Upper School Course Catalog

Each year, the PCDS Upper School offers an array of challenging courses designed to engage our students at the highest level. From core courses to demanding academic electives, students are able to navigate a well-rounded experience with both choice and passion.

Academic Program

English I: Foundations in Language and Literature (101)

Freshman Requirement

Freshman English provides students with a firm foundation in language and literature. The course includes a thorough review of grammar, usage, and mechanics and emphasizes vocabulary development. Through frequent composition in expository, descriptive, and narrative modes, students develop their ability to express themselves with clarity, precision, and style. Students sharpen their analytical and interpretive skills through closely studying a variety of literary forms: short stories, poetry, the epic, the novel, and drama. In conjunction with their study of language and literature, students acquire basic study and public speaking skills.

English II: Finding Your Voice (108F)

Fall Semester Sophomore Requirement

A basic guiding question for this course might be: what is “voice” and why is it important?  In this course, we will explore how voice functions on both individual and collective levels, and how voice corresponds to social power. What does it mean to have a voice?  What happens when certain voices are silenced and others are amplified?  And how do we develop and exercise our own voices as writers?  We will routinely return to these questions while considering a wide selection of texts.  Students are encouraged to bring in materials or suggest activities that they feel correspond with or enhance the course’s intention.  Reading, writing, conversation, and self-reflection are the cornerstones of this class.

English II: Banned Books: Reading and Writing as Political Acts (111S)

Spring Semester Sophomore Choice

Guiding questions for this course include: What is the relationship between censorship and tolerance within a free society? How can literature and art serve as political tools, both in America and abroad? What is our role as citizens in promoting freedom of speech & expression? In this course, we will examine the degree to which the creation and consumption of literature (and art, more generally) is inextricably linked to the social and political contexts of the creators and the consumers. By reading closely a set of texts that have been, or currently are, banned/restricted in America and elsewhere, we will explore the dynamics of various social issues and challenge ourselves to think carefully about the role of free speech inside a increasingly globalized world.

English II: Environmental Writing and Literatures (128S)

Spring Semester Sophomore Choice

In this course we will look at historical and contemporary writings (blogs, poems, hybrid writings, science writing, novels, essays) that discuss human relationships with and responsibilities toward the world we live in. From "eden" to "nature" to "environment" to "resource" to "anthropocene"-- we will consider how we humans imagine earth, and our place on earth. We will ask how our ideas around race, gender, class, and globalism impact how we imagine our place on earth. We will become better-informed about the challenges and crises of this moment in time. And, most importantly, we will ask ourselves how we each want to write about, think about, talk about, and advocate for earth, as humans on earth.

English III: The American Imagination (106F)

Fall Semester Junior Requirement

Where does the story of American literature begin? What voices are included in that story and what voices are excluded? What constitutes a national literature? To what extent does American literature reflect the American experience? To what extent does it shape that experience? This course will consider how the emergence of a distinctly “American” literature is entangled with the forces of colonial conquest, the transatlantic slave trade, and debates about the nature and practices of democracy. We will explore paired texts of various genres, comparing the colonial perspective (facing west and focused on discovery and expansion) to the indigenous perspective (facing east and focused on invasion and encroachment).

English III: Introduction to Literary Criticism (106S)

Spring Semester Junior Choice

Since writers have been producing texts, critics have been interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating them. What constitutes a text? What do texts do and how do they work? What makes a text “great” and who gets to say? This course will consider various schools of modern literary criticism—New Criticism, reader-response, poststructuralism, feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and post-colonialism—how each answers these questions, and how different readings result from the application of different critical lenses. We will practice applying the various lenses on texts we read together, and then students will have the opportunity to craft their own analyses of self-selected texts. In addition to short informal and formal written assignments, students in this course can expect to produce a lengthy critical analysis of a novel.
English III: Contemporary American Fiction (129S)

Spring Semester Junior Choice

This course continues the inquiries of first semester by turning to 20th and 21st century works of fiction. We will develop the skills of “reading as a writer,” looking carefully at the craft of fiction writing by producing our own fiction; then we will use our experiences creating texts to consider the craft elements of contemporary works. The course begins with two early 20th-century texts that broke new ground in American fiction, The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God, and in the second quarter, students will have multiple opportunities for the study of self-selected texts. In addition to short informal and formal written assignments, students in this course can expect to produce a lengthy piece of creative writing.

English IV: Gothic and Horror Literature (115F)

Fall Semester Senior Choice

From its beginnings in the 18th century to this year’s Oscar-winning South Korean film Parasite (Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won)—we will look at the art and literature of fear. During the course we’ll consider the distinctions between horror and terror, between the ghastly and the macabre, and between psychological, paranormal, and supernatural fears. We’ll consider classic gothic tropes, such as basements, attics, haunted houses, doppelgängers, fallen societies, darkness, a romanticized past, curses, prophesies, diminished senses, insanity, shapeshifting, the family, the uncanny, the sublime, entrapment, secrets, and ghosts. Because the Gothic is the art of cultural fears, we will consider race, class, and gender in each of these texts. Spanning genres (poetry, novels, short stories, films, visual art, sounds), and celebrating Halloween and All Saints Day and All Souls Day—this class will deeply consider literatures of fear. As Carmen Maria Machado says, horror “tells us a lot about who we are, what we are, and what we, individually and culturally, are afraid of.” Students will write and create their own works of gothic or horror writing and art in response to or inspired by the texts we study, as well as do close-reads of the texts we are studying.
English IV: Memoir and Autobiographical Literature (136F)

Fall Semester Senior Choice

Have you ever been told that no sophisticated writing uses “I”? This class gives the lie to that notion! In this class, offered during the fall semester, students will become deeply familiar with memoir and autobiographical writing through the study of full-length literary memoirs and personal essays. The central question for this course is “How does one individual’s lived experience inform or enrich others’ understanding of their lived experiences?” In other words, students will examine how memoirists detail with vivid specificity their own circumstances while connecting those circumstances to larger phenomena, themes, and communities. Students will explore the liberations (and limitations) presented by the use of the first person. Throughout, students will be mining their own lives for material that they will craft into short, thematic personal essays suitable for submission for publication consideration. Students will also receive guidance on the crafting of personal essays and statements for the college-application process. At the end of the course, students will produce a mini-memoir (approximately 50 pages in length) that has a narrative throughline, an intentional design, and significant thematic significance.

English IV: Women's Literature Survey (139F)

In this course, we will examine foundational works written by women in England and America from the 18th century onward. How have women used the written word to advocate, critique, and shape society and their role inside of it? What patterns and shifts can we identify inside the intellectual history of Western feminist thought? Authors whose work will be considered include: Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Virginia Woolf, Betty Friedan, Audre Lorde, Wilma Mankiller, Maxine Hong Kingston, & Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Students can expect a collaborative, intersectional, discussion-based approach to understanding and appreciating the struggles and contributions of female-identified authors in the West.

English IV: Book-Length Writing (130S)

Spring Semester Senior Choice

In this semester-long course students will write the first draft of a book. Participants will choose to write a book of poetry, a novel, a collection of stories, a hybrid or trans-genre work, a book of literary nonfiction or memoir, a graphic novel, or a form of their devising. The primary focus of the class will be to generate ideas and writings, as well as begin to consider revision at all scales—from word choice to structure across the entire manuscript. We will study book structures, organizations, patterns, and traditions by looking at dozens of books from many genres, time periods, and cultures. We will also consider the histories, resistances and alternatives to, and present realities of publishing—including gatekeeping, censorship, pathways, and barriers. The purpose of this course is to generate the complete first draft of a manuscript that the writer might choose to continue to revise and develop through a more advanced class, workshop, or independent study. (During fall semester we will likely participate in the NaNoWriMo (or modify it to fit your genre) during the month of November. During spring semester will likely participate in NaPoWriMo (or modify it to fit your genre) during the month of April.)
English IV: Contemporary American Short Stories and First-Generation Immigrant Voices (127S)

Spring Semester Senior Choice

How do the stories told by first-generation immigrant writers differ from those of other writers? What do we expect from first-generation voices? How do these voices interrogate canonical American literature and challenge how we define “American”? This course will explore these questions and the short story form as a vehicle for such voices. Towards the end of the term, students will have the opportunity to choose one of the authors sampled in the course and read more of their work independently. Students will respond to texts in a variety of ways: response writing, formal analysis, and creative projects.
English IV: Contemporary Poetry & Poetics (133S)

Spring Semester Senior Choice

In this semester-long course students will read and write poetry, with a focus on the creative process. Emphasizing classic and contemporary writing exercises, games, tricks, and practices, as well as using many different kinds of poetries and poetics as models for making our own work--this will be a course that focuses on process over product. As a theoretical base, we will look at scientific and cultural frameworks around creative practices, as well as theories of the poem and of language.
English IV: Science Fiction and Fantasy (114S)

Spring Semester Senior Choice

This course will examine some of the canonical texts of the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The texts will be studied as a means of understanding our world through the analysis of different worlds. In addition to analysis of plot, the texts will be used to access critical discussions such as Deep Ecology, the Heideggerian critique of technology, the role of “fate,” and the character of the “hero.” The place of these genres in the overall world of “literature” will be assessed. Texts include J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Frank Herbert's Dune, William Gibson's Neuromancer, and others to be selected by the class from a list including (but not limited to) the works of Neal Stephenson, Ursula LeGuin, Mary Doria Russell, China Mieville, Lev Grossman, and Stephen Donaldson. Students will be graded on class participation, frequent reading quizzes, tests, and papers.

