Enhance your learning experiences by studying at UBC in Vancouver!
Students have the opportunity to choose one course package that includes two courses specifically designed for VSP and taught by UBC faculty. Courses are offered by theme and in pairs to enhance cross-disciplinary learning. Each course is approximately 39 hours of class time. Students will earn a certificate and Grades Letter upon successful completion.
Students are able to choose any package, unless the package has pre-requisites or a preferred background of study. Some course packages also have a higher minimum eligible age of 19 years. Review program eligibility requirements and ensure that you meet these requirements, as well as meet any additional pre-requisites for the course package you would like to apply for.
Many course packages have a minimum and maximum class size, so we encourage you to register early. In some instances, course packages are cancelled due to insufficient enrolment or other reasons. If this happens, students will be offered a choice to register for another package or to request for a refund (see refund policy for full details). Please note that VSP courses do not receive UBC credit but credit may be granted by the student’s home university (at its discretion).
Please see updates regarding cancellation of VSP 2021
Please note: The deadline for applications for the June 5 - July 5, 2021 program is March 10, 2021.
Introduction to Digital Technology and Smart DevicesNew products (smart-home devices, portable electronics, cars, appliances) are getting more intelligent and more connected. Do you ever wonder what technology lies behind them? This course covers the fundamental ideas behind smart devices and modern electronics. We will study the building blocks of digital electronic systems, including small microcomputers, and how they interface with us. Our exploration will involve the design and implementation of machines that can read signals from the real world and make decisions digitally. This course will introduce the basics of microcontroller programming to perform smart tasks; additionally, it will cover how different peripherals and sensors are used to communicate, and how the information they collect is stored. Regardless of your background, if you are interested in the world of modern electronics, this course is for you!
Introduction to Electric Circuits, Sensors, and Power
You need more than a digital system and basic programming to make your electronics work -- you need to understand electricity, sensors, and what it takes to bring everything to life. In this course, the basics of electricity and electrical circuits will be covered. You will learn about circuit fundamentals, amplifiers, and filters, which allow us to recover signals from devices such as microphones. Our look into sensors will allow us to detect physical magnitudes (like light, sound, pressure, color, temperature, and speed) and turn them into electrical signals that our microcontroller can understand. Finally, we will explore the circuits that give power to our electronics and bring them to life. Along with an introduction to digital electronics, this course will allow you to build simple systems to develop and interface with electronics systems.
Introduction to Renewable EnergyDo you want to save the planet with green power? This course covers the fundamentals of renewable energy systems and includes topics on energy storage, power generation, distribution, transportation, and consumption. We will start with an introduction to carbon emissions, climate change, and environmental pollution to emphasize the importance of sustainability. Students will learn about solar, wind and ocean power generation. Grid connection and microgrids will be explained, as well as battery storage and fuel cell systems. Modern loads such as LED lights and electric vehicles will be discussed around the concept of demand side management. Students will gain skills on these emerging and key areas of green power and will have the opportunity to consider several case studies/examples. The course includes some tutorials and demonstrations using simulation software and physical equipment. What could be more important? The global energy markets will be dominated by renewables in the future - the planet will depend on engineers with a strong background in green power.
Electricity and Conversion for Renewable Power
How do we make renewable power generation happen? Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and ocean are intermittent and fluctuating. Changes in sun irradiance during the day, in wind speed variation, and changing ocean tidal velocity produce fluctuations in power generation. This course covers the fundamental of electricity and power conversion to transform variable/fluctuating energy into high quality power required to supply loads. The principles of power conversion for AC and DC system will be covered. Application examples will include topics such as power converters for battery chargers, solar inverters, wind/ocean power conversion, and traction for electric vehicles. The course will provide a strong theoretical background and enable students to understand renewable power conversion at the system level. A practical/applied component will be included, providing the student with real-world problem solving scenarios, laboratory experiences and visits to UBC state of the art power facilities.
