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Arts and Contemporary Studies

Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Administered by: Faculty of Arts
Program Format: Full-time, four-year program.

This four-year degree in Arts and Contemporary Studies prepares graduates to think, work, and actively participate in the changing environments of the 21st century. It is an innovative interdisciplinary degree that also provides students with insight into the nature of contemporary society and the skills and competencies necessary for career mobility.

O.S.S.D. with six Grade 12 U/M courses, including Grade 12 U English.


  1. ENG4U/EAE4U is the preferred English.
  2. A grade of 70 percent or higher will be required in Grade 12 U English.
  3. Subject to competition, candidates may be required to present averages/grades above the minimum.  

The degree consists of a range of required interdisciplinary courses that allow students to focus on those thinkers whose ideas have most deeply affected our society, the courses in the 'Ideas that Shape the World' series. In these courses, students also develop key skills and competencies: the ability to read precisely and critically, to communicate effectively, to develop strategies for life-long learning, to mediate conflict and work in teams, as well as to do analysis and engage in research design. Students may choose an area of concentration from the professional courses from Professional Table I. Nine options are available; four of these options are subject-based and the other five are interdisciplinary.

Subject-Based Options

The subject-based options allow students to combine their interdisciplinary studies with a focus in one of four humanities disciplines:

  • English Option – This option provides students with a course of study that focuses on how to read critically—that is, analyze, historicize, and politicize—a wide range of literary and cultural texts. Students examine how such things as genre, form, method, historical period, geography and nation inform narrative media, including works of literature, film, television, digital culture, and the visual arts. Through an engagement with narratives of the past and the present, students develop a critical understanding of contemporary cultural production.
  • French Option – This option provides students with the opportunity to gain a specialization in this important linguistic and cultural field. It allows students to develop a better understanding of the culturally diverse populations of the Francophone world in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, while acquiring critical insights into the important role that French and Francophone culture play both at a national level in this country and in the broader international context.
  • History Option – This option offers not only a study of the past, as a way to understand the present, but also a range of skills applicable to many jobs – those which require an understanding of research techniques, analysis, and logic. Each of these is a requirement of historical studies, as students must understand how to collect data, how to analyze it as to accuracy and sufficiency, and how to construct a logical argument from the evidence, if it is judged that there is sufficient evidence to support an argument.
  • Philosophy Option – This option provides students with a broad understanding of the main historical trends and contemporary developments within the discipline of philosophy. With its sustained and systematic plan of study in Philosophy, the option has two general objectives. First, it encourages students to read and think about philosophical issues and problems in an active and critical manner. Second, it provides students with an understanding of, and appreciation for, the contributions made by some of the greatest thinkers of the past and present. 

Interdisciplinary Options

The four interdisciplinary options allow students to focus in on one of four themes:

  • Anthropology Studies Option - This option examines the study of anthropology in its attempts to understand the human experience, past and present, using holistic, comparative, and field based evolutionary perspectives and practices. Students will earn a strong base in anthropological history, theory and methods as well as acquire important skills allowing them to conduct research and analysis in the mode of an anthropologist, examining and interpreting the immediate world around them.
  • Culture Studies Option – Students examine the forms of cultural expression that have become a measure of who we are and who we dream of becoming. They explore cultural identity through both high culture and popular entertainment.
  • Diversity and Equity Studies Option – Our diverse and politically charged social space is the focus of this interdisciplinary option. It explores the encounters of language, perspective and value that shape contemporary politics, culture and society.
  • Global Studies Option – This option explores the often volatile mix of global issues and perspectives, environmental concerns and corporate interests that drive contemporary society and culture at a time when global transformations are transcending political boundaries.
  • Inquiry and Invention Option – This option explores the institutions and ideas that generate – and depend on – scientific discovery and technological innovation. The focus is on ways in which science and technology influence our lives, individually and as a society, in the 21st century. 

Students will also select courses in professionally-related areas such as Criminology, Curatorial Studies, Economics, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Film Studies, Finance, Human Resources Management, Information Systems and Telecommunications Management, Law, Marketing, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management, Politics, Professional Communication, Psychology, Sociology, and Visual Cultures. Students can pursue a Minor in some of these areas if desired.

This unique program combines the intellectual agility and other benefits of a liberal arts education with the hands-on, applied skills and competencies in areas critical to career flexibility in the 21st century. The option of pursuing one or more complementary Minors in professionally-related areas will round out and equip the graduate for success and mobility through a wide range of private and public career choices.

The goals of the program are: to offer a context in which students can explore the nature of change and the theories about change in order to analyze it, understand it, anticipate it, plan it, and precipitate it. The program allows students:

  • To examine types of communication, including spoken, cultural, and computer languages, to study the relationship between economic, political and cultural groups, and to explore the great humanist and scientific ideas that have shaped the modern world.
  • To develop competencies in basic qualitative and quantitative research skills, cognitive skills such as critical thinking and ethics analysis, and interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and negotiation.
  • To develop the literacy skills of oral and written language, methodologies of textual analysis and contextual knowledge, digital literacy skills that involve understanding of and training in the digital (or computer) world and its impact on our society, and numeracy skills involving an understanding of numbers and statistics and their impact on the way society does things.
  • To educate students in the meanings that societies attach to themselves depending on differing cultural points of view.
  • To develop a capacity for imaginative, critical, and ethical thinking that provides the foundation for professional and business activity through a study of the humanities and social sciences that focuses on the dynamics of cultural and technological change within diverse, evolving cultural and linguistic parameters.

