Designing Your Program

What if a course that I am planning to take is not in the list of courses in the program guide?

The IDST List of Courses by Category and Discipline is updated regularly, but many courses that could form part of an IDST programme, but have never done so, may not be included on it. If a course that you want to take is not listed in the program guide, you will need to use your own knowledge of what constitutes a category and discipline to decide whether that particular course fits in your program. Don’t hesitate to include such courses in an application or a coursework revision, but bear in mind that not only their relevance to your programme statement, but also their assignment to a category and discipline, is subject to the Chair’s approval, so you should leave yourself time before the start of a term to change your plans and registration if necessary.

When I fill in my program sheet, must I list the course names in full?

Yes, please do so, but don’t hesitate to use abbreviations to spare yourself excessive writing or typing.

If the UBC Calendar shows that a course is 3/6 credits, may I choose either credit?

No. Assume 3 credits in most cases. Departments have such credit designations so that they can, in special cases, offer a two-term version of a course. This is by no means the usual practice, however. So, to be on the safe side, expect such courses to be offered as 3-credit courses.

Am I able to take 500-level courses?

Students are able to take a maximum of two 500-level courses worth a maximum of 8 credits, but they must first receive permission from the instructor, the Arts Academic Advising Office and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and this permission will normally be granted only if they have already completed 75% of their 300- and 400-level degree and programme requirements with a minimum overall average of 80%.

If I receive permission, may I take honours/special seminars?

Yes, but departments rarely have space for students who are not in their own Majors or Honours programs.

If I choose Science as one of my two categories, will 6 of my Science credits be counted toward the Faculty of Arts Science Requirement?

Yes, if necessary, although the Chair will have to edit the Science Requirement box of your Degree Navigator audit to make this possible. But students incorporating upper-level Science courses into an IDST programme will normally have taken lower-level prerequisites that Degree Navigator will automatically have put into the Science Requirement box.

If I choose literature as one of my two categories, will 6 of my Literature credits be counted toward the Faculty of Arts Literature Requirement?

Yes, if necessary, although the Chair will have to edit the Literature Requirement box of your Degree Navigator audit to make this possible.

If I choose languages as one of my two categories, will my Language coursework satisfy the Faculty of Arts Language Requirement?

Yes, but only if your programme includes courses in a language other than English (English grammar, composition and rhetoric are possibilities for an IDST programme) and if you haven’t already satisfied the requirement through lower-level UBC courses or through credit for Language 12 earned in high school.

Must I satisfy the Research Component of the Faculty of Arts Writing and Research Requirement by taking a research-intensive course in my primary discipline? 

Despite what it says under Interdisciplinary Studies on the Research Requirement List, no.

    • This is a degree  requirement, and any B.A. candidate may satisfy it by passing any course on that list.  In fact, students transferring into IDST from certain majors – Psychology is the best example – will probably have satisfied this requirement even  before designing their IDST programme.
    • That being said, however, there is great academic, even personal, advantage to doing intensive research in a field in which you also have very broad background knowledge, so doing research in your primary discipline should, at the very least, be your default position, and you should have very strong reasons for choosing research work in any other field.


May I take 400-level courses in my 3rd year?

Yes, except where an individual department has imposed a year-level restriction on its own courses.