Pre-requisites: UBC MATH 101 or equivalent
Introduction to RoboticsIntroduction to Robotics will provide an overview of common robotic devices and their classifications, and discuss industrial and home robotics applications. Major technical challenges in robotics will be considered, including dynamics related to trajectory and path planning. Through lectures, group activities, and hands-on lab work, students will explore both how robots sense their surroundings and gather information, and how they can interact with their environment. Although this course is technical in nature and will include a hands-on component, no experience in robotics is required. Knowledge of programming is encouraged in order to follow the material.
Roboethics: Challenges from Computational Intelligence
This seminar-style course will provide students with an awareness of the current state of thinking of the design of robots that are meant to co-exist with people (service, therapy, military, sentry, etc.). The course will provide insight into how sociology, psychology, law, literature and design can contribute knowledge to arrive at a safe and effective co-existence between humans and machines that have some autonomy from their computational intelligence, i.e., robots. The course will examine the taxonomy of collaborative robots, the underpinnings of bioethics applied to technology, and several controversial robot application areas.
Preferred background in Engineering or related discipline. Undergraduate applicants only.
From Drama to Theatre: How Does a Play Mean?
This course will explore the languages of theatre within Vancouver's rich and lively performance culture. How do individual artists--directors, actors, designers--transform a playwright's ideas into unique and original art? In what ways, for example, will a Shakespeare play produced in Vancouver become a Canadian play? These questions and more will be explored in relation to two plays a week in production in Vancouver during the term. We will examine and discuss the play scripts, attend the plays, and meet "backstage" with some of the artists themselves. Plays chosen will span a variety of genres, including Shakespeare (in production at Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival), musicals (in production at Theatre Under the Stars and the Arts Club Theatre Company), plus additional dramas and comedies in production.
Documentary and the City
For the first time in human history a majority of the world live in cities. While there are multiple threats posed by the growth of cities, such as poverty, migration, and social divisions, there are also surprising and innovative practices that emerge. The city of Vancouver is brimming with stories that can tell us many things about the world we live in. Focusing on documentary films and filmmaking, this course introduces students to these often hidden stories of the city through key writings, films, and direct engagement with life in Vancouver. Students will use creative methods to connect critical analysis with their everyday experiences, while authoring basic documentary projects in neighbourhoods throughout the city.
Culture and Communication
Anthropology is the study of what makes us human. One of the most fundamental aspects of human society is communication through language. In this course, we ask if human language is unique and different from communication systems of other animals. We also examine the relationship between language and culture and explore how language is linked to how we see the world and how we relate to each other. By reading about a variety of cultures and languages across the globe, we will try to answer questions, such as: Do we see the world differently because we speak different languages? Do we identify the social characteristics of an individual based on their dialect and accent? How do people use language to form or change identities? Why are women criticized more frequently than men for how they communicate? You will gain experience in meeting writing standards for UBC Arts/Anthropology courses and will receive individual feedback on writing assignments.
This course will examine the development of media technologies, their applications, and their cultural, political and social impacts. Students will also gain hands-on experience in learning how to think and operate like a professional journalist in a simulated multimedia environment. It is designed to introduce students to the grammar and syntax of media across platforms, based on a core journalistic skill set of interviewing, reporting, news writing, and research methods in tandem with the most current technical tools and technologies in digital media.
International Trade and Financial Markets
The modern global economy is intricately tied together through networks of trade and financial interconnections. This course will give students an understanding of the structure and functions of international trade and international financial markets. The course will give a basic introduction to the forces driving international trade in goods and financial assets among nations of the world. The major theories of international trade and financial markets will be reviewed. Topics covered will include the determinants of a country’s trading patterns, recent trends in international trade such as offshoring and global supply chains, the role of financial markets in international development, the future of the Renminbi as an international currency, the understanding of international financial crises, and sovereign debt crises.
Dynamics of Democracy and Global Uprisings
This course deals with some of the key concepts of Political Science, matching them with developments around the globe. We begin by considering some of the concepts and controversies in defining democratic and non-democratic systems. How do we tell democratic systems from non-democratic ones? Are all democracies the same, or at least similar? Is citizen satisfaction a distinctive quality of those regimes? We then link these discussions to the rising wave of global discontent around the globe. The seemingly-universal quality of these uprisings gives a strong indication that struggles we are witnessing are no longer over democracy versus other systems; instead, what seems to be at issue are the meanings and practices largely associated with democratic regimes, the expectations of peoples, and what regimes provide.
