Student Directed Seminar courses

2022/23 Student Directed Seminars

If you're a student interested in taking a Student Directed Seminar course in the 2022/23 Winter Session, browse the course descriptions below for information.

To register for a Student Directed Seminar course, log into your Course Schedule and search the course code, or contact the student coordinator directly for more information. Some courses may have specific requirements and instructions you need to follow in order to register for the course. Please read each course description carefully.

The UBC Okanagan Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is currently developing a Student Directed Seminars course for its students. For further information, please email

UBC Vancouver Winter Term 2 courses

UFOR 449C 202: Management Planning in Urban Forestry

Student Coordinator: Alex Martin (he/him)


Faculty Sponsor: Robert Kozak (Forestry)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Using problem-based case studies in urban forestry, this seminar helps students apply information from previous urban forestry courses to design an urban forest management plan for operations. The focus of the seminar is introducing safe implementation of urban forest management programming that is realistic of the capacities and objectives of cities. Each week, the seminar focuses on topics in urban forest management, including pruning and removal cycles, pest management, wildfire prevention, and arboriculture equipment. Through integrating arboriculture and urban forest management, students interact with potential opportunities and limitations in urban forestry when directing arboriculture operations foundational to urban forest management.

PHIL 486A 001: Consent of the Governed: What Would a Rational Agent Consent To?

Student Coordinator: Bryce Hughes (he/him)


Faculty Sponsor: Scott Anderson (Philosophy)

This seminar is scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

What does it take for a political state to be legitimate? This is one of the fundamental questions in political philosophy. One answer, especially within the Liberal tradition, is that a state is legitimate if it has the consent of the governed – if a rational person would consent to a given authoritative political institution, then that institution is legitimate.

But what kinds of institutions you imagine a rational person would consent to depends on what kinds of institutions you think human beings need to survive and flourish. This course integrates psychology, history, and anthropology into political theory in order to strengthen our understanding of how our institutions function, and what human beings actually need to thrive – and thus, what kinds of institutions a rational person would actually consent to.

CPSC 490: Computational Intelligence and Design 

Student Coordinator: Patrick Lee (he/him)


Faculty Sponsor: Ivan Beschastnikh (Computer Science)

Computers and computational devices have become inescapable objects of our existence. And yet, most people don’t really know what’s going on inside of their devices. Computers, like any other technological artifact, are products of intentional design. In this seminar, we will examine and reflect on the ways in which the design of computers and technological artifacts (including, but not limited to, user interfaces, computers, applications, makerspaces, and more) can be improved when alternative voices are included and involved in the creation process. As a case study, we will also be building a small 8-bit computer together from scratch (using breadboards, wires, and integrated circuits) to give you a fuller understanding of the hardware design process and how computers work.

PHIL 487 004: Wittgenstein's Tractatus

Student Coordinator: Luc Angelini (he/him)

Coordinator's Email:

Faculty Sponsor: Anders Kraal (Philosophy)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

In this course we study the major text from Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and surrounding interpretations/critiques of it. This text was one of Wittgenstein’s only publications, and he later recanted elements of it in Philosophical Investigations (1945).

This course is highly flexible, but in order to understand the text and to provide insight on it, students will do their own research into secondary sources which critique or interpret Wittgenstein’s work. Importantly, we will consider how Wittgenstein’s own thoughts on interpretation and critique impacts our assessments, especially since he often thought his work to be misinterpreted.

We will survey many interpretive works surrounding the Tractatus such as James Klagge’s Tractatus in Context. The goal is to understand what philosophical climate Wittgenstein was doing his work in, how he contributed and changed it, and what he actually meant.

ISCI 490: The History of Chemical Thought and Theory in the Context of Drug Development

Student Coordinator: Ava Aminbakhsh (she/her)


Faculty Sponsor: Andrew Horne (Medicine)

Prerequisite: CHEM 123 or CHEM 233

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Lectures and discussions regarding the history of chemical theory and its relation to drug development. A deep dive into the key individuals and events that led to our modern chemical thought and theory will be discussed. History of several chosen drug classes will be covered, in addition to the evolution of drug development into its modern form. 

POLI 333E: American Constitutional Law

Student Co-Coordinators: Elias Levy (he/him) and Ava Tabatabaei (she/her)

Student Co-Coordinators' emails:

Faculty Sponsor: Gyung-Ho Jeong (Political Science)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

This seminar will explore the history, trajectory, and implications of American Constitutional law through the three main periods of constitutional debates: Nation vs. State (late 18th and early 19th century); Property Rights and Regulation of the Economy (late 19th and early 20th century); and Civil Rights and Liberties (mid-late 20th century). Each section will feature key cases, legal theories, justices, and an overview of the context surrounding the changes made to this living document. Participants will engage in debates and discussions that extend their understanding of the foundation and history of American constitutionalism to current events.

