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Western University Essay Courses

15 Jun How to Select Success During First Year Course Selection

Posted at 17:48h in Academics by Jessica Myles

Welcome to PBSN’s first Insights blog post of the academic year! With course selection opening tomorrow, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with questions. Are 8:30am classes a good idea? What if I’m not sure which electives I want to take yet? How do I even select courses? The PBSN VP team wants to make your course selection process as easy and stress-free as possible, so we’re listing our first year courses and answering the most common questions surrounding course selection. Enjoy!


Module: Specialization inEconomics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Business 1220Statistics 1024Politics 1020
Macroeconomics 1022Spanish 1030Calculus 1000

What was your favourite course in first year?

Surprisingly, Spanish 1030 ended up being my favourite course last year. I was actually originally enrolled in French, but I accidentally put myself in the beginner level even though I’ve taken 7 years of French (look into all of the French options very carefully!). Since I needed to take a language credit in case I wanted to pursue Honours Specialization in Global Economics and the correct level of French didn’t fit my schedule, I sort of randomly switched into Spanish one week into classes. However, the huge similarities between French and Spanish made the course really interesting and not too difficult. As well, the small class sizes and young TAs make the course really engaging and fun. If you enjoy languages, consider taking it!

How did you approach the course selection process last year?

Course selection can seem overwhelming but Western gives you some great resources to help you out. Firstly, is a great tool that lets you arrange your schedule and I highly recommend you make 2-3 drafts on here before selecting the right one for you. This tool will also alert you of any course conflicts and it lists all of the prerequisites and antirequisites for each course. Then, to actually enroll in your courses, you log onto and click on “Open enrollment dates” on the righthand side of the page. The most important thing to keep in mind is that every first year is just as confused as you are, so don’t stress if you decide to enroll in classes in a couple of weeks instead of right away. I switched classes all the way into the first week of school!

You took quite a variety of courses last year, what was your thought process towards choosing electives?

What I loved most about the courses I took first year is that I had a good variety with essay courses (Bus 1220 and Politics 1020), math-based courses (Calc 1000 and Stats 1024), theory-based courses (Econ 1021 & 1022), and even a language course (Spanish 1030). This allowed me to take a break from studying one type of course and switch to another without feeling mentally exhausted. Besides variety, I really tried to pursue my interests beyond economics which is why took Politics 1020. This course is a great introduction to political science and while you write two essays throughout the year, all of the midterms and finals are purely multiple choice so don’t be daunted by its classification as an essay course.



Module: Honours Specialization in Global Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Business 1220Philosophy 1024Computer Science 1020
Macroeconomics 1022French 1910Calculus 1000

What was your favourite course in first year?

Business 1220 was by far my favourite course in first year! Although the content and workload can be challenging at times, you learn so much, make amazing friends, and are able to participate in class discussions as much as you want. There is such a great sense of community inside the classroom and it’s one that I genuinely looked forward to going to every day (even though mine was at 9:30AM, yikes). The professors are all recent Ivey graduates so not only are they able to give you a deep understanding of what life at Ivey will look like if you choose that route, but because they have office hours every week, there are so many opportunities to sit down one-on-one with your professor to go over class content, hear advice from them, and connect with them on a personal level. Check out this video to see what this year’s Business 1220 and 2257 professors were like (they could be yours next year!):

How was your experience taking a university level English course?

I decided to take courses in second semester that pertained more to my interests, and one course that I really enjoyed was English 1028. Professor Keep is one of the best professors on campus and really makes those 9:30AM lectures with upwards of 300 students feel like a one-on-one conversation. I was genuinely shocked at how difficult the course was simply because essay writing is something that requires a lot of sophistication and a thorough understanding of the marker, but I learned more about computer science and technology in this course than I did in any compsci course. The lectures cover current events, technological innovation, gender rights, and the progression of literature throughout history with reference to politics, societal constructs, and religion (among others). Keep has a way of very theatrically bringing lectures full circle in a way that will blow your mind (think something along the lines of being in a How to Get Away With Murder class). If you’re looking for a challenge and are willing to build a different set of skills, I highly recommend taking this course.



Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Business 1220MOS 1021Math 1228
Macroeconomics 1022Psychology 1000MOS 1023Calculus 1000

What was your favourite course in first year?

My favourite course in first year was definitely business 1220. With participation being worth 10% of your overall grade, you’re really able to get to know your peers well, and the professors all care so much about their students (although I have no idea how they’re able to remember all of their student’s names). Moreover, you’ll learn with the Ivey “case method” which is a nice little precursor to whether you will like Ivey in your third/fourth years!

Many students try to take easy courses or “bird courses” as electives, what is your advice in regards to this?

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing courses is that you select ones that you are genuinely interested in. Even if your peers say a course is very easy, I find that when you’re not interested in the topic you won’t be motivated to study or succeed in that course. However, a course I recommend for first years looking for an easier elective is Math 1228. It is essentially Grade 12 data with a bit more added onto it, and overall it was definitely relatively easy to understand and high marks were very achievable. Online quizzes were worth 10%, midterm 1 was 20%, midterm 2 was 20%, the final was 40%, and the last 10% was either Midterm 1, 2 or your final, depending on whichever one you scored highest on. I loved having professor Shahada too!



Module: Specialization in Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Business 1220Calculus 1000Computer Science 1026
Macroeconomics 1022Speech 2001Calculus 1301Computer Science 1032

What was your favourite course in first year?

I would have to say that my favourite class in first year was Speech 2001. Thanks to my high school credits I was allowed to take this second year course and it truly helped me become a better public speaker! The reason I liked it so much was because it was a rigorous course that challenged me to write, prepare and rehearse for a new speech every two weeks. I wasn’t a nervous speaker before, but the course’s content slowly helped me refine my speaking capabilities throughout the year. The class size was also fairly unique for university as it only had 25 people in it. This small class size paired with the fact that I was the only first year student registered in the course led to me gaining 25 new friends and mentors! I could say that the course was difficult and my professor was a hard marker but the amount I learned was invaluable and much more important than a mere mark.

What was the biggest adjustment you felt going from high school classes to university ones?

Adjustments are different for everyone but for me it was the added responsibility of being your own boss. It sounds great but it comes with it’s challenges and obstacles. You have to decide if it’s okay for you to skip that class or ask someone to take notes for you that lecture. Yes, the difficulty of the classes might be a bit tougher than high school, however, adjusting to the fact that you have to make your own decisions to study, go to club meetings, and see friends was what the biggest adjustment I had to make. A bit of advice I would give to all of you incoming students is that university is truly an exciting time and a totally different stage in your lives. Don’t be intimidated by all the freedom that you’re getting – the whole process is a big adjustment and everyone struggles with it in their own way but you’ll have your friends, family, and the entire Western community to help you out!



Module: Honours Specialization in Computer Science

First Year Courses:

Computer Science 1026Business 1220Calculus 1000Multimedia and Communications 1033
Computer Science 1027French 1910Calculus 1301Digital and Humanity 1011

What was your favourite course in first year?

Now that you are in University, it’s not about choosing courses that will get you a high mark anymore, it’s about choosing courses that you want to learn about. Ironically, my favourite course in first year was also my lowest mark. Computer Science Fundamentals I and II were my favourite courses and although they teach different levels of computer science in different languages, they both have the same theory and concept. As a student who has never taken any CompSci courses in high school, going into those classes was extremely challenging. You constantly feel behind and you have to spend that extra hour at home to catch up. But what I learned in that one school year made it completely worth it. If I were to describe this course in one sentences, it would be “challenging, but rewarding!”. The key takeaway from this is never stop trying new things – You never know, it might change your life 🙂

What tips do you have for beginners entering computer science?

