Breadth designations and their descriptions

The following section gives a detailed look at L&S breadth designations and a description of each breadth requirement.

Natural Sciences (Breadth designations B, N, P, W, X, or Y)

Courses with the natural sciences (which include studies in the physical and biological sciences) designation focus on knowing the world through scientific inquiry—assembling objective information that can be used to explain observed natural phenomena in a way that is thorough and verifiable. Laboratory components give students firsthand experience in methods of scientific research. These courses help students see both the explanatory and creative processes in science that are transforming our world.

Arts & Humanities (Breadth designations H, L, X, or Z)

Courses with the "arts and humanities" designation focus on exploring the human condition and appreciation for the complexities of their own and other people's perspectives. Employing analytical, critical, and interpretive methods, these courses teach a wide array of skills necessary to understand and analyze past, present, and future of the world around us. Literature courses (labeled with an “L” designation) are a subset of Humanities courses; they may be used to meet Humanities requirements or specific Literature requirements if students have them.

After completing an Arts & Humanities course, a student should be able to:

·        comprehend and employ various approaches to interpreting and creating cultural artifacts such as works of art, literature, music, architecture, philosophy, film, etc.

·        demonstrate knowledge of major movements, trends, or events in the development of world cultures

·        demonstrate an appreciation of the complexities of the interpretative process within historical and cultural contexts

·        apply critical approaches to the works and alternative ways of considering them

·        empathize, think critically about, and appreciate the complexities of their own culture and larger global community.

Literature (Breadth designation L)

Courses with "literature" designation focus on the reading and interpretation of texts in multiple genres, including fictional and nonfictional prose, poetry, and drama, as well as digital media, from a range of cultures, in translation or in their original languages. They teach skills of literary analysis while examining the relation between the texts and the cultures, historical periods, and ideas that produced them. These courses are a subset of Humanities and may be used to meet either Humanities requirements or specific Literature requirements if students have them.

Social Sciences (Breadth designations S, W, Y, Z)

In the social sciences, students learn other ways to understand humanity. Courses in this area are found in a wide range of fields that share a common focus on the systematic study of personal interactions, and the interactions of society and institutions. These fields use quantitative and qualitative research strategies to look at the variety and scale of these interactions, and in these courses, students learn how to formulate research questions and determine what techniques are best used to answer those questions.

These "ways of knowing" the world around us intersect and overlap, and the ideas presented in one area will often inform and transform what we know or think about what we know about the others. Taken as a whole, the breadth requirement is intended to help UW–Madison graduates appreciate the many and complex ways to understand the world around us. By these means, students develop skills that help them make informed decisions in a wide range of political, economic, and social contexts, to think critically about the world, to better understand humanity, and to behave in socially responsible ways

Note that graduate courses do not count toward the L&S undergraduate intermediate/advanced level or breadth requirement and will not be approved to count for L&S breadth/level based on a student's academic interests or graduation needs if a student is approved to take a graduate-level course.