[MathSoc Council] Breadth & Depth Requirements

Elana Hashman ehashman at uwaterloo.ca
Sat Feb 11 18:27:36 EST 2012

I think the current breadth/depth requirements are a good thing, but much
too restrictive. For instance, I would have liked to have been able to take
the following:

- one or two second-year eng courses
- a third or fourth year bio course, maybe two
- three language courses
- a fourth year english course
- two econ courses

I believe that would have given me a very large amount of breadth and depth
of study across around 10 non-math courses, but it wouldn't satisfy the
current breadth requirements, because engineering courses don't count for
breadth, even though I think they'd fit in admirably instead of a science.

Instead, I got stuck with taking three lousy physics courses, and I wish I
could go back in time and not have done that...

Here is my recommendation for changes to the breadth/depth requirements for

1. Change the minimums for each major category to 1-2 courses, and allow
for 2-3 "floating courses" that can be specialized in whatever area the
student chooses. So for instance, the student could take 4 arts courses and
2 science courses, or 4 science courses and 2 arts courses.

2. The two arts courses categories should be merged, and students must take
a minimum of two courses. I know lots of people who would prefer to
specialize in the social sciences, and others that would prefer to
specialize in the humanities.

3. (Applied?) sciences should be expanded to allow for certain engineering
courses. There are no engineering requirements for any CS program barring
digital hardware, and I think it provides breadth from the somewhat
theoretical and software-oriented CS program.

4. To avoid the "taking all 101 courses" situation, I think a requirement
should be added for a maximum number of first year courses taken to satisfy
these requirements (maybe 3/6 max?). Perhaps this isn't the best solution,
but I think the depth requirement in its current inception should be
rethought. I particularly don't like the "prereq chain of 3" thing. I am
against the "all 101 courses" thing because for the most part, such courses
barely cover content beyond the high school level, and so they end up being
either joke courses for schedule filler or degree requirements, instead of
real learning.

5. A minor in a non-math field should still be an acceptable way to satisfy
breadth/depth requirements.

Elana Hashman
Computer Science Representative, Winter 2012
MathSoc Council

On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 5:56 PM, Sean Hunt <scshunt at csclub.uwaterloo.ca>wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 14:14, S. McKee <scmckee at i-zoom.net> wrote:
> > Admittedly you could make that argument about almost any other set of
> > requirements in the CS degree. I know that I and many other CS majors did
> > not like taking stats and combinatorics thus filling up the lectures with
> > those who did not want to be there.
> >
> > I personally feel that that the breadth requirement should stay, computer
> > science is one of those disciplines that can be applied to almost any
> other
> > field. Forcing students to open their eyes to a bunch of other fields is
> A
> > Good Thing as it helps prevent academic tunnel vision. Plus I am sure
> that
> > by forcing people to take courses they otherwise wouldn't a non-trivial
> > number of students have taken up a field of study with their cs degree
> they
> > otherwise would not have.
> >
> > Besides, as stated by Sean, there is an exemption for people who take
> > minors. Perhaps the entire process needs to be made more flexible? Maybe
> if
> > people go 5+ courses deep into a subject their breadth requirements can
> > change to reflect their deeper interest in a particular subject?
> >
> > -Scott
> Potentially. The big issue with the breadth requirement as it
> currently exists is that you are required to do breadth unless you go
> so deep (now 8 courses deep in most of the school) that you get a
> minor, you are subject to the requirements. If you go 7 courses into a
> subject, you're expected to fulfill the breadth requirements, but if
> you go to that 8th requirement, suddenly breadth goes away. In other
> words, you have to satisfy breadth, unless you try really hard not to
> get a broad education.
> Sean
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