ASTU 400J 001: The Psychology of Love

Student Co-Cordinators: Rayyan Basheer (he/him) and Tenniel Cowen (he/him)

Student Co-Coordinators' emails:

Faculty Sponsor: Samantha Dawson (Psychology)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

In this course we dive into past and current psychological theories of romantic love, seeking to achieve a comprehensive overview, while critiquing their conclusions and understanding their implications. The class will be structured by bio, psycho and social themes in the study of romantic love, while loosely following the progression of an individual going through the love cycle. This begins with conceptualizing the notion of romantic love, attraction, sex and dating, the experience of loving, relationship formation, long term relationships, relationship breakdown and breakups. We also examine cross-cultural perspectives and critically engage with the ‘western’ notion of romantic love as well as looking at love through contemporary perspectives and in the future. Each week will be supplemented with articles, lectures and/or podcasts specific to each topic in the progression, with ‘The New Psychology of Love’ as our supplemental text.

MUSC 403C: History of Electronic Dance Music and Rave Culture

Student Coordinator: Vanessa Banasiak (she/her)

Student Coordinator's

Faculty Sponsor: Gillian Carrabre (Journalism)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 11:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Contemporary Electronic Dance Music and the culture surrounding it (EDMC) encompasses a rich history that dates back to the 1970s. This global explosion has influenced many aspects of the world as in 2022 there are many mainstream rave events like the Electric Daisy Carnival,Tomorrowland and Ultra Music Festival that represent what has become a billion-dollar industry. This seminar will examine the evolution of EDM from both the historical landscape as well its contemporary impact and developments. Starting from the underground origins of EDM, each week will focus on different themes and perspectives that constitutes EDM and the culture. Finally, this seminar will feature guest speakers, weekly "listenings", documentaries, and highlight the existing research from various EDMC scholars.

MICB 448S: Applications in Synthetic Biology

Student Co-coordinators: Sasha Plichta (he/him) and Rishav Singh (he/him)

Student Co-coordinators' emails:

Faculty Sponsor: Steven Hallam (Microbiology)

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Biotechnology is a highly cutting edge field with applications to modern medicine, climate change, and engineering. Students enrolled in this seminar will learn to apply the fundamental principles of synthetic biology and genetic design to their own project, as well as learn about how machine learning and AI are unlocking synbio and the latest advancements in genetic engineering and nanomedicine by reviewing cutting-edge literature. This course is for highly motivated students in the areas of life sciences and engineering with a strong interest in biotechnology.

ASTU 400H 001: Writing About Climate Change: Storytelling & Action

Student Coordinator: Chloë Fraser (she/her)

Student Coordinator's

Faculty Sponsor: Kristen Hodge (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)

This seminar is scheduled for Mondays and Fridays from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

What's been written about climate change before, and why? What does it mean to think of the Canadian public as multiple, intersecting target audiences? How can we make something as scary as climate change a fascinating and approachable topic — even on paper?

This seminar is ideal for students who are familiar with climate change as a subject of scientific or social inquiry, but want to write about it in ways that engage, delight, and inspire action. Thinking critically about existing climate content, we'll tackle what it means to create climate narratives that are inclusive and emotionally resonant with the general public. Drawing from historical discourse, recent market research, and storytelling strategies, discover how to write your own climate story.

ASTU 400I 001: Here, There, Everywhere: Navigating Higher Education as a Third Culture Kid

Student Co-coordinators: Shanai Tanwar (she/her) and Malvika Aeron (she/her)

Student Co-coordinators' emails:

Faculty Sponsor: Clayton Ashton

Prerequisite: There is no prerequisite.

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

This course will explore the transitional journey of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) throughout the high education system. Using a post-colonial framework, the seminar will engage with topics such as culture shock, assimilation, classroom power dynamics, and intersectionality. Looking at this from three key perspectives of the TCK experience in high school, post secondary and life after graduation will drive discussion around the presence of TCKs in North American universities. Through annotated bibliographies and assigned readings of the current sociological literature, students will be encouraged to approach their lived experiences through a scholarly lens. The seminar hopes to create a positive learning environment through peer-based learning that centers on connecting one’s unique positionality to the context of the global North.

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