The Ancient World (201F)

Fall Semester Freshman Requirement

This course examines the evolution of ancient civilizations from the Neolithic Revolution to the decline of the Roman Empire. We will explore the major concepts, values, institutions, and developments amongst a diverse group of early civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Classical Greece, the Hellenistic World, and Ancient Rome. Critical analysis will assess the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that shaped classical civilizations. This course utilizes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches toward learning about the historical evolutions of the ancient world.

Medieval Empires (212S)

Spring Semester Freshman Requirement

This course introduces students to states and cultures around the ‘medieval’ world, which lasted from roughly 500-1450 C.E. We will examine the new forms of civilization that took route across the globe and explore their connections, interactions, and exchanges on an ever-growing scale. The central themes of this course will include religion, culture, trade, and state-formation. Students will also begin to explore the essentials of historical thinking as they encounter multiple types of primary sources and discover how to read, analyze, and interpret those sources as historians.

The Modern World (220F)

Fall Semester Sophomore Requirement

This course will explore the intellectual, social, and political movements that helped to shape modern history.  From 16th century Florence to 18th century Paris to 19th century Tokyo and beyond, we seek to answer the question, what is modernity? In addition to reading the works of major thinkers and researching the seminal events that define the modern era, students will also consider the meaning of history itself. What is history? Rather than simply asking, “what happened?” the historian should always ask the more involved question, “why did this happen at this time?”  Through the posing of this latter question, modern historical inquiry becomes an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human throughout various times, places, and cultures. Ultimately, history allows us to experience the immensity and grandeur of the world as well as locate ourselves in it, while helping us to understand and critique our own culture by contemplating the experiences of those who preceded us.

Europe Since 1945 (221S)

Spring Semester Sophomore Choice

This course studies the history of Europe as it rose from the postwar wasteland of 1945 to the vibrant continent that it is today. Areas warranting particular attention include the Cold War, the rise of the EU, the dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia, the benefits and failings of the euro, and the Scottish nationalist movement. Student learning will be assessed using a combination of quizzes, tests, and other metrics.

The World Since 1945 (223S)

Spring Semester Sophomore Choice

This course is a 10th Grade continuation of “The Modern World” and an alternative to “Europe Since 1945.”  Its emphasis is on global Cold War and post-Cold War politics with a focus outside the United States and Western Europe.  Topics include anti-colonial movements and decolonization, the spread of the European-style nation-state model to the decolonizing world, the legacy of European imperialism and the contest between capitalist and Communist forms of government in the post-colonial world, the fall of European Communism and effects on the rest of the world, 1990s genocides in Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, post-Cold War globalization, and the rise of Islamism as an anti-globalist ideology.  Student learning will be assessed using a combination of quizzes, tests, and a guided final research paper.

US History (203)

The United States History course is a rigorous survey that closely studies the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the nation’s development. The course begins with pre-Columbian America and concludes ideally with contemporary America. Students will write analytical essays that require sophisticated research and a synthesis of electronic and print sources. Classes will consist of lectures, discussions, and analysis of primary sources and media. This course is required of all juniors.

American Government (211F)

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

This seminar will examine the institutions, participants, and processes that characterize political activity in the United States. The course will focus on the following components of our political system and the impact they have on one another: the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties, political parties, interest groups, media, the institutions of national government (the Congress, the presidency, the federal courts), and American political culture. Students will be expected to follow current political affairs closely. This course is designed to prepare students to become active and informed participants in the political process, and will serve as a foundational course for building civic knowledge and participation.

American Social Protest and Popular Music (246S)

Junior and Senior Elective

This course will explore the history of American social protest movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, through the lens of protest music. It will focus on the social protest movements themselves, the music that helped fuel them, and their larger social, political, and economic context. The class will examine the role of protest music in expressing anger, hope, a desire for change, as well as rallying others to the cause, and influencing popular opinion. Topics will include the Civil Rights Movement, the 1960s anti-war movement, feminism, the LGBTQ rights movement, and others.

Comparative Genocide (241F)

Junior and Senior Elective

This seminar examines acts of state-sponsored murder that meet the definition of genocide as outlined by the United Nations Conventions on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), to include, but not limited to, the Herero, Armenians, the Holodomor, the Final Solution, the killing fields of Cambodia, and Rwanda.  We will also look at what have been called “contested genocides,” those lacking a scholarly consensus as to whether the term genocide can be accurately and fairly applied. The world continually hears of Elie Wiesel’s vow of “never again,” but nations have resorted to genocide in numerous instances since World War II.  This seminar, therefore, aims to look at the historical forces that led to genocide, to identify its perpetrators and victims, to detail the salient features of the atrocity, to discuss the response of the international community, and to examine the resolution of the conflict, including trials at the International Criminal Court and other judicial bodies.  

Conspiracy Theory and Historical Analysis (226S)

Junior and Senior Elective

This course will examine several historical events through the conspiracy theories that developed around them.
Topics will include the French Revolution, the development of 19th and 20th Century anti-Semitism, mid-twentieth century anti-Communism, climate change denial, and current ideas about the “New World Order.”  Students will discover broad themes that run through and connect each of these disparate topics.  Student learning will be assessed through Canvas posts and discussions, primary source analyses, a midterm analytical essay, and an independent final project.

The purpose of this course is not to teach students to believe in conspiracy theory, but rather to encourage them to consider how conspiracy theory can help us to understand the anxieties that tend to surround rapid social and cultural changes.

Contemporary Political Issues (224S)

Junior and Senior Elective

This course will provide a blow-by-blow analysis of the American and international political arena. Discussion topics will be “ripped from the headlines,” accompanied by readings drawn from across the political spectrum. Students will learn to analyze problems from a variety of political and philosophical viewpoints. Topics will be selected from those at the forefront of the political conversation during the semester.

Cultural Anthropology (213F)

Junior and Senior Elective


Cultural anthropology offers methods for understanding both the complexities of human societies and the commonalities of the human experience. Students will work to develop tools for making sense of the experience of people whose lives differ from our own and an ability to see our familiar world through a new perspective. By making our cultural assumptions explicit, the hope is a distinctive approach to intercultural understanding and awareness. Key anthropological concepts explored include: race, gender, identity, materiality, kinship, religion and belief, power, change, cultural, and symbolism. Cultural anthropology utilizes a research method unique to social sciences, ethnography, which combines observation and a deep empirical study of other cultures. Students will read two full length ethnographies, conduct fieldwork observations, culminating in a mini-ethnographic research project. 

Economics (219F/219S)

Junior and Senior Elective

This is a multidimensional course that attempts to blend economic theory, core macro- and micro-economic principles, and a rich discussion of those applications to contemporary economic problems. It will focus on current modern global and national economic issues including the political climate surrounding the United States national debt. Additionally, this course lays the foundation for personal economic and financial literacy.

International Relations (242F)

Junior and Senior Elective

This course introduces students to the dynamics existing between nation-states in the 21st century. The course shall cover topics such as sovereignty, diplomacy, rights, hegemony, globalization, the environment, and the use of both hard and soft power. Students will participate in a simulation program in which they represent the interests of a nation in negotiations with other nations (represented by other schools in the simulation) about a variety of salient issues. These negotiations will take place both on-line and face-to-face. The course will examine several theoretical bases of international relations, including, but not limited to, realism, neo-conservatism, neo-liberalism, and Marxism. Because it is impossible to understand international relations without a solid grounding in knowledge of the economic interactions between nations, the Washington Consensus, the WTO, and the protectionism/free trade debate will also be foci of discussion. Students will be evaluated through tests, papers, and participation. Because of the centrality of the simulation to the course, participation will form a relatively high proportion of the grade. Reading materials will include selections from periodical media.

