Creating your Student Directed Seminar


If you are an upper-year undergraduate student (in your third year or beyond) you are eligible to coordinate a Student Directed Seminar. UBC students can register in two Student Directed Seminars during their degree: once as Coordinator and once as a participant. View a full listing of current and past seminars, as well as previous Faculty Sponsors.

Applications for 2021/22 Winter Session seminars are now closed. Please check back in Spring 2022.

Application timeline

  • Early May: Application deadline
  • Mid-May: Applications are reviewed by Advisory Committee
  • June: Applicants are notified of the status of application and resubmissions due
  • July: Mandatory program orientation
  • September to November: Mandatory participation in synchronous or asynchronous training to design your seminar syllabus and learning environment

Before you submit your proposal

There are a few things that you will need to prepare and submit a propsal. Attend an information session and/or proposal writing workshop before applying.

Information Sessions

Learn about the Student Directed Seminar program, what is expected of you, and the information you will need for your proposal. Sessions happen in Feb 2022.

Please register online and a Zoom link will be emailed to you to confirm your registration.

Session dates

  • Mon, Feb 15, 2021, from 12:30 to 2:00 pm PT
  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm PT
  • Fri, Feb 26, 2021, from 9:30 to 11:00 am PT

Proposal Writing Workshops

Get tips on how to create a detailed proposal ready for submission with a staff member from the Student Directed Seminars team.

Check back in 2022 for workshop information.

Creating your Student Directed Seminar

Once you have a topic in mind for your Student Directed Seminar, you will need to complete the following steps.

Reflect on your suitability for being a seminar coordinator

We are looking for academically motivated students who have a strong academic background and leadership experience that can translate to a classroom environment. Student Coordinators must be willing to engage in a true peer-based learning environment and share responsibility with the participants for achieving course outcomes.

Find a Faculty Sponsor

A supportive faculty member is an important part of your application process. They can provide advice and guidance and help shape your idea into a clear and intentional course plan. Ideally your faculty sponsor will be a tenured professor who has expertise in your proposed seminar’s discipline or a closely related discipline.

Finding a Faculty Sponsor can be the most difficult part of your application process, but it doesn’t have to be if you start your search early. You may want to direct your potential faculty sponsor to FAQs for faculty (pdf).

Choosing a Faculty Sponsor

Your Faculty Sponsor should be a tenured or tenure-stream faculty member. Sponsoring a Student Directed Seminar requires additional work that may not be included in the work terms for faculty with other appointments.
However, with the support and approval of a Department Head, the SDS Advisory Committee will consider seminars supported by colleagues other than tenure or tenure-stream faculty. In this case, it is important that such faculty members agree to take on this supervisory role voluntarily and understand that it is not a condition of their UBC employment.

If you don’t know who to approach

Send an email to with the idea behind your seminar (topic, content, structure). We will use this information to provide some suggestions of possible faculty members that might be a good fit for your seminar. If you require our support in finding a faculty sponsor, please contact us at least one month before the application deadline. 

Develop a course proposal

A course proposal is limited to 5 pages and needs to demonstrate the academic value of the course and reference appropriate readings, theories, research, or other academic materials. The course proposal is your opportunity to build your idea into a clear and thoughtful course plan that links ideas to implementation. The committee would like to see an outline of the assignments with identified weighting and grading plans.

Make sure the course you are proposing is unique, has not been offered previously, and does not duplicate an existing UBC course. Have a look at the 2021/22 Application Guide (pdf) for more instructions on how to build a strong proposal.

Final seminar proposals should use the 2021/22 Student Directed Seminars Proposal Form (pdf). Check back in 2022 for application instructions.

Create a plan for assignments and grading

Assignments must be reflective of an upper-year class and allow students to integrate, apply, or learn deeply in the content area. This must also include establishing a clear and appropriate grading scheme and weighting for assignments.

Create supporting documents for your proposal

Proposals must include a draft syllabus, course outline, and reading list to help the committee understand your plans. Please attach these documents when you submit your proposal.

Complete all components of the application package by the deadline

The application can take time, so make sure you do not leave it to the last minute.

It was an interesting dynamic that allowed for views to be shared outside of the usual lecture seminar. It was a meeting of equals, all of us contributing and making a space for ourselves.

former sds participant

How to apply

Applications for the 2021/22 Winter Session are now closed. Please check back in Spring 2022.

Please be sure to submit your final seminar proposal form and your unofficial academic record via our online application form by the deadline. If you are proposing with a Co-Coordinator, you will submit one application for both of you.

Required application components

Seminar proposal

This is the statement of your academic idea. It can include a draft course plan, syllabus, readings, assignments, and grading schemes. The committee is looking for academically rich, challenging, and well thought-out courses that will create an exceptional learning environment for students. 

Final seminar proposals should use the 2021/22 Student Directed Seminars Proposal Form (pdf). Check back in 2022 for application instructions.

Unofficial copy of your grades (all years) from the SSC

We need to ensure that coordinators have the academic background to undertake this rigorous form of study. All coordinators are required to submit unofficial grades for all years at UBC and if you studied at another institution for a portion of your degree, please include those grades (if this is not possible, let us know). Instructions for how to download a copy of unofficial grades from the SSC are in the Application Guide (pdf). 

This unofficial record should be uploaded to your online application form when you are ready to submit.

Faculty sponsor form

This confirms that your Faculty Sponsor has agreed to supervise your coordination of a Student Directed Seminar. Have your Faculty Sponsor complete the 2021/22 Student Directed Semiars Faculty Form (pdf) and email it to by the application deadline. The email must come directly from your Facult Sponsor.

Faculty recommendation form

This form should come from a Faculty Member who can attest to your suitability to take on the role of a Student Directed Seminar Coordinator. It can be completed by any Faculty Member and does not need to be filled out by your Faculty Sponsor.

Have the Faculty Member submit the 2021/22 Student Directed Faculty Recommendation Form (pdf) and email it to by the application deadline. The email must come firectly from the Faculty Recommender.

Sample Seminar Proposals

After your seminar is approved

If your proposal is approved, you are required to attend training to support the development of seminar facilitation and coordination skills and develop your seminar’s official syllabus, reading list, and materials. You will also need to schedule a class meeting time, book a classroom, and identify any guest speakers you might want.

Once this has been completed, your seminar will then be made available for registration to students at UBC Vancouver as a 3-credit, upper level course. The minimum enrolment for each seminar is 8, and the maximum is 15.

It has been the most wonderful and insightful educational experience of my life. Period.

former sds participant

If you have questions