Your four years at UCLA, no matter the major, prove some of the best and most challenging. However, creating a new schedule can be difficult, even intimidating, especially if you’re a freshman. It’s hard to know what you’re getting into, and which professors encourage the most from their students. Bruinwalk may seem like the best website for all the salacious details on your classes and their professors, but if you’re in need of recommendations, make sure you add these 10 classes to your list for this fall.
Read on for the top 10 classes at University of California, Los Angeles!
10. English 150C—Topics in Shakespeare: Resourceful Shakespeare: Origins, Analogs, and Offshoots
Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those non-English majors who hoped to never see him again after high school. However, if you find yourself interested in learning more about the inspirations and origins of Shakespearean literature—or if you’re just really into Shakespearean insults—this sounds like the class for you.
“Professor Little makes the class really engaging even through the virtual platform. His lectures framed Shakespeare from a perspective I hadn’t considered before taking the class,” UCLA senior Laura Carter said.
Luckily, students can enjoy Little’s class while on campus. The in-person setting gives them a chance to truly connect with the material. Compare the literary tropes and language that appear in works such as Ovid’s Amores and Romeo and Juliet or examine romantic comedy spin-offs, like She’s the Man.
9. Geography 5— People and Earth’s Ecosystem
A fascinating look into the impact of human life on Earth’s ecosystems, this General Education course ranks highly on the list of recommendations due to its material. Not to mention the amazing Professor Gillespie, who teaches the course.
“I took this class my freshman year and I was so ready for it to be another boring seminar, but Professor Gillespie is the best professor I’ve ever had. He’s so funny, he makes the material engaging and you can really tell that he cares a lot about his students,” UCLA junior Sandra Mendez said.
Learn about climate and the politics surrounding issues such as the sugar cane fields in Cuba or the environmental impact humans have had on endangered species. This class offers a foundational introduction to issues of import to which UCLA is particularly interested in and as students we must attempt to educate ourselves.
8. Education M135— Environmental Justice through Lens of Media and Education
This course explores the complicated relationship between the political and the social. Students critically examine ways information has been shaped, audiences positioned and movements manipulated to promote commercial interests over public good.
“Professor Share has a unique ability to place pressure on movements or political affiliations that one might have and challenge them. You also learn so much about how our political system has shaped the rhetoric surrounding the environment. I highly recommend this class to anyone looking to grow and learn more about themselves, the environment and standing up for what you believe in,” UCLA junior Jess Alvarez said.
Ever found yourself wondering why some issues, like veganism, receive so much press whereas the environmental impact of corporations is rarely put into question? This class allows students to take a deep dive into issues that affect them while considering how our culture influences the way we think about it.
7. Classics 42— Cinema and Ancient World
Do you love Greek mythology and action-packed movies? Professor Martelli’s class explores the ancient world of Greek and Roman history through present depictions of media and cinema. Satisfy your Arts and Humanities GE requirement in a course that you won’t forget.
The subject of the materials, such as the movie or literature in question, differs with each iteration of the course, ensuring that the material is always fresh and interesting for students. This is the closest you’ll get to Camp Half-Blood while at UCLA.
6. English 157— Translation and Innovation in English Renaissance and Early Modern Period: Ancient Foundations of Modernity: Renaissance Translations from Classics
Though this list heavily favors liberal arts and English courses, Professor Shuger’s Classic Literature course remains one every student needs to take. Dive into the first English translations of works from Hesiod, Xenophon, Ovid and so many others.
Learn about the foundational works of literature to which so many authors have drawn upon for centuries. While this class is a must for every English major, the material and the exceptional professor offer something for everyone.
5. Labor Studies M166A— Immigrant Rights, Labor and Higher Education
Understanding the diverse background of the U.S. and Los Angeles in particular can lead you down some complicated avenues of political and social contention. The course looks at present immigrant rights movements, with particular attention to labor and higher education. A special emphasis focuses on the issue of immigrant students in higher education, challenges facing undocumented immigrant students and legislative and policy issues that have emerged over the last century.
