Skip to main content

ICAM Major

Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Computer Music and Music Technology




The ICAM Program in the Music and Visual Arts departments draws upon, and aims to bring together, ideas and paradigms from computer science, art and cultural theory. The departments take for granted that the computer has become a meta-medium and that artists and musicians working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works. This makes the program unique among other existing computer art or design programs.

The program also recognizes that creating sophisticated artistic works with computers requires a new model of the creative process, one that combines traditional artistic procedures with the experimental research characteristic of the sciences.

The goals of the program are:

  • to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture
  • to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media
  • to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts
  • to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked into particular software currently available on the market

All courses taken to satisfy major requirements, regardless of the department,  must be taken for a letter grade, and only grades of C- or better will be accepted in the major.


ICAM Music Major Curriculum


Lower Division Requirements 


Visual Arts Design Communication

VIS 41: Design Communication 


Beginning Practice: Choose ONE

  • MUS 1A Fundamentals of Music 1
  • MUS 2A Basic Musicianship 1
  • MUS 5 Sound in Time 
  • VIS 1 or 2 or 3 Art-Making 
  • VIS 60 Intro to Digital Photography 
  • VIS 80 Introduction to Studio 

Math Requirement: Choose a track

Track A


Track B (must take both courses)

MATH 20A and MATH 20B

Track C  (must take all 3 courses)

MATH 10A, MATH 10B, and MATH 10C


Java Requirement: Choose a track

Track A

CSE 11

Track B

CSE 8A and CSE 8B


Theory and History: Choose ONE

  • MUS 4 Introduction to Western Music 
  • MUS 6 Electronic Music 
  • MUS 7 Music, Science, and Computers
  • MUS 13 Worlds of Music
  • MUS 14 Contemporary Music 


Restricted Electives: Choose TWO

  • MUS 1B Fundamentals of Music 2
  • MUS 2B Basic Musicianship 2
  • MUS 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 19
  • VIS 22 Formations of Modern Art 
  • VIS 70N Introduction to Media 


Visitor Series: Choose ONE

  • VIS 10 Computing Arts Lecture Series 
  • MUS 43 Music Department Seminar (1 unit course to be taken for four quarters)


Upper Division Requirements - 12 Courses 

Foundation: Choose THREE

  • VIS 142 Practices in Computing Arts 
  • VIS 145A Digital Media I: Time, Movement, Sound
  • MUS 170 Musical Acoustics 
  • MUS 171 Computer Music I 

Practice: Choose TWO

  • MUS 171 Computer Music I 
  • MUS 172 Computer Music II 
  • MUS 173 Electronic Music Production and Composition 
  • MUS 174A/B/C Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques
  • MUS 176 Music Technology Seminar 
  • MUS 177 Music Programming 
  • TDDE 141 Theatre Process: Sound Design 
  • VIS 109 Advanced Projects in Media
  • VIS 149 Seminar in Contemporary Computer Topics
  • VIS 131 Special Projects in Media 
  • VIS 132 Installation Production and Studio
  • VIS 141A Computer Programming for the Arts I 
  • VIS 141B Computer Programming for the Arts II 
  • VIS 145B Digital Media II
  • VIS 147A Electronic Technologies for Art I 
  • Vis 147B Electronic Technologies for Art II
  • VIS 174 Media Sketchbook
  • VIS 143 Virtual Environments 

History: Choose ONE

  • VIS 159 History of Art and Technology 
  • MUS 114 Music of the 20th Century 

Theory and History: Choose ONE

  • MUS 101ABC
  • MUS 111 World Music Traditions 
  • MUS 114 Music of the 20th Century 
  • MUS 126 Blues: An Oral Tradition 
  • MUS 127 Discover Jazz 
  • MUS 175 Musical Psychoacoustics 
  • PSYCH 138 Sound and Music Perception
  • VIS 151 History of the Experimental Film 
  • VIS 152 Film in Social Context 
  • VIS 152D Identity - Transnational Cinema 
  • VIS 153 The Genre Series 
  • VIS 154 Hard Look at the Movies 
  • VIS 155 The Director Series 
  • VIS 156 Latin American Cinema 
  • VIS 158 Histories of Photography 
  • VIS 159: History of Art and Technology 
  • VIS 194 Fantasy in FIlm 

Senior Project 

  • *MUS 160A Senior Project in Computer Arts 
  • MUS 160B Senior Project in Computer Arts 

Advanced Practice: Choose ONE

  • MUS 172 Computer Music II
  • MUS 174B/C Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques 
  • VIS 141B Computer Programming for the Arts II 
  • VIS 145B Digital Media II
  • VIS 147B Electronic Technologies for Art I 

Electives: Choose TWO additional courses from Practice, Advanced Practice or History/Theory OR

  • ​​​​​​​MUS 198 Directed Group Study 
  • MUS 199 Independent Study 
  • VIS 198 Directed Group Study 
  • VIS 199 Special Studies 
  • AIP 197 Academic Internship 

* Prerequisite: VIS 141B, 145B , 147B, or MUS 172, OR Three of Four Advanced Electives 

Link to Visual Arts Webpage  

Link to Computer Science and Engineering Webpage

Link to Mathematics Webpage

Recommendations for Transfer Students

Transfer students should attempt to complete the following lower-division equivalent courses before transferring to UC San Diego: CSE 11 (or CSE 8A-B), MATH 20A-B (or Math 10A-B-C or Math 15A/CSE 20), MUS 4 and any other lower division courses for the major available at community college. Refer to  ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California's public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

While some of these may be listed on ASSIST, transfer students should be prepared to petition and provide course descriptions, syllabi, and/or other materials that may be required to determine the content of the courses taken at other institutions. 

The Music Department does not allow students to petition ensembles. Music majors who are required to fulfill the 3 quarter ensemble requirement will be required to do so by participating in UC San Diego ensembles.

Transfer students who do not have lower-division courses completed, should enroll in any outstanding lower-division courses for the major by the end of their third quarter at UC San Diego.  By doing this, and following their two year plan closely, students will be able to graduate in two years.

Double Major

Students wanting to pursue a double major in ICAM can submit a petition once they have completed 90 UC units and no later than 135 units. With the approval of both departments and of the College Provost, a student in good standing may declare a double major. Students should arrange an advising appointment with the UG advisor to review the requirements of the major. Students should be prepared to have their Double Major Petition form and a copy of their quarter-by-quarter plan available for review. The Music Department will allow a maximum of 2 upper-division courses to overlap between both majors.