Combined Major in Science
Earth and Ocean Sciences
AstronomyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Astronomers use the principles of physics and mathematics to learn about the fundamental nature of the universe, including the sun, moon, planets, stars, and galaxies. They research phenomena such as the birth, evolution, and death of stars - red giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. They also explore properties of galaxies and the origin and evolution of the universe. Astronomers also apply their knowledge to solve problems in navigation, space flight, and satellite communications, and to develop the instrumentation and techniques used to observe and collect astronomical data. Astronomy is often considered a subfield of physics.
- Major, Astronomy
- Combined Honours, Physics and Astronomy
Atmospheric ScienceCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Atmospheric Science includes the study of the physical processes of the atmosphere, and the atmosphere's interaction with land and oceans. Some of the topics encompassed by atmospheric science are: air pollution, air chemistry and cloud and precipitation physics. One of the most prominent characteristics of the weather and climate is its changeability. The problems of forecasting the day-to-day weather (meteorology) and the climate are also encompassed in this field. Some professionals with Atmospheric Science backgrounds become meteorologists and climatologists and work in weather forecasting. They use numerical computer models of the local or global airflow to guide weather prediction and storm forecasting and aid in understanding environmental conditions such as air pollution. Other professionals continue to work in research nationally and internationally in industry and government.
- Major or Honours, Atmospheric Science
- Combined Honours, Atmospheric Science and Computer Science
BiochemistryCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Biochemistry is the field of chemistry that deals with the chemical compounds and processes that occur in plants, animals, and microorganisms. Specifically it involves the analysis of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, which comprise the basic constituents of cells. The work of biochemists goes towards, for example, mass-producing chemicals that are usually found in the body in very tiny amounts. Such chemicals have been helping diabetics and heart attack victims for years. They also work to discover the full genetic code of humans (the Human Genome Project), and create genetically engineered crops that are supposed to be more resistant to adverse weather conditions, spoilage, disease, and pests.
- Major or Honours, Biochemistry
- Combined Honours, Biochemistry and Chemistry
BiologyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Biology is a very broad field dedicated to the study of all aspects of living things and their vital processes. It encompasses the study of animals, plants, insects, and microbes as well as their relationships with their environments. Biologists work in industry, government labs, universities, park services, consulting companies, and other areas. Consider the range of occupational fields in the life sciences: agronomy, biophysics, developmental biology, environmental law, forensic entomology, forestry, genetic counseling, immunology, medical practice, molecular biology, neurobiology, secondary school teaching, veterinary medicine, and much more.
Programs OfferedTraditionally one of the largest B.Sc. programs, biology offers a wide diversity of study options with the possibility to take related electives in Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, and Physiology. There is no single biology department at UBC--the program is a joint effort of several departments (see below for a list of program options). In third year, there are 'gateway' lab courses to the various Biology programs offered. You need fairly good marks in second year to secure a spot in one of these lab courses and, thus, a spot in the biology program of your choice.
- Animal Biology, Major or Honours
- Cell Biology and Genetics, Major
- Cell and Developmental Biology, Honours
- Computer Science and Biology, Combined Major, Combined Honours
- Conservation Biology, Major or Honours
- Ecology and Environmental Biology, Major or Honours
- Evolutionary Biology, Honours
- General Biology, Major
- Genetics, Honours
- Marine Biology, Major or Honours
- Plant Biology, Major or Honours
- Chemical Biology, Combined Honours (See Chemistry)
- Biology and Oceanography, Combined Honours
- Co-op option
BiophysicsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
The primary objective of the Biophysics program is to give students a good working knowledge of one subfield in the biological sciences at the senior undergraduate level. Students graduating in the program will also have an understanding of the basic concepts and quantitative skills of physics. It is intended that graduates of this program will be able to go to graduate school in biological sciences or physics with minimal remedial work. The biophysics program is intended to keep all of the options available to students in either biology or physics, while opening new opportunities in fields that benefit from the combination, such as pharmaceutical companies. The biophysics program is excellent preparation for the medical profession. Biophysicists make a tremendous impact in medical radiology, where imaging techniques like MRI, PET, and ultrasound are based on physical phenomena. The Science One program is an ideal entry point for this program as it integrates both physical and biological sciences; however, there is no reason why students in the regular first year science stream cannot take this program as well.
