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The Oral Final

The Human Situation is unique on the Houston campus for having an oral final examination. This is a panel style 45-minute discussion between a Human Situation professor and three classmates. The professor administering your exam will be a member of your team of lecturers (Alpha or Omega) but will not be your discussion leader. While you will have seen this professor from previous lectures, you will not have had extended time with them. The other two students taking the exam with you will also be from your lecture team but not your discussion group.

The oral final assesses a different set of capacities from a typical 3-hour written final and has come to be highly valued by the faculty for allowing a more focused and creative opportunity for students to shine. The exam assesses a student's:

  • quality of verbal expression
  • demonstration of knowledge of lectures
  • originality of thought
  • quality of engagement with other students
  • knowledge of texts and connecting ideas between texts
  • coherence of arguments
  • initiative and assertiveness
  • contribution to dialog
  • professionalism and courtesy

In a best-case scenario, the exam is an excited conversation between avid readers that flies by. This is the whole point: to initiate a great conversation that will hopefully become habit-forming as the student embraces liberal education.


The oral final is scheduled for you individually at the end of the term, so its date will vary according to your time preference and professor availability. In the last four weeks of the course, you will be contacted about scheduling your exam, and you will submit your availability via an online form. You will later find out the date, time and examiner when the master schedule is published.

Student Availability Link

Please submit your exam availability as early as possible. If for any reason your availability changes (before the submission deadline), please feel free to resubmit your availability using the submission link. If you do not submit exam availability, you will be randomly assigned an exam time. Once the exam schedule is posted, no changes can be made. If you have any additional questions or problems, please contact the TA for your team.