Intro to Moral Philosophy (245F)

Junior and Senior Elective


What is the right thing to do? Is there always a right thing to do? How can we make fair laws? These questions, and others like them, have formed the core of Moral Philosophy for over 2000 years. In this course we will be examining the answers that great philosophers from ancient Greece to the present day have given to these questions. Schools of thought to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the virtue ethics of Aristotle, Kant’s deontology, and the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill.

Society Through the Lens of Sports (243S)

Junior and Senior Elective

The course will examine the role played by sports in contemporary societies. Topics will include (but are not limited to) fandom and tribalism, the impact of professional franchises on local economies, the concussion and brain injury crisis in football and other sports, the rise of the statistician, the cult of the amateur, sports as a catalyst for social change through the bully pulpit used by such athletes as Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe, and gender issues in sports.
Women in World History (221F)

Junior and Senior Elective

This course explores the global history of women through a critical examination of gender over time: its interaction with world-historical systems, institutions, and events, and its intersection with the evolution of ideas around race, ethnicity, nationality, and class. Students will investigate these questions using approaches central to current scholarship in world history and the history of women: an emphasis on comparative issues rather than civilizations in isolation; a focus on contacts across different societies; and attention to ‘globalizing’ forces, such as technology diffusion, trade, migration, or empire. Students will read historical texts alongside modern theorists, thinking connectively about how (and why) histories of women and gender continue to shape our lived experiences today.
Algebra I (301)

Algebra I is a foundation course for all work done in upper-level mathematics at PCDS. The major goal of the course is to develop the initial concepts of linear, quadratic, rational, and exponential functions. Students use these functions to model real-world applications. Other major topics include polynomials, radicals, absolute value, inequalities, and rational expressions. The graphing calculator is used to provide graphical and numerical support for ideas that are traditionally expressed symbolically.

Geometry (302)

Prerequisite: Algebra I

Students will study the basics of Euclidean geometry, including deductive systems, proofs, and construction.  First semester the focus is on the deductive system and proof. Embedded within that is the development of properties of lines, planes, and polygons. Students reinforce their understanding of concepts through the use of computer geometry software and straightedge and compass constructions. Second-semester topics include right triangles, similar figures, calculations of areas and volumes, symmetry and transformations, and properties of circles. This course has less emphasis on proof and more emphasis on procedural competency than does the advanced course. Throughout the course, students make extensive use of coordinate representations of geometric figures to support the retention of skills from Algebra I.

Geometry Plus (303)

Prerequisites: Algebra 1B+ or equivalent with a overall year grade of A- or better

Geometry+ is a problem-based course intended for students of strong ability and dedicated interest in mathematics. Students will study vectors, lines, and polygons, as a foundation for further study, then move on to constructions, proofs, special right triangles, transformations, trigonometry, similar figures, calculations of areas and volumes, and properties of circles. Students will explore more challenging problems, and in several areas the coverage will be more thorough and include more depth than the regular course. Through daily collaboration, students will develop their understanding of concepts as well as their ability to reason mathematically by solving problems that continually build on prior knowledge. Throughout the course, students make extensive use of coordinate representations to support the retention of skills from Algebra I.

Algebra II (304)

Prerequisite: Algebra I and Geometry

Algebra II continues the development of the concept of a function previously explored in Algebra I. This course has less emphasis on proof and more emphasis on procedural competency than does the advanced course.  Specific types of functions studied include linear, quadratic, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and rational. In addition, students will do some modeling of functions, as well as study the conic sections and trigonometry.

Algebra II Plus (320)

Prerequisites: Grades of B+ or better in both an advanced Algebra I and an advanced Geometry course

Algebra II Plus is a fast-paced course in advanced algebra and trigonometry.  Concepts, theory, and proof, as presented through both analytical and graphical representations, are emphasized throughout.  This course presumes a thorough understanding of basic algebra and Euclidean geometry.  Students who enroll in this course should desire to learn mathematics at the theoretical level and should exhibit an eagerness to explore challenging problems. Effective oral and written communication of mathematical knowledge is emphasized.

PreCalculus (306)

Prerequisites: Geometry and Algebra II

In PreCalculus, students will continue to refine and develop their algebraic fluency, particularly with advanced classes of functions, such as polynomial, logarithmic, and exponential functions.  This course has less emphasis on proof and more emphasis on procedural competency than does the advanced course.  Students will work to expand their mathematical problem solving and communication skills.  This course continues to develop students’ understanding of triangle trigonometry and circular trigonometry.  Additional topics include sequences and series, matrices, and a review of conic sections, and may include an introduction to parametric and polar equations.

PreCalculus Plus (315)

Prerequisites: Geometry and semester grades of B or better in Algebra II Plus

PreCalculus Plus reviews functions as models, with extended opportunities for students to explore concepts and to apply knowledge in solving challenging problems, both individually and in collaboration with others.  This course presumes mastery of second-year algebra and an introductory understanding of triangular and circular trigonometry, although both will be reviewed and further developed.  Vector analysis and analytic geometry, including parametric and polar representations of curves, are thoroughly examined.  Other topics include sequences and series, combinatorics and probability, and limits. 

Calculus (321F)

Prerequisite: PreCalculus with a grade of B- or better

Beginning with a thorough review of the algebra and trigonometry needed for success in Calculus, students will then study limits, continuity and differential calculus, including several applications of the derivative.  The semester ends with the study of the indefinite integral.  The goal of this course is to provide a broad introduction to calculus, while further cementing students’ foundation in algebra and trigonometry.

Calculus I, Calculus II (317F/317S)

Prerequisite: Semester grades of B+ or better in PreCalculus Plus

Calculus I
This Calculus course will begin with a thorough study of limits and continuity before moving on to differential calculus. The derivative will be viewed and discussed through the limit definition and all of the basic differentiation rules will be proved through this lens. Students will then learn a variety of applications of the derivative, including related rates of change, optimization, graphing, and using the tangent line to approximate a point on a curve. Algebraic, graphical, and numerical approaches will be emphasized in order that students may develop a strong conceptual foundation for further study in calculus. The goal of this course is to provide students with a conceptually rigorous and thorough study of differential calculus.

Calculus II
In this continuation of Calculus I, students will be introduced to the definite integral through the limit definition, thus developing a rich understanding of integration in preparation for the fundamental theorem of calculus. Through the proof of the fundamental theorem, students will verify the connection between the derivative and the integral, and gain insight into why this was such a monumental achievement in mathematical history. Students will then study the calculus of logarithmic, exponential, and inverse trig functions. Subsequent to this, students will learn further uses of the definite integral, including differential equations, numerical methods of integration and applications to two- and three-dimensional figures. Connections between derivatives and integrals (through the Fundamental Theorem) will be stressed, as well as conceptual depth and analysis. As in the previous course, algebraic, graphical, and numerical approaches will be emphasized so that students may continue to develop a strong foundation in calculus. The goal of this course is to solidify students’ foundation in calculus so that they are well prepared to study math and science at the college level.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.

Calculus III, Calculus IV (318F/318S)

Calculus III
Students will continue the study of techniques and applications of integration begun in Calculus I and II, then begin a thorough study of sequences and series, including tests of convergence, error estimates, Taylor series (and polynomial approximations), and power series.  Finally, students will study the calculus of the conic sections, parametric equations, vectors, and polar forms. Upon the successful completion of this course, students will be prepared for a course in multivariable calculus.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.

Calculus IV
Upon completion of the single-variable topics in Calculus III, students will be introduced to topics in multivariable calculus, including vector operations and vector-valued functions in two- and three-space, lines, planes, and surfaces in space, and partial derivatives.

Calculus: Applications, Readings, and Projects (326S)

Prerequisite: Calculus (one semester)

In this course, students will complete several projects that are designed to both expand and enrich their understanding of differential calculus. Selected projects will be chosen at an appropriate level of difficulty for students who have completed the fall semester Calculus course.  Additionally, students will study business and life science applications of derivatives and antiderivatives, learning essential concepts through this work.  Finally, students will read and respond to several articles related to math and to the development and usefulness of calculus.  The goal of this course is to give students a taste of the real-world applications of calculus.

