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Integrated Quantitative Science (IQS) Course

The integrated quantitative science course (IQS) is one that integrates key concepts from the first semester of biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and physics under the overarching theme of "Climate Change." It is a two semester double-credit course with lab. Upon completion of which students will have

  • earned four units of credit toward graduation
  • earned credit for two field of study requirements (FSNS, FSSR) 
  • satisfied prerequisites for courses that directly follow the first semester introductory course in each of these 5 disciplines

In addition, students will have developed as scientific thinkers who can identify questions and problems, contribute to team-generated answers and solutions, and appreciate the advantages of an integrated approach.

The basic measurements of climate science describe distributions of heat, water, and carbon throughout the earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land. Increases in temperature, atmospheric water vapor, and both atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide concentrations have been documented, while globally averaged soil moisture content has been decreasing. These changes are accompanied by melting glaciers, diminishing snow cover, shrinking sea ice and are likely to influence the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Of perhaps greater interest are the effects of climate change on the health of individual organisms, species populations, and ecosystems. Climate change can alter where species live and how they interact, can change relationships within food webs, and can disrupt the timing and location of biological events such as migrations. Students will master established facts and theory, incorporate information from recent studies, and carry out experiments or simulations through climate-themed work that integrates approaches from biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics.

Faculty teaching the course feel passionately that being able to view big scientific societal problems from multiple disciplines is necessary to making progress in solving these problems. We feel that the ideal student for this course will be one who enjoys all five of these disciplines and the subject matter found at their interfaces, has had high school courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology, thrives in working as part of a team of diverse students, has a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and is intellectually curious. If this describes you, we look forward to receiving your application.

This course will help you discover the many ways that a degree in science or math will set you on the path to future discoveries and exciting careers. All students interested in science, math and related areas are welcome. The broad-based exposure to ideas and techniques from a variety of areas is excellent preparation for graduate and pre-professional work in any of the sciences as well as mathematics and computer science.

The course will be team-taught by five faculty members each semester, one from each of the five disciplines represented. At least two of these faculty members will attend each class meeting, exploring connections between disciplines along with the students. In collaboration with the faculty, students will coordinate undergraduate research projects to be conducted during the summer following their first year at Richmond.

A follow-up research training seminar will be available to students who have completed the course. The seminar will feature speakers from the University's faculty and employees from external labs who will describe their work and the importance of multidisciplinary approaches that tackle important, cutting-edge research problems in areas such as drug design, stem cell research and nanoscience.

Students who complete both semesters of IQS will have earned four units of credit towards graduation, and will be ready to take the next course in any of the five IQS disciplines: biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. This table shows the details:

Discipline IQS Courses on Transcript Units of Credit Earned Semester in Which Credit is Earned Equivalent to Next Course
Biology BIOL 190:INTGRTD
1 Fall BIOL 199: Introduction
to Biological Thinking
BIOL 200: Integrated Biological Principles I
Mathematics MATH 190:
1 Fall MATH 211: Calculus I MATH 212: Calculus II, or
MATH 232: Scientific Calculus II
Chemistry CHEM 191:
1 Spring CHEM 141: Introductory
Chemistry: Structure Dynamics
and Synthesis
CHEM 205: Organic Chemistry I
Physics PHYS 191:
1 Spring PHYS 131: General Physics w
Calculus I
PHYS 132: General Physics
w Calculus 2
Computer Science --- --- --- CMSC 150 CMSC 221: Data Structures w Lab

Note that, because the biology and math credits are earned in the fall, students in IQS are permitted to take MATH 212/232 and/or a 200-level biology course during the spring semester in which they are also taking IQS.

After completing both semesters of the IQS course, students can go on to major in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, or computer science.  They may also choose our new Integrated Science minor.

Students who complete only one semester will have earned 2 units toward graduation. IQS-1 will substitute for BIOL 199 for students who then go on to major in biology.

By completing one semester of the course, students will have satisfied both the Field of Study requirement in the Natural Sciences (FSNS) and the Field of Study requirement in Symbolic Reasoning (FSSR).

AP/IB Credit

Also, though many students applying to the program will have taken at least one AP/IB math or science course in high school, AP/IB courses are not mandatory for acceptance. Students who are eligible for AP/IB credit at the University of Richmond for math, biology, and/or physics may receive AP credit and still receive course credit for the full year of IQS.

Students coming in with AP/IB credit in some of the classes listed above can enroll in both components of the IQS course and receive full credit (2 units per course). Although there is some overlap in material between the IQS course and AP/IB courses in these areas, a significant portion of the IQS course is devoted to the integration of the material at the interface of the 5 disciplines which cannot be included in a course that lies entirely within a single field. Students with AP/IB credit for Chemistry 141 can not transfer in that credit and also receive credit for the CHEM 191 portion of IQS.

Apply to IQS

Applications to IQS are accepted each summer for the coming academic year. The application for the 2018-19 academic year can be found here.

of IQS students who chose STEM majors graduated in four years
of IQS students have gone on to Ph.D programs
of IQS students take additional STEM courses
2016-2017 IQS Field Work