Program Requirements

The Fundamentals program comprises (a) 13 courses, (b) the Junior Paper, and (c) the Senior Exam, for a total of 1500 units.

A. Course Work

  1. Gateway Course (1 course) (Autumn or Winter). This course is specifically designed for the incoming cohort of Fundamentals students and is a mandatory part of the program. It is devoted to the close reading of one or two texts, chosen because they raise challenging questions and present important and competing answers. Through this course, students will study a variety of ways in which a text can respond to their concerns and can compel consideration of its own questions.

  2. Text/Author Courses (7 courses). The Text/Author courses are devoted to the study of one or two particular texts or the work of a particular author. Through these courses, each student will develop a list of six texts that will become the basis of his or her Senior Exam (see below). This list should contain works in the area of the student's primary interest that look at that interest from diverse perspectives, and one of the six must be studied in an original language other than English, the same language in which the student establishes competency. Text/Author courses are generally cross-listed as FNDL courses in Class Search; if a relevant course is not cross-listed, the student should contact the coordinator to see if it can be counted towards the major. In years when the Gateway Course is offered in Autumn, entering students are required to take at least one Text/Author course in Winter; in years when the Gateway Course is offered in Winter, entering students are expected to take at least one Text/Author course in Autumn. 

  3. Supporting Courses (4 courses). These are courses that complement the student's program, providing historical context, theoretical and methodological training, or other complements. They do not have to be listed as FNDL to satisfy this requirement, but they must be explicitly identified as supporting courses in consultation with the student's adviser.

  4. Foreign Language (1 course). Students in the program are expected to achieve a level of proficiency in a foreign language sufficient to enable them to study in the original language (other than English) one of the texts on their examination list. Such training ordinarily requires two years of formal language instruction or its equivalent. The third quarter of the second year of the language is counted toward the major. In addition, students are required to take a course where they study a text in that language; the instructor of the course may be asked to provide an evaluation of the student's linguistic proficiency on the basis of this work. Students and instructors should work closely together in determining how the student will demonstrate competency in the language. As the achievement of proficiency may differ vis-à-vis length of study from language to language, it may prove harder for students of some languages to read a text in its entirety even after completing two years of instruction. Any students who believe that their language is so difficult that doing so is unrealistic may petition to have the requirement met by reading a clearly marked-out portion of the text—perhaps a chapter or two, or series of smaller sections. To be considered, the petition must set out a clear plan and must be signed by the instructor of the text in question.   

B. The Junior Paper

In the Winter or Spring Quarter of their junior year, students write an extended essay called the Junior Paper. This project provides the opportunity for students to originate and formulate a serious inquiry into an important issue arising out of their work and to pursue the inquiry extensively and in depth in a paper of about twenty to twenty-five pages (roughly 8000-10,000 words). At every stage in the preparation of the paper, students work closely with their Fundamentals faculty adviser. Students register in the independent study course FNDL 29901 in the quarter in which they write the paper; they are also expected to participate in the Junior Paper Colloquium that takes place in the Winter Quarter. Acceptance of a successful Junior Paper is a prerequisite for admission to the senior year of the program.

C. The Senior Exam

At the end of Week Six in the Spring Quarter of their senior year, students are examined on six texts they have studied in the context of their Text/Author courses and approved independent study courses. Preparation for this examination allows students to review and integrate their full course of study. During a three-day period, students write two substantial essays on questions designed for them by the associated faculty. The examination has a pedagogical intention, more than a qualifying one; its purpose is to allow students to demonstrate how they have related and integrated their questions, texts, and disciplinary studies. To take the exam, students register in FNDL 29902 in the Spring Quarter (or, with the consent of the chair, in the Autumn or Winter Quarters if there are scheduling issues).

Summary of Requirements

The Gateway Course 100
Seven Text/Author Courses 700
Four Supporting Courses 400
Third quarter of second-year foreign language * 100
FNDL 29901 Independent Study: Junior Paper 100
FNDL 29902 Independent Study: Senior Examination 100
Total Units 1500

or credit for the equivalent, determined by petition

Grading, Advising, and Honors

Grading. The Junior Paper and Senior Exam (FNDL 29901 and FNDL 29902) are graded Pass/Fail; all other courses within the major must be taken for quality grades. Independent study courses must include a term paper, and students should be prepared to request statements of reference or evaluation from faculty with whom they have worked in this capacity.

Advising. Each student has a faculty adviser who is assigned to the student on the basis of their mutual interests and areas of expertise. The adviser closely monitors the student's choice of texts, courses, and language studies, allowing for the gradual development of a fitting and coherent program. The faculty adviser may also oversee the student's Junior Paper and is responsible for approving the final list of texts for the Senior Exam. In addition, the program coordinator is available for advice and consultation on all aspects of the program.

Honors. Honors are awarded by the Fundamentals faculty to students who have performed with distinction in the program. An overall GPA of 3.5 is necessary to be considered for honors, and special attention is paid to both the Junior Paper and the Senior Exam.