Discrete Mathematics (319F)

Prerequisite: PreCalculus

This is an introductory course in discrete mathematics for students who have completed PreCalculus and who have distinguished themselves in their studies of mathematics. This course gives students the opportunity to investigate mathematical topics beyond the range of those traditionally found in a standard PreCalculus course.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to ideas and techniques that are widely used in science and engineering. This course teaches students techniques to think logically and mathematically and apply these techniques in solving problems. To achieve this goal, students will learn logic and proof, sets, functions, as well as algorithms and mathematical reasoning. Specific areas of study include mathematical induction, set theory, graph theory, matrix theory and applications, and mathematical modeling.
Linear Algebra (327S)

Prerequisite: PreCalculus

Linear algebra is the study of linear systems of equations, vector spaces, and linear transformations. Solving systems of linear equations is a basic tool of many mathematical procedures used for solving problems in science and engineering. This is a one semester introductory course in linear algebra. This course includes, but is not limited to, the study of systems of linear equations, matrices, determinants, vectors and vector spaces, linear transformations, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and their applications.
In an increasingly complex world, mathematical thinking, understanding, and skill are more important than ever. This course will show students how to simplify many types of complex problems using matrix algebra and vector geometry. Students who wish to pursue careers in the sciences or engineering are often required to study linear algebra. This course provides a solid foundation for further study in mathematics, the sciences, and engineering.
Statistics I (308F)

Prerequisite: Algebra II

This project-based semester course provides an introduction to statistical thinking, the process of responsibly gathering data, summarizing and displaying data, and generalizing the data at hand to a larger population. Current technology will be used to allow students to focus on their mathematical understanding of the concepts. Students will discover through personal projects that data produced by random samples, observational studies, and randomized experiments has important principles and limitations.  Once data has been gathered, numerical summaries and graphical representations are used to convey the contents of a data set at a glance and elementary probability is used to understand the variation that is present within the data.  The semester will culminate with creating appropriate summaries and presentations of projects.

Statistics II (308S)

Prerequisite: Statistics I

This project-based course continues and broadens the work of Statistics I. Current technology will be used to allow students to focus on their mathematical understanding of the concepts. Students will discover through personal projects the inferential techniques to conduct hypothesis testing, inference for population means, comparing proportions or means, chi-square analysis, and inference for regression. The semester will culminate with creating appropriate summaries and presentations of projects.

Programming in Python: An Introduction to Computer Science (319)

This course emphasizes problem-solving, design and programming as a means of understanding the core skills of computer science. These ideas are illustrated using the Python Programming language. Students will learn and use the Python Programming language as a means of focusing on algorithmic thinking and program design. Concepts learned in Python carry over directly to subsequent study of systems languages such as C++ and Java. This course is designed for students who have never learned the Python Programming language.

Biology I (447)

Freshman Requirement

This survey course introduces students to many of the enduring concepts in the study of biology. These include biochemistry, cellular structure and function, energy transfer, genetics, biotechnology, ecology, and the core theme of the discipline: evolution. Attention is paid to how each of these topics has applicability to humans and to the world around us. Emphasis is also placed on key science practices including the development of testable hypotheses, and implementing original, student-designed experiments. Thus, the laboratory component of this course is a central feature of the students’ experience. Students are also challenged to think critically and to explore the ethical ramifications of many issues facing society today. This course is a prerequisite for all upper level life science courses.

Chemistry I (448)

Chemistry I introduces students to foundational concepts in chemistry, including the structure and properties of matter, and chemical reactions. This course places a greater emphasis on inquiry-based learning, and conceptual understanding of topics, rather than factual recall. Students will be expected to develop advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical skills, connecting concepts, and completing projects that connect chemistry concepts to real world applications. Students will develop an understanding of the three representations of chemistry: symbolic, macroscopic (lab based), and microscopic (molecular level). After completing this course, students will be ready for the study of advanced topics in subsequent high school or college science courses.

Conceptual Physics (406)

Prerequisite: Completed or be enrolled in Algebra II

Conceptual Physics is a year long non-calculus approach to the principles of general physics.  Emphasis is placed on inquiry-based learning. Students will be expected to develop inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, and interpreting data. The first semester (fall) covers Newtonian mechanics, properties of matter, sound, and light with the second semester (spring) covering electrostatics, electric circuits, magnetism, and electromagnetic induction.  While the concepts behind physical phenomena will be the focus of this course, students will apply mathematical concepts from algebra and geometry in order to problem solve.

Physics I: Newtonian Mechanics, Physics II: Mechanics, Energy, & Waves (471F/471S)

Prerequisite: Algebra II Plus or currently enrolled in PreCalculus; Physics I

Physics I: Newtonian Mechanics
Topics covered include problem solving, one and two dimensional kinematics, forces, vectors, Newton’s Laws of Motion, air resistance (drag), momentum, impulse, uniform circular Motion, and Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity. Throughout the course, students will apply these principles to understand rocket flight and design a simple rocket.

Physics II: Energy and Momentum
Topics covered include conservation of momentum in translational motion and rotational motion and conservation of energy including work, heat transfer, gravitational potential energy, elastic potential energy, kinetic energy, internal energy, and pressure work. These culminate in learning to apply the First Law of Thermodynamics and Second Law of Thermodynamics to solve real-world problems in power generation, power storage, heating, cooling, and more.

Physics III: Electricity and Magnetism (472F)

Prerequisite: Physics II or consent of the instructor

Topics covered include electric charges, electric fields, electric circuits, magnetic fields, electromagnetic induction, electromagnetic waves, and basic optics.

Physics IV: Modern Physics (472S)

Prerequisite: Physics III or consent of the instructor

Topics covered include various physics topics that have been discovered in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Some topics likely to be included are wave-particle duality of light, the special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity, introductory quantum mechanics, the photoelectric effect and its use in solar energy, simple harmonic motion, wave mechanics, sound, atomic physics, nuclear physics, and special topics as determined by the instructor and the class.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.

Biology II (473)

Prerequisite: Chemistry I and Biology I with a minimum grade of B+

Biology II explores major topics in a depth that is equivalent to a first-year introductory Biology course for majors at the college level. Primary emphasis is placed on the development of concepts rather than on the memorization of facts, and students are encouraged to develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, science as a process. This will be accomplished through mastery of a series of key science practices. Many student-designed, long-term laboratory investigations will be undertaken, and there will be a heavy emphasis on the application of knowledge, data analysis, and authentic scientific inquiry. Content is organized into thematic units that explore evolution, energetic processes, information flow, molecular inheritance, biological systems, and homeostasis.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.

Chemistry II (474)

Prerequisite: A minimum grade of B in Chemistry I

Chemistry II is a year long course building upon the foundational concepts covered in Chemistry I, and exploring new topics including kinetics, thermodynamics, and chemical equilibrium. This course places a greater emphasis on conceptual understanding and inquiry-based learning, rather than factual recall and mathematical skills. Students will be expected to refine their laboratory reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical skills, and interpreting data. Students will continue to develop an understanding of the three representations of chemistry: symbolic, macroscopic (lab based), and microscopic (molecular level). This is a fast paced course that will set a strong foundation for students to take other advanced level science courses.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.  

Medical Research (436)

Medical Research is a project-based course that facilitates student’s interest in medical research. Foundational concepts of research covered include medical ethics, formulating a research question, conducting a literature search, critical analysis of published research, identifying gaps in published research, collection of research data, analysis of data, interpretation of findings, and presentation of their findings. The first semester will focus on medical ethics, formulating a question, conducting a literature review, and writing a proposal for the student’s research project. The second semester will focus on data collection, statistical analysis, and producing a final manuscript and presentation. 

Biotechnology & Bioethics (440F)

Prerequisite: Biology

Students in the biotechnology and bioethics course will explore the science behind the use of living systems to solve problems and the ethical issues related to those uses. The course will be a blend of basic biology concepts, laboratory investigations, and discussions of ethical dilemmas and current events related to biotechnologies. The course is organized around units based on the interests of enrolled students and may include the topics of genetically modified organisms, stem cells, genetic information and synthetic biology.

Materials Science & Engineering (452F)

Prerequisite: Physics II or consent of the instructor

Everything is built using materials, and the properties of those materials are critical to their function: cell phone screens that don't crack, car hoods that crumple, plastic bags that don't break, and more. Students will learn about the structures and properties of the four major classes of materials: ceramics, metals, polymers, and composites. Tests will assess students' ability to describe those structures, predict properties, and analyze data. In hands-on activities, students will measure and analyze properties including density, strength, elastic modulus, fracture, and creep.

Materials Science & Engineering II (452S)

Prerequisite: Materials Science & Engineering I

As anyone who has baked food knows, success requires the right ingredients in the right amounts (composition), mixing those ingredients in a certain order and baking to the right temperature for the right amount of time (processing), to achieve the desired taste and feel (properties). Making a material for use in any commercial product or work of art requires the same attention to composition and processing to achieve the molecular structure necessary to yield the desired material properties. In this course, students will learn about the composition and processing of metal alloys, ceramics (glass, clay, cement), polymers (plastics), and composites (combinations of material types), the resultant molecular-level structure these achieve, and the resultant material properties of each. Student assessment will include describing the composition, processing, and properties of each type of material, design-oriented assessment in which students choose a composition and processing method for a desired application, and hands-on testing of materials with varied composition or processing.

