A personal, fit-for-all-profiles study abroad program

With 2-15 students per class session, ALBA proves to be a very unique study abroad experience. Class is an open conversation, never a lecture.

Offering upper-division classes in Liberal Arts, Economics and Global, International Business, Spanish Language and Culture,  Political Science, History, and more.

Excellent professors from prestigious Spanish universities

Excellent professors from some of the best universities in Spain and the US.

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With the accreditation of Portland State University, and the partnership support of the University of Washington Foster School of Business and Seattle Pacific University.

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Learn beyond the classroom and become culturally immersed in an amazing European city

Portland State University

Easy Credit Transfers

All ALBA classes are accredited by Portland State University, Oregon. In other words: No matter the Institution you are coming from, you can apply to our study abroad program and get credit for the classes you take here, in Barcelona.

University of Washington (UW) students receive direct UW credits for all classes taught by the ALBA study abroad program.

Personalised study abroad program

Tailored to your needs

Choose the length of your experience, and study abroad in Barcelona up to four consecutive quarter terms.

You also have the flexibility to choose any of the courses being offered in a term –as long as there are no conflicting classes on the schedule– that way you can broaden the scope of your learnings by spicing up your course mix to get a cultural head-start.

Applications Open

Receiving applications for academic years 2022 and 2023

All Course Offerings

Courses not being offered in any given term can be requested and offered based on demand.

Students should see their academic advisor about all courses of interest.

Highlighted Intercultural Competence Courses 

The ability to function effectively across cultures, to act appropriately, communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds is a key aspect of being a global citizen.

AT ALBA we firmly believe that gaining Intercultural Competence is a fundamental part of any Study Abroad Experience. Therefore, we are determined to offer you courses that will deepen your knowledge in this aspect and prepare you for the future:

Political Science, History and Geography Courses

5 quarter credits – 3-4 semester credits

(SOC 410 PSU)

Highly recommended for all ALBA students. Getting to know the local culture and history from an intercultural perspective is a key part of your study abroad experience. Students will benefit greatly from understanding Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and the European Union.

This course introduces the student to contemporary issues in Barcelona and Catalonia by paying close attention to its cultural, historic, and artistic patrimony. It begins by exploring the pressing issues of today — the question of independence in Catalonia and the widely acclaimed “Barcelona Model.

University of Washington students have the possibility of receiving additional writing credit for this course.

Download the syllabus

(PS 399 PSU)

This course explores issues of development, the state, and democracy within the Mediterranean region with a special attention to Southern Europe, North Africa, Turkey, and the “Balkans” (from a comparative perspective). In this exploration we will pay attention to issues of Modernity and its significance and connection to development, the state, and democracy. The religion-politics duality is of essence throughout the semester; and the role and relevance of ontological thinking for the purpose of understanding and explaining social reality will be a common intellectual thread throughout the semester. A cultural component (films, related to Mediterranean political issues) will be part of this course.

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(PS 399 PSU)

This course deals with the politics of development from a comparative perspective. We will be addressing development issues across different points in time and across different world regions. Two main topics/concepts will be analyzed throughout the semester: development and the state. We will study Latin America, Africa, and Asia, which form part of what is known as the developing world or Third World, which in fact we will challenge this labeling. We will as well present a comparative overview of the Latin American, African, and Asian regions in general; and address and familiarize ourselves with the debates surrounding the virtues & vices of market economies (and globalization); and the role and relevance of ontological thinking for the purpose of understanding and explaining social reality will be a common intellectual thread throughout the semester. A cultural component, (films, related to development politics), will be part of this course.

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(PS 399 PSU)

Political development in Europe: theory and historical experience; national political systems compared. The various forms of democracy: parties, elections, institutions and interest groups. Transition issues: immigration and cultural autonomy; the EU decision-making process.

Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced, Catalan (available by arrangement)

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(PS 316 PSU)

Art is inherently political. Politics have forever shaped art – a universal phenomenon – constant throughout history and culture. Entire cities have been shaped by this symbiotic relationship over the centuries. Art is truly an integral, irrefutable part of the metropolis, and not limited to museums, but alive in the actual fabric of the city and streets themselves.

This course is divided into three sections, each examining the historical relationship between art and politics and the repercussions within the metropolis, the city of Barcelona.

