5 Recommended lower level liberal studies courses

“What are some good liberal studies courses?” I get this question from incoming students all the time. 

If you aren’t aware, Ryerson students from all programs must complete liberal studies as part of the requirements for graduation. They are meant to broaden your horizons and give you an opportunity to pursue interests outside of your program. Liberal studies are offered at two levels: the lower, which are normally taken during the first two years of a four-year program, and the upper, which are normally taken during the last two years of a four-year program.

I will be sharing five popular lower liberal studies courses. Some of which I have personally taken, and some of which are frequently mentioned on the r/Ryerson subreddit. 

POL 128 – Politics and Film

You literally watch movies in class. It’s perfect for those who appreciate movies which reflect aspects of our own society. You learn how to critically assess movies and how to identify the political messages in them. 

I took this course with Dr. Mitu Sengupta. We used the two hour lecture time slot in the week to watch a movie and the one hour lecture time slot to review the movie we watched. We also had weekly readings, which were rather short but really interesting and complemented the movies well. The selection of movies you watch varies year-by-year, but some of the ones from when I took this class were Children of Men, Her and Precious

PCS 181 – Introduction to Astronomy

Oh how I wish I could have taken PCS 181, however, it is not available for credit for engineering students. This course is actually designed to help nontechnical students examine scientific theories. The topics covered include origins of stars and galaxies, the solar system and life in the universe.

SOC 202 – Popular Culture

Yet another course which has you reacting to content. But unlike POL 128, instead of full-length movies, you get an assortment of movie clips, TV show episodes, music and pictures! This is because SOC 202 sociologically examines cultural products and how popular culture affects our everyday lives. 

HST 325 – History of Science and Technology I

History courses tend to have more reading, but are often considered some of the most interesting courses at Ryerson. HST 325 explores major scientific and technological breakthroughs in Western civilization from the ancient world to the Renaissance.

IRL 200 – Introduction to World Textile History

IRL 200 might not be the most popular course, but it sure is unique! This course serves as an introduction to the study of textiles and fibres taken from a cross-cultural perspective. It might be of interest to those who want a more hands-on lower level liberal studies course. Few other courses offer field trips, let alone basket weaving. 


Don’t sweat it if a course which you’re interested in taking isn’t on this list. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more difficult or of poorer quality. You’ll have a good time taking any liberal studies course so long as you enjoy the material. One Redditor puts it perfectly: 

Go out there and take whatever you want! 

— Jeremy

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