Frequently Asked Questions

Scroll down to find answers about these courses or programs:

Anthropology             Environmental Studies               Psychology
Art History                  History
Biology                       Philosophy  
Chemistry                  Physics                                          Spanish
Computer Sci            Political Science                          Theatre

Do anthropology courses satisfy Sewanee's general education requirement in the social sciences?

Yes, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 104), Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (ANTH 106), and Human Evolution and Variation (ANTH 107) all satisfy this requirement.

Are some anthropology courses better for first-year students than others?

Normally, the first anthropology course taken by a student is one of the courses listed above. Some upper-division courses do not have pre-requisites, however, and may be taken by first-year students. Check first with the Chair of the Department, Richard Summers, if you want to enroll in an upper division course.

What if I want to major in anthropology?

All majors are required to take 104 and either 106, 107 or 202, and five electives in addition to a course in field methods, a junior tutorial and a course in theory.

Art History

Do art history courses satisfy Sewanee's general education requirement in the arts?

Yes, any art history course will satisfy this requirement.

Are some art history courses better for first-year students than others?

Normally, the first art history course taken by a student is one of the introductory courses: ArtH103 (Survey of Western Art I); ArtH104 (Survey of Western Art II); ArtH212 (American Animation) or ArtH204 (History of Architecture). In addition, some upper-division courses do not have pre-requisites and may be taken by first-year students.

What if I want to major in art history?

Students planning to major in art history usually begin by taking both ArtH 103 and ArtH 103: the two halves of the year-long Survey of Western Art. Then students move on to take upper-division courses.

What if I took AP art history in high school? Do I still need to take the survey courses?

If you received a 5 on the AP art history exam, you may enroll in upper-division courses without the survey. Just contact the professor of the course in which you wish to enroll.


 I’m considering Biology as a major. What courses should I take during my freshman year?

If you are interested in majoring in Biology, we recommend that you try to take at least one introductory biology class (Biol. 130 or 133) your freshman year.  You should also consider taking chemistry.

What is the difference between Biology 130 and Biology 133?

Biology 130 is an introduction to evolution, ecology and biodiversity while Biology 133 is an introduction to cellular, molecular, and physiological biology. Note: if you have not taken much chemistry in high school, you may want to take Chem 101, then Biol 133.

Do I have to take Biol 130 before Biol 133?

No. You may take Biology 133 and Biology 130 in any sequence.  Both classes are offered every semester.

 I have taken AP Biology.  Can I skip Biol 130 and 133 and go on to upper division classes?

We strongly recommend that you do not do this. The lecture and lab in both classes will take you beyond AP biology. In our experience, even students with 5 on the AP exam benefit from taking Biol 130 and 133. Some of the material will be familiar, but that helps you move on to the deeper material and may also help your GPA.


Who should take one of the introductory chemistry courses?

Most physical and life science programs have an expectation of at least one year of chemistry and students interested in a career in one of these areas should consider beginning chemistry in their first semester. Students interested in a health professions career such as medicine or veterinary medicine will also need to take organic chemistry no later than their junior year. Since organic chemistry requires general chemistry as a prerequisite, an early start in chemistry will give students the maximum scheduling flexibility in the sophomore and junior years.

If you are considering a major in chemistry, biochemistry or the environmental chemistry option in environmental studies, you should take a general chemistry course your first semester at Sewanee. Also see below for more information

Which introductory course, Chemistry 101 (General Chemistry I) or Chemistry 111  should I take?

Both Chemistry 101 and Chemistry 111 are good entry points to the chemistry curriculum. General Chemistry  (101) is a traditional first course in terms of the topics that are covered. Topics related to environmental or biomedical issues are used to illustrate concepts .

Chemistry 111,  Advanced General Chemistry, is an introduction to the fundamental chemical concepts with emphasis on problem solving, conceptual understanding and analytical reasoning.  The course is intended as a one-semester alternative to the one-year general chemistry sequence for students with significant previous background in chemistry. The department will be sending letters to students that we identify as potential candidates for this course.  If you do not receive such a letter, but you have an interest in the course or questions about the course, please feel free to contact one of the instructors for the course, Dr. Rob Bachman ( or Dr. John Shibata (

Students who have good math skills and a strong preparation in chemistry, such as two years of chemistry in high school, may wish to consult with Dr. John Shibata (, the chair of chemistry, about advanced placement.