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(PS 399 PSU)

This course examines major social, political, and economic changes in Spain (Catalunya & Euskadi). With an emphasis on the last 30 years, this seminar-style course will aim to understand different explanations of current Spanish Politics and Society. Therefore, this course is geared to all students who want to understand the changes that have taken place in Spain (with a focus on Catalunya and Euskadi) during the last years since the Democratic transition. Nevertheless, the Spanish Second Republic, its demise, the Spanish Civil War, and Franco’s regime will be discussed since they are of essence to understand Spain’s current status. The role and relevance of ontological thinking for the purpose of understanding and explaining social reality will be a common intellectual thread throughout the semester. A cultural component, (films, related to Spanish politics), will be part of this course.

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(ARCH 410 PSU)

This subject covers main issues in urban history, architecture and planning focusing on the main challenges for urban design at the present moment and presenting the city of Barcelona as a particular case study. Main discussions on urban economy, society, ecology and culture are introduced and illustrated with specific readings. The contents focus on the process of urban change that has transformed cities and urban spaces since the last third of the 20th century. Issues such as gentrification, urban sprawl, urban regeneration and urban design in public urban spaces are considered using the city of Barcelona as an urban laboratory to observe in detail and understand the complexity of these dynamics. Finally, the analysis of the role and implications of urban public spaces critically show both the goals of urban planning and the real social use of space that define cities and urban life at the present moment.

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(WS 375u PSU)

The purpose of this course is for students to learn about the history of sexualities, the complexity of gender in the Spanish-speaking world over the course of time, how repressive laws have affected individual experiences of sex and gender, and how more recently both activists and scholars have challenged normative sexualities, offering new opportunities for community and support. While based in academic theory and readings, this course encourages student experiential learning onsite in Barcelona.

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(HIST 399 PSU)

This course will cover the history of Spain from its emergence as a “composite monarchy” in the fifteenth century to the present day. We will begin with the age of exploration and the creation of the world’s largest empire since the time of Alexander the Great under the Habsburgs. We will continue with the decline of Spain during Europe’s Thirty Years’ War and then move to the reconstruction of the state under the Bourbon monarchy in the eighteenth century. The latter third of the course will cover the modern period focusing on liberalism, economic development, social change, civil war, Francoism, and the transition to democracy. Along the way, we will touch upon a variety of themes, including religion, the Inquisition (and its abolition), backwardness, the “Black Legend,” regional differentiation, and women in society. The last part of the class will touch on the last 40 years in Spanish history.

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(HIST 457 PSU)

The class will cover the social, religious, political and economic history of Spain from the Islamic conquest of the 4th century to the 18th century.

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(HIST 399 PSU)

This course covers the major social, economic, and political trends in western Europe from the Renaissance to the present. Topics covered include: Renaissance, Reformation, the crisis of the seventeenth century, the French Revolution, the industrial revolution, liberalism, the nation state, the world wars of the twentieth century, the Cold War, and the emergence of a new global order. This will not be a “blow-by-blow” narrative history. Rather, the idea is to introduce the student to broad trends taking place over centuries that have served to structure what we now think of the modern west.

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(GEOG 399 PSU)

The main aim of the course is to offer an overview of how information and telecommunications technologies are changing both urban spaces and human behavior in cities.

The course is organized into three parts:

  • Firstly, some preliminary definitions are presented. Concepts such as ‘digital technology’, ‘real-time communication’ or ‘smart city’ are explained.
  • Secondly, key evidence and facts are presented to illustrate how information and telecommunication technologies have definitely changed the nature of many different economic, social and cultural processes and, as a consequence, the whole urban life and lifestyle. A wide range of examples are presented to explain how digital technologies have provided with innovation and creativity the urban planning and management.
  • Thirdly, some conclusions are presented on how digital technologies can have a stronger influence on a city’s future urban life.

Finally, the course approaches these contents using the city of Barcelona as an urban laboratory where testing the previously mentioned ideas on the basis of existing on-going projects to develop Barcelona as a future smart city.

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(GEOG 355u PSU)

The aim of the course is to focus on the explanation of recent urban evolutions and transformation processes in urban Europe taking as an example and study case the city of Barcelona. The course will consider the main trends characterising contemporary urban transitions from the economic, social and territorial perspectives. The discussion on the changing patterns in landscapes is presented as a useful approach to both evaluate and to achieve a better understanding of the processes of urban change and transformation. In this way, the “shifting landscapes” of Barcelona are explained as the physical and morphological translation of other hidden shifts in the urban economy, society and culture.

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(GEOG 331u PSU)

The subject covers main issues on globalization and territorial change worldwide. Main discussions on global economy, digital technology, environmental, social and cultural transformations in regions are introduced and illustrated with specific readings. The contents focus on how postindustrial economies and postmodern cultures are defining a real functionally integrated world. Particularly, how the process of internationalization of places which synthetically represents globalization can be explained as a negotiation between the global and the local. Key study cases are offered regarding both the increasing capability for global transportation, telecommunication or consumption and the new importance of local peculiarities. Finally, the city of Barcelona is presented as an urban laboratory to observe and understand how these global dynamics affect and interact with local places.

