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Curriculum & degree requirements

Examining the human condition

GLS courses can be challenging, but they can also be very rewarding.  Classes are presented in a seminar style which encourages lively discussion and debate as we make our way through the substantial material. 

Each of the seminars draws upon material from across academic disciplines and historical periods in order to undertake a wide-ranging, yet coherent investigation of the course theme.

We are currently extending our application deadline for the fall 2021 cohort to June 15, 2021.

Please contact glsp@sfu.ca for more information.

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Curriculum

The central theme of GLS is an exploration of tensions within our intellectual culture that have historical origins and practical consequences in our present world. Each of the seminars is shaped around an issue of perennial human concern that both reflects central dilemmas that have marked human civilization and provides an intellectual and cultural context for contemporary problems. 

Each GLS student is required to take our foundational LS 800 and LS 801 courses in their first year of enrollment, and the master of arts degree can be completed by either taking an additional four courses and presenting a master's project or two extended essays, or by completing an additional six courses. For more details, please view degree requirements below.

In addition to course work, the program sponsors a variety of public lectures and symposia and provides opportunities for travel study and exchanges with other universities.

Course outlines

Explore the GLS curriculum by viewing current and past course outlines.

View current & past course outlines

Degree requirements

In the GLS master of arts program, students have three to four years from the start of the program to complete their degree. Students are required to complete the core foundational courses, LS 800 and LS 801, as well as six elective seminar courses1 and one of the following:

  • Successfully defend two extended essays
  • Successfully defend one project2
  • Complete two additional seminars, one of which must be LS 898: Graduating Seminar

All three options result in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree. The total tuition cost is the same because the MA project and extended essays are considered full-time courses and fees are levied accordingly.

In addition to course work, the program sponsors a variety of public lectures and symposia. There are also opportunities for exchanges with other universities and for travel study.

For more information on degree completion, learn more about our degree requirements.

1 Two of which may be graduate-level courses from other disciplines. This may be considered if there is a case made for a better fit within the student’s unique academic path.
2 The project should derive from work done in seminars and may use non-written media.

Courses

Reflections on Reason and Passion I

LS 800

The first of two core courses that constitute an extended examination of the tension between reason and passion in human experience. This course will emphasize close reading and discussion of works, drawn from different cultures and epochs, that reflect on human passion.

Reflections on Reason and Passion II

LS 801

The second of two core courses that constitute an extended examination of the tension between reason and passion in human experience. This course will examine writings by some who have insisted on the indispensability of reasoning as a guide to action and the source of truth, as well as writings by some of those who on various grounds have cast doubt on this faith in human reason.

Elective courses

GLS students who have completed the core courses may go on to take the elective courses of their choice. Elective course options may include graduate-level courses from other disciplines should they fit within the student's academic interests, or even courses at another institution.

Travel Study

GLS students have many opportunities to participate in full-credit field school courses organized by Simon Fraser University (SFU) or by other universities with GLS programs.

Learn more about travel study