What do I need to know if I am considering a major in chemistry, biochemistry or the environmental chemistry option in environmental studies?

If you are considering one of these majors, please consult the catalog for the requirements for these majors.
Chemistry major (,
Biochemistry ( or
Environmental Chemistry (

You should also consult the Department’s recommendations about scheduling classes: Paths to the Major.

For more information about the department, its programs and the people please visit the department’s web page.
If you have any questions about our programs or courses, please feel free to contact the chair of the department, John Shibata at 931-598-1569 (or by email:
Computer Science

What courses should I enroll in during my first semester at Sewanee if I want to major/minor? Or be a computer engineer? 

We strongly recommend Computer Science 157 and Math 101 or higher. Your remaining two courses would typically include a foreign language and an individual course of your choice in English, History, etc.

What if I already do/don't know how to program? Where should I start? 

If you already have some experience in Computer Science, contact the Computer Science Program Director, Professor Dale (931-598-1814, Woods 130), to discuss placement. In the past, students with a strong prior background have been placed in Computer Science 257 - Data Structures.

But, even more importantly, if you haven't yet experienced Computer Science and you like thinking logically, try out a course and see if you like it. You should start with the course CSCI 157, Introduction to Programming.

Why start with CSCI 157 - "Introduction to Programming"?

Reasons Programming is Fun -- some quotes:

    • Because it's a combination of intelligent and creative work.
    • The benefit that it brings to users in making their lives easier.
    • The fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts.
    • Being some kind of nerdy superhero.
    • Nearly instant gratification.
    • The pride of seeing my work used by other people.
    • The thing about it that really hooks me is taking a machine that was designed for no purpose in particular and making it do anything I want.
What if I want to know more about computers and computer science but am not ready to take the plunge into programming?

Try CSCI 101 - Introduction to Computer Science.

This course is an introductory survey of computer science designed for liberal arts students. Here you will learn more about how computers work as well as what kinds of problems they are used to solve.

Where do I go if I still have more questions about Computer Science?

We're glad you asked! Visit our webpages  Computer Science - Frequently Asked Questions  and/or contact the Computer Science Program Director, Professor Dale (931-598-1814, Woods 130) who will be happy to answer your questions and discuss our classes and program with you.

Environmental Studies

Does ENST 100 (Walking the Land) or ENST 200 (Introduction to  Environmental Studies) fulfill a distribution requirement?

No, but both are wonderful introductions to aspects of Environmental Studies, and ENST 200 is required of all those who choose to major in Environmental Studies.

History 100

Must all students take History 100?

Yes, unless they are enrolled in the four-semester Humanities program.

Are all sections of History 100 the same? 

No.  See the descriptions listed here. The content of each section is different, reflecting  the interest and expertise of the instructor, but all History 100 sections are built around common learning goals: 1. Understand historically significant events or processes; 2. Analyze and use primary and secondary sources of historical knowledge; and 3. Develop a historical argument.

Can I take two sections of History 100?

No, college and department requirements are that each student should take no more than one History 100 course during his or her time at Sewanee.


Which philosophy course should I take?

Any of the 100-or 200-level courses are appropriate for freshmen. 200-level courses tend to be somewhat more specialized and are appropriate for freshmen who have a special interest in the topic. Philosophy 201, Logic, while appropriate for freshmen, does not satisfy the general degree requirement in Philosophy and Religion.


What is the difference between Phys 101-102 vs. Phys 103-104 sequences?

The Phys 103-104 Introductory Physics two-semester sequence is specifically designed for those students interested in Physics/Engineering, and is mostly restricted to freshmen only.
The Phys 101-102 Introductory Physics two-semester sequence is our service course offering designed for those students (usually upperclassmen) that need one or both semesters of Physics to satisfy a requirement in their own major or program, or need to enroll in a lab-science course.

If I want to be an engineer what courses should I enroll in during my first semester at Sewanee?

We strongly recommend Physics 103, Math 101 or higher, a foreign language, and a humanities course (as a starting point for the four-semester humanities sequence) or an individual course of your interest in English, History, etc.

I have high school AP credits in Physics. Can I skip the intro sequence courses?