Programs OfferedHonours Biophysics
BiotechnologyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Biotechnology is the scientific manipulation of living organisms, especially at the molecular genetic level. One of the biggest applications of biotechnology is the genetic engineering of certain food crops to incorporate desirable traits in them, such as disease or pest resistance. Computers are used to closely study the genetic structure of organisms and tools such as the 'gene gun' are used to introduce desirable genes into the DNA of organisms. Biotechnology is also vital to the medical field in creating new medicines, as well as applicable to the environmental sector, for example in the development of bacteria that consume toxic chemicals and reduce pollution. There are also much older forms of biotechnology that include biological techniques used for brewing wine and beer, and for making bread and cheese.
- Honours, Biotechnology
BotanyCalendar Entry | Program Website
Botany is the branch of biology that involves the study of the structure, properties and biochemical processes of all forms of plant life, including algae, fungi, ferns and trees. Also included within its scope are plant classification and the study of plant diseases, as well as the interactions of plants with people and their physical environment. Positions for people with botany backgrounds are usually in educational institutions, government and environmental organizations and in industry. Drug companies, the oil and chemical industries, lumber and paper companies, seed and nursery companies, fruit growers, fermentation industries (including breweries), and biotechnology firms all hire people trained in botany. Environmental concerns, such as air, water and soil pollution, will create openings for ecologists in government and industry. The search for new drugs and medicines and useful genes for improving crop plants will continue to create a need for botanical explorers.
Programs OfferedUBC doesn't offer undergraduate degree in Botany. However, the Department of Botany offers programs of study jointly with the Department of Zoology, such as the Major or Honours Biology Plant Biology option.
Cellular, Anatomical and Physiological SciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Physiology explores the basis of life. Physiologists view life from the simplest to the most complex levels of organization--from the subcellular to the whole person. For example, they research the male and female reproductive systems, the process of birth, and the physiology of the fetus and newborn. Some physiologists study neurophysiology in an attempt to unravel mysteries of the brain with respect to control of eye and limb movements and the neural control of circulation. Others do cardiovascular research including the study of normal and abnormal heart rhythms, mechanisms of contraction of the heart, age-related changes in heart function, and the influence of the kidney in the control of blood pressure. Physiologists that study cellular physiology examine how the stomach is protected from its own acid, how nerve and muscle cells communicate with each other, how bone cells make and break down bone, and how various hormones are produced, secreted, and are involved in controlling cell function. Physiology provides the basic information for understanding the normal function of the body, explains how normal function may be altered in pathological conditions, and provides insight for developing strategies to manage and treat various diseases and conditions.
- Honours, Physiology
ChemistryCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes matter undergoes. It can be applied to make stronger metals, to improve soil, and to destroy bacteria. It has also made possible the development of substances such as rubber, nylon, and plastics from other, completely different materials. Chemists play a key role in the development of drugs. They are involved in biochemistry and genetic engineering, which can lead to synthesizing useful products such as human insulin. They are also involved in environmental issues, helping to tap new sources of energy and replace the earth's finite reserves of petroleum. Chemists can also enter chemistry-related fields, such as materials science, biomedical sciences, bioengineering, chemical engineering, food science, pharmacology, toxicology, oceanography or marine science. An education in chemistry can also lead to medical, dental, osteopathic or veterinary school or professional studies in other health-related areas.
- Major or Honours, Chemistry
- Combined Honours, Chemistry and Mathematics
- Combined Honours, Chemical Biology
- Combined Honours, Biochemistry and Chemistry (See Biochemistry)
- Combined Honours, Chemical Physics (See Physics)
- Combined Honours, Chemistry and another science subject
Cognitive SystemsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Cognitive systems explores how intelligent systems (eg. human beings and autonomous robots) perceive, act upon, and learn about their world. Cognitive systems at UBC is a multi-disciplinary undergraduate program involving four departments: Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy and Psychology. It provides students with a thorough grounding in the principles and techniques used by intelligent systems (both natural and artificial) to interact with the world around them. It emphasizes the study of existing systems (eg. perception and linguistics), the design of new ones (eg. machine vision and machine intelligence), and the design of interfaces between different forms of intelligent agents (eg. human-computer interfaces). People with backgrounds in cognitive systems design intelligent computer systems (for example, medical diagnosis systems), or may become psychiatrists or researchers in cognitive neuroscience. The field is useful to researchers who want to know how people take in and interpret information and communicate with language.
