Sustainable Agriculture and Environment

Sustainable Agriculture and Environment

This is truly where land and food systems all come together. In UBC’s Sustainable Agriculture and Environment program, you’ll be learning how to produce food in a way that protects our soils, water and air, how to manage biodiversity and habitat for the organisms we rely on to help us grow our food, and how to grow food in urban environments. All of which primes you for a professional career in shaping a more sustainable, food-secure future.

What You Need to Know

It’s challenging, it’s hands-on, and it’s practical expertise for a world that needs to figure out food solutions. In Sustainable Agriculture and Environment (SAGE), you’ll apply your thinking to a range of environmental challenges, including sustainable crop production, food security, biodiversity, soil and water resources management, and climate change. You can tailor your SAGE studies to focus on your particular interests, too, whether they’re in agricultural production, integrated agro-ecosystem management, plant science or soil science.

You’ll be working toward a professional designation in pursuing this major, and as such, you are eligible to enrol as a student member of the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists. Depending on your electives, professional designations include:

  • Professional Agrologist with BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA)
  • Registered Professional Biologist (with the College of Applied Biology)
  • Applied Biology Technician (with the College of Applied Biology)

In Sustainable Agriculture and Environment (SAGE), you’ll study the application of soil, plant and agro-ecological sciences in enhancing sustainable food production, while protecting and strengthening the land. Talk about a hero’s work! The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the UBC Farm is where you’ll integrate real-world experience with your classroom learning, as well as in our rooftop garden and in community gardens across the city.

SAGE combines your core academic courses with electives that allow you to focus on your individual interests. Uncork the science behind a good bottle of wine, learn how to grow food without soil, and explore the possibilities of insects as an increasingly important source of healthy, sustainable human sustenance. You’ll have opportunities to develop your research skills and build out your competencies through research experience, internships and practicums, co-ops and job placements. Upon graduation you’ll be prepared for professional employment or for further academic study.

In completing your Sustainable Agriculture and Environment degree, you will take a combination of degree requirements (required of all students) and restricted electives (courses selected from a curated list of approved electives). You’ll be able to round it all out with some unrestricted electives (courses you get to pick yourself).

Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Major

Note: students are encouraged to take courses across themes. The following categories are merely intended as suggestions for students interested in particular themes. If students are interested in other APBI courses not on this list, they are encouraged to contact their Program Advisor, Lesley Dampier (

General Interest

  • CONS 101 Introduction to Conservation     
  • CONS 200 Foundations of Conservation      
  • CONS 210 Visualizing Climate Change       
  • CPSC 110 Computation, Programs and programming (4)
  • GEOB 102 Our Changing Environment: Climate & Ecosystems
  • GEOB 103 or EOSC 110 Changing Environment: Water & Landscapes or The Solid Earth: A Dynamic Planet
  • GEOB 270
  • FRE 302* or ECON 311**
  • Computation (choose one of EOSC 211 Computer Methods in Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences or CPSC 110 Computation, Programs, and Programming)
  • Hydrology (choose one of EOSC 329 Groundwater Hydrology, FRST 385 Watershed Hydrology, GEOB 305 Introduction to Hydrology)         

*Prerequisite: one of ECON 101 or ECON 310

**Credit will be given for only one of ECON 311 and ECON 102


  • APBI 327 Introduction to Entomology
  • APBI 361 Key indicators of Agroecosystem Sustainability
  • APBI 413 Stress and Coping in Animals
  • APBI 414 Animals and Global Issues
  • APBI 423 Ecological Restoration
  • APBI 427 Insect Ecology
  • APBI 428 Integrated Pest Management
  • APBI 444 Agroforestry
  • APBI 495 Principles of Wildlife Management in Forests and Agricultural Environments
  • BIOL 205 Comparative Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 204 Vertebrate Structure and Function
  • LFS 450* or ABPI 460* Land Food and Community III or Advanced Agroecology

*If one is not taken as a requirement

Crop Production

  • APBI 222 Introduction to Horticulture
  • APBI 322 Horticultural Techniques
  • APBI 328 Weed Science
  • APBI 417 Production & Postharvest Physiology of Vegetable Crops
  • APBI 442 Grapevine and Berry Crop Biology or APBI 443 Field Study of Wine Grape Production

