at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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BISC First Year Program, Fall/Winter 2014-15

Centred on the themes Thinking Locally and Acting Globally, the BISC First Year Program is a package specifically designed to build on the Castle’s strengths—our small class sizes, vibrant community, and international setting—in order to provide a strong academic foundation for the rest of your studies and develop crucial skills that will enhance your future employability. 

Why Study at the BISC? 

The BISC First Year Program is designed to maximise your learning experience in the opening stages of your studies. The program achieves this by:

  • Improving academic skills such as critical thinking, analysis and effective writing.
  • Offering disciplinary and interdisciplinary course options with close faculty interaction and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Developing the intercultural competencies necessary to be a leader in a globalized world.
  • Encouraging learning outside the classroom through a co-curricular framework.
  • Providing a verified record of co-curricular activities, called the BISC Passport, that you can share with future employers or educational programs.
  • Delivering a range of academic opportunities that will allow students to explore numerous paths for potential future study. 

Program at a Glance

  • Four courses per term in disciplines of your choice, plus two, required term-length courses, BISC 100: Thinking Locally and BISC 101: Acting Globally.
  • Field studies (an average of two per course, per term) to a variety of sites including world-famous museums, unique archives, public debates, festivals, and historic sites.
  • Direct learning experiences at the Castle, including guest speakers and skills seminars.
  • Two mid-term trips to important UK and European cities.
  • An average class size of 21 and close interaction with high-quality faculty.
  • Co-curricular framework to facilitate student involvement and learning outside the classroom.
  • The BISC Passport to record your learning and expertise as these develop through co-curricular activities.
  • Extensive on-campus student services and support

For more information about the First Year Program or how to prepare for your first year abroad, please explore the information below or refer to our First Year Hangouts on YouTube and our blog!


You will select four courses each term from a wide range of Social Sciences and Humanities offerings and will also enrol in the core first year courses BISC 100 and BISC 101. The program is designed to integrate all aspects of your learning.

You have a wide range of available Plans when you choose to study at the BISC. The BISC First Year Program, with its interdisciplinary outlook and close contact with professors covering a wide range of expertise, is specially designed to facilitate your ability to make an informed Plan selection.

BISC 100: Thinking Locally & BISC 101: Acting Globally

BISC 100: Thinking Locally and BISC 101: Acting Globally are two courses that are offered exclusively at the BISC and are purposefully designed to build on the unique aspects of the BISC learning environment. These two courses focus on basic themes that are essential to any subject area and draw links across students' disciplinary specialisations and co-curricular learning. These courses will be taken by all first year students at the BISC and are delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, group work and one-on-one sessions. The skills and knowledge developed in these courses will allow students to engage with their further studies and their role in a globalised environment with confidence, intelligence and ambition.

  • BISC 100: Thinking Locally will explore concepts of location, identity and boundaries that are at the heart of all academic inquiry across the Humanities and Social Sciences. It will do so by looking at case studies related to our British setting, like the idea of a unique British national identity, the debates on what constitutes English heritage, or the more recent controversies on immigration. 
  • BISC 101: Acting Globally will take the concepts introduced in BISC 100 and expand them to a global scale. Students will engage in an analysis of the ways which people interact globally, focusing on basic patterns of international interaction, such as trade, imperialism, war and peacemaking. Current global issues will be a focal point for discussion and problem-solving activities. 

Several departments accept BISC 100 and BISC 101 as full entry into their major plan. These departments are History, Drama, and Sociology. By taking BISC 100 and BISC 101 you will be thoroughly prepared to continue studies in these fields in second year. Students may also choose to major in Film and Media Studies or Geography by combining BISC 100 and BISC 101 with the relevant disciplinary course in the second term.  

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is a key feature of the BISC academic experience. It includes field studies, which are a part of every course, and also other opportunities such as guest speakers, networking events, and problem-based learning. Experiential learning serves to transform academic knowledge into the skills that students will use every day as leaders in their respective fields. 

Recent Field Studies Include:

  • Debated Scottish independence with a Scottish Member of Parliament in Edinburgh 
  • Explored Canterbury Cathedral with local guides
  • Cooperatively constructed digital maps of Brighton cultures and sub-cultures
  • Spoke with the creators of the Brighton Earthship--a major ecologically-friendly structure
  • Engaged in political debates at the London School of Economics
  • Heard Art History lectures at the Louvre, in front of the work being discussed

Past notable speakers include: 

  • The Rt. Hon. Lord Boateng (Labour politician and fromer Chief Secretary of H.M. Treasury)
  • Mr. B. the Gentleman Rhymer (UK-based musician)
  • Lisa LaFlamme (Chief Anchor, CTV News) via Skype
  • Amanda Craig (Novelist)
  • Dr. Sheila Whiteley (Emeritus Professor of Popular Music and author)

Selecting a Plan of Study in Second Year

The First Year Program at the BISC is a general Arts and Science program. In second year, students go on to specialise in one or more subject areas. This is often intensive study in one subject, known as a major, but can include the option of less intense study in a secondary subject, the minor, or even intense study in two different subjects, known as the medial. At Queen’s, these are all known as Plans of Study, and there are over 2000 combinations possible. By choosing the appropriate Plan or Plans, you can tailor your Arts and Science degree to fit your needs.