The general answer is NO. The coursework and lab experience is usually completely different and will put you at a disadvantage in later courses. However, in a few selected cases, we have allowed freshmen with very strong physics backgrounds to enroll in upper level courses. Please contact the department chair if you believe you belong in such an elite group.

Can I minor in Physics? How about Astronomy?

We offer two major programs in Physics:  "intensive" (for students interested in graduate school in physics or engineering) and  "broad"  (for students interested in other professions such as medicine, dentistry, teaching, patent law, architecture, etc.). We do offer a minor in Astronomy.

What do Sewanee physics majors usually do after graduation?

Most seniors would go to graduate school in Physics or Engineering. Others go into medicine, dentistry, law, business, economics, etc.

Can I double major in physics and...?

YES. Physics is a demanding major but strong students are able to double major. The most popular choices are Physics/Math and Physics/Computer Science.

Can I be pre-med and physics major?

Definitely YES. Pre-med students at Sewanee major in a wide variety of areas, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Art, Philosophy, Anthropology, etc.

Political Science

Which political science courses satisfy the social science general education requirement?

With the exception of 400-level seminars, most political science courses satisfy the social science general education requirement.

Which courses do most students take first in political science?

Political science offers courses in four subfields (comparative politics, world politics, American politics, and political theory), and any of the 100-level introductory courses in those sub-fields are appropriate for new students.  "Political Science 103:  Comparative Politics" is the only course required for all majors, so it may be of particular interest to those students who are considering majoring in the field.  Students are discouraged from taking more than two introductory courses in political science, and those students who have received AP credit in American government are encouraged to begin with an upper division course in that sub-field.


As a first-year student interested in psychology, what courses can I take?

Most first-year students should begin with Psychology 100, an introductory course with a laboratory.

What if I took AP psychology in high school?

If you received a 4 or a 5 on the AP Psychology exam, you should enroll in a 200-level Psychology course. You cannot receive credit for both AP Psychology and Psychology 100.

Do psychology courses meet any of Sewanee’s general education requirements?

Psychology 100 satisfies the lab science portion of the natural sciences requirement, as do Psychology 255 (Neuropsychology), Psychology 353 (Animal Behavior), and Psychology 357 (Child Development).

Most 200-level Psychology courses (excluding Psychology 206 Industrial Psychology and Psychology 250 Anxiety and Treatment Methods) satisfy the non-lab science portion of the natural sciences requirement.


Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail with additional questions. Dr. Helen Bateman is the Department Chair and can be reached at or 931-598-1712.



Do I need to take the placement exam?

Yes. Every incoming freshman is required to take the placement exam.   You will have acquired different levels of proficiency in a foreign language; taking the placement exam allows us to place you in the class that fits best your level within the Sewanee system.

What happens if I don’t take the placement exam?

You will not be able to register for any classes.

Must I take a foreign language during my first semester on campus?

If you place in a foreign language in a 100-level it is very advisable to take courses during your first semester because you will need to take two years (four semesters) of that foreign language. If you place at  the 200 or 300 level, it is also wise to take your language course(s) right away because languages are easy to forget if not used.

 May I retake the placement exam as many times as I wish?

Yes, you can take the placement exam as many times as you wish. Your best score will be used to calculate your placement.

If I place into SPAN 300, must I take 300 or can I take another 300-level course?

You may take any 300-level course that doesn’t have a prerequisite.

What happens if I studied Spanish in high school but now I want to take a different language?

Our advice is first to take the placement exam in Spanish; second, also fill in the survey (placement) in the language you would like to take.

Do I have to take a foreign language if I got a 5 in my AP Spanish exam?

Yes. You will receive credit towards graduation for AP scores of 4 and 5, but they do not fulfill the language requirement.  If  you have a score this high, however, you will probably score high on the placement exam and be able to complete the requirement with only one course.  That course may be at an advanced level.

How many language classes do I need to take to fulfill the language requirement?

That depends on how well you do on the placement exam.  The better you do, the fewer you need to take.  The requirement is a 300-level class. You might place directly into that level, and you would complete the requirement in only one semester. However, if you place in 103, you will be required to take four semesters of a foreign language.


I am interested in theatre.  Where do I start?

Students with an interest in performance should consider Theatre 103:  Playing Shakespeare, School to Stage, and those students with an interest in technical theatre should consider Theatre 111:  Elements of Production.