Over winter break, we asked our classmates to recommend their favorite “non-default” classes outside of the typical departmentals or requirements. Here are six of the top choices that will be offered this spring, ranging from well-known to esoteric. We hope you’ll find at least one that is interesting to you.

THR 201

Beginning Studies in Acting: Scene Study

Princeton’s beginning theatre course, an introduction to acting through games and exercises, monologues, and a longer scene. Homework includes meeting with your performance group to practice scenes, which takes several hours every week, but students say it’s more than worth the time. (Note that each section of the course is taught by a different professor; check out past course reviews to find out more about each professor’s style.)

“I would recommend THR 201 as an “off the beaten path” course, particularly for technical students. Learning the basics of acting indirectly taught me skills that have been valuable when I explain code, interview, or present my work. It is also a really fun class!” – PG ‘15

MUS 314 / COS 314

Computer and Electronic Music through Programming, Performance, and Composition

The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), currently a 26-person selective class involving sound synthesis, acoustics and harmonics, and machine learning among other topics. According to one anonymous reviewer, “technically pretty easy as a COS major…from a music or non-COS background, the coding might be a big jump into the deep end.” Unfortunately, applications were due in November, but save a slot for next year.

“Best class I’ve taken at Princeton.” – NM ‘15

GER 211

Introduction to Media Theory

A theoretical seminar on how media technologies, including radio, film, television, and the Internet, developed throughout the 20th century and shaped culture and the way truth is constructed. There’s a substantial amount of work, including papers, discussion board postings, and heavy readings, but the material is rewarding and relevant to fields including technology, policy, and many humanistic disciplines.

“A really great, kind of hidden seminar that bridges Continental high theory with the everyday technologies we engage with, from television to files to language to driving, and the very structure of how we engage with the world itself. The professors are fantastic; Tom Levin is a juggernaut in the field and Devin Fore is an up-and-comer.” – AZ ‘16

COS 448 / EGR 448

Innovating Across Technology, Business, and Markets

The highlights of this course are the lectures, which include such luminaries as John Hennessey (President of Stanford) and Fred Wilson (top New York VC) and a number of great startup founders every year. Class work includes memos, a midterm paper, and a final project, which are helpful for getting to know your peers. All the different perspectives, from technologist to investor to lawyer to designer, are helpful for forming your own opinions about working in startups and technology.

“Not quite non-default for COS majors: but COS 448 is a light and interesting course that I really enjoyed. The guest lectures are some of the best I’ve attended — especially for unconventional career advice. Excellent for PDF, audit, or just dropping by for the guest lectures.” – SS ‘15

PHI 203

Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

For some, this is a default class to fill the EC distribution requirement, but for others, this is the central introductory class in philosophical thinking at Princeton. It’s heavy on abstract reasoning, but also a great introduction to philosophy and a way to survey what you’d get out of the discipline.

“Loved the way PHI203 made me think about the world” – NM ‘15


Princeton Atelier

This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Princeton Atelier, a series of one-time workshops held by visiting artists and academics at the Lewis Center. The courses bring together a set of students of different class years and disciplines, ranging from performing artists to writers, composers, and designers. There are usually two or three every semester; this spring’s lineup includes performances of environmental stories, comic opera, and an adaptation of Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt.” Often by application, but keep an eye out for open slots.

“I was part of an Atelier about attention and social media last fall. We had a terrific lineup of guest speakers, read about everything from human-computer interaction to Buddhist meditation, and put together interesting projects for the final showing. It was a great way to explore the intersection of my interests with art and theatre.” – RZ ‘15

Thanks also to EL ‘14 and JM ‘15 for their recommendations!