Course Catalog

Please select from the list of departments to see details about Lick-Wilmerding High School course offerings. 

Courses and Descriptions

College Preparatory Electives ("G" Courses)

The courses listed below have been approved by the University of California as college preparatory electives, challenging, often interdisciplinary courses that represent unique learning experiences. Juniors can fulfill their sixth class requirement with courses from this list, as well as from the Performing, Technical and Visual Arts classes and the BlendEd program.
  • Behavioral Genetics and Anthropology

    Behavioral Genetics and Anthropology is an advanced biological anthropology course that focuses on the connection between evolutionary biology, genetics and the wide range of traits influenced by gene-culture interactions in humans. We start with an exploration of connections and disconnections between Darwinian evolution, Mendelian inheritance, and human variation. We then consider genes as the unit of natural selection throughout the history of the gene as we read Siddhartha Mukerjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History. We will explore the study of behaviors ranging from the origin of behavioral diversity, sex and sexuality, mating rituals to violence, and emotions. We will also look at the recent analysis of the human genome and the discovery of genes that connect to complex human behaviors that impact modern cultural, technological and environmental changes. A question we will consider throughout is, “What, if anything, makes humans unique?”

    Note: May be taken in conjunction with Genetics and Ethics.
    Prerequisite: Biology and Chemistry

    This semester long course is offered both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 and is UC approved.
  • Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction and Poetry

    In this semester elective, students will sharpen their skills as writers of creative nonfiction and poetry. Students will read and workshop multiple kinds of creative nonfiction that documents the experiences of the writer (reflective essays, college application essays, poetic narratives) and the experiences of others (reportage, family stories, oral histories). Students will also read, craft and workshop multiple poems in a variety of forms. Reading models of published writing and keeping a writer’s journal will be an integral part of this course, but the focus of this class is on generating original work rather than analysis of published literature. The culminating assessment of the course is the presentation of a portfolio.

    This course is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

    Prerequisite: English 1

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved. 
  • Ethics in the Sciences and Technology

    This interdisciplinary course will begin with an introduction to philosophy and great thinkers throughout history. We will then focus on ethics, particularly the thorny moral questions which come up in the sciences and technology – How can we allocate scarce organs to those waiting on a transplant list in a ‘fair’ way? Should it be allowable to ‘design’ many of the traits of a baby? Are the risks of a driverless car morally acceptable and, if so, how should driverless cars be programmed in an imminent crash? Should the atomic bomb have been made- and are there limits on using science to make weapons or other products which can cause harm? The course will invite introspection and a solution-oriented mindset. We will be learning some psychology about ourselves and our moral development, our implicit ways of figuring out right and wrong. We will evaluate what ethical systems we might reject, and what we might create in their place? How might our life experiences, debates, discussions with our peers compel us to question our own beliefs? In the process, we will build skills in reasoning, speaking persuasively, and listening with an open, flexible mind in order to engage constructively around life’s biggest questions.

    Essential Questions:
    - Just because we have the scientific ability to do something, does that always mean we should?
    - How can examining our ethical thinking help us to lead lives of consequence and fulfillment?

    This Spring 2023 course is UC pending. 
  • Introduction to Fiction Writing

    In this semester elective, students will learn basic craft elements of fiction including plot, character, setting, fictional time, point-of-view, conflict, and dialogue; then they will experiment with these craft elements in their own stories. In addition, students will receive feedback on their stories from their peers during “workshop” and use this feedback to revise. Reading models of published fiction and keeping a journal will be integral parts of this course, but the focus of this elective will be on generating original fiction rather than analyzing published literature. The culminating assessment will be a portfolio of original fiction.