You are encouraged to check the Queen’s Arts and Science Academic Calendar and the Arts and Science website for the most up-to-date information about selecting Plans. All BAH majors are available to BISC students. Admissions representatives will work with you at SOAR to guide you through the process of organising your degree. 

Co-Curricular Framework

Opportunities to learn and develop skills are present in all facets of the university environment. We recognise that the skills and expertise developed outside of the classroom are essential to students as they progress through future academic study and into their careers. The co-curricular framework enhances opportunities for student growth and encourages involvement in a vibrant learning community.

Some co-curricular activities are: 

  • Serving on Student Government
  • Taking part in Model United Nations
  • Participating in sporting events
  • Writing for, editing, and publishing student journalism
  • Volunteering at local schools
  • Initiating and running student societies

We want to give you the tools and support necessary to mould your own co-curricular experience. You're encouraged to start new initiatives to match your interests. 

The BISC Passport

The BISC Passport is a verified record of your co-curricular involvement and identifies the specific skills developed through each activity. You may choose to record your involvement using the Passport and can then use it to demonstrate your skills and expertise to future employers, or on applications for further education.

Benefits of a Focus on Co-Curricular Activity

  • Encourages a vibrant Castle community where you mould your own environment.
  • Develops the skills that will be crucial in your future employment and links these skills to academic study—enhancing overall learning.
  • Improves your transition to the Kingston campus by drawing links between existing student societies and initiatives at Queen’s. 
Class Profile
  • The average entering grade of the 2013 class at the BISC was 87.2%
  • The average GPA of the 2012 class entering second year was 3.1. 

Details of the cost of the First Year Program can be found in the BISC Viewbook. Costs include all of the following:

  • Tuition
  • Experiential Learning (field studies, networking events, skills seminars, etc.)
  • Room and Board (standard double room and three, daily on-campus meals)
  • Two mid-term trips
  • Orientation
  • On-site social activities and academic programming 
Courses of Instruction
Core Courses
Course Code Description

BISC 100/3.0


Thinking Locally

This introductory course provides first-year students with a selection of key skills and theories from across a number of disciplines (Film and Media, Geography, History, and Sociology) that will allow them to engage with their further studies and their role in a globalised environment with confidence, intelligence and ambition.

BISC 101/3.0


Acting Globally

This is an introductory course, complementing and extending BISC 100, focused on skills and approaches from a number of disciplines (Film and Media, Geography, History, and Sociology). Academic skills will be honed by centering on centrifugal forces of mobility, exchange and action. Processes such as warring, colonizing, trading, connecting and leading are highlighted.

Music, Art and Drama Offerings
Course Code Description

ARTH 116/3.0


Art and Architecture in Britain from the Classical Period to c.1700

A chronological survey of painting, sculpture and architecture in western culture from Greece and Rome through to the early modern period. The art works will be studied at British galleries, museums and architectural monuments.

ARTH 117/3.0


Art & Architecture in Britain from c1700 to the Present

A chronological survey of painting, sculpture and architecture in western culture from c.1700 to the present day. The art works will be studied at British galleries, museums and architectural monuments.

MUSC 102/3.0


An Introduction to the History of Western Art Music II

The History of Western art music from 1750 to the present. The course focuses on musical styles, genres, and composers, as well as historical and social contextual considerations.

MUSC 171/3.0


Social History of Popular Music

A survey of important trends in 20th century Western popular music. Topics include genres, individual artists and groups, record labels and stylistic trends, and sociological issues.

MUSC 287/3.0



An introduction to opera through the study of selected works from the Baroque era to the 20th century. Equal attention will be paid to literary, musical and visual aspect.

Humanities Offerings
Course Code Description

ARAB 100/6.0


Introductory Arabic (Modern Standard)

Introduction to the basic structures of Modern Standard Arabic. This course gives intensive training equally in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

ENGL 100/6.0


Introduction to the Study of Literature in English

An introduction to literary study, with an emphasis on the formal analysis of a diverse range of poetry and prose. Specific content and approach vary from section to section, but all sections share the goals of developing sensitivity to genre, cultivating writing skills, and providing students with a set of literary terms and critical techniques as a foundation for further literary study.

