First-Year Seminar in Science

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UBC's First-Year Seminar in Science offers a small-class experience where you will learn about what science is and how it is done. In this course, students learn to develop and analyze arguments, read scientific literature, and interpret data; these skills are then used to write argumentative essays. We also explore how society influences science, and how science influences society, including issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The course includes an exclusive science and society speaker series, where world-class researchers share their work with you in an accessible way. SCIE 113 will strengthen your critical thinking and communication skills, and will help you develop a sense of how you can shape the world through your future scientific endeavours.

What is Science 113?

A small class that fulfills part of the communication requirement for UBC Science students and strengthens your critical thinking and communication skills.

Who Can Take It?

Students in first-year Science (but not Science One or First-Year Focus) are eligible. However, spaces are limited. In Term 1 of 2021/2022, SCIE 113 is offered online and in person. SCIE 113 covers topics in various scientific disciplines and is suitable for students intending to pursue any specialization in science. There are opportunities for you to explore what interests you. You can register through the Student Service Centre.

How is It Different?

It’s a chance for first-year students to interact with a faculty member in a small-group setting (maximum 25 students/class). You will get to know your professor, your teaching assistant, and your classmates. This is a highly interactive course; classes involve debates, discussions, and other activities to get you thinking, talking, reading, and writing about what science is, how it is done, and how it impacts your daily life. There is no final exam, as you will demonstrate your learning in homework and assignments.

Will this course improve my academic English writing?

The course emphasizes developing argumentation skills and supporting your claims with evidence. While academic English writing is not explicitly taught, your professor will guide you toward resources that will help improve your writing.

What Will You Learn?

You'll begin learning the skills of scientific writing: how to effectively use empirical evidence to support your arguments, how to write clearly and concisely, and how engage with other scholars’ ideas through proper citation practices. You’ll get lots of feedback from your professor on how to improve, and you’ll have a head start when it comes to writing lab reports and assignments in your future science classes.

You'll also learn to look critically at arguments made by others — scientists, companies, or the media. Many companies and journalists make faulty claims based on flawed interpretations of science. You’ll learn to assess whether valid scientific evidence actually supports these claims. You will also get to hear from a diverse range of dynamic guest speakers who will challenge you to re-think your ideas about science. You may be surprised by how science is used by people in a vast diversity of career types; not only by academics. You’ll also come away with a better idea of how understanding science and the scientific process can make you a more informed and well-rounded global citizen. For more information, check out the course syllabus (linked to PDF) or contact the course director.