Science of Self (432F)

Prerequisite: Biology

Why do you feel like you are somebody experiencing life?  Is your sense of self simply a product of brain activity or are “you” something more?  In this course, we will explore historical and modern interpretations of self in the contexts of biology, society, and philosophy.  An introduction to nervous system anatomy and physiology provides a foundation for the exploration of the roles of the cerebral cortex and thalamus, the gut-brain axis, and the immune system in the experience of self.  Working independently and collaboratively to conduct research and experiments on these concepts, we will develop an understanding of what self is.

Wildlife Biology (416S)

Prerequisite:  Biology I

This course will expose students to Arizona’s vast wilderness, focusing on its wide array of wildlife. Many U.S. citizens are not aware that we are all owners of perhaps the greatest public land system in the world. We will walk through the history of this country’s public lands, exploring the creation of their protections as well as the problems we have encountered trying to preserve them. Students will learn how to implement mathematical models to represent and estimate characteristics of wildlife populations, pulling from their algebra skills as well as their knowledge of basic biology. They will see a real-world application for their algebra skill set by calculating carrying capacities, estimating population size and predicting population growth. They will participate in in-class debates about best practices for conservation and management, forcing them to confront and analyze the many facets of problems surrounding the current state of our lands’ and wildlife. Students will identify a conservation problem they feel passionate about and utilize social media and what they learned in this course to effect real change. In looking at the history of problems that faced our public lands in the past, they will be able to identify where the real threats lie today. We will spend time outdoors around our campus and take field trips to see firsthand where our incredible wildlife reside. We will spend at least one night camping to fully experience what it means to be a public land owner.
French I (512)

In this Level I course, students begin to develop proficiency in five language skills: reading, writing, aural comprehension, speaking, and cultural understanding. Students learn to express themselves in a variety of social situations using appropriate expressions and grammar. The following four general categories of language functions are presented in the first year: seeking and imparting factual information, asking for and expressing attitudes and opinions, interacting with others, and socializing.  Discussions, readings, and projects present the culture of France and other Francophone countries.

French II (513)

Students in the second year of French continue to develop proficiency in the five language skills. As in the first year, students acquire the grammatical structures, vocabulary, and expressions necessary to interact with others and to express their opinions using culturally, socially, and grammatically appropriate language.  Students further their knowledge of the culture and history of French and Francophone countries.

French III (514)

This course leads to greater proficiency in students’ written and oral expression of French. The course helps students to recall and perfect the essentials of syntax, verb tenses, and grammar, while moving progressively toward greater fluency and mastery of complex grammar. Discussions, readings, and research projects are focused on cross-cultural understanding and a richer appreciation of contemporary French and Francophone civilization.

French IV: Contemporary Issues in French Culture (515)

Prerequisite: B+ average in French III and instructor approval

The goal of this course is to review and reinforce grammatical knowledge while emphasizing vocabulary building and increasing the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will continue the exploration of cultures in the Francophone world through reading and discussion, in French, of newspaper and magazine articles, contemporary literary excerpts and other non-technical writings. Enthusiasm for speaking and writing French is essential!

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.  

Special Topics in French: Personal and Public Identity (543F)

This course is intended to expand a student's knowledge of the culture, literature, and history of France and its connection to the Francophone World. Through a range of texts, paintings, songs, dishes, and films hailing from France and a variety of Francophone countries, we will cover topics about education, family, Francophonie and language, and everything about gastronomics from the regions of France. We will analyze health issues, political concerns, and environmental topics and their social impacts both regionally and internationally. Students will be encouraged to go beyond the stereotypes in order to gain a more in-depth and sophisticated understanding of  French culture. We will review grammar, vocabulary, and spelling concepts via bimonthly projects and presentations.Enthusiasm for speaking and writing French is essential!

Special Topics in French: Daily Life and Culture (543S)

This course is intended to expand a student's knowledge of the culture, literature, and history of France and its connection to the Francophone World. Through a range of texts, paintings, songs, dishes, and films hailing from France and a variety of Francophone countries, we will explore the unique social culture of the Francophone world. Students will explore French architecture, painting, the theater and cinema, music, sport, and tourism. Students will be encouraged to go beyond the stereotypes in order to gain a more in-depth and sophisticated understanding of  French culture. We will review grammar, vocabulary, and spelling concepts via bimonthly projects and presentations. Enthusiasm for speaking and writing French is essential!

Spanish I (507)

This course is the first step in the process of acquiring language and cultural proficiency in Spanish. In light of new technological trends as applied to language and culture teaching and learning, a wide range of vocabulary, communicative grammar, reading, and writing skills are systematically developed in order to facilitate appropriate verbal and written expression. The development of active-listening comprehension and oral production are strongly emphasized throughout the course. In general, the four linguistic modes, as well as the reinforcement of cultural competence, are emphasized for practical communicative purposes. That is, the 5 C’s (Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) and the 3 P’s (Practices, Products, and Perspectives)—as suggested by the international standards for language/culture learning and teaching—will be guiding principles.

Spanish II (508)

At a more advanced level, this course expands the development of the five language modes: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural understanding and competence. Spanish II students will be able to broaden their capacity to express themselves appropriately both in spoken and written discourses. The ability to use more complex patterns of speech and writing will systematically be developed and used. Students will interact with authentic linguistic, cultural, and literary materials, which will give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in real life-language usage.

In addition, in line with the expansion of the students’ linguistic and cultural modes for real life language functions, literary samples (and their respective socio-historical contexts) from both Spain and Latin America will be researched, presented, and explored. In general, the inclusion of the 5 C’s  (Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) and the 3 P’s (Practices, Products, and Perspectives)—will certainly be a guiding principle.

Spanish III (509)

This course is designed to teach and reinforce new and previously learned language curriculum, complex grammar concepts, and essential vocabulary needed to elevate the comprehension and practical usage of the language. The five language skills of reading, listening, speaking, understanding, and writing in cultural context are studied and developed in greater depth. The expectation of this course is that the students will be well equipped to fine tune their language skills and continue to build a solid foundation for future language learning, which will lead to enhanced fluency. Oral work is evaluated on an ongoing basis to assure a consistent and proper use of the language. In writing, the students will develop skills required for composing essays, short stories, and other creative writing forms, which will fully encompass and help to develop newly acquired knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and spelling. Additionally, emphasis is made to develop understanding through the reading and comprehension of short stories, folklore, and newspaper articles. Oral expression manifested in public speaking and debate is also practiced.  Listening skills are emphasized with special attention to the recognition of spoken words and expressions. Enhanced comprehension is an important skill and objective of this course and of the language learning process.

Spanish IV (510)

Prerequisite: B+ average in Spanish III and instructor approval

By employing new technologies as applied to (second) language/culture acquisition, this course covers a variety of linguistic, literary, and cultural topics. In the light of postmodern language teaching and learning theories and methodologies (for example, communicative, functional, and natural approaches), the linguistic area focus is on a revisit of the main grammatical structures and vocabularies covered in previous courses, as well as a more in-depth study, practice, and use of more complex discursive constructions. This will enable the students to expand on their spoken and written repertoires at different levels of both academic/formal and informal/conversational registers. This component is a central part of the course since students are guided through the process of writing both descriptive and analytical essays. With regard to the literary and cultural topics, students will have the opportunity to see, read, discuss, and analyze literature and cultural production (e.g. films) from both Latin America and Spain. A significant approach to the cultural analysis takes into account the comparisons and contrasts of the five C’s (i.e. Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) and the three P’s (i.e. Practices, Products, and Perspectives) between the first language and culture and the target ones. Even though speaking and writing are the two most stressed modes, the other two (listening and reading) continue to be equally emphasized and further developed. 

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.

Special Topics in Spanish: Spanish Culture through Literature, Film, Music, and Visual Arts (529F)

Prerequisite: Spanish III

This course is intended to continue to develop communicative abilities in Spanish, as well as the knowledge of Hispanic and Latin American culture and society through the examination of meaningful contexts such as film, music, and visual arts. Students will be encouraged to go beyond the stereotypical topics associated with the Spanish-speaking world to allow for a more in-depth and sophisticated understanding of these cultures and ultimately enrich their views of the world.