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Spanish Language & Culture Courses

6 quarter credits – 4 semester credits

Spanish language classes are taught in Spanish for all levels. These classes are designed to develop and sharpen Spanish language skills by exploring local Spanish and Catalan culture including its geography, history, art, architecture, music, film and traditions. The class uses innovative materials and tasks to provide the optimum context for acquiring greater knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. A significant amount of class time is spent out of the classroom in the streets, markets, and monuments of Barcelona for contextual learning which emphasizes and develops communicative strategies which lead to greater autonomy and fluency.

SPAN 199 – Beginner: Very little to no previous Spanish
SPAN 199A – Download the syllabus
SPAN 199B – Download the syllabus

SPAN 299 – Intermediate: Have a good base of comprehension and expression
SPAN 299A – Download the syllabus
SPAN 299B – Download the syllabus

SPAN 399 – High Intermediate: Ya tiene un buen nivel de español y quiere mejorar.
SPAN 399 – Download the syllabus

(SPAN 330 PSU/399)

Taught in Spanish and completely outside of the classroom in the streets of Barcelona, monuments, museums and markets. This class is designed to develop and sharpen Spanish language skills by exploring local Spanish and Catalan culture including its geography, history, art, architecture, music, film and traditions. The class uses innovative materials and tasks to provide the optimum context for acquiring greater knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. The class is built around out-of-class activities with an emphasis placed on communicative strategies which lead to greater autonomy and fluency.

Nivel Intermedio-Alto: Habla español bien.
Cada clase tiene lugar FUERA DEL AULA. Se trata de tareas linguisticas y culturales por las calles, museos, monumentos y mercados de Barcelona

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(SPAN 299 PSU / SPAN 399 PSU)

This course is designed for intermediate students of the Spanish language. Students will practice their language skills and design a professional portfolio. Readings will provide models for practice in writing resumes, job applications, professional letters, interviews and marketing materials necessary in today’s international professional environment including NGOs.

This course is guided by the national standards, known as the five Cs: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Community. This second year Spanish course is an intermediate level four-skills course designed for students with one year or more of previous study of Spanish at the university level. The main objectives of this course are to increase students’ reading and writing skills, oral production, and listening comprehension with focus on professional development.

Required: a good base of comprehension and expression.
Designed for business and non-business related majors

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  • Classes conducted in Spanish
  • All levels of Spanish are accommodated
  • Level tests will be taken during orientation
  • Course work (papers, presentations, projects) in Spanish. English if granted exception.

Liberal Arts Courses

5 quarter credits – 3-4 semester credits

(COM 415 PSU)

This course maximizes students’ intercultural experience in Barcelona by helping them recognize the explicit connections between the skills developed while being abroad and the ones highly demanded in the job market. To achieve this purpose, this course bridges the gap between how the new culture is presented in this digitalized era and the means by which students can effectively acquire intercultural skills while being in a new home, Barcelona, as well as his/her trips across Europe. Students will study critical concepts in order to enhance their familiarity with academic notions of intercultural, interpersonal communication and global competence, as well as the relationship between psychology, culture, and new technologies. This will help students understand why being abroad is a life changing experience related with the process of identity formation: intercultural scenarios are perfect to anticipate real-world situations and practice skills needed to succeed in their professional and personal life.

On the one hand, this course uses several Spanish, Catalan, European and US artistic examples in order to practice intercultural skills as well as the aforementioned academic notions (Films, TV Shows, TV Commercials and Documentaries). As a result, students will also be able to compare and examine concrete cultural paradigms from the US, Spain and Catalonia. On the other, since students will be in Barcelona, this course offers several field studies that are meant to understand local culture, to motivate the idea of experiencing intercultural communication first-hand and from their own personal experiences while living in another culture.

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Linked Content
(INTL 399 PSU)

The course aims to initiate students to the history and culture of 20th and 21st Century Spain through the film and literary perspective conferred by Spanish filmmakers and novelists to the socio-historical events that took place from 1936 to the post-global financial crisis age. This course offers the possibility of exploring how cinema and literature can be a lucrative method of learning Spanish contemporary history, politics, culture, and society, a key factor for a successful integration to the host culture while studying abroad. Therefore, while this course invites to experience and interpret films and novels produced under the Franco’s censorship and during the democracy, it also offers an astonishing space to value Franco’s overall impact on Spanish society, both during the totalitarian regime (1939-1975) and since the restoration of the democracy. Finally, this course also pays close attention to the transformation of Spanish culture after the 2008 crisis by analyzing the Golden Age of Spanish TV Shows, when we will address topics related to the dichotomy between global firms and national governments, the idea of liberty in a consumer society, the moral and ethical choices in business and political parties as well as the concept of the crisis of democracy.

