WQB Definitions and Criteria

General Education at SFU enhances undergraduate degrees by informing and complementing students’ programs of study, encouraging students to develop understandings and skills that equip them for life-long learning, and preparing them to appreciate, critique and contribute ideas and values of diverse, complex, and interdependent local and global communities in an ethical and comprehensive manner.


A BREADTH course provides the opportunity for students to enrich the subject matter knowledge in their program(s) of study by exposing them to new theoretical perspectives, forms of thought, and modes of inquiry. Breadth courses encourage students to reflect on their values, beliefs, and commitments and allow them to improve their ability to engage in conversations, debates, and actions that comprise our globally interconnected society.

Additionally, a Breadth course must substantially fulfill AT LEAST ONE of the following conditions:

  1. Articulates a framework for organizing and acquiring knowledge in a particular field of study; raises overarching questions and problems within a field of study and investigates how the field generates and validates workable solutions to problems.
  2. Develops students’ systematic understandings of the historical development and/or the contemporary dynamics of the physical, natural, social, and/or cultural environments that comprise the program of study.

Students must take 6 units from each of the following three subcategories of Breadth, plus another 6 units of “undesignated breadth”, which are any courses of interest outside the major program. These purpose statements are provided to give clarity for interpretation of each category of Breadth, and will be considered as courses are certified.

Humanities (B-HUM) purpose

  • To build knowledge and understanding of both historical and current trends in human cultural production; to develop an appreciation for how the humanities help us understand and navigate the world.
  • To develop cultural, artistic, or linguistic literacies that allow for students to critique of and engagement with controversies and issues informing contemporary societies.
  • To prepare students to make connections among cultural, artistic, and social movements within a range of historical, present, and emerging contexts. To foster transferable skills of cultural critique, evaluation, knowledge-making, language-learning, and self-expression.

Social Science (B-SOC) purpose

  • To build knowledge and understanding of the complexities of social systems and diverse world views; to help students navigate and influence societal challenges around the world.
  • To develop understanding of how social scientists think, analyze issues, interpret evidence, and draw conclusions, enabling students to recognize and critique the issues that define contemporary societies.
  • To prepare students to make connections between their field of study and the broader contexts of human society. To equip students with transferable skills in social critique, evaluation, and the synthesis of knowledge and understanding.

Science (B-SCI) purpose

  • To build knowledge of what science has discovered and accomplished, and how science has affected societies; to gain an appreciation for how science helps us to understand the world.
  • To develop an understanding of the scientific method, allowing students to recognize and critique pseudo-science and to differentiate scientifically verifiable fact from opinion.
  • To prepare students to be scientifically literate members of society. To develop students’ ability for analytical and technological literacy through the use of scientific data or via participation in experiential activities such as laboratories.


A QUANTITATIVE course increases student understanding and appreciation of the creative potential and broad application of mathematical, computational, and statistical methods, or formal symbolic logic, as tools for solving problems and a way of representing, interpreting, and communicating about aspects of a complex world. These courses develop transferable skills in problem solving, critical evaluation, or analysis using data represented in a variety of ways.

Quantitative courses are normally expected to explicitly include some aspect of numeracy. A minimum of 50% of the course grade must be based on quantitative assignments.


A WRITING-INTENSIVE course provides students with opportunities to use reading, writing, and revision to increase understanding and further development of ideas. A writing-intensive course fosters the development of transferable writing skills for effective and professional communication, and the ability to express ideas in the forms and genres typical of the student’s program of study. These skills may include structures and styles, accepted modes of reasoning and argumentation, convincing use of evidence, and appropriate technical language.

Writing-intensive courses are expected to explicitly address the craft of writing, and they must include significant levels of timely, actionable instructor feedback and student revision in response to feedback to ensure the development of strong transferable writing skills. A minimum of 50% of the course grade must be based on individual (not group) written work.