BIOL 448 – Directed Studies

BIOL 448 – Directed Studies Applications

Application: BIOL 448 Form (Word), BIOL 448 Form (PDF)

Application for CMS students: BIOL 448 Form CMS (Word), BIOL 448 Form CMS (PDF)

***For 2021W BIOL 448 Directed Studies Applications should be emailed to by Sept 10th for term 1 and Jan 14th for term 2 to be reviewed! **

All BIOL 448 applications must include a COVID-19 contingency plan and a method of evaluation!

Biology 448 is a course that allows students to carry out an individual research project under the supervision and guidance of a faculty member. Biology 448 projects may be a library, field lab-based, the nature and scope of the project is to be negotiated between the student and the prospective supervisor. Students can only be registered for this course through the Biology Office. There, they can acquire the Biology 448 application form, which they can fill out with the help of their prospective supervisor.

An abstract of the project should be entered on the Biology 448 form, and the supervisor should sign the form. The abstract will include a summary of the project and a statement indicating how the evaluation will be conducted.

On the recommendation of the supervisor and with the concurrence of the associate head of the Biology Program, three credits of Biology 448 may be used toward the 12 credits of Biology (i.e. BIOL) Life Science Selections.  The completed form should be returned to the Biology Program Assistant to be signed by the Associate Head of Biology.

COVID-19 Contingency Plan Required: Project supervisors offering in-person research projects are required to come up with a contingency plan for their students to allow them to complete their project remotely or online in case restrictions prevent in-person work.

Are there any BIOL 448 registration restrictions?

  • a student can register for a maximum of 12 credits of directed studies
  • a student can register for a maximum of  6 credits of directed with the same supervisor
  • directed studies courses follow the normal academic year, thus a winter  session directed studies courses cannot continue into the summer session
  • a student can register for a 3 credit directed studies course either in term 1 (i.e. Sept to Dec or May to June) or term 2 (i.e. Jan to Apr or July to Aug), but not Sept to Apr or May to Aug.

How much work is required?

Roughly 120 hours are typical for a 3 cr. BIOL 448 project and 250 hr for a 6 cr. project. This corresponds roughly to a full day per week for one term for 3 credits or for two terms for 6 credits.

Typically, 3 credit library projects require the equivalent of two major term papers. Library research projects are almost always 3 credits.

Note that, depending on the project, students may have to include time to attend safety courses in addition to the above.

How are the projects to be evaluated?

Projects are to be evaluated by the supervisor, and require some sort of written report or paper. The exact nature of this report is to be worked out between the supervisor and the student. Often laboratory projects also require the presentation of the project at a lab meeting and/or an oral exam on the project. This is fairly common in the case of lab projects used as program electives.

The written report may be in the format of a scientific paper. This is encouraged, but not absolutely necessary. The supervisor may prefer a different format and should make it clear to the student what sort of report is expected and when it is due.

BIOL 448, directed studies courses are intrinsically diverse and many require unique assessment schemes. However, an example that has worked well in the past with a variety of projects is as follows:

Work and effort (25%)

Initiative, independence, problem-solving, and understanding (25%)

Written Report (50%). Factors include Clarity of presentation of the problem, review of literature, Presentation of results, Discussion of the results and their significance.  All BIOL 448 applications must include a detailed method of evaluation!

Who can supervise BIOL 448-Directed Studies?

Any faculty at UBC can supervise a BIOL 448 as long as the subject material is Biology. Faculty outside Zoology and Botany cannot make the determination of whether the BIOL 448 would qualify as a program elective or a general elective (this would be done by an advisor in the area of the project). All undergraduate students should be supervised while working in a lab by a faculty member or graduate student.

Possible places to look for supervisors…
Department of Botany –
Department of Zoology –

When must marks for projects be in?

Projects cannot be extended beyond their original credit value. Students may, however, submit a new project proposal.

Grades must be submitted by the grade submission deadline for the term indicated on the submitted project proposal. Marks must be submitted by the supervisor to the Biology Program Assistant in the Biology Office via email or phone at the end of the course. For example, term 1 during the winter session the grades should be submitted at the end of December, for term 2 in the winter session the grades should be submitted by late April, and finally, for the summer session grades should be submitted when the course is finished before the end of August. If extenuating circumstances prevent the supervisor from submitting grades by the submission deadlines please contact the Biology Office and reschedule a termination date for the project. If supervisors fail to respond to grades submission requests the Biology Office will be forced to submit a grade of “0” for the project.

Instructors should keep in mind that median marks for Biology 448 projects are in the low to mid-80s and that marks above 90 are rare, and indicate a truly exceptional project and presentation.

For any further questions please contact the Biology Program Assistant at (604) 822-4260 or!

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Faculty of Science
UBC Biology Program
1103-6270 University Blvd,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-4260

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