Inequality and Diversity in Modern Societies
This course explores the concepts and theories surrounding social diversity across a range of modern societies. The aim is to highlight how societies are stratified along different social categories, and engage students to think critically think about the organizational structure of multicultural societies. The course will begin with an overview of the demographic and socioeconomic position of various groups. The course will then analyze the social inequalities that exist among these groups and the social mechanisms and policies that generate these differences. Drawing from real life examples and research findings, the course will teach students how to think sociologically about specific issues (e.g. labour market participation, health outcomes, civic participation) that are relevant across the globe but also pay attention to those pertinent to multicultural societies such as Canada.
Practice with Marginalized Diverse Populations
Based on a framework that recognizes that inequality is rooted in historical forms of stratification that are often embedded in modern institutions, this course will explore the application of the concepts of diversity in policy and practice with diverse populations. This course will then examine how different forms of diversity individually and intersectionally cause predicaments to and marginalization of individuals, groups and communities. Using Canadian policies as an example, students will learn and critique the strengths and limitations of the human rights and multicultural discourse prevalently embraced by many western countries. Through agency visits and small group discussions, students will examine different ways and approaches of how health and social service practitioners apply the concepts of social diversity in serving and advocating for individuals, groups and communities to overcome these predicaments and marginalization.
International Business Management
This course is taught from the perspective of a senior manager at multinational enterprise. It analyzes the decisions made by firms in an international context. To do so it combines material from strategy, international finance, marketing, human resource management, positive trade theory, institutional trade policy, and other areas. It will emphasize the use of analytical tools and the development of oral and written communication skills. By design, the course is integrative, implying that there is some overlap with material taught in international marketing and finance courses.
This course examines the process of entering international markets and in conducting marketing operations on an international scale. Through lectures and practical assignments students will explore a broad range of global marketing issues and concepts. Specific objectives include understanding the role of marketing in business, analyzing the external issues affecting international marketing activities including the economic, social/cultural, and political/legal environment, identifying and assessing global marketing opportunities in the international marketplace, gaining experience in developing international marketing strategies, and planning to implement and adapt these activities in specific markets.
Concepts and processes for the strategic management of private sector, single and multi-business unit enterprises are analyzed using the case method. Methodologies which draw on economic and organizational theory are integrated to form the foundations for strategic analyses. This course builds students’ ability to analyze and develop business strategies by introducing frameworks and tools to understand the nature of competition in general and to analyze the specific competitive position and strategic options of a given firm. You will learn frameworks for analyzing industry structure, internal capabilities, and competitive interaction, as well as how to use those frameworks to critique a specific firm’s competitive position and develop and evaluate strategic alternatives.
New Enterprise Development
This is an introductory course to the field of entrepreneurship. It is also useful to anyone who expects to be interacting with entrepreneurs in their business careers, be it as private investors, venture capitalists, consultants or customers. The course provides an experience-based exposure to the process of starting entrepreneurial ventures as well as examining the challenges facing any would-be entrepreneur in the real world. This includes developing business models and strategies for innovative products or services and strategies for acquiring resources, particularly financing.
Urban Big Data AnalysisWith the advent of open data movement, knowledge and skills for collecting and analyzing big data become increasingly important for urban planners. This course will teach you how to harness the power of big data by mastering the way they are collected, organized, and analyzed to support better decision making in urban planning context. You will learn the basic tools needed to manipulate large datasets derived from various open-data platforms, from data collection to storage and approaches to analysis. You will capture and build data structures, perform SQL and basic queries in order to extract key metrics and insights. In addition, you will learn how to use open-source programming tools, such as R and Python, to analyze and visualize the data. These statistical tools and methods will be complemented by machine learning and pattern detection techniques, in addition to new technologies for big data.