    This course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

    Prerequite: English 1

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • Journalism PPP

    The Journalism class offers an opportunity for students to learn and work in a professional setting as a member of the press, the vital investigative branch of democracy. Students will plan, write, edit, and design the LWHS student print publication, the Paper Tiger, and the online Paper Tiger. Students will write in depth news stories, features, profiles, reviews, and editorials; they must write for all sections of the paper—news, politics, sports, arts & leisure, science & tech, and voices. To get the story, students will work in the field and in the newsroom researching, writing, discussing, and dissecting. The course will facilitate building critical and creative thinking and writing skills, investigative reporting, interviewing, understanding and designing the impact of rhetorical techniques, photography, and page and publication design. As members of the Paper Tiger staff students collaborate to run a small company. Students will consider both the ethics of journalism and the future of different news media. Students must learn Adobe InDesign to publish the paper.

    PPP requirements for the course will be satisfied by students identifying, investigating, and writing one long-form feature that highlights the work of a Bay Area community organization or a vital community issue. This feature requires research, investigation, and interviews off campus. The article will be published in the Paper Tiger and possibly in an external news outlet. In addition, students must write one op-ed and submit it for consideration, for example, to Youth Radio or KQED Perspectives.

    The course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students may enroll in Journalism multiple times. The instructor’s signature is required on the course signup sheet. Current Paper Tiger editors (and students selected as editors for the 2018–19 school year) will be given priority in scheduling, regardless of grade level. This policy is meant to maintain continuity for the newspaper staff.

    (Add/Drop at the semester by permission of instructor only.)

    Prerequisite: English 1

    This yearlong course is UC approved and fulfills the PPP requirement for juniors and seniors.
  • Music and the Brain

    This course will consider a variety of questions considering how music is at the core of what makes us human: the appreciation of music, making music and sharing music. Music is a universal language, and the fact that we are a social species makes clear why music and language are crucial for our existence. There are rich comparisons between the development of language skills in children and the aesthetic appreciation of music throughout our lives. Music plays a part in many aspects of our lives, as a psychological, emotional, scientific, and social experience. Students will read, listen, discuss, research and develop projects that explore questions about music in the human experience: How does the auditory system in the brain respond to language and to music? In what ways are the components of music (rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre) universal and in what ways are they culturally determined? What provides the emotional content of music? What is musical intelligence? How does musical activity stimulate brain function? What causes musical disorders, such as amusia, and how are they distinct from aphasia, the language disorders? How can music enhance memory, and how does our memory relate to our experience of music? How has music been used therapeutically?

    Prerequisites: None

    This semester long course is offered in Fall 2022 and UC approved.
  • Psychology: Brain and Behavior

    Using multiple perspectives, students will look at human behavior from the biological, evolutionary, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, social, and sociocultural points of view. An emphasis is put on how the physical brain, the environment, and human behavior continually interact and influence each other. Students examine readings and experiments on learning, social interactions, memory, thinking, and cognitive development. Genetic and environmental factors underlying development and attachment are also considered. The course is an invitation for introspection and expression as students agree, disagree, and take what is helpful to them and make it their own. There is an emphasis on multiple ways of engaging with the material. Individual projects provide the opportunity for students to explore topics of their choice in more depth.

    Prerequisite: None 

    This is a year long course. It is UC approved.
  • Psychology: Brain and Behavior (PPP)

    An overarching goal of the PPP version of B&B will be to develop empathy as a skill and enhance compassion for people with challenges, experiences and identities different from our own (e.g., the elderly, children with learning differences, adults with disabilities). Students will visit and develop ongoing relationships with a given population of their choosing. As a class, we hope to foster lasting connections with agencies in the bay area which serve communities with challenges and experiences different from our own. This will depend in large part on student initiative and commitment. The course will begin with an introduction to the fundamentals of psychology from B&B classic. We will focus on how we identify, how we act, how we interact, how we develop, how we learn and remember, and how we all face psychological and neurological challenges with all of these. These questions will equip students with the knowledge and emotional skills they will need for the public purpose portion later on. The course highlights how the physical brain, the environment, and human behavior continually interact. The course is an invitation for introspection and expression as students agree, disagree, and take what is helpful to them and make it their own.

    Prerequisite: None 

    This yearlong, UC approved course fulfills the Public Purpose Program requirement for juniors and seniors.


Lick-Wilmerding High School

755 Ocean Avenue | San Francisco, CA 94112 | 415.333.4021
A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.