As mentioned above, I didn’t take any CompSci courses in high school and so it was a very challenging transition. Don’t get me wrong- It’s challenging, but definitely doable! If you are in the same shoes as me here are a few things that you can do to better prepare yourself for it:

1- Read a handful of books or even articles about computer science. The last thing you want to do is to go into computer science and not knowing what it’s about. If you find the reading interesting, then you’re on the right path.

2- Learn the basics about the course language (Python, Java, C++…) First year professors always think that everyone in their classes has experience with the languages. I know it’s not fair, but sometimes you just have to deal with it. Search up online courses to learn basics notations/algorithms and theories. (Search up Derek Bananas on YouTube, he makes very clear videos!)

3- Put in the extra hours after class. It’s okay that you feel confused during the first few classes, it’s totally normal, but you have to find a way to adjust. If you just put in 1 hour every 2 days before you sleep and revise what you’ve learned in class, you will improve FOSHO!

Good Luck and Study hard!



Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Business 1220MOS 1021Computer Science 1033Math 1225
Macroeconomics 1022Math 1229MOS 1023Computer Science 1032

What was your favourite course in first year?

My favourite course this year was MOS 1023: Accounting and Finance. In addition to having practical and interesting course content, I think a large part of why I enjoyed it so much was because of the professor, Barry Hawn. Although some of the content can be tricky to comprehend, Barry teaches it in such a way where he uses an ongoing example for the entire class, to explain every important concept.  When it comes to the content specifically, I found both the accounting and finance portions very interesting and applicable.  This course makes you more financially literate, comfortable with key investment concepts, and can truly act as an indicator of whether accounting/finance is something you enjoy learning about.  The exam questions can be quite ambiguous, however,  if you work towards understanding the content, rather than just memorizing, you will do well! 

Western has a pretty big campus, is this something you should factor into your course selection?

Western is a very big campus and it can be especially inconvenient if you live in residences like Ontario Hall and Perth Hall.  That is why it is important to be smart with course selection, mainly, the structure of your schedule.  Firstly, if you are planning on scheduling back-to-back classes, keep in mind their distance from each other.  You are given 10 minutes to get from one class to another, but I would still recommend ensuring classes are close by. On another note, take into account when you usually eat lunch and plan your courses around that.  Although there are many food options around campus, most students eat at residence.  Therefore, either try to have the class before lunch be close to your residence or eat at Delaware Hall, the most central residence if you are on main campus.  



Module: Major in Economics

First Year Courses:

Economics 2150Math 1228Business 1220Computer Science 1026Calculus 1000
Astronomy 2022MOS 1021Earth Science 1022Computer Science 1032

What was your favourite course in first year?

My favourite class in first year was Astronomy 2022: The Origin of the Universe. The course content was something that I found personally engaging, and that encouraged me to spend more time studying the course material and doing well in the class. The class is designed for people who have minimal knowledge of astronomy and physics, so it was perfect for someone like me who was interested in the topic but had no background in it. I enjoyed the way the class was set up; the professor described our lectures as being “story-time.” There were two writing assignments, one midterm, and a final exam. The two writing assignments were daunting at first, but the TA’s are available to go over the work with you and let you know how to improve your essays. Overall, I enjoyed this course very much and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an interesting elective.

What was the earliest class you took and what advice do you have in regards to selecting class times?

The earliest class I took was Calculus at 9:30am. In hindsight, that was maybe not the best decision haha. I woke up for school at 6:30 everyday so I thought a class at 9:30 would be perfect. However, in residence, especially during the first few weeks, it was rare for me to go to bed before 2am, and that made waking up in the morning extremely hard. However, choosing your earliest class time strictly depends on your personal preference. If you like for your day to start early and are most active in the morning, I would pick earlier class times. On the other hand, if you usually go to bed late and have trouble waking up in the morning, be warned. You may end up skipping your morning classes, or going to them very tired and unable to pay attention. If you’re unsure, experiment with the times first semester, and see which one suits your routine better and you can change the timings of the classes accordingly next semester and plan better for future years.