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(ART 410 PSU)

A survey of Spanish and Catalonian art and architecture using the city of Barcelona as the classroom. From Ancient Rome through the Middle Ages, including Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture, the Golden Age of Spanish Painters, where the influence of Humanism, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, and other political and social changes influence the works of Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya. The course deals with the Art Nouveau movement in Barcelona, where the works of architects such as Gaudí and Puig i Cadalfach are seen as a direct reaction to the spoils of the Industrial Revolution, the early 20th Century Avant-Garde movements, with Picasso, Dalí, and Miró all playing major roles, and finally, Barcelona’s urban transformation from major, industrialized city to its post-Olympic status in the 21st century.

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(ART 299 PSU)

A hands-on course (limited to 10 students per course) with an on-site approach that employs art as a tool for developing a historical understanding of modern Spanish and Catalan masters, including five of Spain’s most prominent artists and their work, representing Impressionism, Costumbrismo, Cubism, Surrealism, and New Realism. Through analysis, interpretation, art and architecture, on-site sketching, lectures, and discussion, students will challenge their visual skills with drawing, painting, collage, and journaling using the city of Barcelona as a backdrop. The course provides a strong foundation for future courses in art history, art theory, and the making of art in general. See the syllabus for further description.

This incredibly innovative, hands-on approach to learning, experiencing and enjoying Barcelona’s art history is taught by Professor Craig Markarian.

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International Business and Economics Courses

5 quarter credits – 3-4 semester credits

(EC 441 PSU)

International economics is divided into two broad subfields: international trade and international money. International trade focuses on real transactions in the international economy, that is, on those transactions that involve a physical movement of goods. On the other hand, international money focuses on financial transactions and refers to the monetary side of the international economy. This course deals with the second aspect of international economics.

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(BA 385/MGMT 399 PSU)

Organizations do not exist in a vacuum. Every day, businesses and their employees face a wide range of pressures and constraints that comprise the political, social, legal, and ethical environment of business. The purpose of this course is to dramatically increase your understanding of these forces and prepare you to become a more effective member of the international business community.

The course is organized into three modules:

  1. Making Ethical Decisions
  2. Managing Relationships
  3. Building Socially Responsible Systems, Practices, and Policies.

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(BA 311/MKTG 399 PSU)

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental marketing concepts and their application by business and non-business organizations. The goal is to expose the students to these concepts as they are used in a wide variety of settings, including consumer goods firms, manufacturing and service industries, and small and large businesses. The course will give you an overview of marketing strategy issues, elements of a market – company, customers, and competition, as well as the fundamental elements of the marketing mix – product, price, placement (distribution), and promotion. In addition, the course adopts a modern, customer-centric view of marketing and will, via managerial marketing models, prepare students to comfortably apply the marketing strategies in a quantitative, precise, and informed fashion. As with any class, the knowledge that you take away from the class will be determined in large part by the degree to which you rigorously pursue an understanding of the materials covered. This includes reading the assigned materials, asking informed questions, and productively interacting with your peers in team assignments.

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(MGMT 446 PSU)

This course focuses on the notion of communication competence in multicultural settings for managing organizations effectively. It aims to explore what intercultural communication and pragmatics are, and more importantly, the extreme value that good intercultural communicators add to organizations for cross-culture relations both internally and externally. The course encourages contemplation of the nature of the
communicative process across organizations, among management and representatives of different cultures, speaking different first languages.

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(EC 410 PSU)

The principal objective of this course is to understand the nature and significance of trade – flows of goods and services – between countries. This task will involve asking why these flows arise in the first place and what effects they have on the countries involved (usually, two in our analyses). Beyond that, we shall also ask whether, and under what conditions, these effects are good, bad or indifferent and what policies might therefore be deployed to improve or alleviate the situation – and in turn, what effects these policies may have on the other countries.

Then, following the mainly theoretical analysis, we will look at trade policies in historical perspective, particularly the evolution of the world trading system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GAIT) and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO). Much of the history of trade relations over this Post-World War II period has been a struggle between national commitments to free trade and more immediate short run (SR) domestic considerations.