Spatial Analysis Using Geographic Information Systems
GIS technology sits at the intersection of the world around us and our incredible computing capabilities that allows us to investigate and visualize that world in new and exciting ways. This course will introduce students to key concepts, methods, and tools used to collect, analyze, map, and visualize geospatial data. Explore what makes spatial data special, examine data collection methods and its application to answer questions about the world around us - particularly in decision making and to inform policy-making. Students will use computer-based geographical methods of data input and analysis to model the world by exploring real-world scenarios and present their findings to the class. Practical applications will be investigated in both the natural and human realms through lectures, discussions, group exercises, and a hands-on computer lab component.
Prerequisites: Introductory level to Big Data and GIS software
Case Studies of Citizen Participation in Significant Urban ProjectsThis course introduces students to how Vancouver’s citizens and civil society organizations have collaborated with elected officials and city administration on policies and programs to create a more equitable, inclusive and livable city. Leaders and volunteers from community groups that have influenced change in environmental, social and economic spheres will show how they have contributed to such benefits as improved transportation infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians; expanded accessibility in public facilities and housing design for people with disabilities; enhanced public spaces and park; increased protection for heritage buildings; and broadened recognition of the contributions of minority groups and new immigrants to the vitality and economic of the city. The course will include visits to significant urban sites and interactive classes in the working spaces of community groups. This course will appeal to students with a wide range of interdisciplinary backgrounds.
Smartphone City: Using Digital Techniques to Record and Publicize Vancouver’s Development MilestonesThis course will introduce students to the basics of short-video production using just their smartphones. Teams of students will shoot and edit 5- to 7-minute videos of specific, well-known cases studies in real-estate development, economic development, infrastructural planning, urban design, and social planning that represents milestones in the history of the City of Vancouver. On field trips, students will visit specific Vancouver sites, interviewing key stakeholders, and conducting archival research with a view to building short, engaging, digital stories that raise questions about how communities engage with city authorities, and how to visualize and present ideas convincingly in the visual medium. Along the way, students will experience Vancouver’s museums, sample its foods, and understand the history of its social fabric and architecture. The course will presume no prior knowledge of filming and editing and is focused on developing introductory skills.
Applied Linguistics for TeachersSuccessful language teachers need to understand more than just the structure and nature of the language(s) they teach: they also need to develop an understanding of the social, cultural, and ideological implications of language and language education. Language classrooms are diverse, multilingual, multicultural and multimodal places, presenting students and teachers with unique challenges. This course serves as a general introduction to theory and research concerning these issues as they relate to learning and teaching, from the perspective of applied linguistics. Topics to be discussed include: theories of first- and second-language learning; the relationship of theoretical issues in applied linguistics to educational practice; language variation; language attitudes and ideologies; world Englishes; language and globalization; language policy; language and gender; language and race, and more.
Introduction to Teaching and Learning EnglishThis course provides a general theoretical overview of and some practical preparation for English language teaching (ELT). Its scope is diverse as it considers approaches to language teaching, a range of teaching techniques and strategies, learner needs, instructional contexts, assessment, and sociocultural concerns, as they pertain to teaching English in a variety of contexts. The course examines ways to teach listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary but always with a view to integrating these skills. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to and learn from active engagement in discussions on contemporary ELT issues and topics.
Designing High Quality Programs in Early Childhood SettingsThis course addresses the notion that children are natural learners. Students will learn about, discuss, and clarify important concepts and theories relative to early childhood education, including child development theory and the holistic nature of learning in the early years. The course highlights the idea that young children’s innate capacity to learn and teachers’ responses to children’s inquiries provide the foundation for the development of high-quality early learning experiences for young children and impacts the type of programming that is created. Students will learn about designing appropriate daily routines and implementing teaching strategies for integrating different areas of learning, such as literacy, math, science, and art through inquiry and project-based learning. The course will also include observations in local Early Childhood settings.
Creating Environments to Support Learning in Early Childhood SettingsThis course introduces students to the significant role that designing stimulating and nurturing early childhood classroom environments plays in children’s learning and in supporting all aspects of their development and growth. Students will learn about creating dynamic indoor and outdoor learning spaces for young children and the importance of providing children with original and natural educational materials and resources. The course will include visits to local state-of-the-art Early Childhood environments for young children.