Module: Honours Specialization in Computer Science

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Calculus 1000Math 1228Computer Science 1026Information Systems and Design 1032
Macroeconomics 1022Calculus 1301Business 1220Computer Science 1027

What was your favourite course in first year?

My two favourite courses this year were definitely Computer Science Fundamentals I and II. These two courses really teach you how to think, and it’s more problem solving based rather than memorizing textbooks. Both of my profs were engaging and made the classes fun – definitely not the cliché computer science courses you think of. I’ve learned the most this year from these two courses, and while they were challenging, it was rewarding to know that you have gained and accomplished a lot after finishing them. What’s also great about these courses is that they’re designed for people who don’t have prior knowledge in computer science so the concepts and material is taught at a reasonable pace. These courses were also really fun because you get a lot of freedom – you learn the base concepts and aren’t forced to do anything a certain way, so you really develop your critical thinking skills and your own style of coding.

Your first university exam period can be pretty stressful, what tips do you have for conquering #finalsszn?

Exam season is nothing to be afraid of! Taking frequent breaks definitely helps to de-stress when you feel overwhelmed. If you’re not in the right mindset to study, it won’t be effective studying and you’ll find yourself spending more hours studying than if you studied when your mind was focused. It’s a good idea to pace yourself – give yourself breaks for every hour you study. Working out or even just getting out of your chair once in a while is a great way to get your mind off of things and refresh your head before going back to studying. Also make sure to eat in order to keep your brain fueled, and plan out a study schedule so you’re organized and not panicking last minute. Keep these things in mind and I’m sure you’ll all ace your finals!



Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

MOS 1021
Business 1220Psychology 1000Computer Science 1033
MOS 1023Geography 1400Math 1229Math 1225

What was your favourite course in first year?

My favourite course in first year was Human Geography! The professor was very nice and he really guides you through lectures with a lot of energy because he’s very passionate about what he teaches. This was actually a course that I was very close to dropping because I was intimidated by the fact that it was an essay course and I’ve never been a fantastic writer. However, there is only four short essays that you have to write for the course and it was never difficult for me to complete them because my TA was super helpful. Overall, it is a really fantastic course even if you only slightly liked Geography in high school like me – I would definitely recommend it!

What’s your fave study spot on campus for in between classes?

It’s tough to choose just one because there are a lot of great study spots on campus and it really depends on each person’s preference. I personally got a lot of studying done in my residence room or in the Academic Cafe of my residence during first year. While a lot of people will tell you to go to “Club Weldon” (aka Weldon Library) to study if you have a tough midterm coming up, I personally found some great quiet places to study in the Social Science building in between classes that were a lot less crowded. The location is prime because it’s quite central on campus, but it’s very underrated because it’s a bit old. Another popular study spot is Taylor Library as it’s a lot newer that Weldon and a little more aesthetically pleasing if that’s important to you. Overall, my advice is to really explore campus and find a study spot that works best for you!


Useful Resources

A breakdown of all of Western’s building acronyms:

A map of Western’s campus!


Many courses at Western have a significant writing component. Although not all, a number of such courses have been designated as essay courses. These are identified by the suffixes E for a full course, F/G/Z for a half-course. Students should carefully review the course outlines to determine how they are to be evaluated in each course they select. Students having difficulty preparing written assignments should seek assistance from the Effective Writing Service in the Student Development Centre. This is an instructional unit designed to help students from all disciplines improve their writing skills. Students registered in three-year BA programs in Arts, Social Science or Kinesiology must include at least two designated essay courses, one of which must be senior (numbered 100-499). For students who declare an area of concentration in May 1995 or later, this senior essay course must be in their area of concentration. (Also see ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY (Admission Requirements).)

These two essay courses must be completed through The University of Western Ontario or through one of its affiliated colleges. Students are encouraged to take an essay course in first year.