LFS offers many ways for you to deepen your academic experience. If you’re a 3rd- or 4th-year student wishing to clearly demonstrate competency and mastery of your major, or if you just want to enrich your degree with a unique learning opportunity, this page is for you. These opportunities are engineered to help you transition from being a student to the next step in your career, whether that’s graduate studies or a smooth entry into the working world.
If you’re particularly keen on research or intend to pursue a research-intensive graduate program, you are encouraged to consider completing an undergraduate thesis (available in both the FNH and APBI programs, these courses are numbered 499). The undergraduate thesis gives you an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member, with the material at an advanced level. This project may be of your own design, or it may be part of your supervisor’s ongoing research. Working on an undergraduate thesis ill give you an idea of what it’s like to work at the graduate level focusing in depth on a single topic. It will also give you the opportunity to practice and apply your skills in experimental design, data collection and data analysis. And just like a graduate-level thesis, it will equip you with experience in academic writing and oral presentation. You are encouraged to present your work at the UBC Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC) and in exceptional cases, you may even be able to submit your work for publication in a peer reviewed journal.
If you are in the Honours program for your degree, the undergraduate thesis may be required.
The thesis isn’t for everyone; of the independent study options, the thesis is the most challenging. If you have an interest in research, but are not committed to this level of engagement, consider a Directed Studies – see below!
All undergraduate thesis courses are worth 6 credits, which means they require a significant investment of time and passion.
Registration and thesis approval process:
You will need a strong academic foundation to be considered for an undergrad thesis. It is your responsibility to find an academic supervisor for your thesis, so start looking early! You should contact your designated program advisor for your major (see below for quick links) as well as the individual faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in conducting a project. Do this well in advance of the start of the academic term. We strongly encourage you to start looking at least 4 months in advance of when you would want to be registered in this course. For example, you should approach potential supervisors in the summer regarding projects which would begin in September. Opportunities for conducting projects are limited.
To learn more about expectations and timelines:
If you have questions about the undergraduate thesis, you are encouraged to talk to the program advisor for your major to discuss how to include a thesis within your program requirements.
Examples of past and/or current student thesis projects:
- Does information about dairy cow housing affect the public’s trust in farmers and their milk purchasing intentions?
- Predictive factors of release, euthanasia and mortality in rehabilitated harbor seals
- Factors for Academic Achievement – looking at a sense of belonging, course interest and wellbeing in undergraduate students
- Optimizing and characterizing sour dough starter culture in unconventional doughs
Available in the APBI program only, the undergraduate essay (course number: APBI 498) allows you to complete a comprehensive analysis of the peer-reviewed literature of an approved topic under the supervision of a faculty member. Unlike the Undergraduate Thesis, the essay does not require you to conduct original research. If you take this route, you will typically complete your essay in a single term in the final year of your program. The topic is normally determined together with your supervisor.
Students normally enroll in either the Undergraduate Thesis or the Undergraduate Essay, not both. In exceptional cases, students may do both, and this would require approval from their supervisor.
Undergraduate essay courses are worth 3 credits, and require a significant investment of time and passion.
Registration and essay approval process:
It is your responsibility to find an academic supervisor for your undergraduate essay, so start looking early! Get in touch with your designated program advisor for your major as well as the individual faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in conducting a project well in advance of the beginning of the academic term. We strongly encourage you to start looking at least 4 months in advance of when you would want to be registered in this course. For example, you should approach potential supervisors in the summer regarding essay topics which would start in September.
To learn more about expectations and timelines:
If you have questions about the undergraduate essay, please contact the Program Coordinator for the Applied Biology program. They can help you assess how this option could fit within your program requirements.
Examples of past and/or current student essays:
- Improving and refining euthanasia methods for rodents used in research
- Rhizoremediation as an alternative approach to treat polluted soils: A review
The Applied Biology Practicum (APBI 496) and LFS Career Development Practicum (LFS 496) are ways for you to gain practical
experience in your field of study. In these courses, you work alongside on-site mentors (which could include academic faculty, industry or community partners), to develop skills and knowledge in a particular field. This is hands-on learning in its true sense! Each of these courses is supervised by a faculty member.
For the APBI Practicum, the number of placements available each term is limited. You cannot register yourself –you must apply and be accepted. To review the course syllabus, and current practicum opportunities, go here.
The LFS Career Development Practicum (LFS 496) is open to students in all programs and an excellent opportunity for you
to earn credits while being engaged with a mentor in a local company whose business is food system related. You can also get your hands dirty with existing projects at the UBC Farm. Many of these projects include the opportunity to conduct original research with supervision. Check out the listings of all available practicums and timelines for applications at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. You can also use your own connections to find a company for your placement.
You can earn a maximum of 6 credits from your practicum, either as one 6-credit option or two 3-credit projects.
Registration and approval process:
For LFS 496: You can apply for practicums in February, July and November for practicums that start in May, September and January, respectively.
- APBI 496: please contact the Program Coordinator for the Applied Biology program.
- LFS 496: Get in touch with your designated program advisor for your major to see how the practicum can fit in your program of study, or please contact Veronik Campbell, Community Engaged Education and Partnerships.
Directed studies credits (courses numbered 497) are available across all four undergraduate programs (GRS, FRE, FNH and APBI). In directed studies, you will work on a one-to-one basis with a faculty mentor on an academic project. The Directed
Studies incorporates elements of the Thesis and a Practicum.
Directed Studies allow for flexibility and for you to delve more deeply in to a topic of interest to you. While similar to the Thesis and Essay, Directed Studies do not require a research component. Your final report will give you valuable experience with scientific writing — and you may get to hone your public speaking skills with an oral presentation.
When your project is industry-sponsored and might contain or generate proprietary information, the final report will not be a public document, as is the case with the thesis or essay.
You will be required to prepare a proposal with your academic supervisor with clear learning outcomes and rubric for evaluation that must be signed off by your program advisor.
Normally, directed studies courses are normally worth 3 or 6 credits, but it’s possible to also pursue a 2-credit version.
Registration and directed studies approval process:
It is your responsibility to find an academic supervisor for your directed studies. If you’re planning to undertake directed studies, start seeking an academic supervisor well ahead of when you want to begin. You should contact your designated program advisor as well as the individual faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in conducting a project, well in advance of the beginning of the academic term. We strongly encourage you to start looking at least 4 months in advance of when you would want to be registered in this course. For example, you should approach potential supervisors in the beginning of the summer regarding projects which would start in September. Opportunities for conducting projects are limited.
To learn more about expectations and timelines:
If you have questions about directed studies, you are encouraged to talk to your program advisor to discuss how directed studies could fit within your program requirements. Not sure who your program advisor is? It will be listed on the webpage for your major.
Examples of past and/or current student directed studies projects:
- Applications of genetic modification that could improve agricultural animal welfare
- How predator prey relationships influence body size
- Investigating the effect of a multiple micronutrient supplement on zinc, copper, and selenium concentrations in Cambodian
- Application of phospholipase A2 in cake formulation