AIFS Abroad

AIFS Study Abroad in Barcelona (UPF), Spain
Fall 2020 and Spring 2021
Course Descriptions


Recommended credits are shown in parentheses. Course descriptions for all Spanish language courses are available on the AIFS website. Courses are subject to change at the discretion of the UPF.

Students taking Spanish language should seek pre-approval for several levels of Spanish from their home institution in order to ensure that they receive credit for the level that they are placed into following the placement test.

ECTS: Universitat Pompeu Fabra awards ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. The number of class hours and ECTS credits will be shown on the transcript to allow each student’s home institution the ultimate decision in the awarding of U.S. credit. Recommended U.S. semester credits next to each course are based on 15 classroom hours per semester credit and are not a conversion of ECTS credits. Students should consult with their university advisors prior to participating in the program to have course credit pre-approved and ensure that they are taking the appropriate amount of credits.

Barcelona Program for Interdisciplinary Studies (BaPIS)

Students on this program can take up to 15 credits.

Apart from Spanish language courses, all courses are taught in English unless otherwise stated. Students who wish to take courses taught in Spanish should ideally have completed 4 semesters of college level Spanish.

Course Code and Credits: ART HIST 51607 (3)
Course Title: Contemporary Spanish Art 
Course Description:
The main artistic developments will be covered as well as some political, historical and cultural issues that might be relevant. Landscape art, gender production, the Spanish take on Primitivism and the dynamics between artistic creation and finance capital are some of its more relevant aspects. Although this course is mainly based on lectures and class debate, three visits to galleries and exhibitions plus a self-guided visit will be also part of the course requirements. These visits will be made during the class time and are equivalent to a usual in-class session.
Course Code and Credits: Art/Science 51794 (3)
Course Title: Art, Mind and the Brain  
Course Description:

This course focuses on a solid dialogue between Neurosciences and Humanities by posing crucial questions on sight and aesthetics. If “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, what is behind the eye of the beholder? Are there inescapable rules of Art? Does biology condition what we can experience as art? Does it condition Art and Music? Why is Science counterintuitive? Is the Nature vs. Nurture question a false problem?

The course attempts to frame these questions and more into the current scientific knowledge of the brain. We analyze how sensory systems build up a representation of the world and continue with the question of the foundations of knowledge, the limits of knowledge and the evolutionary roots of belief, linking neurosciences with long lasting obsession in Western philosophy: the grounds of knowledge. Finally, a discussion on the so-called “critical periods” of sensory development and the question of nature and nurture as framed by current biological evidence is carried out as conclusion.

Course Code and Credits: Biology 51797 (3)
Course Title: From Hipocrates to Personalized Medicine: Healthcare Adapted to Societal Changes  
Course Description:

This course will provide an historical perspective between medical practice and Biomedical Science and human societies and will look at how these two areas feed into each other, leading to an increased lifespan of all human populations as well as to the eradication and eruption of new diseases. The course begins with medical practice through the ages and progresses to cover the current medical challenges of a global world and how scientific discoveries since the second half of the 20th Century have shaped medicine.

We will address the technical, ethical, and socio-economic challenges of today’s societies, which have shaped their evolution, including the current COVID-19 pandemic and the different approaches adopted by different countries. We also look at the rise of genetic and regenerative medicine and the possibility of treating patients on a personalized basis and economic aspects of healthcare (biotechnological companies, Big Pharma).

Course Code and Credits: Communication 51805 (3)
Course Title: The Jews in Spain: History, Heritage and Memory  
Course Description:

The course proposes an itinerary through the rich cultural heritage of Hispanic Jews to present day along with interpretative elements to understand the recovery of that heritage and to manage it by analyzing the history of the Jewish people in the Hispanic lands and the interrelations, connections and influences between the Hispanic societies and Judaism, from the Middle Ages to present day. This is a course of history with a distinct interdisciplinary approach. A general contextual overview and an itinerary through the history of the Jews in Spain frame the discussions to follow.

The aim is to delve around a series of selected themes to better understand the boundaries between Spanish Jews and Spanish gentiles from multiple perspectives and across time.

