What to Expect with Your Science Courses

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COVID-19 and UBC's response

Learn more about UBC's COVID-19 response and campus return plan. Stay up-to-date with UBC Science's plans.
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We are planning for a return to on-campus activity in September. You can find information below about what to expect for your studies this fall. 

Which courses are in-person vs. online?

We are primarily offering courses with in-person activities and limited courses are available fully online. To maintain a typical timeline for degree progression, you likely need to be on campus and taking in-person courses. 

Attend your classes at the scheduled time. 

Your instructors are not expected to record classes (whether offered in-person or online). Research shows that synchronous learning activities are a strong contributor to students’ learning and retention of material - your instructors build in these activities so you can engage with the material and with your classmates. This sort of learning experience can’t be replicated when you’re watching a recording. The research also shows that students who attempt to learn solely through reviewing slide decks, notes, and videos are more likely to have lower grades than their peers who attended classes.

Online and hybrid courses in Science require you to attend at the scheduled time, too. Your courses will be structured in a way that requires you to be available for some or all of the scheduled time. This means that you can’t request to register in two courses that have a time conflict.


Engage, participate, and be active in your learning.  

A significant component of the value of your learning comes from the ways that you engage both in- and outside of the classroom. Ask questions as you go! Whether you’re asking your classmates, your teaching assistant (TA), or your instructor, questions are a good way to deepen your understanding and support your preparation for subsequent studies in that subject. Depending on your course, you may be asking questions in a number of ways, such as online discussion boards in Piazza or Canvas, or perhaps attending office hours held by your instructor or TA. 

Keep up with the course material – falling behind can happen quickly and it can be challenging to catch up, especially if you’re trying to catch up close to the end of term! If you are struggling in the course or falling behind, let your instructor know.


Expect exams and major assessments to be in person.   

By default, most of your classes will expect in-person exams – this is true even if most of the learning activities are online. Under specific circumstances, such as studying from outside the local Greater Vancouver area, some students taking online courses may be prevented from getting to campus and will be able to apply for an alternate format exam. More details about this will be released by Science Advising closer to September.

Review all the information in your syllabus for each of your classes. Talk with instructors and classmates and explore the resources available to you.

Courses vary in format and structure.   

Don’t expect that each course will be offered in the same way or that the same in-class rules apply. Each of your classes is unique, and your instructor has structured the class to support your learning in that scientific discipline. 
Pay attention to your syllabus for each course to find out more and be careful not to make assumptions.    

Online and in-person classes back-to-back. 

If you have an online class followed by an in-person class (or vice versa), you may be wondering where you can go on campus while you’re attending your online course. There will be places for you to sit so that you can attend – we'll share more details close to the start of term!  

Pack an extra mask.

When heading to in-person classes, make sure to have an extra mask in case yours is lost or damaged. 

Masks are required for all indoor classes, per the BC Public Health Officer orders. It is important that all of us feel as comfortable as possible engaging in class activities while sharing an indoor space. For the purposes of this order, the term “masks” refers to medical and non-medical masks that cover our noses and mouths.  Masks are a primary tool to make it harder for COVID-19 to find a new host.  You will need to wear a medical or non-medical mask for the duration of class, for your own protection, and the safety and comfort of everyone else in the class.  You may be asked to remove your mask briefly for an ID check for an exam, but otherwise, your mask should cover your nose and mouth. Order from the BC Provincial Health Officer


If you’re sick or you have an exposure within your close contacts. 

If you’re sick, it’s important that you stay home – no matter what you think you may be sick with (e.g., cold, flu, other). 

When you’re unable to attend a class for a day or two because you’re unwell or you’re required to isolate due to an exposure within your close contacts, connect with a classmate for their notes and review the relevant content on Canvas or in the textbook (or elsewhere) to stay caught up. If you still have questions, ask on the class discussion board or, when you’re able/better, go to your instructor or teaching assistant’s office hours.

If you’re sick for more than a few days - and are not well enough to keep up by following the strategies noted above - connect with your instructor AND with Science Advising right away to share that you’ve been unwell and unable to attend your classes. An academic advisor can talk with you holistically about how you’re managing with your courses and your health.

If there are deadlines or assignments that require in-person attendance that you believe will be impacted, reach out to your instructor as soon as possible to check in about them. You can ask if there are alternate timelines or options to meet those requirements. Don’t forget to always include your full name and student number when emailing your instructors and Science Advising.

How you can support the UBC Science Community.

We strongly encourage all members of the UBC community to be fully vaccinated as soon as you are eligible; free COVID-19 vaccinations are available to all UBC students. For the most up-to-date information from the University about our return to campus, continue to visit covid19.ubc.ca.