World Arts and Cultures/Dance / Undergraduate Study

World Arts and Cultures BA

Three streams of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study are available in the World Arts and Cultures major: arts activism, critical ethnographies, and visual cultures. Students are introduced to all three streams through introductory courses the first year and then by a pyramidal progression, they develop intermediate knowledge in two streams followed by advanced knowledge in the stream selected as the individual specialty. Four lower-division and three upper-division core courses are required to establish interdisciplinary relationships between theory and discourse, methods, and experience. Representation is studied within societies — as people understand their own lives and the world around them — and then from the outside looking in through humanistic scholarship.

The major emphasizes hands-on activities such as internships to build skills necessary to participate in the required senior projects. In consultation with faculty advisers students select elective courses within and outside the department to increase knowledge of particular area studies, histories, literatures, theories, and methods.

Students who wish to confer with the departmental student affairs officer regarding program planning and major requirements should contact the undergraduate counselor at 310-825-8537.

Learning Outcomes

The World Arts and Cultures major has the following learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrated critical analyses of a variety of approaches to visual and performance-based art-making and activism in cross-cultural contexts
  • Interpretation of and, in some cases, conduction of field-based research within specific communities
  • Demonstrated ability to conceptualize, plan, and exercise art, curatorial, and/or ethnographic projects that reflect a dynamic dialog between theory and practice
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to diversity and cultural differences, particularly as articulated within various forms of governance, national and international policy, transnational art and curatorial practices, and museum and heritage sites
  • Development of informed interpretations, not only of the way that art functions within communities but also how the links between art and community and created and represented
  • Articulation of the value of civic engagement within a variety of arts-oriented social contexts


New students are admitted to the major for fall quarter only. All applicants are reviewed individually, based on submission of a written research paper, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and one personal essay. These supplementary materials are requested from students in mid-December, after the general UC application is received and processed, and are due back in the department in January. For freshman applicants, college placement test scores are also considered.

Change of major applications are considered once a year. Current UCLA students who petition to change their major are required to meet with the student affairs officer prior to application, but no later than the eighth week of fall quarter in order to participate in the departmental supplemental application process during fall/winter quarters for admission into the program the following spring or fall quarter. They are required to take selected departmental courses before and during the term in which they apply to the program (contact the student affairs officer for a list of selected courses). They must have a minimum 2.0 overall grade-point average, a minimum 2.0 GPA in all departmental courses taken, and no more than 90 quarter units at the time of application. Students may be interviewed as part of the application process.

Preparation for the Major

Required: World Arts and Cultures 1, 20, 24, 33, and one 5-unit elective selected from course 2, 22, M23, or 51W.

The Major

The World Arts and Cultures major consists of 45 units of coursework.

Required: (1) World Arts and Cultures 100A or 100B, 104, 124; (2) a total of 20 units with a minimum of 12 units from one stream: stream 1 (arts activism) — World Arts and Cultures 103, 114, 120 (with faculty approval), 144, C146, C158, C159, 160, C164, C168, 174A, 174B, 177SL, 195, 199, or other upper-division courses with faculty approval (no more than 8 units of courses 114 and/or 160 may be applied toward this stream), stream 2 (critical ethnographies) — courses 120 (with faculty approval), 121, 132, C139, CM140, C141, C142, C146, C150, C151, 174A, 174B, 181, 195, 199, or other upper-division courses with faculty approval, stream 3 (visual cultures) — Clusters 180A, courses 120 (with faculty approval), M125A, M125AL, M125B, M125BL, M125C, M125CL, M126, M128, CM130, 133, C138, C139, C141, 143B, C145, C146, C152, 174A, 174B, C180, 181, C182, C184, M187, 195, 199, or other upper-division courses with faculty approval; and (3) courses 186A and 186B (senior honors project) or equivalent coursework with faculty approval.

Senior Honors Project

All students must also complete World Arts and Cultures 186A and 186B (or 10 units of equivalent coursework with faculty approval), the required senior honors project which must be selected from each student’s area of inquiry. Students begin to identify a project in spring quarter of their junior year and submit a senior project proposal for faculty approval by the beginning of the senior year. They begin to work with a designated faculty adviser in fall quarter of the senior year. Projects may include written theses, visual ethnographies, documentaries, installations, short films, internships, community service, field-based research, and curatorial projects, as well as other formats. Projects are crafted in close consultation with a faculty adviser so as to provide capstone experiences that draw together ideas and abilities from four years of study, while positioning students for postgraduate opportunities for further study or for entrance to job markets.