Food and Agribusiness Enterprise ManagementThis course is designed to introduce the principles of financial and business management that are most relevant to agri-food and related firms. The content of the course will provide students with the insights and skills necessary to develop, evaluate and implement financial and management strategies. This will be accomplished through the presentation of management fundamentals, financial principles, decision and project planning frameworks, completion of cases and current article reviews, class discussions and final enterprise management presentation. Emphasis will be placed on the unique considerations of management within the agriculture, food and agribusiness sectors.
Food and Agribusiness Marketing ManagementThis course is designed to introduce the principles of marketing management and assessment that are most relevant to agri-food and related firms. The content of the course will focus on the macro and micro aspects of marketing management. Specific topics include basic principles and types of marketing such as production, selling and social marketing; marketing frameworks to assess industry and competitive landscape; identification of the ideal customer; market research survey development and assessment, use of excel for market survey and data analysis and secondary research methods and the sources.
Essentials of Nutrition
In this introduction to nutrition course, students will learn about nutrients: what they are, why they are important to health, recommended intakes, and common Canadian food sources. Controversial topics in nutrition are explored. Key concepts are emphasized through field trips to local food production and retail outlets and are an integral component of students’ learning experiences. Upon completion of the course, students will be better equipped to sort out fact from fiction by applying their knowledge of nutrition to everyday scenarios and to their personal dietary choices.
Healthy Cooking and Eating in Canada’s Multicultural Context
This course will focus on applying the nutrition concepts learned from Essentials of Nutrition. You will be enriched with hands-on cooking experience, tasting and discussions about food choices. You will learn fundamental cooking skills and how to modify recipes for better health. Students will work in small groups to prepare a wide variety of foods from the many cultures making up Canada's cultural mosaic. The instructor, a Registered Dietitian and Chef, will guide students in their cooking, help them explore the nuances of tasty foods they have prepared and lead discussions on how to ensure food is both delicious and healthy. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of fundamental knowledge and skills of food safety, the practical outcomes of recipe modification, an understanding of the role and interactions of ingredients in food preparation, and a variety of preparation techniques and their nutritional attributes.
Introduction to Clinical Medicine in the Hospital SettingIn this number one choice by VSP Medicine students in the last five years you will visit a large hospital and see the active life of physicians in several specialties as they diagnose and treat patients. Explore a unique hands-on experience and visit the Emergency Room, Laboratories and other areas. Learn how to resuscitate patients in cases of emergency, and use quality simulators to do intubation, defibrillation, managing airways and intravenous lines. Learn how to take history and conduct a physical exam - and work with physician-educators to acquire skills that focus on cardiac, respiratory and neurological systems. Discuss hospital cases in a wide spectrum of diseases, present patient cases of acutely ill and injured patients such as those with a myocardial infarct or car accidents, as well as chronically ill patients such as those with rheumatoid arthritis. In small group learning style discuss common emergency complaints such as fever, abdominal pain and rash to learn foundation of medicine.
Introduction to Scientific Research in the Hospital SettingReview the scientific basis for research in biology, pharmacology and disciplines of medicine and explore methods to learn advanced clinical (hospital and clinic based) study designs. Learn from senior doctors, investigators and scientists how to discover better treatments for severely ill patients and acute emergencies, discuss ethical conduct of studies in children and neonates, how to recruit patients and what can be done to improve patient care through scientific studies. The course is providing students with solid foundation to appraise primary literature in clinical disciplines including medicine. This course was oversubscribed for five years because it offers you exposure to senior and experienced doctors who do such research in a large hospital. Learn to read English medical literature and have an opportunity to discuss research opportunities in cases of emergency, chronic diseases and cancer. With other students and a doctor-mentor in a small group you will develop a research proposal that can be implemented in the future.
Introduction to Rehabilitation and Living with Physical Disabilities in the CommunityThe World Health Organization has identified a critical need for comprehensive health and social programs to address the “global burden” of chronic illness and disability. This course explores long-term conditions and their effect on participation in everyday life. Learn from Canadian occupational therapy researchers, clinicians, students and clients living with disabilities. Sessions take place in the community, class room and clinical settings. This interactive, case-based curriculum includes topics related to health, illness and disability, the social determinants of health, and populations living with mobility impairments. Sessions include practical training in wheel chair skills, accessibility and universal design.
