No matter which year you’re in, almost everyone has the same question every semester: “Which elective should I take?”. Choosing an elective is a difficult decision since there are so many amazing options to choose from, and oftentimes it is difficult to get a sense of what the course will be like from the course outline alone. I strongly believe that the main factor students should consider when choosing electives is whether or not they are interested in the subject matter. No matter the difficulty level of the course, you will do well as long as you truly value and take interest in the content that you are learning. Here are a few course reviews of the elective that I’ve taken so far at Mac. I hope these will give you some ideas about potential electives that you can take in the future!
This is one of the courses that most engineering students end up taking in their first year since it’s a prerequisite for applying to the Management program. It’s also a great course to incorporate into a busy first year engineering schedule since it’s a blended course (a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning) and the pre-recorded lectures are uploaded on Avenue, meaning that students can watch them in their own time. During lectures, the professor usually goes over how to solve problems that apply the theory from the videos. This is a great course for anyone interested in learning the basic principles of economics, minoring in economics or going down the management route. It is also possible to get a very good grade in this course as long as you keep up with the content.
Difficulty Level: Low to Medium
Assessments: Optional quizzes, 1 midterm and 1 final exam
This is a very popular course amongst students across all programs which is why it’s sometimes difficult to get a spot! It’s a great addition to your engineering degree since this course will help you become more aware about issues pertaining to sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective. Moreover, this course helped me evaluate my current lifestyle and think about the ways I could make it more sustainable, such as investing in a good reusable water bottle to reduce my use of plastic bottles and looking into alternatives to fast fashion. Aside from lectures, there are also weekly tutorials where you’ll have the chance to dive deeper into certain topics, reflect on various issues and interact with other students from the class. One unique aspect of this course is the experiential learning component. This allows students to take part in self-directed, community-based activities related to personal passions and sustainability. This could be attending a sustainability conference, visiting a farmer’s market or implementing a new change in your lifestyle that promotes sustainability. After taking part in a chosen activity, students are required to document their experiences through the creation of personal reflections.
Difficulty Level: Low
Assessments: 3 reflections, online quizzes, 1 presentation and 1 group assignment
This course is probably one of my favorites that I’ve taken at McMaster since it teaches you an in-depth understanding of the history of artificial intelligence and allows you to appreciate the possible benefits, limitations, and harms of AI in society in the near and long-term. This is a non-technical course that is open to anyone- whether you’re well-versed in AI or don’t know a single thing about it. The lectures are super interesting and cover a variety of topics such as AI policy and governance and machine learning and ethics, just to name a few. Aside from lectures, there are also talks featuring guest appearances from notable individuals in the AI community, and tutorials which are spent discussing the contents of the week’s lecture.
Difficulty: Low to Medium
Assessments: Online quizzes, weekly reflections, forum participation and 1 final project
Written by Rija Asif