Graduates of this four-year interdisciplinary program will be prepared for career opportunities in art and cultural advocacy, event planning and organization, equity advising in human resources, career consultancy, mediation, policy development and analysis, marketing, producing and criticism in culture and entertainment.

Liberal Studies

Students must take three lower level liberal studies courses and three upper level liberal studies courses to graduate. Students must not choose courses that are restricted for their program or major.

Please refer to the liberal studies chapter of this calendar for more information on the Liberal Studies Policy. Further information on liberal studies can also be found at the Faculty of Arts' Liberal Studies website, opens in new window.

Table A - Lower Level Restrictions

PHL 214 is not available for credit.
Students may take only two courses in French if students complete a French course from Required Group 1.
Students may take only two courses in Spanish if students complete a Spanish course from Required Group 1.
Anthropology Studies Option:
Anthropology and History Courses are not available for credit.
English Option:
English courses are not available for credit.
French Option:
French courses are not available for credit.
History Option:
History courses are not available for credit.
Philosophy Option:
Philosophy courses are not available for credit.

Table B - Upper Level Restrictions

Anthropology Studies Option: History and Anthropology courses are not available for credit.
English Option: English courses are not available for credit.
French Option: French courses are not available for credit.
History Option: History courses are not available for credit.
Philosophy Option: Philosophy courses are not available for credit.


Students may pursue any Minor offered by Toronto Met (with some exceptions). Please refer to the Minors chapter of this calendar for further information on individual Minor requirements and exclusions.

The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education Certificates

Undergraduate students wishing to pursue a continuing education certificate program should be aware of possible program exclusions. Please refer to the Certificate Registration section of the Curriculum Advising website, opens in new window for complete details.

1st & 2nd Semester

1st Semester


  • ACS 100 Ideas That Shape the World I
  • ACS 103 Introduction to the Humanities
  • SSH 105 Critical Thinking I

CORE ELECTIVE: One course from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.

2nd Semester


  • ACS 210 Ideas that Shape the World: Antiquity
  • SSH 205 Academic Writing and Research

REQUIRED GROUP 1: One course from the following:

  • ACS 106† Introduction to Language
  • FRE *** A French Course
  • SPN *** A Spanish Course
  • ARB *** An Arabic course
  • ASL *** An American Sign Language course
  • CHN *** A Chinese course

CORE ELECTIVE: One course from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.

NOTE: Students wishing to pursue an Option (see Core Elective Table I) must make their choice by the end of 2nd semester. Once an Option has been chosen, students must complete all the requirements of that Option to graduate. Individual requirements for the eight Options are identified in Table I. Students can change or choose an option in later semesters as well, provided they consult with the program department.

† Students pursuing the Anthropology Studies Option must take ACS 106 in 2nd semester. FRE and SPN courses are available to Anthropology Studies Option Students on Tables I, II, A and/or B.

‡ ARB, ASL, and CHN courses can also be used toward this requirement.


3rd & 4th Semester

3rd Semester


  • ACS 220 Ideas That Shape the World: Middle Ages
  • SSH 301 Research Design and Qualitative Methods

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table A - Lower Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: One course from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.

4th Semester


  • ACS 300 Ideas That Shape the World: Early Modern
  • ACS 401 Introduction to Research and Statistics

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table A - Lower Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: One course from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.


5th & 6th Semester

5th Semester


  • ACS 400 Ideas That Shape the World: Modernity

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table A - Lower Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: One course from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: Two Open Electives.

6th Semester


  • ACS 500 Ideas That Shape the World: Post-Atomic

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table B - Upper Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: Two courses from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.


7th & 8th Semester

7th Semester

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table B - Upper Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: Capstone course from Table I.

CORE ELECTIVE: Two courses from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.

8th Semester

LIBERAL STUDIES: One course from Table B - Upper Level Liberal Studies.

CORE ELECTIVE: Three courses from Table I.

OPEN ELECTIVE: One Open Elective.

A Program Advisory Council (PAC) is a group of volunteers that provides expert advice to a school or department on program related matters such as curriculum, program review, technology and trends in the industry, discipline or profession. For more information, see PDF fileSenate Policy #158 (Program Advisory Councils), opens in new window.

Gloria Bishop
Assistant Professor Emeritus, Journalism and Communications

Concordia University
Former Network Program Director, CBC Radio 

Dr. Christine Brown
Former Coordinator of Protective Services
for the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

Dr. Marcel Danesi 
Professor of Anthropology, Semiotics

Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Studies
University of Toronto

Michael Hyatt
Executive Chairman 


Marcelle Lean
Artistic & Executive Director


Karina Maynard
Alumna, Arts and Contemporary Studies

Dr. Chen Shen
Vice President, Senior Curator, Bishop White Chair of East Asian Archaeology

Royal Ontario Museum

Konrad Skoruoa
Culture Development Officer, Economic Development and Culture

City of Toronto