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Undergraduate Course Catalog 2010-2011

University Academic Requirements

« Discovery Program Requirements

Discovery Foundation Skills:

Discovery in the Disciplines: 

Students must take one course from each Discovery category at the 400 - 600 levels. Inquiry courses that carry Discovery category designations may be used to satisfy this requirement.

Discovery and Integrative Understanding:

One senior capstone experience, supervised and approved within the major. The capstone requirement may be satisfied through a course, created work or product, or some form of experiential learning. Departments may allow honors theses, mentored research projects, and other special student activities to substitute for designated department capstones.

The University Dialogue, focusing on grand challenges we face as a society, is an opportunity to engage in the intellectual life of the University.  Each year, the University engages a different theme, presented through experiences in and outside the classroom.  It is not a course and does not require registration.  

Additional Information 

Discovery Program requirements shall not be waived on the basis of special examinations or placement tests, except for the College Board Advanced Placement tests and the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.

The required courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis. No single course may be counted in more than one Discovery discipline category. Academic departments may or may not permit Discovery courses to count toward requirements for a major. All Discovery courses carry 3-4 credits.

Click here
to see the courses that fulfill each component of the Discovery Program requirements, also linked below. Any course appearing in this list will fulfill a Discovery Program requirement if taken after September 1, 2010. The most current list of Discovery courses is included below. Please note that this list is a work in progress and therefore may be incomplete; the most accurate listing is found on the Registrar's Office homepage.

Discovery Foundations:


All Inquiry courses must contain four individually necessary and collectively sufficient features:

1.  Inspire curiosity: an Inquiry student will compose open-ended questions that lead to further investigation into increasingly focused problems and issues.

2.  Develop understanding and perspective: an Inquiry student will explain a central issue or question of the course using at least two unique perspectives.

3.  Clarify standards of thinking: an Inquiry student will be able to identify, compare, and evaluate different interpretations (hypotheses, explanations) of a given phenomenon.

4.  Create effective communicators: an Inquiry student will present in clearly organized form the results of the investigation into questions or problems s/he has posed.

A complete list of Inquiry courses can be found on the Registrar's Office homepage. Click here to download a PDF version of the page.


Writing Skills

Please refer to the University Writing Requirement section for complete information about this Discovery Foundation.


Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning refers to the ability to think critically and analytically using abstract formal methods with broad application.  Mathematics is the foundation for the physical sciences and, increasingly, for the biological sciences. Its principles and processes illuminate significant aspects of the social sciences as well. In its most precise forms, it enables the design of bridges and the orbiting of satellites. Mathematics discloses invisible truths about the world, makes sense of patterns of which we may or may not be aware, and introduces some order to chaos. In its purest form, it creates its own world of beauty and logic. In its more applied forms, it attempts to make sense of individual and collective human behaviors and complex systems. Many courses listed under this category will help students appreciate the principles of mathematics and gain some skill in its applications to realistic situations, while other courses will introduce kindred subjects including symbolic logic, information theory, statistics, and computer science.

Discovery in the Disciplines:

Biological Sciences 

Biology is a branch of science that investigates the structure and function of living organisms. Scientists investigate ideas and observations that solidify our understanding of the diversity of life from single cells to complex organisms. Biology has deep relations with agriculture, chemistry, psychology and many other fields of study, and it is the foundation of our knowledge of health and disease. Courses under this category deal with the basic structure and function of organisms, the interaction of organisms with their environment, human health, biotechnology, and the concepts and mechanisms of evolution as a fundamental biological paradigm. All courses will provide some understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry and seek knowledge about the living world.

Environment, Technology, and Society

The exponential growth of the sciences and engineering has bred an equally dramatic growth in technological advances.  From the flint arrowhead to the latest communication device or weapon, human beings have been inventing things and transforming their lives, their societies, and their environments as they do.  But they seldom foresee all the transformations and consequences their inventions bring about. This category stresses the interplay between at least two of these three realms: environment, technology and society.  Topics might include, but are not limited to, the history of a particular kind of technology (such as transport, fuel, writing, or weaponry), how technological change comes about in general, the scientific and/or social bases for a given technology, its impact for good or ill on human society and the natural environment, the effects of a changing environment on the arts and literature, and/or the ethical questions these topics raise.

