Student Directed Seminar courses

2023/24 Student Directed Seminars

If you're a student interested in taking a Student Directed Seminar course in the 2023/24 Winter Session, browse the course descriptions below for information. Student Directed Seminar courses are only available to third or fourth-year undergraduate students. Students are allowed to enrol in a Student Directed Seminar once during their undergraduate degree.

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.

Some seminars may have a selection process due to limited seating. If you're unable to register for a seminar through the Course Schedule, reach out to the Student Coordinator(s) for assistance.

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

ASTU 400M 201: The Psychology of Modern Dating

  • Student Coordinator: Nahanni Musiani
  • Coordinator's
  • Faculty Sponsor: Steven Barnes

This seminar is scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Technological communication is seemingly impacting all aspects of human experience. In this seminar we will be diving into the psychology behind dating apps, websites and social media to answer the question: What are the new dating scripts within technological platforms and how are they changing our pre-existing dating behaviors? This course will compare online and offline dating psychology to analyze the impacts of technology on dating practices. We will be exploring concepts of self-marketing, online attraction, matching algorithms, and digital courtship through scientific articles and textbook "The Psychology of Modern Dating" (2020) by psychologist Shawn Blue. The course syllabus is inclusive to all sexuality, gender, and identity experiences.

PHIL 487 001: Topics in Environmental Aesthetics

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.

Environmental aesthetics has been an emerging topic on philosophy of aesthetics, and grapples with topics that have increasing importance in todays society, such as environmental action. The focus will be on the diverse point of views and standpoints that exists within environmental aesthetics, by looking at classic Kantian attitudes and contrasting them with Eastern, Indigenous, and other contra-Kantian perspectives on several key topics such as ethics, judgment, and evaluating natural beauty.

ASTU 400K 201: Cyberpsychology and Digital Technology Addiction 

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.

Do you struggle to put down your phone? Or to click away from shopping sites when you should be taking notes in class? Does that make you "addicted" to technology? 
This course will examine topics in cyberpsychology – the study of psychological experiences in human-technology interactions – with a focus on behavioral addictions to technology. Whether humans can be “addicted” to behaviors is still debated, but a growing literature acknowledges the addictive designs of digital technologies, their impact on users, and their implications for health and policy. This seminar will explore and inspire critical thought about the latest research on this topic.

Readings will consist of journal articles in cognitive and clinical psychology, ethics, public health, and UI/UX design. Class time will be spent on group discussions and activities. We welcome students of all majors who are motivated to learn and engage in small peer groups.

POLI 308Z 001: The Politics of Policing in Canada and the United States

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 recent years, public discourse regarding policing in Canada and the United States has gained considerable momentum. Spanning the 2020 protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, the recent sweeps of the unhoused population in the Downtown Eastside, and the 2023 National Inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting, the institution of policing has been called into question. In this course, we will examine and critically engage with the policing systems in Canada and the United States as they exist today and through history. We will aim to situate the media events that have defined recent years in the history of policing, various theories of it, and alternatives to policing.

ASTU 400L 201: Psychedelics and Sacred Plant Medicines: Holistic and Neurobiological Approaches

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule. You must apply to participate in this seminar. For application instructions, please email the student coordinators.

The intention of this seminar is to create a space for a deep academic exploration of critical facets of psychedelics, including function at the neurobiological level, ethical considerations regarding Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional uses, therapeutic potentials, and harm reduction. It emphasizes a comprehensive understanding of the distinct properties and effects of various psychedelics while illuminating the potential of the psychedelic renaissance to shape an inclusive collective future from multi-disciplinary perspectives. This seminar integrates common frameworks such as behavioral neuroscience, neurobiology, psychology, and holistic therapy while touching on areas such as consciousness, existential psychology, and philosophy of the conception of the self.

PHIL 488 001: Exploring the Concept of Progress in History

  • Student Coordinator: Nick Halme
  • Coordinator's
  • Faculty Sponsor: Sylvia Berryman

This seminar is scheduled for Tuesdays from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

Every year the United Nations releases a “Sustainable Development Goals Report,” which “provides a global overview of progress” towards a list of goals. The 2022 report tells us that, thanks to COVID, “years or even decades of development progress have been halted or reversed.” The question that this seminar seeks to answer is what precisely is meant by “global progress”? What, precisely, is progressing? Is there a time when the world will have progressed sufficiently? What would it mean not to progress? Is progress “merely” a social or political convention, or can it be said to exist in some other way? Must progress “exist” in order to be pursued? In other words, we will investigate the nature of progress itself and what role it plays in the world.

PHIL 489 001: Philosophy in Hip-Hop/Rap Music

This seminar is scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. You can view this seminar on the SSC Course Schedule.

In this course we will examine a variety of philosophical topics through the lens of hip-hop/rap music. We will apply a two-eyed seeing approach to our inquiries, where we will discuss these topics with one eye focused on songs by a variety of rap artists and the other eye focused on philosophical works from the Western philosophical thought. We will situate the birth of hip-hop/rap in its historical context as a fundamentally African-American art form, and we will seek to understand how this context might contribute to the often anti-oppressive and at times hyper-individualistic worldviews projected through in this music. We will use these discussions to help elucidate the variety of social and personal functions that rap music serves.

PHIL 486 001: Introduction to Eastern European Philosophy

  • Student Coordinator: Artem Mescherin
  • Student Coordinator's
  • Faculty Sponsor: Veta Chitnev

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.

The academic focus of this student directed seminar is to introduce students to a variety of diverse philosophical thoughts that were occurring in Eastern European Philosophy since the 18th century. Throughout the course we will cover some of the most influential Eastern European philosophers since the 18th century from Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, and other regions. Readings include original texts in translation as well as peer-reviewed secondary sources that will help students to understand the nuances of examined texts.

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