Course Code and Credits: CS 51600 (3) 
Course Title: Barcelona, the City and its History 
Course Description:
Once labeled by Newsweek magazine as the “coolest city in Europe,” Barcelona enjoys the reputation of a cosmopolitan city with a great international projection. Like all places, however, it is not without its complexities and contradictions. Behind a glossy and tourist-friendly façade, the city has a complex history. This interdisciplinary course covers subjects in history, geography, art, architecture, and urban planning. We will also discuss issues relevant to people living within the city of Barcelona today.
Course Code and Credits: Film 51803 (3)
Course Title: Stardom Wars: Controversies on Creativity and Authorship in Spanish Cinema  
Course Description:
The birth of cinema transformed the way we understand artistic creation. Film is a mechanically reproduced artwork without the aura of uniqueness that characterizes classical pieces (Benjamin, 1935). It emerges as a mechanical extension of the human body, an “artificial eye”. Film production is also automated: it is a paradigm of “creative industry” (Howkins, 2001). In many ways, cinema appears at the intersection of the joint creative effort of human talent, industry, science and technology. This course will study various aspects of creativity and authorship in examples from Spanish cinematography. Early theoretical and practical approaches to filmic creation, the development of new artistic professions and creative labor organization in the film industry will be studied through Spanish silent cinema and the growth of CIFESA studios (1932-1961).
Course Code and Credits: Gender Studies 51798 (3)
Course Title: Gender-based Violence and International Protection of Human Rights  
Course Description:

It was as recently as 1992 that a UN Committee (the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) asserted that gender-based violence against women was a form of discrimination and a human rights violation and not just a private matter in which the State should not interfere. Since then, a number of instruments and mechanisms have been developed within the UN Human Rights System as well as in regional human rights’ protection systems to address such violence and, in recent years, to also include protection of other persons affected by gender-based violence, in particular, the LGBTIQ+ community.

For this purpose, the historic evolution that led to frame gender-based violence as a human rights violation and analyze the existing instruments and tools available at the international level (both UN and regional) to ensure that states adequately address gender-based violence against women and LGBTIQ+ individuals will be reviewed.

Course Code and Credits: History 51805 (3)
Course Title: The Jews in Spain: History, Heritage and Memory  
Course Description:

The course proposes an itinerary through the rich cultural heritage of Hispanic Jews to present day along with interpretative elements to understand the recovery of that heritage and to manage it by analyzing the history of the Jewish people in the Hispanic lands and the interrelations, connections and influences between the Hispanic societies and Judaism, from the Middle Ages to present day. This is a course of history with a distinct interdisciplinary approach. A general contextual overview and an itinerary through the history of the Jews in Spain frame the discussions to follow.

The aim is to delve around a series of selected themes to better understand the boundaries between Spanish Jews and Spanish gentiles from multiple perspectives and across time. Based on the in-class commentary and analysis of primary sources, film debates and case studies, specific topics will be examined: the perception of the self and the perception of the other; the shaping of a Jewish identity in the Hispanic lands versus the creation of the “Sephardic” cultural construct; the representations of Jews and Judaism; the role played by archetypes in the views on Judaism and Spanish anti-Semitism; and in Modern and contemporary times, the reconfiguration of Jewish identity from Modern Crypto-Judaism to the rising phenomenon of the Sephardic Benei Anusim.

Course Code and Credits: Humanities 51796 (3)
Course Title: Ethics in a Globalization and Sustainability Context  
Course Description:

Although globalization and sustainability have become familiar terms, they are at cross purposes. The way globalization has been conducted with an emphasis on the economic sphere—international trade and cross-border investment flows, has created a series of crises that threaten the ethical values and beliefs of a sustainable society. The primary goal of a business is usually seen as making a profit, however, the path towards achieving this goal can, in many instances, create dilemmas regarding justice, equity and honesty.

On this course we will discuss ethical approaches to global issues that are enhanced by the process of globalization and increasing multiculturalism, e.g. the environment, global citizenship & governance, poverty and inequality, peace and conflict, human rights, health and the effects of technology among others.

Course Code and Credits: Law 51801 (3)
Course Title: Innovation and the Law: How Technology Changes the Legal System  
Course Description:

The course aims to give students a general overview of the core legal institutions, while introducing students to the main legal problems attached to the new technologies. A basic introduction to contracts, property, torts from a comparative perspective will be followed by an explanation of the relevant technologies and their implications in the legal understanding of the core legal topics.

In addition, the course will focus on the current trends of the harmonization process in order to give a common response to technology challenges providing a general overview of the problems arising from the interaction between technology and the law.