Introduction to Community Rehabilitation for Mental Health and Invisible Disabilities
Building on the first course, students are introduced to rehabilitation assessments and interventions for managing invisible, long-term conditions in the community. This includes supporting the recovery of adults with mental health issues and addictions, assessing and managing pain, and hi-tech and lo-tech strategies for living with visual impairment. Class room sessions use cases, social media and workshop format to tap creativity and apply the principles presented. Community based sessions enable students to integrate their learning by assessing real-life Canadian situations. The instructional team includes researchers, occupational therapists and clients living with life long conditions.
Sustainable Food and Farming Systems
Our food and farming systems are one of the greatest causes of global environmental problems. Agriculture covers a third of the world's land, and is responsible for continued deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, depletion of freshwater resources, and water pollution. This course provides an overview of global agriculture (what does the spatial distribution of crops and livestock, irrigation and fertilizer use, look like), its historical evolution, environmental consequences, socio-economic dimensions (who/where are farmers, land tenure, labour, food sovereignty, right to food, access to food), and some proposed solutions for addressing these challenges. We will cover topics such as the Green Revolution, sustainable intensification, organic farming, agroecology, genetically modified foods, smallholder systems, and supply chains. Assignments that use data science to understand and find sustainable farming solutions will also be included.
Sustainable Diets and Nutrition
Despite rapid growth in cereal production over the last 50 years, hunger and malnutrition persist. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 7 people today remain undernourished, while 2 billion are malnourished (which includes obesity and micronutrient deficiencies, in addition to undernourishment). A nutritious diet is critical to raising the quality of life of a large section of the world’s population. At the same time, decreasing consumption of meat-intensive foods is being seen as solution to reducing the environmental footprint of our food system. This course will explore what a healthy and sustainable diet means. It will touch on concepts such as calories versus nutrition, dietary diversity, dietary trends, macro vs micro nutrients, vegetarian/vegan diets, fad diets, food safety, and the relationship between diets, human health, and planetary health. It will investigate the role of dietary shifts as a critical pathway toward meeting the UN Sustainable Development goals.
Nature Matters: Ecology, the Environment and You
Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people lie at the heart of many sustainability issues (such as food security, energy production, corporate environmental responsibility, and resource management), in ways not often reflected by management and policy approaches. This course will explore human impacts on ecosystems, the processes by which ecosystems render benefits for people (ecosystem services), methods for analyzing impacts and benefits, and the ways that individuals and organizations incorporate such information into their decision-making. Through field trips to a range of ecosystem types, lectures, and exposure to innovative organizations in the public and private sector, this course will consider the opportunity for innovative progress towards sustainability from stronger and deeper ecological grounding, and how students can support this type of progress in their careers and day-to-day lives.
Oceans in the 21st Century
This course provides an overview into ocean conservation issues, including the integrated and often conflicting role of oceans in biodiversity conservation, food security, climate change, and ecosystem services to humans. The course includes lectures and field trips that cover a variety of ocean issues, as well as guest lectures from and/or visits to organizations that are tackling components of these challenges in a variety of ways. Simulations and workshops will help students consider the variety of stakeholders involved in decision-making. Content, discussion, and exposure to experts and innovative research and strategies will equip and empower students to better understand and become more engaged in ocean issues, no matter how close they are to a coast.
Game theory is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. As such it is applicable to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in computers and organisms. Game theory has been widely recognized as an important tool in many fields including computer science, biology, economics, political science and psychology. In this course we will consider representations of games (normal, extensive, and characteristic-function forms), game types (cooperative/non-cooperative, symmetric/asymmetric, zero-sum/non zero-sum, simultaneous/sequential, etc.), history, awards, and game theory in popular culture.
The mathematic definition of symmetry is that an object is invariant to various transformations; including reflection, rotation, or scaling. Mathematical symmetry may be observed with respect to spatial relationships, through geometric transformations and other kinds of functional transformations, with respect to the passage of time, as an aspect of abstract objects, theoretic models, music, and language. Symmetry in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious proportion and balance. In this course we investigate symmetry and asymmetry in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, and in the arts, specifically architecture, fine art, and music.