What is a First-Year Seminar?

University seminar courses are small classes designed to give students the opportunity to discuss and research topics of interest in a core subject area. Most university students are in their third or fourth year of study before they have the opportunity to take seminar courses. At Carleton, you are provided with this experience at the first-year level in your first-year seminar (FYSM).

Click here for a video that describes FYSM courses at Carleton University.

Students who begin in January will take CIED 1001 instead of a FYSM course.

Click here to view FYSM & CIED course descriptions.


First-Year Seminar and CIED Instructors are committed to teaching and mentoring first-year students as they make the transition into university life. Instructors incorporate their own academic expertise into the course material, enriching the experience for both the instructor and the student.

Why is there a mandatory First Year Seminar/Core course for ESP students?

All first-year Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science students at Carleton are eligible to take a First-Year Seminar. As an ESP student, you may choose from the First-Year Seminar courses listed on the Course Descriptions sheets enclosed in your Registration package. IESP students normally enroll in the Indigenous Topics FYSM.

Many of these courses are also offered to non-ESP students, but the particular sections (denoted by A, B, C, etc.) in which ESP students enroll are restricted to ESP students. This is so that ESP instructors can identify specific areas of academic reading and writing ESP students may need to develop.

Apart from the fact that your classmates will all be ESP students, this course is just like any other First-Year Seminar – a small first-year credit class with a lot of writing, reading, and group work.

Who are the ESP (Peer) Mentors?

The ESP Mentors are former ESP students who have gone on to study in degree programs.  They will work with you in the First Year Seminar class. Because they have already been through the program, they are excellent resources for you as you begin your academic career.

How can the mentors help you?

Mentors are assigned to your First-Year Seminar classes and will play an active role in class activities. Their job is …

  • to help orient you to the university
  • to share their stories about how they survived first year!
  • to provide you with useful tips on how to have a successful academic year
  • to announce important information
  • to direct you to ESP and campus resources that you might not know about
  • to offer a sympathetic ear
  • to organize social events
  • to help ease your transition into university by being friendly, accessible and knowledgeable!