Course Code and Credits: MKT 51664 (3)
Course Title: Global Marketing & Culture of FC Barcelona 
Course Description:
European football (soccer) has become a major cultural vehicle in the global world, both in terms of economical impact and social influence. This course focuses on how this sport shapes the social, economical and cultural realms, and tries to interpret the different links between the game itself and the dimensions surrounding it: media coverage, aesthetic value, political targeting, public and corporate policies... In that context, FC Barcelona remains a unique case, studied in business schools as an example of global market branding, while passionately lived by millions of fans all over the world. Moreover, Barcelona city offers a privileged standpoint to better understand football as a growing issue within contemporary culture. 
Course Code and Credits: Marketing 51804 (3)
Course Title: The Collectivity Revolution 
Course Description:
Says author Yuval Harari, that the capacity to organize ourselves collectively through a “fiction” or an intangible or abstract concept agreement –such as money- is the singled-out most distinctive characteristic of humans beings vs other species. In the managerial sphere of brands, corporations and organizations of all sorts, the question today, is: Should money still be considered the most valuable asset? Will it disappear? What will it be replaced with? What is value and which are the values ruling our current-future society? In the challenge but also the opportunity of our times, what kind of world do we want to live in and how are we going to get there? Arguing the principle that brands operate in societies, not just markets, students of this course will be encouraged to have critical views and to openly participate in the ethics discussions behind examples.
Course Code and Credits: Math 51792 (3)
Course Title: Analytics for Social Good  
Course Description:

Analytics focuses on transforming data into insights by applying advanced analytical methods, based on mathematics, statistics and artificial intelligence models and algorithms to improve the performance of an organization. On this course, key topics and issues in Analytics will be presented and discussed with a focus on their applications in social, healthcare, sustainable and humanitarian organizations.

In the first part of the course, the analytic tools and methodologies will be introduced. In the second part, case studies from humanitarian, social, health care and environmental organizations (such as NGO humanitarian organizations, social care organizations, public services, hospitals or primary health care institutions) will be presented and discussed.

Course Code and Credits: Science 51795 (3)
Course Title: Building a Brain  
Course Description:

Our brain is the main source of our creativity and, in general, our ability to interact with the world. Major scientific efforts have been made in the last century to understand the mechanisms underlying its operation. These endeavours have revealed an astonishing degree of complexity, involving billions of specialized neurons communicating with each other through trillions of plastic connections. But is that level of complexity necessary for a brain to function?

This course will explore the brain’s minimal requirements, building on both our knowledge of simple organisms such as bacteria and worms, and our age-old attempts to build artificial intelligence systems. We will review the history of artificial intelligence and neuroscience, focusing on the connections that the two fields have had, on and off, over the years. Following the classic maxim of Richard Feynman, “what I cannot create I do not understand”, we will work in teams to attempt to build the simplest possible brain out of interacting components.

Course Code and Credits: Science 51799 (3)
Course Title: Great Ideas that Have Shaped our World: From the Axial Age to the Robot Revolution  
Course Description:
This course builds on the idea that ethical-religious, philosophical, and scientific imagination is vitally important in the development of human societies. It focuses on key religious, ethical-political, and scientific innovative ideas that have revolutionized and shaped society from antiquity to modern times. The course deals not only with understanding the context of the emergence of these ideas, but also their impact on the contemporary world and mentality. It will begin with the “Axial Age” (Karl Jaspers), characterized by a series of ethical-religious, scientific and philosophical innovations from China to Ancient Greece, and move chronologically to the Renaissance, Enlightenment and the current digital and robot revolution.
Course Code and Credits: Science 51800 (3) taught in Spanish
Course Title: Innovación e Inteligencia Artificial en el Gobierno: la transformación creativa de la gobernanza urbana/Innovation and Artificial Intelligence in the Government: the creative transformation of urban governance 
Course Description:
El curso presenta y estudia las principales iniciativas de transformación e innovación en los modelos de diseño y presentación de programas públicos que a día de hoy se están desarrollando en el mundo. El uso de la inteligencia artificial y la introducción de modelos disruptivos de “data governance” está cambiando los paradigmas sobre la forma de afrontar la gestión pública y la relación que se establece entre la ciudadanía y la esfera pública. Esto nos da la oportunidad de replantear de forma creativa los modelos de gobernanza y en especial, aquellos que presentan un impacto “más próximo” al ciudadano, de ahí el énfasis del curso en la perspectiva urbana. La perspectiva analítica del curso combina los siguientes enfoques de una forma transversal: ciencia política, filosofía, ética, psicología social, ingeniería y economía.
Course Code and Credits: Soc 51793 (3)
Course Title: Anthropocene – How People Are Transforming the Planet  
Course Description:

Archaeology has been expressing a growing interest in incorporating future-oriented perspectives and the use of the past in planning a better future. Concern for the issues associated with the Anthropocene debate is a clear example. Scientists have argued that the Anthropocene is a useful concept to denote the measurable impact of humanity on the planet. The study of the Anthropocene proposes a radical reassessment of the role of humanity in the world (past, present and future). How, then, does the Anthropocene concept change the archaeological understanding of human relations with the living environment, and with ecology in a broader sense?