Special Topics in Spanish: Lost in Translation: Variation of Spanish in Conversation (529S)

Prerequisite: Spanish III

Why do Mexicans say frijoles, Venezuelans say caraotas, and Puerto Ricans say habichuelas? Why is it easy for me to understand the Spanish spoken in México, but not the Spanish spoken in Argentina? This course will strengthen students’ listening and communication skills through the study and analysis of the different dialects of Spain, the Caribbean, and South America. Students will learn about the many historical, social, and cultural influences that have shaped Spanish language today, its many variations, and how these dialects and their speakers are depicted in literature, film, television, and music.

Mandarin I (501)

This is a novice to intermediate course in Modern Standard Chinese designed for students who have limited or no previous background in the language. This course adopts different pedagogical approaches to help students acquire basic skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Modern Standard Chinese. While linguistic elements are the focus of this course, cultural information that goes along with language usage is also included in the teaching as well. The emphases in this class are on (a) building vocabulary and sentence patterns in communicative contexts, (b) establishing a solid foundation in pronunciation, and (c) developing awareness of Chinese culture.

Mandarin II (502)

Prerequisite: Mandarin I or permission of the instructor

This is an intermediate course in Modern Standard Chinese designed for students who have basic background in the language. Through thematically organized units, students will expand their vocabulary substantially as well as add new grammar and expressions to their repertoire. By the culmination of the course, students will have attained significantly higher proficiency and fluency in all three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational) in the thematic topics.  Through targeted and controlled practice, students will have ample opportunity to strengthen what they learned previously while integrating new skills for greater meaning. Additionally, students will explore cultural topics as they relate to the themes of the course to build their cultural awareness and achieve global competence. 

Mandarin III (503)

Prerequisite: Mandarin II or permission of the instructor

This is an advanced intermediate course in Modern Standard Chinese designed for students who have a solid background in the language. Students will continue to enlarge their vocabulary and add to grammar repertoire through thematically organized units. This course will use focused practices of all modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational) to help students integrate their linguistic skills and apply them in meaningful situations such as travel, seeing a doctor and renting an apartment. In addition to communicative competence, this course will also seek to build cultural awareness and global competence as related to the thematic units. Students are encouraged to participate in language and cultural activities beyond the classroom to broaden their knowledge and perspective of the Mandarin language and culture.

Mandarin IV (516)

Prerequisite: Mandarin III or permission of the instructor

The primary goal of this course is to help students improve and refine their Mandarin Chinese language skills. Students will gain the ability to create with language based on previously learned materials when they discuss familiar topics such as school life, shopping and dining at a restaurant. In Mandarin Chinese IV, students will continue to learn new Chinese vocabulary and grammar and achieve higher Chinese language proficiency by the end of this course. In each lesson, students will have many opportunities to practice and apply what they have learned through doing pair work with their peers, in-class grammar exercises and presentations. The course aims at improving students’ communication skills in all three modes (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational) and expanding students’ knowledge and awareness of Chinese culture and society. 

Special Topics in Mandarin Chinese: Culture and Society (537F)

In this class, students will continue learning more vocabulary and grammar patterns in Mandarin Chinese at an advanced level. At the same time, a variety of cultural topics will be introduced in class, such as traditional Chinese arts, traditional Chinese holidays, etc. Students will also learn more about modern Chinese society, including how Chinese students balance their work and study life and people's attitudes towards the Internet and technology in China. At the end of the semester, students should have a more in-depth understanding of Chinese culture and society and can compare the differences between China and other countries in certain aspects.

Special Topics in Mandarin Chinese: History and Geography (537S)

In this class, students will continue learning more vocabulary and grammar patterns in Mandarin Chinese at an advanced level. Meanwhile, students will learn more about Chinese history, including some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, major events that happened in the past 2000 years, and some important historical figures in China. Students will also learn more about Chinese ideology, especially Confucianism, and China's education system and education methods. Students will also have a better idea about China's geography, including some basic geographical information and major cities in China. By the end of this class, students should have a better understanding of China from multiple perspectives.

Latin I: Introduction to Latin (504)

This course provides an introduction to classical Latin. Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary are stressed, with a particular emphasis on etymology (word derivation), in an effort to increase the student’s English vocabulary. Familiarity with Latin prefixes and stems/roots will enable the student both to master the Latin vocabulary presented and to gain confidence and comfort in defining and understanding challenging English words. Likewise, through vigorous work on Latin grammar and syntax, the student will solidify his/her abilities in English grammar and usage. The overall aim of this course is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build the skills of translation required for the reading of Latin texts.    

Latin II: Elementary Latin (505)

This course is a continuation of the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary presented in Latin I, with the addition of the subjunctive mood and its myriad uses. The student will make the transition from the translating of Latin contrived to test comprehension of grammatical and syntactical concepts to reading excerpts from Latin authors in the original. The latter half of the course is devoted to intensive translation, as the writings of Livy, Eutropius, and Pliny the Younger are introduced. Students will also have the opportunity to read about the labors of Hercules, the journey of the Argonauts, and more modern texts such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The study of Latin prefixes and stems/roots will be continuously stressed with a view both to appreciating the inter-relatedness of Indo-European languages and to increasing the student’s English vocabulary. 

Latin III: Advanced Latin Grammar (506)

Advanced Latin Grammar is the capstone course in the Classical Latin series. With completion of this course, students will be able to show mastery of all Latin grammar and syntax, present a wide variety of vocabulary, reveal a deep understanding of major events in Roman history, and identify a variety of ways in which the developments of the Romans have impacted modern society. Students will continue to work to read with the highest level of grammatical accuracy and to provide meaningful analyses for each selection.

Latin IV: Prose Literature of the First Century BCE (525F)

Prose Literature of First Century BCE offers an extensive reading and analysis of selected parts of both Caesar’s De Bello Gallico and Cicero's Prima Oratio. Skills of translation, comprehension of content, and mastery of grammatical and syntactical concepts are equally emphasized. The student will read the texts in their entirety in English and selected portions in the original Latin as directed by the Educational Testing Service. Through the intensive study of Latin prose literature, the student will develop an understanding of prosody, rhetorical devices, and figures of speech. Further, the student will encounter the difficulties inherent in translating a text into grammatically accurate English while remaining true to the original Latin.  The goal of this course is to help students’ achieve the skills and confidence necessary to produce polished English translations.

Latin IV: Poetry of the First Century BCE (525S)

Poetry of the First Century BCE provides an intensive and in-depth reading and analysis of selected parts of Vergil’s Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses. Skills of translation, comprehension of content, and mastery of grammatical and syntactical concepts are equally emphasized. The student will read the texts in their entirety in English and selected portions in the original Latin. Through the intensive study of Latin poetry and prose literature, the student will develop an understanding of prosody, rhetorical devices, and figures of speech. Further, the student will encounter the difficulties inherent in translating a text into grammatically accurate English while remaining true to the original Latin.  The goal of this course is to help students’ achieve the skills and confidence necessary to produce polished English translations.

Upon the completion of this course, students may elect to take the corresponding College Board standardized test.  

Special Topics in Classics: Bioscientific Latin (526S)

Prerequisite:  Latin III

Discover the origins of our modern medical and surgical practices, curatives and treatments, and a variety of physical and non-physical methods for curing common human ailments. Students will read and analyze a variety of pieces of literature relating to ancient medical practices. Students will research ancient and modern afflictions. Students will also analyze and identify current afflictions and curatives based upon their acquired knowledge of Greco-Roman medical terms. Authors will include: Hippocrates, Pliny the Elder, Vesalius, Diosciordes, and Galen.
Anatomical Illustration (656F)

Anatomy Illustration is an art class designed around understanding the functionality of the human muscular system. Students will engage in anatomical studies, sketchbook illustrations and life drawing. Ideal art class for pre-med and biology track students.

Anatomical Illustration II (662S)

Prerequisite: Anatomical Illustration

Anatomy Illustration II is an art class designed around continuing a student’s understanding the functionality of the human muscular system. Students will execute painted anatomical studies and figure sculptures from nude life models. Ideal art class for pre-med and biology track students. 

Coding as Art I (604F/604S)

Coding as Art is a course that introduces students to computer programming basics (functions, variables, loops, Boolean logic) and visual design through the creation of interactive visual media. You will learn how to code in the Processing language (built upon the Java programming language) to produce interactive animations, patterns and graphics. This course will be particularly fun for students who enjoy math, logic, physics, and/or visual design.

This course satisfies one semester credit towards the fine arts graduation requirement.

