The Vancouver International Summer Program is a four-week academic program that provides visiting undergraduate students from international universities an opportunity to experience our Earth science education and Vancouver culture.

The program consists of a package of two courses, each with approximately 39 hours of class time. Courses are directed and taught by UBC faculty members. Classes are interactive and may include group discussions, guest lecturers, research projects, laboratory experimentation, and short fieldtrips. Course credit will be granted at the discretion of the participating universities.


A – The Dynamic Earth and its Beautiful Treasures

This package is designed to examine the origin and formation of our planet and its economic resources. From its early beginnings our planet has evolved dramatically, with an ever changing surface subject to vast plate movements and billions of years of weathering and erosion. Students will discover how volcanoes, meteor impacts, earthquakes, winds, moving water, glaciers during ice ages and the relentless grind and recycling of rocks by plate tectonics shape our planet, and explain our geological resources. Both courses emphasize experiential learning where concepts are discovered through active learning in the classroom, innovative laboratory experiments and field trips to collect and interpret observations in and around Vancouver.

The Dynamic Planet
This course considers how an active and evolving Earth system has created the planet we know today, one that supports diverse life and is rich in natural resources. Using international and Canadian examples, we will examine the origin of our planet and its composition and structure. From mountains to glaciers, earthquakes to volcanoes, ancient rocks and mighty dinosaurs, Canada is a wonderful natural laboratory that we will use to investigate our active and dynamic planet.

Earth Treasures
Canada is also known for its spectacular precious metals and gems, some of them housed in our departmental museum, The Pacific Museum of the Earth. This course investigates the formation, exploration, mining and aspects of marketing of gemstones and precious metals.  We touch on topics such as fundamental scientific concepts, natural and synthetic gems and explore the world of fine jewelry. The origin, valuation and exploration strategies for gems such as diamonds and precious metals such as gold and platinum will be investigated here and placed into a fascinating international and Canadian geological context.

Our emphasis is on active learning teaching methods where students are inspired to explore the subject matter through field trips, labs, discussions and in class activities.

No background knowledge of geology is required for package A.

B – The Earth's Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate

In this package we explore the dominant processes that control the atmosphere and the oceans, and investigate the diversity of life found in marine ecosystems. Students will discover how energy flows through these systems and how the energy flow controls winds and ocean currents. We will discover how the winds and currents influence the climate and movement of pollution, and the effect these fluid movements have on the ocean biosphere and make up of marine ecosystems. Both courses emphasize experiential learning where concepts are discovered through active learning in the classroom, innovative laboratory experiments and field trips to collect and interpret observations in the diverse ocean and atmospheric environments near Vancouver. Escape the classroom and discover with us!

Ocean and Atmosphere Systems
In this course you will assess and quantify the principal components of the global energy balance, how the energy balance affects the structure of the ocean and atmosphere and produces the winds and currents that control weather, air pollution and the biosphere. You will examine ocean productivity and the important geochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous, and how over geologic time, ocean and atmospheric processes coupled with the evolution of the life to regulate climate and climate change.

Marine Biodiversity
Students will explore the incredible diversity of marine ecosystems, and identify the factors that regulate ocean habitats and how marine ecosystems develop in response. Ecosystems’ properties, including diversity, resilience (or lack of resilience) to environmental change and its impact on neighboring ecosystems will be considered. The fascinating marine ecosystems and habitats to be studied include hydrothermal vents, intertidal zone, coral reefs, estuaries, deep sea, and polar ecosystems. A particular emphasis will be placed on our beautiful and diverse local marine ecosystems. Examine the responses of ecosystems disturbances, the evolution of ocean plankton, invasive species, climate change and pollution.

Our emphasis is on active learning teaching methods where students are inspired to explore the subject matter through field trips, labs, discussions and in class activities.

No background knowledge of oceanography is required for package B.


Classes are held 4-5 days a week with one day or one afternoon a week free. A typical schedule is as follows:

9:00–12:00 morning class
12:00–13:30 lunch break
13:30–16:30 afternoon class

The program includes a welcome celebration, a city tour, an orientation to the UBC campus and the Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Department, a farewell ceremony and meal, and some evening activities (such as a movie night or a sports night). Optional activities such as sporting events, museum visits, and sightseeing day-trips will be offered for a fee.


Participants will be housed in one of three UBC residences on campus with easy access to classes, libraries, sport facilities, and transportation: Ritsumeikan-UBC House, Marine Drive Residence, or Walter Gage Towers. Students will stay in shared suites that include 4-6 single bedrooms, an in-suite bathroom with a shower and toilet, a lounge area with a television, and a fully-equipped kitchenette. High-speed wired internet is included. The residences are secure and have a 24-hour front reception desk. Groups are supported by Faculty of Education staff. If maximum occupancy is reached in apartment style accommodation, students may be placed in dormitory style accommodation.

Take a virtual tour of the UBC residences

 We are now accepting applications for the 2019 VSP


Participants must be undergraduate students (typically in their first 2 years of study) at international institutions who are proficient in English (all classes will be taught in English) and have a strong academic background.

Course packages have a minimum and maximum class size, so institutions are encouraged to register their students as early as possible. Course packages that do not meet the minimum number of students will not be offered. Students will be informed if their first choice package is full or has been canceled and will be given the option to choose another package.

 Dates & Deadlines

Course Dates: July 13 – August 13, 2019
Participant Registration Deadline: March 29, 2019
Arrive in Vancouver: July 13
Classes: July 15 – August 8, 2019
Depart Vancouver: August 13

 Program Fee & Application

The 2019 package fee is $5,250.00 (Canadian Dollars) per student. This amount includes:

  • Tuition
  • Course materials
  • Accommodation (31 nights)
  • Medical insurance
  • Airport transfer (for group arrival/departure)
  • City tour
  • Orientation and farewell events
  • Some social activities (optional trips may require an additional fee)

Students need to meet their institution's requirements for studying abroad and must be proficient in English and have a strong academic background. Participating universities should notify UBC of their interest in the program well in advance so that accommodation and instructors can be booked. Please see for more details.

Asia South Asia & the Middle East Vancouver/All other Inquiries Vancouver

Ms. Winty Cheung
Executive Director
UBC Asia Pacific Regional Office
Room 1207, 12/F., FWD Financial Centre
308 Des Voeux Road Central
Hong Kong SAR PRC
t: 852 2111 4401

Mr. Stephen Kumar
Executive Associate
UBC India Liaison Office
New Delhi, India
t: 91 11 4606 1905

Ms. Marg Toronchuk
Program Coordinator
University of British Columbia
t: 1 604 822 0158

Alicia Warkentin
VSP Coordinator
The University of British Columbia
t: 1 604 822 3146