Structuring Your First-Year at UBC Science

Students » Structuring Your First-Year at UBC Science
Welcome to the new UBC Science website! Let us know what you think for a chance to win a gift card.
At UBC Science you can structure your first year in one of three ways: design your own timetable, or pursue the cohort-style Coordinated Science or Science One options.

Whichever path you choose, this site and the UBC Calendar will help you plan your first year. In second year, you select a program specialization, so you should take into account the requirements of the specializations you might want to enter.

Design Your Own Timetable

This is the typical choice for first-year science students, and offers the most flexibility. You can select both the courses and the particular sections of courses you attend according to the requirements of the degree specialization ('major') you want to enter in second year. Most of your lectures will be in large rooms but your labs and tutorials will be in smaller groups. You should consider also taking one of two independent small-group classes:

SCIE 113: First-Year Seminar in Science

SCIE 113 (3 credits) offers a supportive environment and small-group experience (a faculty member leads 25 students per class) that explores science as a way of knowing. SCIE 113 is an alternative to a first-year English course.

SCIE 120: Sustainability Science

Meet once a week in a small group with a faculty member (SCIE 120, 1 credit) to study issues of sustainability drawn from topics in biology and chemistry courses you will also take.

With either of those courses, you have the freedom to design the rest of your timetable while getting the benefit of a small class with a faculty member. Students taking Coordinate Science or Science One (below) get lots of contact with faculty and so can't take SCIE 113 or 120.

Coordinated Science Program

Coordinated Science (CSP) is an alternative to designing your own timetable. It groups one section of each of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics courses into a “standard timetable”. CSP is suitable for students who have broad scientific interests and want to explore connections between the disciplines. Along with enjoying a dedicated CSP study space, all CSP students attend the same sections of specific core science courses, with an option in computer science. This makes CSP students feel part of a small social and learning community. CSP students also attend a weekly workshop where they participate in a variety of hands-on activities and group projects as well as lively discussions and debates all designed to develop their skills in problem-solving, critical thinking and communication. The approachable professors and lecturers inspire students to learn scientific concepts at a fundamental level. Registration in CSP is limited to 168 students on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no separate application - eligible students may register for a CSP standard timetable which automatically includes the core science courses. Check out the website to determine if your high school background makes you eligible.

Science One

If you want a challenging first year at UBC, take Science One. Science One is an innovative undergraduate course in which the traditional disciplines of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics are presented in a unified, integrated format. The course has its own dedicated study and social space, and cultivates critical, independent thought as the basis of scientific inquiry. Students take a single, academically rigorous interdisciplinary 25-credit course, which incorporates lectures, tutorials and laboratories, as well as a mandatory biology laboratory, for a total of 27 credits. This class is taken with the same students, helping to promote a community of learners. As Science One is smaller than most other science classes, students have a better opportunity to get to know their professors, who aim to challenge, yet provide strong support to students. A separate application is required for admission to Science One. Check the website to see if you are eligible.

Comparing the First Year Options

Comparing Design Your Own Timetable to CSP

Students who take BIOL 121, 140, CHEM 121, 123, MATH 100, 101 and PHYS 101, 102 follow a similar course of study as CSP students. But even with similar course selections, the two offer different experiences:

Design Your Own Timetable Coordinated Science
Students have the freedom to choose any section of each course, and have different classmates in each course. Students take all their core courses together. They have the opportunity to form a supportive learning and social community.
Instructors across departments plan course content and midterm scheduling independently. Instructors in biology, chemistry, math and physics coordinate class material and spread midterms throughout the term.
Students might take labs with others in a different lecture section. Students attend lab sections comprised primarily of fellow CSP students.
Students receive subject-specific academic help from the departments that teach their courses. Students have a space of their own to gather and seek integrated academic support unique to the program. They also have access to the subject-specific help each department offers.
Students have no interdisciplinary workshops, so their weekly classroom time commitment is two hours less (assuming they’re taking the same courses as CSP students). Students commit two hours a week to the CSP Workshop. They participate in activities that span disciplines and develop skills that are useful in all scientific disciplines and future careers. This course is worth one credit and is Pass/Fail.

Comparing CSP to Science One

Coordinated Science Science One
Requires admission to the Faculty. No other application is needed. Registration is through standard timetables via the Student Service Centre. Requires admission to the Faculty and a separate Science One application. Registration is through standard timetables via the SSC.
Enrollment limited to 168. Enrollment limited to 75.
Chemistry 12 and Physics 12 required. Calculus 12 highly recommended. A grade of 80% in English 12 or an LPI score of 5 strongly recommended. Minimum of 80% in Biology 11 or 12, Chemistry 12, Physics 12, Mathematics 12, Calculus 12. One of English 12, English Literature 12 or BC equivalent (or an LPI score of 5.)
General Science includes BIOL 121, 140, CHEM 121, 123, MATH 100, 101, and PHYS 101, 102, and the CSP workshop (CSPW 100) as separate courses, with topics chosen to emphasize links between the disciplines. Students receive a separate grade for each course. There is some allowance for limited adjustment to the courses; see the CSP website. Offers a 27-credit package--25 for Science One plus two for the BIOL 140 lab). Science One credits aren’t explicitly associated with specific courses, but completing the program (students receive a single blended mark) with the necessary academic standing satisfies the entrance requirements for all second-year BIOL, CHEM, MATH and PHYS courses.
Provides less academic support than Science One, but more than designing your own timetable. Provides a high level of academic support.