U of T offers a multitude of courses across many disciplines, and it’s sometimes hard to find unique classes. In this guide to lesser-known science courses, you might find some titles that interest you! These courses offer a range of accessibility, with some prerequisite-free and open to anyone and others only available to students in a specific department.
VIC207H1F: Genetic Technologies: Scientific Promises and Ethical Dilemmas
Professor: Marga Vicedo Castello
This course examines the possibilities and moral quandaries raised by new genetic technologies. It discusses issues such as gene doping in sports, genetic screening and editing, behavioural genetics, cloning, eugenics, the human genome project, and genetic enhancement.
NFS301H1F: Nutrition Literacy: Separating the Science from the Snake Oil
Professor: John Sievenpiper, Laura Chiavaroli
This course covers nutritional information: how nutrition research is made, how nutrition information is disseminated through the internet, and how to think critically about nutrition in media and literature. NFS301 also encourages students to critically evaluate nutrition research and its methods.
LMP415H1S: Forensic Pathobiology
Professor: Maliha Khara
Prerequisites: LMP310H1, LMP320H1
This course analyzes forensic medicine, with particular attention to major areas of pathobiology research, controversies in forensic medicine, and the experimental methods pathobiologists use to resolve them. LMP415 also explores forensic medicine’s connections to the justice system and its use of scientific data.
CSB452H1F: Molecular Interactions Between Plants, Microorganisms and Parasitic Plants
Professors: Keiko Yoshioka, Shelley Lumba
This course examines the defense mechanisms of plants when faced with microbes and parasitic plants — plants that don’t photosynthesize and instead siphon off other plants for their nutrients. CSB452 demonstrates how studying parasitic plants’ life cycles can help develop agricultural solutions in the developing world.
CSB202H1S: Further Exploration in Biotechnology
Professor: Kenneth Yip
This course seeks to spark interest in students about the applications and the future of biotechnology. Accessible to all students, CSB202 showcases key areas in biotechnology using interesting, current topics, such as genetically modified organisms, drug discovery, and environmental biotechnology. In an email to The Varsity, Assistant Professor Kenneth Yip wrote, “My goal is to make the content accessible and engaging for all students, giving them a glimpse into the world of modern life science research.”
Philosophy and Science Courses
REN242H1S: Scientific Worldviews of the Renaissance
Professor: Hakob Barseghyan
This course gives an understanding of later medieval and early modern scientific theories and worldviews. REN242 shows how the evolution of science in the Renaissance shaped the views of its time by examining many emerging philosophical theories like theism and deism, free will and determinism, and other ideas about the universe. The course also focuses on the interconnections of a variety of scientific and humanitarian disciplines, such as natural philosophy and astronomy.
JCA302H1S: The Bible and the Big Bang
Professor: Adam Hincks
Prerequisites: Completion of 4.0 credits
This course explores how the universe was formed by comparing and contrasting religious and scientific theories. It explores the creation of the universe and cosmic fine-tuning with careful definitions of concepts like “matter” and “nothing.”
VIC245H1F: Science Wars: Science and the Limits of Human Society
Professor: Hakob Barseghyan
This course interlocks natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences by showing how social factors influence aspects of science on religious, political, cultural, or economic axes. VIC245 traces discourses around science and its role in our society from the seventeenth century to the present, illuminating the battleground over science in this swath of time.
Geology and Astronomy Courses
AST301H1F: Observational Astronomy
Professors: Maria Drout, Ting Li
Observational Astronomy teaches how major discoveries were made in astronomy using labs and by looking at the sky. This course includes instructions on how to use telescopes to divine observations about the stars and planets, like how they move through space. This course is accessible for students from non-STEM backgrounds to explore observational astronomy.
ESS223H1: Introduction to the Geochemistry of Earth Materials
Professor: Jonathan Umbsaar
Prerequisites: MAT135, MAT136, CHM135
This course expands on fundamental chemical principles and applies them to discussions about geochemistry on topics such as the elemental distribution of the Earth’s crust and trace element cycling. ESS223 also delves into a discussion of how thermodynamics works in the fields of petrology and mineralogy.
Professor: Sarah Peirce
Geomorphology is the study of how the Earth’s surface is formed using geomorphic processes. This course discusses how wind, water, ice, and waves, as well as changes from human activities, shape the Earth’s surface. GGR201 includes laboratory sessions to support assignments and classwork.
Data and Computer Science Courses
ENG286H1: Literature and Data
Professors: Karl Manis, Mary Pugh
Prerequisites: 1.0 ENG credit or 4.0 total credits
This course shows how modern data systems can interact with data gleaned from literature, such as databases of fan fiction. Using computer science, databases of writing can be used in several ways to gain new insights into literature. This course is intended for humanities and social science students to learn about these important tools, their limitations, and their biases in the future of literature.
ARH440H1F: Photogrammetry and 3D Analysis of Material Culture
Professor: Philip Sapirstein
Prerequisites: 1.0 credit of ANT/ARH/FAH at the 300+ level
This course discusses photogrammetry, a 3D recording method that is helpful for archeology and architectural history among other areas. Photogrammetry involves constructing 3D models from a collection of 2D images that are stitched together using algorithms like a mosaic. This tool can be used to model archeological sites, architectural buildings, or cultural heritage sites. In ARH440, students create photogrammetric models of culture sites in Toronto to gain first-hand experience in 3D content and the digital tools of researchers.
Editor’s note (September 6): A previous version of this article mistakenly flagged CSB202, VIC245, ESS223, GGR201 as not offered in the 2023–2024 school year. In fact, all four courses are offered, but VIC245 and CSB202 are currently filled up and only open to waitlisted enrolment.