of the most exciting classes at UVA.

7. COMM 4680 — Entrepreneurship

Ever wondered if you have what it takes to set up your own start-up company? Take Entrepreneurship and find out! The class is divided into small teams who work together throughout the semester to develop every aspect of their very own start up. Professor Touve is essentially the Shark Tank judge to the teams’ business ventures, and by the end of the semester each has developed a successful business plan—and that plan may just become reality. Rumor has it that the popular UVA restaurant, Roots, was founded in this class by a UVA alum. 

8. MUSI 2340 — Learn to Groove

Stressed out about all those tests, papers, and group projects? Why not bang out your stress in this super chill drum circle. Yeah—that’s seriously all this class is. Just a group of students hanging out and drumming together. With absolutely zero musical or drum experience required, there’s no wonder Learn to Groove is one of the hardest classes to get into at UVA. Just remember to BYOHD (bring your own hand drum). This is truly a fun class at University of Virginia.

9. GETR 3563—Spiritual Journeys in Young Adult Fiction

Don’t let its listing under the German department scare you off—this could be one of the most worthwhile classes at UVA. With a reading list jam-packed with some YA favorites (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Life of Pi, The House on Mango Street), this course delves deeper into classic texts that you probably already know and love. Rather than analyzing the transformations of the characters in these texts like in a typical literature course, this class focuses on your own personal journey while reading them. This probably won’t be the first time you’ve read these novels, but it will be the first time you’re aware of the journey they take you on.

 

10 of the Coolest Classes at Penn State

There are lots of cool courses at PSU that you might not know about. Here are some of the coolest courses that you can take as a Penn State student:

1. ANTH 216: Sex and Evolution

This anthropology class on the evolution of sex is certainly not an “easy A”, but many students have found it to be immensely interesting. Class attendance is not mandatory, however the very attractive professor making witty jokes about sex is definitely an incentive to go. Students have said that whilst the exams and material are difficult, and even a bit intense for some, the material is very interesting and the professor is immensely knowledgeable about the subject.

2. CMLIT 120: LITERATURE OF THE OCCULT

CMLIT 120 is the ideal course for people who love books on the supernatural, witches, demons, vampires, demons, etc. from the Biblical ages until the present. And who doesn’t?! You even get to read Harry Potter. I will see you there next semester.

3. CSD 269: DEAF CULTURE

This course dives into depth about everything from how the deaf are educated to the psyche and emotional state of our fellow deaf members of society. You not only learn that deaf members of society truly have their own culture and identity, but are able to jump right into that culture and learn about what makes it so unique. It will definitely open your eyes and make you much more aware about other members of society.

4. Kines 045: SCUBA DIVING

Have you ever wanted to take a tropical trip to the beautiful island of St. Lucia? Then this is the course for you! Students have the ability to travel to St. Lucia to test their scuba diving skills and knowledge after spending a semester learning diving skills, the necessary equipment used in scuba diving, safety precautions, and how to plan a safe and productive dive.

5. SOCIOLOGY 119: RACE AND ETHNIC RELATIONS

I first heard about this class when I was sitting on the Blue Loop, or “Bloop”, and overheard two students talking about their lecture from the previous day. Both students made comments about how insightful and eye opening this course was. Professor Richards encourages independent thinking whilst discussing the differences, disparities, and similarities between many of the racial and ethnic groups that coexist in America. Students are also given the opportunity to earn extra credit by tweeting about the class, and can even have control over the discussion if they speak up. And from what many students have said in the past, Dr. Richards’ controversial statements and opinions will definitely drive someone to speak up sooner rather than later.

6. WOMEN’S STUDIES 106: REPRESENTING WOMEN AND GENDER IN LITERATURE, ART AND POPULAR CULTURES

There is no denying the fact that women are incredible and tough as nails. PErsonally, I think that any Women’s Studies course is worthy of my attention However this particular course rises above them all. This class will explain why women are often depicted as flat, supporting characters in media and literature. You will explore the bias that has plagued women throughout history, and look at how that bias has affected the pop culture of the present. So if you only have room to fit in one women’s studies course into your schedule, make it this on.

7. KINESIOLOGY 017: BALLROOM DANCING

Are you looking to spice up your moves at your next Frat party? Try Ballroom Dancing! You will pick up some classy moves and get to dance to good music whilst meeting that physical education requirement.

8. MATH 034: THE MATHEMATICS OF MONEY

It often seems as if trigonometry, geometry, and every other “ometry” math class out there is a giant waste of times. Many students spend the majority of the class pondering as to when, or if, this information will ever become useful or relevant. However there is a quantifications course that actually applies to all of our lives, and this is it! Math 034 will teach you valuable life skills about how to do your taxes, use credit cards, and calculate interest.

9. BBH 146

Looking for yet another Penn State class about sex? BBH 146 is just that. The class load has been described as minimal, and whilst the two mandatory lectures a week can get dry, the small group portion is often entertaining. The exams are also online so the chances of you bombing an exam are minimal. All and all this should be a relatively easy and entertaining course to boost your GPA.

10. Kines 442(Ancient Greek and Roman Sports History).

Kines 442 is literally a class about the history of sports and the Olympics! You will spend your classes learning about the history of the modern Olympic sports we know and love, and also about some really cool, and often dangerous, sports that the many Greeks and Romans dabbled in during their free time.

