Study Oceanography at UBC

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About Oceanography

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.


Program details

Honours programs are recommended for students who wish to pursue graduate studies. Students interested in oceanography but not intending to pursue graduate studies can also consider an Earth and Ocean Sciences Major program, which has the flexibility to be concentrated in Oceanography. Students in Oceanography at UBC collect data at sea, conduct laboratory experiments, and simulate various ocean phenomena using computer models. Students also learn how the oceans function, how interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans can affect global climate, and how various types of marine organisms interact with their environment.


Over the course of a four-year degree, this program could help you build the following skills:

  • Application of environmental awareness and conservation knowledge to climate issues impacting oceans and marine ecosystems
  • Experimental project design and implementation, including developing research proposals, technical data reports, and presentations
  • Data processing and statistical analysis
  • Computer modeling and cartography
  • Focused field work that may include CTD casts, zooplankton and phytoplankton net tow sampling, and nutrient and element sampling
  • Laboratory experience with processing nutrient samples, using microscopy and analytical methods with exposure to spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electroanalysis, and chemical separations
  • Usage of MATLAB, Python, R and speciation software

Programs offered

  • Combined Major: Oceanography and Chemistry
  • Honours, Fisheries Oceanography
  • Combined Honours, Oceanography and another subject


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Involvement and Career Resources

Career options in Oceanography

With an undergraduate degree

  • Aquarist
  • Data analyst
  • Lab assistant
  • Research assistant

With additional study

  • Fisheries and wildlife researcher
  • Geophysicist
  • Ichthyologist
  • Marine biologist
  • Marine chemist
  • Marine geologist
  • Marine mammalogist
  • Oceanographer
  • Physical oceanographer
  • Veterinarian
  • Wildlife rehabilitator
  • Zoologist

UBC Science Oceanography Graduates Work As

  • Oceanographer Researcher, RBR Ltd.
  • Ecological Monitoring Technical, Parks Canada
  • PhD Candidate in Fishery Ecology, UBC Institute for Oceans and Fisheries
  • Research Marine Biologist and Biological Consultant, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Species-at-Risk Biologist, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
  • Research Associate, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

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