Bachelor of Arts Community Studies

A Personalized Experience

Imagine this; you are sitting in class at Cape Breton University, getting ready to tackle an assignment on youth crime. Months later you are working with the local police service assisting with a youth crime prevention project; or assisting in a classroom; or working with a social worker; or the top sports team in your community.

The School of Arts and Social Sciences is the home of the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) degree programs; process-based, experiential degree programs that focuses on problem-solving, self-directed learning, critical thinking, reflective learning, group work, action research and preparing students for the ever-changing job market.

BACS Degree Choices

A BACS degree is flexible with many, many options. Students interested in learning more about BACS should explore the regulations and course descriptions for both the three year and four year programs in the CBU Academic Calendar. BACS degree worksheets are available online.

3-Year general, 4-year Major Options, Honours Options

Three and  four year BACS degrees are available. When planning a future career, students need to consider whether the profession and any further educational programs they plan to enter require a three-or-four-year degree.

The 3-year (90 credit) BACS degree allows students to choose from an extensive selection of disciplines. This degree provides you with the flexibility to personalize your program according to your career interests. In addition to the core Community Studies courses, students choose an Academic Field in one discipline plus Career related courses in 2-3 others and electives. 

A 4-year (120 credit) BACS degree is designed to expand student options for those who plan to continue studies at Master level graduate programs or professional schools, or who wish to increase their knowledge in a particular discipline before starting a career. Students complete the core Community Studies courses and electives. The major options in the 4-year Major program are:

BACS Major/Minor degree

Major in 1 discipline from among: Anthropology, Anthropology-Sociology (jointly), Communication, Dramatic Literature, English, Folklore, History, Mathematics, Mi’kmaq Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and (NEW) Sport and Physical Activity Leadership. Minor in another discipline.

BACS Double Major degree

Major in 2 disciplines from among: Anthropology, Anthropology-Sociology (jointly), Communication, Dramatic Literature, English, Folklore, History, Mathematics, Mi’kmaq Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and (NEW) Sport and Physical Activity Leadership.

BACS Area Major degree

Major in 3 disciplines in this customized program. Design a tripartite degree that suits your educational and career needs. The 3 majors are in disciplines that meet the area major requirements as listed in the Academic Calendar. Check out the types of disciplines under Course Descriptions. Approval of the Dean of the School of Arts & Social Sciences Dean is for Area Major degrees.

BACS Honours degree

Honours are offered in Anthropology, Communication, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and (NEW) Sport and Physical Activity Leadership. Students also complete the core Community Studies courses and electives.

BACS and Sport & Physical Activity Leadership (SPAL)

turn your passion for physical activity into a career!

The SPAL courses help students to deepen their insights into issues within this discipline that affect individuals and communities, as well as gain skills and experience in many areas of aport and physical activity.

Students interested in Sport & Physical Activity Leadership (SPAL) can complete any of the following options:

  1. The BACS 4-year degree with SPAL as a Major or a Minor
  2. The BACS 4-year degree with SPAL as an Honours
  3. The BACS 4-year Area Major with SPAL as one of three Majors
  4. The BACS 3-year degree with SPAL as an Academic Field

We seek to offer empowering and effective education promoting informed and active citizens who understand how sport and physical activity issues influence and are impacted by larger social issues. 

Introductory SPAL courses begin with a broad overview and then students can focus on areas they are most interested in, according to their career goals. The four main areas supported at CBU are:

  • Sport Administration and Management
  • Health and Wellness
  • Coaching
  • Outdoor Leadership

Learning about the significance and impact of sport and physical activity in our society is achieved through active learning inside and outside of the classroom. SPAL courses are designed to include experiential learning opportunities. Exploring the foundational theory of topics while also having the opportunity to practice what is learned is a very effective approach to developing knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities for future career opportunities. One example is “Youth in Motion.”

     Youth in Motion

Youth in Motion is a community and school board health initiative. Now in its 8th year, the partners expose grade four students from the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board to activities and lessons, which encourage a healthy lifestyle theme of being physically active and supportive of healthy eating and living.

BACS and Business

Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS)/Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Students can study business in the BACS program in two ways:

  • You may wish to focus on business in your Academic Field within the 3-year BACS degree


  • You may wish to complete both the BACS (90 credit) degree and the BBA degree in 4 years. Specific BBA core courses are required. See the BACS/BBA grad plan form for details.

BACS Music Major

This Music Major is like no other music program in Canada. The program focuses on traditional and tradition-based popular music, with particular emphasis on local musical traditions. It is designed for students who have a passion for music who want to work in the multi-billion dollar global music industry.

Several things set our program apart from other music programs. Through the BACS core Community Studies courses, which include two work placements, students acquire work experience, and are able to make contacts and network within the music world. The program has unique course offerings in a variety of musical traditions (Celtic, Gaelic, Acadian, First Nations) as well as popular music, world music, and music theory.

In addition to the core Community Studies courses and the major courses in music, students have the option of taking a minor in business. This allows students to develop skills in financial management, marketing, tourism and other business-related topics.

  • Study local and diverse cultures
  • Gain music-related work experience
  • Exchange opportunities abroad
  • Learn from top local musicians
  • Minor in business

BACS and Policing

Many BACS graduates have gained employment in police work, corrections and the law. BACS provides a comprehensive and flexible platform to prepare you for a police training program. Beginning with the Community Studies courses that form the core of the program, you will build skills in problem solving, group dynamics, communications, critical thinking, research and writing. These courses are further enhanced by work experience placements that will give you practical experience. Added to these courses is a police preparatory course.

     Police Preparatory Course

This course assists students in preparation for a career as a police officer. Instructors include Cape Breton Regional Police Service Officers and CBU faculty and staff. Past students have successfully completed the police training program at the Atlantic Police Academy (APA) in Prince Edward Island and the RCMP Training Centre in Saskatchewan. CBU has a memorandum of understanding with the Atlantic Police Academy (APA) for credits in the BACS degree. The APA guarantees 15 seats for those Police Prep Course students who meet their entrance requirements.

Pat Maher
Associate Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-D

Phone: 902.563.1230

Jane Connell
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-A

Phone: 902.563.1222

Bettina Callary
Associate Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-C

Phone: 902.563.1452

John Hudec
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-E

Phone: 902.563.1982

Sue MacKenzie
Part-time Instructor, Community Studies

Phone: 902-371-3473

Emily Root
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-B

Phone: 902-563-1889

Pam Seville
Part-time Instructor, Community Studies