Coding as Art II (653S)

Prerequisite: Coding as Art I

Coding as Art II builds on knowledge from Coding as Art I and is open to advanced students with applied programming experience. This course will focus on deeper techniques within the field of "generative art,” an arts practice using generative design, where the computer becomes a core partner in art-making. Generative design is a design method that uses algorithms, or sets of rules, to produce collections of similar output rather than fixed, identical outcomes. Generatively designed graphics are common in high-definition video games and Hollywood films and include, but are not limited to, naturalistic scenery (clouds, ocean), flocking birds, and crowd simulations. Students taking this course will have a culminating project and/or presentation open to the public. This course satisfies one semester credit towards the fine arts graduation requirement.
Digital Filmmaking I, II, III (608F/650F/663F)

In an increasingly video-oriented world, students need not only to be aware of what makes a film or video work, but also have the ability to make videos themselves.  In this class we examine film, video, Internet videos, and similar media to gain an understanding of how this very influential medium works.  Then the students write, storyboard, shoot, and edit their own short films.  Students in Digital Filmmaking II take on a leadership role, writing, directing, and facilitating the larger projects for the first-level students.

Digital Performance (686F)

Prerequisites: Physical Computing, Coding as Art, Sculpture I, or Sound Design I

This course introduces students to a wide range of performance art forms including everyday life, online live-streams, folk forms, experimental dance and intermedia experiences. As contemporary art practices fluidly move between physical materials and digital methods, this class will address the intersection between immersive, performative, interactive, screen/camera/code and other material disciplines to explore critical/theoretical issues, the history of performance art and the development of collaborative performance works. Creative technologies are blurring the boundaries between human bodies and computational tools--mobile computing, omnipresent ‘cloud’ data and other emerging concepts are combining students’ physical and virtual worlds. Through both performance-making and the coding of interactive tools, this class will engage the generative creation of hybrid experiences and environments to critically examine the representation of the body, space, and time in our multimedia era. 

Drawing I (654F/654S)

This course introduces the analytical tenants of drawing by looking at life sources ranging from still life objects to building interiors. More specifically, we will examine composition, proportion, and mark-making, which characterize drawing as a kind of language that anyone can learn. This course comes highly recommended as a first course to take in the visual arts realm since both painting and sculpture often require these same skill sets.

Drawing II (655S)

Prerequisite: Drawing I or Anatomical Illustration

Drawing II is an opportunity for students to apply drawing techniques with much greater creative freedom, assuming that basic understanding of composition, proportion, and mark-making is already well established. Students can expect more open-ended prompts with opportunities to explore new materials such as colored pencil, or even unconventional mark-making strategies like fingerprints. Self-expression and communication with the wider world characterize Drawing II.

Experimental Materials I (603S)

Prerequisite: Any introductory art course or approval of instructor

Experimental Materials explores unconventional objects such as dental flossers, discarded balloons, and packing peanuts as a gateway to creativity. This course is much less centered around specific techniques as compared to other introductory art courses (like Drawing I) and more heavily geared toward brainstorming and reflection strategies characteristic of the artistic process more broadly. A great deal of discussion centers around what helps define a piece of art, such as emotional saturation or intellectual challenge.

Experimental Materials II (664F)

Prerequisite: Experimental Materials

Experimental Materials II builds on knowledge and experience of non-traditional media from Experimental Materials I. This course will focus on student-driven long-term projects that can rage from a large installation to a series of thematic pieces. As with any art course, students should expect to write about and discuss personal decision making with their peers.

Graphic Design Intro (625F/625S)

Graphic Design I introduces students to graphic design as a form of visual communication through the use of type, image, form, and color.  Projects will explore ideas of branding, themes, visual identity, integrity (brand, logo), and communication.

Graphic Design II&III: Storytelling for Gamers, Comics, and Kids' Books (642S/615S)

Prerequisite: Drawing I, Graphic Design I, or Graphic Design II.

Storytelling is a class structured as a continuation of Graphic Design and/or drawing. Students will reference visual media such as comic books, comic strips, video games, children’s books, and storyboards to create their own original stories.  

Jewelry and Metalsmithing (602S)

Prerequisite: Sculpture I

From the dawn of human civilization, the mystery and allure of fashioning metal ore into precious objects has captivated humanity. This is a class designed to teach students the fundamentals of designing and fabricating jewelry and small-scale metal art pieces.  Students will learn the materials and processes of product design and planning, soldering, laser engraving, CAD, 3-D printing and small metal casting.

Painting I (678F)

Painting I introduces the fundamentals of color mixing and paint application to students who need not have a background in drawing. The course begins with a series of color collage exercises geared towards understanding color properties and relationships. As the semester progresses, students can expect to attain increasing color-mixing fluency and freedom to explore a number of painting styles depending on personal interest and level of drawing proficiency.  

Painting II (678S)

Prerequisite: Painting I and either Drawing I or Anatomical Illustration I

Painting II offers a quick review of techniques used to attain realism with increasing freedom for students to explore more creative stylistic possibilities as the semester progresses. Students will first render a still life of their choosing to construct the foundations of a technical portfolio before shifting toward more experimental or stylistic preferences.

Painting III (621S)

Painting III offers a platform for students to continue with independent painting work with the added  benefits of working among a small group of peers. Critiques and discussions can persist to help cultivate a supportive, team-like work atmosphere. Students who take this course should be highly self-motivated and harbor an interest in pushing themselves technically and conceptually to pioneer new ground. 

Physical Computing (613F)

Physical computing is an exploration of the design and fabrication of creative technologies that use a mix of software and hardware to sense and respond to the surrounding world. This course introduces students to microcontroller programming, beginner electronics/code, and interactivity in the fine arts, with emphasis on Arduinos and computer vision. Physical computing is a project-based course that uses weekly hands-on labs, art prompts and readings to help students gain technical proficiency in conceiving, designing and developing their own art projects. 

Printmaking (679F)

Prerequisite: Drawing I or Anatomical Illustration

This course introduces students to historical printmaking methods used to transmit ideas through writing and imagery. It goes a step beyond drawing to investigate ways of reproducing an image using three-dimensional materials like metal and wood. The course begins with relief printing techniques (wood cuts) as used by the Japanese in the 8th century, and moves into European intaglio practices (acid etching), introduced in the 1400s. Students will predominantly produce hands-on projects with some discussion about how these inventions have shaped the culture we live in today—a world in which we take for granted accessible, transportable information.  

Sculpture I: Basic Techniques (631F)

Sculpture I introduces the students to the fundamentals of 3-dimensional art.  Students learn the basics of wood and metal construction, cold connections, hand building, mold making, composition in a 3-dimensional space, color, and content.  This is an excellent art class for those pursuing engineering and those interested in applied physics and chemistry.

Sculpture II and III (626S/627S)

Prerequisite: Sculpture I

Students advance their knowledge of traditional sculptural media (wood, metal, etc.) as well as cutting edge materials.  This course is student-driven in that they are encouraged to pursue their own specific interests and ideas through the lens of the Experimentation. This is an excellent art class for those pursuing engineering and those interested in applied physics and chemistry.

Sound Design I (641F/641S)

Sound Design is a course that introduces you to the basics of sound editing, studio recording, and working with digital audio. This course emphasizes listening, observation, collaboration, and analysis of sound and music you listen to. We will learn how to use and manage audio gear and both free and industry-standard audio software. We will also spend time understanding the phenomena of sound itself - how the ear works, how sound works in the physical world, and the ways sounds can change how we perceive our world.  

This course satisfies one semester credit towards the fine arts graduation requirement.

Sound Design II (652S)

Prerequisite: Sound Design I or instructor approval

Sound Design II builds on knowledge from Sound Design I and is also open to advanced students with previous audio experience. This course will focus on interactive sound–that is, sound/music created or manipulated for live performance. Students will learn how to set up and manage live audio for a performance with vocals, backing tracks, and acoustic and/or electronic instruments. All students taking this course will have 2-3 performances open to the public.

This course satisfies one semester credit towards the fine arts graduation requirement.

Sound Design III (685S)

Sound Design III builds on techniques and aesthetic development in audio, music production and live performance from Sound Design I & II. Students enrolled in this course will develop concrete goals and a schedule tailored to their specific interests and/or portfolio. Examples of possible student work include, but are not limited to: album mixing and mastering, emphasis on songwriting and live performance, developing a soundtrack for a movie or video game concept, a sound art installation.

This course satisfies one semester credit towards the fine arts graduation requirement.