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This is an introductory course designed to get you started with business data. The ability to understand and interpret data is becoming increasingly important in the industry. A good understanding of statistics is a requirement to make correct and relevant interpretations of data. This course will give you a working knowledge of Excel with the aim of getting to use it for more advance topics in Business and Finance. It will take you from basic operations such as reading data into excel using various data formats, organizing and manipulating data, to various advanced functionality (like confidence interval, hypothesis testing) of Excel using examples.

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(MGMT 200)

This course introduces students to the basic structure and principles of the American legal system and provides an overview of legal issues affecting businesses. The course introduces students to the most important laws that affect and influence business, how laws are made, what legal tools businesses have to resolve legal disputes, and the specific topics important to businesspeople and entrepreneurship. Students will acquire core competencies in these areas, and be better equipped to recognize potential legal issues, and speak authoritatively with attorneys.

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(FIN 456 PSU)

This course focuses on the two essential elements of international finance, often called “multinational” finance because in reality the flow of funds across national boundaries is conducted almost entirely by large corporations and large banks with international operations.

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(BA 302/MGMT 399 PSU)

The field of Organizational Behavior has evolved to help organizations manage and lead their people in a way that maximizes the organization’s success and employee wellbeing. This course is an introduction to the basic concepts and topics in leadership and organizational behavior (OB). We will survey several topics that are related to managing and leading people in organizations, including personality, decision making, motivation, leadership, team dynamics, negotiations, and organizational culture. Throughout this course, we will examine how individuals in organizations function across different contexts and levels of analysis: individually, inter-personally and in groups, and in organizations.

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(MKTG 376 PSU)

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of global business. We will examine contemporary issues regarding the political, social, and economic consequences of the globalization of markets and industries. We will also examine the responses of multinational enterprises to the challenges of globalization.

Topics include: National business systems, regional and multilateral integration, international trade and investment, the global financial system, culture, ethics and international operations. Because of its introductory nature, the course will introduce a large number of key issues whose understanding can be deepened through subsequent courses or readings.

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(BA 199/PHIL 314 U)

This course introduces students to the digital business model of the so-called AI economy in order to understand and learn its ethical and real-world consequences by watching films, documentaries, and TV shows. While we will focus on key questions about the effects of new technologies, the course seeks to identify and forecast future ethical issues at the intersection of human behavior, psychology, democracy, society, science, the world of business and digital marketing. The purpose is to recognize the moral limits of certain business practices that use infallible predictive models or AI systems; these have. transformed our everyday life and modified the key human qualities. Ultimately, this course is also designed to help students to acquire and learn skills for making personal and professional ethical decisions, with their digital future always in mind.

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(MKTG 363 PSU)

This course is designed to provide you with an understanding of the study of consumer behavior from a marketing point of view. Emphasis will be placed on theories from behavioral sciences and psychology with both a theoretical and applications-oriented perspective. Throughout the quarter we will study how people respond to the marketing of products and services, and how business managers can use consumer research, along with technology and data analytics, to build better relationships with their customers. Throughout the quarter we will focus on how consumers evaluate product offerings, and the role branding plays in decision-making process. Emphasis will be placed on long-term strategies that enable companies to sustain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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(EC 410 PSU)

The aim of this course is to get to know the European Union from an economic perspective. We will study the evolution of this integration agreement, which started as Customs Union and where some of the member countries evolved into a Monetary Union. Special reference will be made to the implications on Member States economies derived from adopting a single currency, as well as the recent enlargement of the Central and Eastern European countries. We will go through the historical evolution of European integration insisting on economic issues, from the Treaty of Rome (1957) up to the present.

This course introduces the main economic aspects of the current development of the European Union (EU) and its policies. The course covers the process of European Integration and its economic impacts on different regions. Special attention will be devoted to the analysis of the economic opportunities and challenges generated by economic integration, and to the assessment of the policies designed to support this process and mitigate its potential side-effects.

The course will touch on the institutional, political and historical background of European integration, though its main focus is on the economic analysis of the policies and prospects for the European Union. Some recent hot topics in the international policy agenda like rising public debt and the euro crisis will also be covered.

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(BA 213 PSU – ACCTG 225 UW)

In this course students take on the perspective of management and evaluate how to make decisions based on accounting information.

Prerequisites: It is expected that basic accounting knowledge presented in an introductory financial accounting class is understood.

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Universitat Pompeu Fabra courses included in your tuition fee

ALBA has recently partnered with Universitat Pompeu Fabra, which is according to many studies, the number one Spanish university. Allowing us to offer an even wider range of classes and an even richer Study Abroad Experience.

Taking courses at the UPF has plenty of benefits for you, make sure you don’t miss out on this unique oportunity