- Major Cognitive Systems: Cognition and Brain
- Major Cognitive Systems: Computational Intelligence and Design
Combined Major in ScienceCalendar Entry | Program Website
The CMS provides students with a broad-based science education, with a focus on data handling, communications skills and experiential learning. Particularly suited to those interested in integrating three disciplines or designing the focus of their program, the CMS equips students with the background to understand and evaluate scientific issues and statements from a number of disciplines. Students preparing for professional schools such as education, law or medicine--or those interested in scientific journalism--should seriously consider the CMS. This new program specialization is not designed for students interested in research careers. The CMS provides a structured curriculum that develops breadth by offering foundations in three discipline areas of science as well as an introduction in a fourth generalist requirement. Lab and field experiences through newly developed courses will promote experiential learning, and provide students the opportunity to understand how research is done. A statistics requirement will familiarize them with basic data interpretation and statistical modeling. A computing requirement will provide students with a basic ability in computation and data manipulation as well as develop problem-solving skills using computers. SCIE 300 (Communicating Science) will help students develop skills in critical evaluation and communication of scientific issues.
Programs OfferedCMS offers five areas of concentration--Chemistry, Life Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Mathematical Science, and Physics and Astronomy--consisting of a minimum of nine (9) upper-level credits. Students are required to complete studies in three areas of concentration (packages) in addition to a generalist requirement.
Computer ScienceCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Computer science deals with using and improving computers as tools for uncountable applications. For example, one stream of computer science is in computational intelligence, where people work to create computer systems that can perceive and reason about the world and surroundings. Bioinformatics is another stream in which computers are used to characterize and sequence the molecular components of living things. The Human Genome Project relied heavily on computer systems to store the human gene sequence. One can also study and design hardware and software programs and develop databases. Computer graphics and animation is another stream, which is used for creating games and movies and even modeling human body parts, which can be used to train medical students. Computer Science graduates move into high-tech careers as software engineers, systems analysts, technical writers, web developers, researchers, programmers, and software testers. They may also apply their computer skills to enhance careers as biologists, architects, foresters, teachers, and psychologists.
- Major or Honours, Computer Science
- Combined Major and Honours, Computer Science and Biology
- Combined Major, Computer Science and Another Science Subject
- Combined Major Computer Science & Microbiology and Immunology
- Combined Honours Computer Science and Microbiology and Immunology
- Combined Major and Honours, Computer Science and Mathematics
- Combined Major and Honours, Computer Science and Physics
- Combined Major and Honours, Computer Science and Statistics
- Honours, Computer Science and Software Engineering
- Major, Computer Science and Software Engineering
Earth and Ocean SciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Earth and ocean sciences spans virtually all aspects of understanding the history and dynamics of our planet, as well as how to best manage its resources and the environment we live in. The field is all about understanding how the earth works, from the core to the atmosphere, and from the distant genesis of our planet to current and future trends in environmental and global issues.
- Major, Earth and Ocean Sciences
Environmental SciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Environmental Sciences is the application of scientific knowledge from many disciplines to issues and questions relating to the increase in human population, the sustainability of resource use, degradation caused by pollution and disturbance, and the endangerment and extinction of species and natural systems. There are many career opportunities in environmental sciences, as population and consumption rates rise alongside the Earth's finite space and resources. Some graduates choose to go into environmental protection or conservation, exploring ways of reducing pollution and finding alternate methods of extracting resources from the Earth that are minimally destructive. Others choose to enter the promotion and lobbying side of environmental science, increasing public awareness of environmental issues. It is also possible to work in the management sector by working in environmental policy and law. The opportunities to work in environmental science are certainly varied and diverse, as society becomes increasingly conscious of the vulnerability of Earth's ecosystems and inhabitants.
- Major or Honours, Environmental Sciences
Geographical BiogeosciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
The program focuses on the fundamental interactions between life (including human societies) and the Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere. Students build on a broad base in the basic sciences by completing at least two of five upper-year 'concentrations' in biogeography, climatology, geographic information science, geomorphology or hydrology. With appropriately selected electives, this degree forms a suitable basis for completing the academic requirements for registration as a professional geoscientist, which is legally required of all people practicing geoscience in Canada. Students should also consider biogeoscience related electives in other departments.