Plant Science

  • APBI 318 Applied Plant Breeding
  • APBI 324 Intro to Seed Plant Taxonomy
  • APBI 426 Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • APBI 440 Plant Genomics
  • BIOL 200* or BIOL 201* Fundamentals of Cell Biology or Introduction to Biochemistry
  • BIOL 260 Fundamentals of Physiology
  • BIOL 352 Plant Physiology II: Plant Development
  • CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry for the Biological Sciences
  • CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Laboratory
  • Genetics (one of BIOL 233 Genetics for Life; BIOL 234 Fundamentals of Genetics; FRST 302 Forest Genetics)

*If one is not taken as a requirement

Soil Science

  • APBI 342 Soil Biology
  • APBI 401 Soil Processes
  • APBI 403 Soil sampling, analysis and data interpretation (offered alternate years)
  • APBI 412 Below ground ecosystems

All Themes

  • APBI 365 Summer Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • APBI 490 Topics in Applied Biology
  • APBI 497 Directed Studies
  • APBI 498 Undergraduate Essay
  • LFS 496 Career Development Internship

source: Electives/SAAE

You will need a strong science foundation as a Sustainable Agriculture and Environment student, so you’ll take first-year chemistry, math and biology before moving on to the subject-specific courses. There are too many exciting courses to list here, but some of the learning you can look forward to in this program includes:

  • APBI 210: Vascular Plants
  • APBI 260 & 360: Agroecology I and II
  • APBI 327: Introduction to Entomology
  • APBI 402: Sustainable Soil Management

To see the complete list of required courses for this program, please consult the UBC Academic Calendar. Current students, please use the ‘Degree Navigator’ tool in your Student Service Centre (SSC) to track your progress.


If you’re a high achiever, or have a deep and abiding interest in contributing to research, then the Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Honours program just might be the perfect fit. Admission to the Honours program is competitive. To learn more about this option, please consult the UBC Academic Calendar.


You may choose to supplement your Sustainable Agriculture and Environment major with a minor program, which involves taking courses in a subject area outside of your specialization. As an APBI student, you’re eligible to apply for a Minor in Arts, Commerce, Fermentations, Sustainable Food Systems, or Science. Learn more about minors, including application timelines, here.

Dual Degree with Master of Management

If you are interested in complementing your LFS degree with a strong foundation in management, consider applying for the Bachelor of Science (Applied Biology) – Master of Management Dual Degree. Please note: admission to this program is primarily available to students coming directly out of high school. Depending on enrolment, the UBC Sauder School of Business may release a limited number of spaces on a competitive basis to students who are going into their third year at UBC (or those who are transferring to UBC for their third year). For more details about this dual-degree program option and for information about how to apply, please see the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration section of the UBC Academic Calendar.

If you are a current APBI student interested in the Sustainable Agriculture and Environment major, you will be prompted to select your specialization through your Student Service Centre (SSC) when registering for second year. This major is not competitive.

If you are a high school, college or university student and you want to major in Sustainable Agriculture and Environment at UBC, you should apply for the Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology. You can learn more here.

Where Can a Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Degree Take You?

LFS graduates in the area of Sustainable Agriculture and Environment can pursue myriad careers. Here are just a few:

  • biometeorologist
  • natural resource planner
  • ecologist
  • seed production agronomist
  • agroforestry consultant
  • conservation officer
  • land management specialist
  • academic instructor
  • land remediation specialist
  • greenhouse manager
  • organic farming specialist
  • farm weather consultant
  • crop protection technician
  • biodiversity specialist
  • ecosystem restoration consultant
  • soil fertility consultant
  • irrigation and drainage consultant

Get a head start on your career-related work experience while you’re at UBC. Check out our job board for postings that relate to your field of study!

Got Questions?

If you are a prospective or current student with questions about planning for or choosing this major, or if you’ve got questions about how your transfer credits apply, please get in touch. One of our academic advisors in LFS Student Services will be glad to help you.

If you’re already in the major, and have specific questions about restricted electives and directed studies, please contact your program advisor, Lesley Dampier.

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