Fine and Performing Arts 

The arts communicate through the intellect, the emotions, and the body, sometimes all at once, in ways simple and subtle, direct and subliminal, gentle and soul shaking.  Understanding and appreciating them enriches our lives and preserves our cultural heritage for the future.  Through its performances, publications, and exhibits, UNH offers many artistic experiences for students and the larger community, some of which are linked to courses under this category.  Such courses, which may be about painting, sculpture, architecture, music, dance, theater, or film, will often include learning through practical experience.

Historical Perspectives 

Even though we are faced daily with evidence of change in our social world and technology, we easily forget that how we live, where we live, and what we see around us are transient states of affairs.  It is important to be able to look on one’s own world with an imaginative grasp of its history and the forces behind that history.  Courses under this category will give students the opportunity to learn about major historical developments and how these developments have shaped contemporary life in all its complexity. Through the study of particular periods and places, students will gain both “historical perspective” and some skill at the methods of historical inquiry. Common to all courses in historical analysis is the presumption that the categories of social analysis are themselves historical and historically contingent, and that to understand the past requires entering imaginatively into languages, institutions, and worldviews quite different from those of the present day.


The humanities arose in Renaissance universities as an alternative to theology and consisted mainly of Greek and Latin literature, which dealt with any and every aspect of human life; they became central to the liberal arts. Since the nineteenth century, the humanities also have embraced modern literature, the creative arts, philosophy, and history.  They focus on questions about meaning, ethics, aesthetics, and the foundations of knowledge; they are as concerned with form as with content.  Courses under this category explore major works, ideas, and traditions that have shaped our understandings of the world and our sense of self at different times and places while examining the distinctive methods of humanistic inquiry.

Physical Sciences 

The physical sciences seek to discover the components, structures, properties, and laws of the material world from subatomic particles to the entire universe.  Through them, we appreciate both the wondrous complexity of the world and its order.  The traditional domains of chemistry, physics, astronomy, cosmology, and earth sciences are the foundations of knowledge in numberless arenas of human activity, while the intersections between these domains and the biological sciences yield astonishing discoveries about living organisms.  All courses will provide some understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry, seek knowledge about the physical universe, and evaluate claims in both technical literature and popular media.

Social Sciences 

The social sciences investigate human beings and their societies from the smallest bands of hunter gatherers to huge nations and global institutions.  Everything from marriage and kinship to law and crime, from ceremonial gift giving to mortgage derivatives, from witchcraft to health insurance, from ancient ritual to modern communication, is a subject of a social science. Courses under this category will explore different theories, methods, and data-gathering techniques as they apply to different social issues.  They also will examine how individuals create, interact with, and are shaped by social groups and institutions, including those associated with politics, economics, religion, family, the arts, health, and education.

World Cultures

Living in a world of many cultures has created both cooperation and conflict across borders, between and within nations. This category, which includes intermediate language courses and approved study abroad programs, encourages students to become cosmopolitan citizens by gaining knowledge and understanding of cultures other than those of the United States.  Students will learn to recognize others' values and, ultimately, accept the many ways in which we all are human. They are thus encouraged to see their own culture with fresh eyes and know the sheer diversity of human outlooks.


Please note:  A course that fulfills the laboratory requirement in the Discovery Program should provide students with hands-on experience that reinforces, supports, and/or augments the material presented in other formats throughout the course. It should teach them how the discipline uncovers and validates knowledge; how phenomena are understood through observation, experimentation, and quantitative analysis; how data are collected and interpreted; how hypotheses are created, tested, modified, confirmed or invalidated. These experiences also are likely to provide insights into how scientific theories and models are constructed. A significant portion of specified course time must be devoted to laboratory and laboratory-related activities. For example, a conventional model for a four-credit laboratory course consists of three 50-minute (or two 75-minute) weekly lecture periods plus one 80-minute weekly laboratory period.  However, courses may include different and/or innovative laboratory experiences provided the total amount of course and laboratory time is comparable.

Discovery and Integrative Understanding:

The senior capstone experience must meet one or more of the following criteria:

1.         The capstone synthesizes and applies disciplinary knowledge and skills.

2.         The capstone fosters reflection on undergraduate learning and experience.

3.         The capstone demonstrates emerging professional competencies.

4.         The capstone applies, analyzes, and/or interprets research or data or artistic expression.

5.         The capstone explores areas of interest based on the integration of prior learning.