- Major, Geographical Biogeosciences
Geological SciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Geology is the science of the solid earth, including its composition, structure, physical properties, and history. Professionals in geological fields tend to have a strong background in chemistry and basic sciences, but they must also be able to integrate a wide variety of information in order to make decisions about where resources might be, how to extract them, what impact human activities will have on the Earth, and so on. Vancouver is the world capital for mineral exploration, and UBC has been supplying geologists to the mineral exploration industry for decades. Many graduates find work in the geo-environmental sector (especially within hydrogeology) or continue on to advanced studies at the graduate level and research careers in industry and academia.
- Major Geology
- Honours, Geological Sciences
- Combined Honours, Geology and another subject
- Combined Honours: Geology and Geography
GeophysicsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Geophysics involves the use of physics and mathematics to understand the history, structure and processes of Earth and other planets. The field explores topics such as the cause of earthquakes and the Earth's magnetic field. Today's geophysicists contribute their expertise to solving a host of practical and fundamental problems that range from locating buried contaminants to using high-performance computers to simulate the flow of Martian ice caps. Many geophysics undergraduates find employment with companies involved in environmental engineering, petroleum exploration, or mineral exploration. Those who are interested in becoming research scientists continue their studies as graduate and postgraduate students.
- Honours, Geophysics
- Combined Honours, Geophysics and another subject
Integrated SciencesCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
The Integrated Sciences Program is an alternative to a traditional major or honours program, designed for students whose interests cross disciplinary boundaries within the sciences. The program gives third and fourth year students the opportunity and the guidance to design their own curriculum.
- Major or Honours, Integrated Sciences
MathematicsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Mathematics is a powerful tool for solving practical problems and a highly creative field of study, combining logic and precision with intuition and imagination. It is more than just numbers and rules for calculating with them. The basic goal of mathematics is to reveal and explain patterns - whether the pattern appears as electrical impulses in an animal's nervous system, as fluctuations in stock market prices, or as fine detail of an abstract geometric figure. The ability to simplify complex situations through abstraction and systematic reasoning is a great asset. However, math is not just an abstract, academic pursuit. There are many career opportunities for math students. A math background is one of the best ways to get into an Education program--there is a shortage of math teachers at the secondary school level, and teaching positions at the university and college level. The business and IT sectors also employ math grads, especially in the software industry, actuarial field, investment and banking.
- Major or Honours, Mathematics
- Major, Mathematical Sciences
- Combined Major, Mathematics and Economics
- Combined Major, Computer Science and Mathematics (See Computer Science)
- Combined Honours, Mathematics and another subject
Microbiology and ImmunologyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Microbiology is the study of minute, simple life forms (microbes), including bacteria, algae, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Microbes are everywhere - in the air, in our food, and in our bodies. They are critically important in many processes of life on Earth and despite their small size, microbes exert a huge influence on all terrestrial and aquatic environments, thereby affecting all plants, animals, and humans. Immunology is the branch of science that deals with how the body defends itself against disease-causing microbes. Microbiology and immunology together involve studying how microbes can be controlled to prevent disease. Microbiology is one of the fastest developing fields of research in biology. Some examples of what microbiologists do include manipulating bacteria to produce useful products like human insulin, and using other microbes that naturally feed on pollutants to clean up polluted water bodies. They have also developed pesticides made out of microbes that attack only pests and not the plants they are sprayed on (unlike traditional chemical pesticides).
- Major or Honours, Microbiology and Immunology
- Combined Major or Combined Honours, Computer Science and Microbiology and Immunology
- Biotechnology in Microbiology and Immunology
OceanographyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Oceanographers study the physical and chemical properties of ocean water, as well as the life within it, the sea floor and the ocean's connection to the rest of the planet. Oceanography draws from biology, physics, chemistry and geology, making it a truly multidisciplinary science. Oceanographers work in many different areas of the field. For example, the most popular conception of this vocation is in biological oceanography, where one studies the various ocean life forms and their relationships with each other, with humans, and with their environments. Other oceanographers study the physics of waves, tides, and currents, while others study the creation, evolution and structure of sea floors over time. Chemical oceanographers study properties and useful chemicals in seawater and analyze the effects of pollutants.