FILM 104/3.0


Film Form and Modern Culture to 1970

Introduction to tools and methods of visual and aural analysis and to historical and social methods, with examples primarily from the history of cinema and other moving-image media to 1970.

FREN 101/3.0


Français intermédiaire I

Practice in speaking,reading, writing, grammar review and literary analysis

FREN 102/3.0


Français intermédiaire II

Practice in speaking,reading, writing, grammar review and literary analysis

PHIL 111/6.0


Great Works of Philosophy

An introduction to philosophy through the examination of a number of classic philosophical works, with an evaluation of the positions and arguments offered in each.

PHIL 157/3.0


Moral Issues

An introduction to ethics via an examination of controversial moral issues. Special topics: abortion; animal rights; euthanasia.​

PHIL 259/3.0


Critical Thinking

A discussion of the general principles of reasonable discourse, with a focus on persuasive and cogent writing.

RELS 131/6.0


World Religions/Religious Worlds

Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.

SPAN P10/3.0


Beginning Spanish I

Offers a basic level of Spanish understanding, speaking, reading and writing for students who have no knowledge of Spanish whatsoever.

SPAN 112/3.0


Beginning Spanish II

The continuation of SPAN P10/3.0. Also for students entering the University who have some knowledge of Spanish but have not completed 4U Spanish or equivalent. For these students, an assessment exam or interview with the instructor is recommended.

Social Science Offerings
Course Code Description

DEVS 100/6.0


Canada and the “Third World”

Introduces basic theoretical concepts of development studies, the history of global inequality, and short histories of alternative development strategies. Case studies of Canada’s ties to the so-called third world will include missionaries, military, business, and aid. Canadian colonialism over First Nations peoples will introduce basic issues in Aboriginal Studies.

ECON 111/3.0


Introductory Microeconomics

An introduction to microeconomic analysis of a modern mixed economy. The course analyzes the behaviour of individual consumers and producers, the determination of market prices for commodities and resources, and the role of government policy in the functioning of the market system. ECON 111/3.0 and ECON 112/3.0 are together equivalent to ECON 110/6.0.

ECON 112/3.0


Introductory Macroeconomics

An introduction to macroeconomic analysis of the economy as a whole, including the determination of national income, the price level, interest rates, the money supply, and the balance of payments. The principles of monetary and fiscal policy are also examined. ECON 111/3.0and ECON 112/3.0 are together equivalent to ECON 110/6.0.

GPHY 102/3.0


Earth System Science

This course introduces the major concepts studied in Earth System Science. The fundamental processes and interrelationships between the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the lithosphere are investigated to serve as a basis for understanding natural systems, particularly at or near the Earth’s surface.

POLS 110/6.0


Introduction to Politics & Government

An introduction to political science that provides both a framework for thinking about politics and the institutions of governance, and some of the vocabulary necessary for political analysis.

PSYC 100/6.0


Principles of Psychology

An introductory survey of basic areas of psychology including perception, cognition, learning and motivation and their biological substrata. Also reviewed are child development, individual differences, social psychology and abnormal psychology.

Science Offerings
Course Code Description

GEOL 104/3.0


The Dynamic Earth

Introduction to the internal structure of the Earth and the processes that have shaped its surface. Global tectonics and continental movement, rock genesis, mountain building, glaciations and geological time. Laboratories include rock and mineral identification, and problem solving in historical geology, earthquakes, groundwater flow and coastal erosion.


'Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology,' 3rd Canadian Edition, by Edward J. Tarbuck, Frederick K. Lutgens, Cameron J. Tsujita, and Stephen Hicock.

GEOL 106/3.0


Environmental Geology and Natural Hazards

The relationship between human-kind and our ever-changing planet, with a focus on natural geologic hazards (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, mass movement, floods, extraterrestrial impacts, etc.), and environmental impacts which result from population and land-use expansion and our increased use of water, energy and mineral resources. A study of the sources and impact of pollution and global climate change. Public perception of and response to geological risk.

MATH 121/6.0


Differential & Integral Calculus

Differentiation and integration of the elementary functions, with applications to physical and social sciences; Taylor polynomials; multivariable differential calculus.

PREREQUISITE: MHF4U and MCV4U, or 4UAFIC, or permission of the Department.

PHYS P15/3.0


Astronomy I: The Solar System

A non mathematical introduction to the science of astronomy for non specialist students. Topics to be covered include the fundamentals of astronomy; an introduction to the tools and techniques of modern observational astronomy; the historical development of our understanding of the Earth, Moon and Solar System; space exploration of Mars, Jupiter, and other planets; the nature of the Sun; and the origin and uniqueness of our Solar System.

Amended January 2014