The Core Curriculum

UD students share a formative experience in studying the great deeds and words of Western civilization together.

The Core Curriculum is an opportunity to inquire into the fundamental aspects of being and our relationship with God, nature and our fellow human beings. It embodies the University of Dallas’ dedication to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue as the proper and primary ends of education. Our 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows professors and students to engage in thoughtful, meaningful dialogue that hones critical thinking and inspires a love of intellectual inquiry that will serve students throughout their academic careers and the rest of their lives.




An Overview of Core Classes

Literary tradition II with Dr. Gerard WegemerThe Core Curriculum is a shared sequence taken by all undergraduates that consists of 19 courses in English, history, philosophy, theology, economics, politics, science, mathematics, language and fine arts. During their course of study, students read the great works that have shaped Western civilization and discuss these works with their peers in small classes with an average size of 19 students.



  • Literary Tradition I: Classical epic poetry at the base of the Western tradition.
  • Literary Tradition II: The great Christian epic poems and the nature of lyric poetry.
  • Literary Tradition III: Tragedy and comedy from the Greeks up through the English tradition.
  • Literary Tradition IV: The novel as a distinctly modern contribution to the Western Tradition.


  • American Civilization I: A study of American history from European settlement and the founding of the nation to the American Civil War.
  • American Civilization II: A study of American development into a global power through two World Wars and the Cold War.
  • Western Civilization I: Typically taken in Rome, a study of the Western foundations of our civilization in Greece, Rome, early and medieval Christianity, and the Renaissance.
  • Western Civilization II: A study of modern European culture through the Reformation, the French Revolution, and twentieth-century Totalitarianism.


  • Philosophy and the Ethical Life: A philosophical inquiry into the nature of the fully human life.
  • The Human Person: Typically taken in Rome, the nature of the human person as a unity of body and soul.
  • Philosophy of Being: An introduction to metaphysical thought.


  • Understanding the Bible: An introduction to biblical theology through a careful reading of sacred scripture Readings include selections from both the Old and New Testaments.
  • The Western Theological Tradition: The history and theology of the Early Christian Church and its subsequent tradition.


  • Fundamentals of Economics: The fundamental concepts of the exchange economy in contrast to other economics systems.


  • Principles of American Politics: The basic principles of the American political order.


A student must take two laboratory science courses, one in the biological sciences, the other in the physical sciences. For non-science majors, "Basic Ideas" courses exist in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, but a variety of other courses in the sciences may also be used to satisfy this requirement.

Mathematics & Fine Arts

One course is required in Fine Arts and one course in Mathematics. Again, there are specific math courses designed for non-science majors, such as "Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry." The Art, Drama, and Music Departments offer courses in the history of their disciplines, which students can take to satisfy the fine art requirement. "The Art & Architecture of Rome," which is taken on the Rome Campus, satisfies the Fine Arts requirement.

Foreign Language

Knowledge of a foreign language to an intermediate level is also required of all students. Depending on the background of each student, this requirement may be met by taking from one to four courses in a classical or modern language. At present the languages that may be used to meet this requirement are Ancient Greek, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.




A Selection of the Great Books


  • Homer: "The Iliad,"  "The Odyssey"
  • Vergil: "Aeneid"
  • Aeschylus: "Prometheus Bound," "Agamemnon," "Libation Bearers," "Eumenides"
  • William Shakespeare: "Hamlet," "Othello," "King Lear," "Merchant of Venice," "The Tempest"
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky: "Crime and Punishment"
  • William Faulkner: "Go Down, Moses"


  • Adam Smith: "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" (selections)
  • Pope John Paul II: "Centesimus Annus"
  • Thomas Jefferson:  The United States Constitution


  • The Book of Job
  • Thucydides: "History of the Peloponnesian War"
  • Livy: "The Early History of Rome"
  • Thomas More: "Utopia"
  • Marx and Engels: "The Communist Manifesto"
  • Pope Leo XIII: "Rerum Novarum"
  • Eli Wiesel: "Night"
  • Frederick Douglass: "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
  • Benjamin Franklin: "Autobiography"
  • George F. Kennan: "American Diplomacy"
  • Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail
  • Boethius:  On the Consolation of Philosophy
  • Thomas Jefferson:  Summary View of the Rights of British America
  • Henry Adams:  The Education of Henry Adams


  • Plato: "Republic," "Phaedo," "Symposium"
  • Aristotle: "Nichomachean Ethics" (selections), "On the Soul" (selections), "Categories" (selections), "Physics" (selections), "Metaphysics" (selections)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas: "Treatise on Happiness" and "On Being and Essence"
  • René Descartes: "Meditations on First Philosophy"
  • Immanuel Kant: "Critique of Pure Reason"
  • Martin Heidegger: "The Question Concerning Technology"


  • Thomas Jefferson: The Declaration of Independence
  • Alexis de Tocqueville: "Democracy in America"
  • Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison: "The Federalist Papers"
  • Frederick Nietzsche: "Genealogy of Morals," "The Use and Abuse of History for Life"


  • The Bible: selections from the Old and New Testaments
  • Didache
  • Augustine: "Confessions"
  • Thomas Aquinas: "Summa Theologiae" (selections)
  • Martin Luther: "Heidelberg Disputation," "The Freedom of a Christian"
  • Council of Trent (selections)
  • Vatican I (select documents)
  • Vatican II: "Lumen Gentium"
  • Clement: Letter to the Corinthians
  • St. Irenaeus: "Against Heresies"