The course involves working on the connections between nature and human beings (socio-ecological dynamics) and the concept of the "entanglement" of societies (as seen through archaeological material), global climate change and environmental change, and our ability to measure and understand these changes.

Course Code and Credits: Sociology 51802 (3)
Course Title: LGTB+: Exploring Identities and Diversity  
Course Description:

This course will navigate the complex and mutating field of gay, lesbian, bisex, trans, intersex and queer studies, exploring its history and development since its inception. The course explores non-hegemonic identities and gender and sexual diversity from many different perspectives: their criminalization, pathologization or their fights for equality and rights. Social, legal, historical, and cultural implications of sexuality, articulating academic and activist perspectives will provide a framework and a context.

Furthermore, to highlight the importance of understanding these topics as non-homogeneous and in an intersectional way students' contributions will be asked for in order to build up an intercultural dialogue based on their own perspectives and geographies. The course aims to establish a dialogue between different positions within society and cultural production (such as cinema, literature, poetry, theatre, etc.) so as to reflect on the implications of visibility for the community and for the different representations of such dissident sexualities and identities.

Spanish language courses

Students wishing to take a Spanish language course take a placement test after arrival in Barcelona. Please contact the AIFS Admissions Officer for course syllabi.

  • Español Inicial 51637 (fall)/51643 (spring) (6) Beginner
  • Español Preintermedio 51638 (fall)/51644 (spring) (6) Pre-Intermediate
  • Español Intermedio 51639 (fall)/51645 (spring) (6) Intermediate
  • Español Avanzado 51640 (fall)/51646 (spring) (6) Advanced
  • Español Superior 51641 (fall)/51647 (spring) (6) Superior
  • Español para hispanohablantes 51642 (fall)/51648 (spring) (6) Spanish for Native Speakers

ESCI-UPF International Business Program

Students on this program can take up to 15 credits.

The International Management course is mandatory. Students must also take at least one additional course from the ESCI-UPF International Business Program.

Students who do not wish to choose all of their elective courses from the International Business Program courses can choose to take two or three courses from the BaPIS Program or Spanish language.

Course Code and Credits: Business 51636 (3) 
Course Title: Doing Business in Europe 
Course Description:
The course is structured into two sections. The first offers a global view of Europe (historical background, evolution of the EU, its institutional structure, and its domestic and foreign policies). The second analyzes the European business environment, paying special attention to differences in managerial and consumer behavior in order to understand and identify economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of the EU that might represent opportunities for business development in the region. Recommended prerequisite: Business Organization.
Course Code and Credits: Economics 51635 (3) 
Course Title: International Economics 
Course Description:
The course is divided into two sections: In the first section students will analyze various trade models and policy instruments, as well as the behavior of “real economic variables.” In the second, they will explore topics related to international finance, such as the foreign exchange market, the international financial architecture, or the balance of payments and the relationship it bears to the forex market. Recommended prerequisite: Introduction to Economics (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics). 
Course Code and Credits: Finance 51633 (3) 
Course Title: International Finance 
Course Description:
Aims to provide students with a good understanding of the international financial markets and their impact on financial decisions and management at international firms. The course covers a range of topics related to the international monetary system, the foreign exchange and derivatives markets, the financing of international firms, foreign investment operations, and foreign exchange risk management. Recommended prerequisite: Finance. 
Course Code and Credits: Finance 51655 (3) 
Course Title: Corporate Finance 
Course Description:
In the international sphere, accounting principles are converging (IFRS, USGAAP, etc.). In this context, and in order to take important business decisions, it is imperative to be able to build, read, understand and analyze the financial statements of companies, no matter which country they are from. One of the goals of the course is that students master the vocabulary of financial statements and accounting reports, and use it to communicate with internal and external interlocutors. It also focuses on how to measure corporate investments and to consider the different finance resources that are currently available.Recommended prerequisite: Business Organization.
Course Code and Credits: Management 51634 (3) (mandatory) 
Course Title: International Management 
Course Description:
Prepares students to better analyze and understand the challenges and opportunities that companies face when expanding their activities internationally. Special attention will be placed upon the different tools and analytical skills available to and required for various specialized managerial roles when businesses are competing internationally. The course is comprised of 3 segments: The first is designed to offer students insight into the challenges posed by the international environment. The second will focus on the analysis of global organizational structures and international strategies. Finally, the third will deal with international management operations, with a particular focus on import and export strategies and financing. Recommended prerequisite: Business Organization.