- Honours, Fisheries Oceanography
- Combined Honours, Oceanography and Biology
- Combined Honours, Oceanography and another subject
PharmacologyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Pharmacology is the science of drug action on biological systems. It deals with the sources, chemical properties, biological effects and therapeutic uses of drugs. It is a science that is basic not only to medicine, but also to pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and veterinary medicine. Pharmacologists' work ranges from exploring the potential hazards of pesticides and herbicides, to developing treatment and prevention of major diseases by drug therapy. Pharmacologists are also involved in molecular modeling of drugs, and the use of drugs as tools to dissect aspects of cell function.
- Major or Honours, Pharmacology
PhysicsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Physics, which deals with matter and energy and the interactions between the two, allows us to understand phenomena that take place around us and in the universe. Physical laws help us perceive our world. Some physicists use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their physics knowledge to the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices and medical equipment. Physicists design and perform experiments with lasers, cyclotrons, telescopes, mass spectrometers, and other equipment. Based on observations and analysis, they attempt to discover and explain laws describing the forces of nature, such as gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear interactions. Physicists also find ways to apply physical laws and theories to problems in nuclear energy, electronics, optics, materials, communications, aerospace technology, navigation equipment, and medical instrumentation. Most physicists work in research and development. For example, basic research in solid-state physics led to the development of transistors and, then, of integrated circuits used in computers. Physicists also design research equipment. For example, lasers designed by physicists are used in surgery. Although physics research may require extensive experimentation in laboratories, research physicists also spend time in offices planning, recording, analyzing, and reporting on research.
- Major or Honours, Physics
- Honours, Biophysics
- Honours, Physics and Astronomy
- Combined Major, Computer Science and Physics
- Combined Honours, Physics and another science subject
- Combined Honours, Chemical Physics
- Combined Honours, Physics and Mathematics
PsychologyCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors | Club Website
Psychology involves the study of how people behave--what they do, think, feel and say--as clues to the functioning of the mind. Researchers try to measure, explain and modify the behaviour of humans and other species. Psychology is a tremendously varied field. Psychologists conduct both basic and applied research, serve as consultants to communities and organizations, diagnose and treat people, and teach future psychologists and other types of students. They test intelligence and personality. They assess behavioural and mental function and well-being, stepping in to help where appropriate. They study how human beings relate to each other and also to machines, and they work to improve these relationships. In our increasingly global society, psychologists bring important knowledge and skills to understanding diverse cultures.
- Major or Honours, Psychology
StatisticsCalendar Entry | Program Website | Program Advisors
Statistics is the branch of mathematics that deals with collecting, organizing and analyzing data. It allows us to see if observations about a particular phenomenon can be generalized and helps us make informed decisions based on thorough interpretation of data. Statisticians extract information from data. Nowadays, due to increased computer use, massive amounts of data are collected and, thus, statistics has become one of the most pervasive of all disciplines. Statisticians work in almost all areas of science, engineering, business, government and industry. Their expertise is required in practical projects such as the design of clinical trials to test a new drug, economic model-building to value financial instruments, assessment of risk factors to determine insurance premiums, predicting the outcome of a national election, conducting market research and estimating animal populations. The average citizen now requires some familiarity with statistical analysis in order to critically assess the steady flow of information in society.
- Major or Honours, Statistics
- Combined, Major Statistics and Economics
- Combined Major or Combined Honours, Computer Science and Statistics
- Combined Honours Mathematics and Statistics
ZoologyCalendar Entry | Program Website
Zoology is the study of animals, their function and way of life. It includes: development, evolution, ecology, physiology, and behaviour. Zoologists study everything from single-celled protozoa to whales. All aspects of animal function are included - molecular biology, cell ultrastructure, tissues and organs, and the physiology of animals, through to the interactions of individual animals, the dynamics of whole populations of animals, and the structures of communities and ecosystems. Some zoologists specialize in studying particular kinds of animals: entomologists study insects, herpetologists study amphibians and reptiles, ornithologists study birds and mammalogists study mammals. Other zoologists concentrate on special kinds of questions, such as: workings of digestive processes, mechanisms and function of aggressive behaviour, or the special adaptations of parasites. Yet other zoologists work in special fields: aquaculture and mariculture, wildlife conservation and management, and population or community structure. Zoology makes a direct contribution to society through its contributions to veterinary science, medicine, dentistry, animal husbandry, aquaculture, fisheries biology, environmental management and conservation.