Study Abroad in Barcelona, Spain - UPF

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Study Abroad in Barcelona: Courses

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Recommended credits are shown in parentheses. 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.

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.

Art History 51607 (3)
Contemporary Spanish Art

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.

Art/Science 51794 (3)
Art, Mind and the Brain
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.

Biology 51797 (3) 
From Hipocrates to Personalized Medicine: Healthcare Adapted to Societal Changes  

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).

CS 51600 (3)
Barcelona, the City and its History

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.

Film 51809 (3) Fall Only
Cinematic Creativity in Spain: Authorship, Industry, Politics

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 & 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).

Gender Studies 51798 (3) 
Gender-based Violence and International Protection of Human Rights  

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.

History 51805 (3)
The Jews in Spain: History, Heritage and Memory 

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.

Humanities 51796 (3)
Ethics in a Globalization and Sustainability Context 

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.

Law 51801 (3) 
Innovation and the Law: How Technology Changes the Legal System  

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. 

Marketing 51664 (3)
Global Marketing & Culture of FC Barcelona

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.

Marketing 51804 (3)
The Collectivity Revolution

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. 

Math 51792 (3)
Analytics for Social Good 

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.

Science 51795 (3)
Building a Brain 

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. 

Science 51799 (3)
Great Ideas that Have Shaped our World: From the Axial Age to the Robot Revolution 

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.

Science 51800 (3) taught in Spanish 
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 

This course studies the main transformation and innovation initiatives in the design and presentation models of public programs that are being developed in the world. The use of artificial intelligence and the introduction of disruptive models of “data governance” is changing the paradigms on how to deal with public management and the relationship that is established between citizens and the public sphere. This gives us the opportunity to creatively rethink governance models and especially those that have a closer impact on the citizen, hence the course’s emphasis on the urban perspective. The analytical perspective of the course combines the following approaches in a transversal way: political science, philosophy, ethic, social psychology, engineering and economics.

Sociology 51793 (3) 
Anthropocene – How People Are Transforming the Planet  

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.  

Sociology 51802 (3) 
LGTBIQ+: Exploring Identities and Diversity 

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.

Language levels are defined according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). For further details visit

Spanish language is available at 6 levels:

  • Español Inicial 51637 (fall)/51643 (spring) (6)
  • Español Preintermedio 51638 (fall)/51644 (spring) (6)
  • Español Intermedio 51639 (fall)/51645 (spring) (6)
  • Español Avanzado 51640 (fall)/51646 (spring) (6)
  • Español Superior 51641 (fall)/51647 (spring) (6)
  • 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 HESP program, Spanish language or from the ESCI-UPF regular undergraduate course offerings.

Business 51636 (3)
Doing Business in Europe

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.

Economics 51635 (3)
International Economics

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).

Finance 51633 (3)
International Finance

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.

Finance 51655 (3)
Corporate Finance

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.

Management 51634 (3) (mandatory)
International Management

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.

ESCI Regular Undergraduate Courses
Please note that undergraduate courses with local students at UPF operate under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and courses will appear on transcripts as ECTS credits. AIFS recommends that undergraduate courses transfer to your U.S. home institution as 45 hours of instruction and 3 semester credits. It is your responsibility to obtain course credit approval from your university adviser at home before arriving in Barcelona. Exams for some ESCI undergraduate courses are on a different academic schedule to study abroad courses. If necessary, you may need to work with your ESCI professor to schedule exams prior to the program departure date.AIFS may not be able to advise students of conflicts between the International Business Program and regular undergraduate courses until students are on-site in Barcelona. Students should also select electives from the International Business Program and HESP courses in case their undergraduate course requests cannot be fulfilled.Courses are taught in English and Spanish. Below is a list of undergraduate courses that have been offered in the past. Please contact the AIFS Admissions Officer for a current list of available ESCI undergraduate courses.

  • Business (3)
  • Business Innovation (3)
  • Cross Cultural Management and Intercultural Communication (3)
  • Culture and Business in America (3)
  • Culture and Business in the Middle East and Africa (3)
  • Consumer Behavior (3)
  • International Expansion (3)
  • International Marketing (3)
  • International Project Management (3)
  • Market Research I (3)
  • Strategic Brand Management (3)

Courses Taught in Spanish

  • Análisis de los estados constables/Analysis of Business Economics and Financial Information (3)
  • Deontología Empresarial/Business Ethics (3)
  • Contabilidad de Costes/Cost Accounting (3)
  • Finanzas II/Finance II (3)
  • Logística Internacional/International Logistics (3)
  • International Digital Marketing/Marketing Digital Internacional (3)
  • Métodos Cuantitativos/Quantitative Methods (3)
  • Dirección de Ventas/Sales Management (3)

Spanish Language Courses
As part of their course load students may take a Spanish language course for 6 credits. Students wishing to take a Spanish language course take a placement test after arrival in Barcelona. Spanish courses are listed under the Hispanic and European Studies Program options

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Spain programs!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Spain, Barcelona programs!