Integrated Studies in Land & Food Systems (MSc, PhD)

(Photo: Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm)

Arguably the most important challenge for the world community in the 21st Century is Global Food Security – our ability to create a sufficient, healthy, safe, culturally relevant and economically accessible food system for everyone. Sustainable food systems will require more than technological advances, and must integrate economic, social and environmental relationships, thus involving community, land and food systems.

New solutions will demand that researchers and policy makers approach the task differently from in the past. We can no longer expect solutions to come from a single discipline. The Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems graduate program offers you the opportunity to focus on such key complex issues. It encourages you to use holistic approaches that integrate knowledge from across disciplines to find solutions relevant to diverse communities.

The Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems program (ISLFS) is for graduate students wishing to work within emerging interdisciplinary fields.

Admission is in accordance with requirements set by UBC’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. Application to the ISLFS is not restricted to students with a degree in one of the disciplines in agricultural sciences or agroecology. Successful applicants can come from any recognized university degree program, and this diversity is reflected in the current graduate students enrolled in the program.

Prospective students should consult the general LFS Graduate Admissions page for more information.

Application Deadlines for MSc/PhD applicants:

  • For May 2015 start date, deadline is September 2014
  • For September 2015 start date, deadline is January 2015
  • For January 2016 start date, deadline is June 2015

In order to receive full funding consideration, applicants must have all documents submitted by January 30.

Masters students will complete and present their research proposal along with most of their courses within the first year of their program. Normally they will be expected to defend their dissertation at the end of their second year. Doctoral students will usually complete course work and their candidacy exam within two years, and the defence of their doctoral dissertation in their third or fourth years.

The minimum course requirements for Masters degrees are 30 credits, of which at least 18 must be numbered 500 and above. A maximum of 6 credits at the undergraduate level in courses numbered 300 to 499 may be counted toward the requirements of a master’s degree. The M.Sc. research thesis (LFS 549) is 12 credits.

Coursework, selected in consultation with the student’s supervisory committee, includes graduate courses in Land and Food Systems and from other areas relevant to each student’s research. Please consult the UBC Calendar for course timetable details.

Outline of program(s) for typical students (details of the required courses can be found here):

LFS 500 (3)
Electives (15) in consultation with the student’s advisory committee
LFS 549 (12)
Total Credits 30

LFS 500 (3)
LFS 649 (0)
Students are expected to demonstrate a strong competency in methodologies and may, therefore, be required to take additional coursework.


  • A comprehensive examination for Ph.D. students
  • Defence of the thesis for Ph.D. and M.Sc. students.

Photo Name Title Research Interests
Rick Barichello Professor Regulated agricultural markets and farm quotas, world food markets, trade policy, poverty alleviation, food security, rural-urban linkages (note - only considers students with a strong background in economics or agricultural economics)
Gwen Chapman Associate Dean; Professor Food habits; family food decision making; gender and food choice; qualitative research; sociology of food and eating
Eduardo Jovel Associate Professor Ethnobotany, mycology, natural product chemistry and Aboriginal health
cropped-carol-mcausland.jpg Carol McAusland Associate Professor; Graduate Advisor Environmental policy, regulated markets, carbon footprints, globalization, and international trade
Andrew Riseman Associate Professor Ornamental plant breeding, plant tissue culture technologies, biotic and abiotic stress resistance
Alejandro Rojas (NOT accepting students) Associate Professor Institutional adaptations to climate change; environmental conflicts and their impacts on organisational change towards social and ecological sustainability, food security and sustainability environmental sociology; ecological anthropology; sociology and anthropology of knowledge.
Brent Skura (NOT accepting students) Associate Professor Food Microbiology, immunoglobulins, lactofericin, ozone, salmon quality, food spoilage, food safety
Sean Smukler Assistant Professor Agricultural landscape ecology, biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development
Tom Sullivan Professor Biodiversity, conservation, agroecosystems, wildlife
Hannah Wittman Assistant Professor Rural and environmental sociology; agrarian citizenship; food security and food sovereignty; community and rural development; agrarian political economy; social movements.

Graduates from the ISLFS program have the skills necessary to work for government organizations and NGOs creating policy on food security and food sovereignty, community gardens, large- and small-scale agriculture firms, education and school nutrition advisory boards, poverty outreach organizations, and many others.