Chamber Ensemble (803F/803S)

Chamber Ensemble is designed to provide students with a performance opportunity to study small group ensemble music. Various ensembles will be formed using the availability of string, woodwind, and piano students. Ensembles may include a string quartet, string trio, or any combination of instruments that fit within the students playing scope. Pianists may participate in Chamber Ensemble based on the availability of other instrumentalists to form piano-based ensembles. Students will continue their musical development in instrumental technique, music reading and comprehension skills, musicianship, style, critical thinking skills, and exposure to a variety of chamber music literature. This literature will include musical styles from Baroque to the Contemporary. Music theory is also studied at the level student is ready for. Grades are based upon teacher evaluations of playing tests, Smart Music, and written exams. Festivals, concerts, and off-campus performances are a part of this course. This may be taken as a full-year course (preferred), but may also be taken in either the fall or spring semester.

Vocal Ensemble (840F/840S)

Vocal Ensemble is open to students interested in singing and being part of both solo and group singing experiences. Students will work on developing healthy singing techniques, sight singing and ear training exercises, listen to and discuss great singers, performers, and composers, and study a variety of musical genres from classical to musical theater to pop and more. There will be opportunities for solos, duets, and small ensemble singing, both in class and in performance. Participation in performances and festivals is part of this course. Semester or full-year course.

Auditioning (837S)

Prerequisite: Musical Theatre Workshop or Scene Study

A distinctly different skill-set than performing, auditioning is the process that allows the performing artist to perform. The students will learn and hone the skills that allow performers to excel in the limited time frame of the audition format. The students will also learn the distinct demands required of different audition formats - legitimate theatre, musical theatre, as well as dance and film. We will research, select and edit audition material that is appropriate for different audition situations, as well as for the individual performer. We will then use that research to compile a personal audition catalogue that can be used for a variety of audition situations, including for the professional and university level. Finally, we will learn the skills and techniques that performers need to adapt to the myriad of situations that can arise in the audition process.
Directing (812S)

Prerequisite:  Minimum of 3 semesters of Theatre Arts and Scene Study, or permission of instructor.

Designed for students with previous experience in theatre classes and/or productions, instruction will include directing techniques and methods. This course will give students hands-on experience with directing other students in scene work, and an extra-curricular one-act play to be performed at Arts Walk.

Improvisation (809F)

Prerequisite: Scene Study or permission of instructor

The art of Improvisation will challenge advanced students in the skills and mental quickness needed for a variety of Improvisational exercises and performance scenarios. Building on the improvisation techniques taught in Scene Study and in Theatre Arts, this class is for students who excelled in other classes. Mastery and tremendous confidence is required as public performance is a goal of this class.

Musical Theater Dance (838F/838S)

This course is designed to give students a solid foundation in dance vocabulary and movement that will prepare them for the demands of dance in musical theatre. Students will learn the movement to go with the music from the greatest shows in musical theatre history. From High Button Shoes to Hamilton, we will cover the diverse array of choreographic styles that encompass the theatrical landscape. Everything from warm-ups to dance technique to the works of the great choreographers are included in this fun and lively class.

Musical Theater Workshop (837F)

Prerequisite: Musical Theatre Dance or Vocal Ensemble

Musical Theatre Workshop is a class that explores the process of creating musical theatre. Utilizing some of the great songs of American Musical Theatre, we will explore the entire process of staging a musical performance - from vocal memorization and harmonies to staging and choreography; as well as the dramatic action, underlying themes and artistic styles that affect the choices made in the creative process. We will also look at the production history and creative artists involved in the developing the original productions from which are songs are chosen.
Scene Study (811F/811S)

Prerequisite: Theatre Arts or permission of instructor

Scenes and monologues will be analyzed and performed by students. The process of scene development, text analysis, characterization, and acting techniques will be emphasized. Performances will be rehearsed, presented, critiqued, and performed again after further rehearsal. Critical skills of communication and artistic expression increase as students work through the processes of understanding the text of scenes, and presenting the performances of the scenes. Character development and scene analysis challenge our understanding of human nature in our society as well as human nature in our individual self. These skills and study methods are applicable in all aspects of life, reaching well beyond the craft of acting.

Stagecraft (813F/813S)

Stagecraft is a hands-on class. We will explore various aspects of technical theatre with an emphasis on set construction and design. Students will learn basic skills of building, proper use of tools, and safety and cleanup dos and don’ts, and will be the central force in creating and eliminating the sets and props for the school productions. Students may repeat for credit.

Stagecraft II (830F/830S)

Prerequisite: Stagecraft

In this advanced-level class, students will focus on applying their Stagecraft skills to designing and implementing full production designs.  Students will pick a specialized role, such as set designer, costume designer, lighting designer, scenic artist, technical director, etc., and work together to make their designs come to life.  

Theatre Arts (807F/807S)

This course is strongly recommended as a prerequisite for other theatre courses. This course may be taken for one semester or a full year.

Students will experience various aspects of theatre with an emphasis on stage performance through the rehearsal and performance of monologues and scenes. Exercises will include improvisation, public speaking, voice, movement, and character development. An in-class study of the play The Elephant Man culminates with a student designed Stage Manager's Prompt book of set and costume design, technical cues, casting and rehearsal schedules, giving students a hands on experience with elements of theatre production.  

Jazz, World, and Popular Music Ensemble (818F/818S)

The musically creative and syncretic dispositions common to jazz musicians form the foundations of the Jazz, World, and Popular Music Ensemble. Nonetheless, the course embraces music as a continually evolving phenomenon and as such, provides opportunities for students to explore musical styles beyond the jazz canon. Course participants will have ample opportunities to work in smaller, peer-led ensemble configurations and the whole class may perform together in public as the PCDS "40th Street Band" -- an ensemble that intentionally avoids naming itself after a specific musical genre. As students explore the musical worlds that surround them, the course provides opportunities to learn and play musical instruments, explore songwriting/composition, and/or discover various aspects of music production. While the ensemble is fundamentally designed for students with prior musical experience, with instructor approval, beginners can be accommodated in a variety of ways.

Language and Logic through Math and English (709S)
In this hands-on, cross-disciplinary math/English course, students will learn about and manipulate logic, patterns, encryption, and rules as they explore and create language and numerical puzzles, ciphers, and codes. We will begin with some of the most famous poly-alphabetic encryptions in history, such as Julius Caesar’s shift/substitution cipher and the Jefferson-Lewis cipher. From there, we will combine STEM concepts including combinatorics, sequencing and series, looping, probability, algorithms, conditional logic, and game theory with concepts drawn from the field of linguistics: phonology (the sound patterns of language), morphology (words), expressions (syntax) and meaning (semantics). Students will strengthen their critical-thinking, abstract-reasoning, and metacognitive skills in both content domains by completing puzzles and reflecting on their work, both alone and in collaboration with other students. Students will create original puzzles, ciphers, and codes to reflect their learning. At the end of the semester, students enrolled in the course will work as a team to create a fully immersive escape-room experience for the student and faculty body at PCDS. Students must have completed Algebra II in order to enroll in this course.
Humanities Laboratory: Introduction to Arts-Based Research Practices (702)

Research begins with curiosity—we wonder about things: how they work, what they
mean, how they come to be as they are—and research methods guide our inquiry
and structure our findings so that what we discover can be available for other
thinkers to engage, debate, and build upon. In this year-long senior elective, we
begin by discovering curiosities, surveying the field of what is already known, and
synthesizing our exploration into research questions. We will then explore various
arts-based research practices, both as a means of inquiring and as a way to share our
discoveries. Along the way, we will consider the ethical implications of research
broadly, and the affordances and limitations of arts-based methods in particular.

In spring term, each scholar will design and complete an inquiry project, working through the steps of the research process in conversation with colleagues. These capstone projects will be shared in some form with the community both inside and outside of PCDS.

The Real World

Freshman Requirement

The Real World is a required course for freshmen that deals with challenging issues that students are likely to encounter, directly or indirectly, in their personal lives.  Each class section meets once per rotation to discuss strategies for handling these challenges in healthy and effective ways.   The goal for the class is to cultivate empathetic people that care about each other and the world around them by teaching core socio-emotional learning skills including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. The course does not involve any graded work or outside of class assignments.

College Counseling

Junior small groups meet once a rotation and facilitate teaching students about all aspects of the college search, helping the students consider their values and priorities in identifying “good fit” schools, as well as providing an opportunity for the College Counseling team to get to know the students personally.  Topics include, but are not limited to:  knowing self, standardized testing, using Naviance as a research tool, understanding the components of an application and the selective admission process, making the most of college visits, essay writing, creating activity resumes, choosing teacher recommenders, and navigating the Common Application.  Emphasis is placed on the students taking ownership of their search and learning to be strong self-advocates.  
Senior small groups meet once a rotation with an emphasis on finalizing an appropriate college apply list; helping students brainstorm, edit, and refine their colleges essays and supplements; running mock interviews; and completing all aspects of the college application process with the support of the PCDS College Counseling team.