“As a first gen student, this class was especially significant to me. Some of my family is undocumented, I know the struggle and stress that comes with it. This class provided a creative outlet, but also a means of informing ourselves and others of the struggles faced by students at UCLA and throughout the nation,” UCLA junior Edwin Sanchez said.
Many undocumented students throughout the nation face incredible challenges as they attempt to break barriers. UCLA does much to support its students with such a background by giving voice and recognition to its students through courses, such as Labor Studies M166A, and scholarship or clubs. When learning about the struggles of one’s peers and exploring their art, one is reminded of the importance of higher education as a means of expressing oneself and of honing one’s empathy.
4. Iranian M105A— Baha’i Faith in Iran: Historical and Sociological Survey
There are 19 months in the year, each lasting only 19 days (with a few special holidays). It sounds strange, but this is a system of calendric time determined to be the most holy by the Baha’i prophet because 19, in all its randomness, always leads back to God. Taught by Professor Nader Saiedi, this class allowed for a truly stupendous learning experience, broadening my understanding of the religious and philosophical challenges of the Baha’i faith. Additionally, the political and historical consequences of the control of the Islamic ulama within the country give perspective to the rise of the Bab and the success of his movement.
Professor Saiedi, a formative source on Iranian theology and peace studies, creates an engaging and welcoming classroom setting to which all students feel compelled. His knowledge and breadth on the subject and his emphasis on the need for peace and love give the class a unique narrative. Students will leave having enriched their own personal lives and understanding of religious philosophy, particularly in the backdrop of self-love and the need to accept others.
3. Gender Studies 141—Gender, Culture and Capitalism
I don’t know about you, but I grew up playing with dolls (which I did enjoy decapitating as well) rather than Legos, and Barbie movies were more my jam than Ben Ten or Power Rangers. Gender Studies 141 intensely examines the relationship between present capitalist culture and its role in perpetuating binary gender roles. Through active analysis of advertisements, television serials, Disney fairy tales and performative forms like fortune telling, students will investigate the profitability of forms of media.
“This class isn’t for the faint of heart. Or for business majors for that matter. It prompts us to think very critically about the world we live in, and I think everyone needs that, but some people aren’t really ready for that,” UCLA senior Tiffany Nguyen said. “It’s difficult to imagine that so much of your identity is a product of advertising or stories that were marketed to you as children. Gender is a big part in defining who we are in this society but in order to break that, we need to learn about why that is the case in the first place. Take this class. Even if you’re a business major.”
Like all departments at UCLA, the professors within the gender studies are some of the most prolific and knowledgeable (sorry USC). Professor Korkman is no exception; she uses her expertise in the subject to dive deeply into pop-culture and the economic motives of marketing gender within popular forms of media.
2. Communications 106— Reporting America
America is the land of the free! Except, of course, when they’re suppressing the rights of Black men across the country and school shootings have become a common occurrence.
An introduction into the news media of the Middle East and Western Europe, the course offers an exploration of how the U.S. is represented in Europe, Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan, with a focus on three comparative case studies of Britain, Spain and Germany. COMM 106 covers the intricate and complicated perceptions of America and political issues pertaining to the state, challenging and critically examining foreign perspectives.
1. African American Studies M121— Afro-Indigenous History: from Enslavement and Settlement to Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Sovereignty
Perhaps the most topically relevant course, AF AMER 121 examines the racial development through experiences of African-descended peoples and indigenous people in the U.S. and beyond. Using articles, books, documentaries and contemporary popular culture, students study the relationship between natives and African Americans.
Topics include first encounters in Americas and ideologies that led to enslavement and dispossession; period of enslavement and indigenous removal in 19th century; mid-20th-century social movements; and contemporary manifestations, especially solidarity shown between Black Lives Matter and Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.