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15 of the Coolest Classes at the University of Calgary

1. Health Psychology PSYC330

I might be a tad biased as a psychology major, but I can assure you majority of the class I took it with, loved it and loved our prof Dr. Lisa Daroux-Cole. Her slides are posted on D2L, but going to class everyday really expanded my cultural perspective on life due to the discussion within the class, as well as she gave explicit hints for what will be on the exam. Not only is it interesting and rewarding but also fairly easy to do well if you pay attention to the notes (most exam questions are straight of her notes). Lisa definitely cares about her students, worried about how she teaches the class and adjusts accordingly. The class wasn’t about a grade, and the prof was passionate about each topic—including stress, what every sane student experiences. Amazing and inspiring guest speakers made appearances on several occasions—definitely some chill days where you don’t have to take notes. The textbook brings up controversial topics including psychologists in the hospital, a topic that is brought up for discussion in class, which encourages ethical and economic debates. The course testes knowledge and understanding of material rather than nitty-gritty details, so sign up, attend class, and an A is achievable! (Trust me I did it.)

2. FILM 201 

A prerequisite for all film studies courses, but still an amazing class you’d want to take either way. There is a three-hour lab in which you watch movies and a tutorial where you may ask your heart away. What more can I say?

3. GEOG205

I took this thinking it would be an easy A and definitely was not in my opinion; I thought I was going to learn where different countries in the world are located. The first part had to do with land forms—I learnt in grade four in Ontario, something I didn’t want to learn about again—but Peter Slezak taught cultural geography in the second half and turned my grade around. Cultural geography puts a spin on the geographical landforms that exist around the world by discussing each regions culture, religion, and traditions of the civilians within them. Showing the interaction of the man-made and natural disasters that have disrupted civilization. The displacement of civilians in Afghanistan into the mountains due to the war were followed by the deaths of these displaced in avalanches—who knew hot countries had avalanches! Understanding differences in the world has helped me in my acceptance and understanding of psychological factors that exist—just psych major with a sociology minor things.

4. ASL201

This class is offered to learn American Sign Language and the culture of deaf people, mostly preferring students in medicine, nursing, and social work but who says you won’t need it one day? An interesting class that pushes your ability to use your hand-eye coordinated non-violent actions as words not your mouth. Basic communication and conversation skills are taught in American Sign Language. This course was made for students who have no background or previous experience, a.k.a. majority of students who are reading this right now.

5. ANTH331 Sex and Gender

The first part of this class discusses males & females: primarily using examples from animals and how males and females are more similar than different. The course topic switches to the portrayal of gender roles in society, including the perception of female gender roles are roles taken by men in various cultures, as well as discussing the differences in opportunities and advantages between men and women in North America due to perceived gender roles. The final main topic brings up controversy of psychological and scientific explanations of transgender and transsexual genetics and gonads—which are included in the secretion of testosterone, estragon & progesterone. A class that will increase not only your GPA, but your understanding of biology without having to learn gross in-depth details.

6. PSYC204 Human Sexuality

This course is new which means the department is experimenting their techniques, but as a human sexuality course it is similar to other sex and gender courses. Taught by two amazing psychology profs: Melissa Boyce and Simon Spanswick. The first half is neuropsychology, which is followed by social psychology explanations for sexuality. As a junior course, expectations are not high; Melissa Boyce thoroughly explains each concept to make sure everyone is on board and agrees with what she’s saying, and is open to debate. Increase your GPA and admiration for my favourite profs at U of C.

7. SOCI201

This course has interesting topics, but with Dumas the course takes a whole new level. Dumas cares about his students, demonstrated through his encouraged laughter and his examples that are included to help strengthen students understanding. Dumas wants you to come to class, and that on it’s own makes this course (or prof) interesting.

8. MUSI304 Music in Popular Culture

Previously known as Music history and literature 309, this course is now Music in Popular Culture: Musical Theatre. I accept all your appreciation in advance because you love that this course requires you to travel to New York City! It is an intersession of Spring that is a travel-study course. What’s a better way to learn about musical theatre than to be apart of the live audience in New York? Catch a morning flight and it’s a direct 5 hour flight!

9. LWSO201

This course is the introduction to law and society. I had Ed McCoy, amazing prof with interesting information about the social context of the power of law, also he sometimes told the class stories about his cat and his kid—with pictures! The information is fairly easy to grasp, one of the main topics was the Andrew Mercer reformatory for girls aged 16-30—a female aged 16-30 that could be promiscuous or consuming alcohol would be sent there, guilty without a fair trial.

10. LWSO203

Law and society 203 is a deeper look into law in comparison to 201, containing Canadian criminal context. Social engineering using the philosophy and the science of law will be used; really helps expand what you and your brain are able to do.

11. MATH211

Ya, a math course. You’re probably thinking—ew how could math ever be fun, but trust. Math211 is Linear Math; this is one of the most engaging mathematics courses, but only if you can appreciate math. In this course you will learn about all the different things you can do with numbers in mathematics and makes you wish you were shown this when they first starting asking you what does two plus five equal?

12. PSYC203

This is like the millionth time a psychology course has shown up; it’s for your benefit! Introduction level psychology course, which includes all the basic information about Pavlov’s dog and classical conditioning—essentials only. Take with Melissa Boyce for a great semester; once again you’re welcome.

13. ARST201

This course is the introductory level to architectural studies, which engages students in thought processes including (but not limited to) the usefulness of buildings—purpose and intentions. Develop an understanding and appreciation of the social, cultural, historical, technological, economic, and natural context that inspire & influence the design of buildings and other objects.

14. BIOL 311

Biology course that focuses on genetics! A biology course that finally talks all about you, because your life is all about yourself, and the other people who are in it… This course includes a lab component that allows hands-on knowledge about genetic principles!

15. KNES201

Introduction to kinesiology, an activity course labeled “Essence and Experience”. Hopefully, you’ve made the choice of taking biology 30 or equivalent in highschool or else you aren’t eligible to enrol in this course. Topics include the fundamental factors that influence the activities humans have chosen and the way humans are capable of moving.

Hope you enjoy your years at university of Calgary, especially if you have taken any of my favourite 15 courses! Thanks for reading!