Posted by: idm04 | 2011/03/05

Transition: First year to second year

This post has been created upon request and will contain some general information about the transition from first year to second year, especially for those in UBC Sciences.  Information in this post will be from the UBC Calendar, the UBC Science website, and other various sources.

This post will mainly talk about applying for specialization in a major (and possibly minor), summer courses and my general thoughts about my second year.  I will try my best to ensure that the information in this post is as accurate as possible at the time of writing but since mistakes can be made, I highly recommend consulting a ‘professional’ (e.g. advisor, counsellor).

Some other relevant posts:
Second-year Courses in UBC Sciences!
My Second year schedule and a bit on Cr/D/F

First-year Courses in UBC Sciences!
Transition: High school to first year



Table of Contents

1. Summer Courses

1. What are some of the major advantages to taking summer school?
2. What are some of the major disadvantages to taking summer school?
3. If I only take one course, it’ll be pretty lax, right?
4. Why did you take summer school in first-year?
5. I am not sure which courses to choose, or whether the workload is appropriate for me.
6. I heard that the grades you get for courses you take in the summer do not count towards your GPA.  Is this true?

2. Specializations

1. What do I need to get into Honours?
2. Should I apply for a specialization that I do not have the prereqs for?
3. What if I just take the prerequisite course(s) that I am missing in the summer before second-year?  Wouldn’t that be fine?
4, What if I do not get into my first specialization of choice?
5. What if I got NONE of the three choices that I wanted?  What if I am not sure whether I can get into a specialization?
6. When/where do I check whether I got into my specialization of choice?
7. What happens once I get my specialization confirmed?  Does this mean I am guaranteed a spot in the specialization for the rest of my degree?
8. What is the Combined Major in Science specialization?  Do I apply for it if I want to get a combined major in say, Mathematics and Computer Sciences?
9. How do I find out about different specializations?
10. None of the specializations really appeal to me in particular.  I want to learn about microbiology but not the immunology part, and I want to learn about biology but not plant biology.
11. How do I apply for double majors (both in Science) and minors?  What if I cannot choose between two majors?
12. How/where do I contact a departmental advisor?
13. What specializations did you apply for?

3. Registration and Courses

1. How will I know which courses to choose if I do not even know which major I got accepted into?
2. I did not get accepted into my first specialization of choice, which courses do I choose?
3. Aside from the courses listed under each year level on the Calendar Entry, what should I consider when choosing courses?
4. What electives should I take?

4. Co-op

5. Involvement, Work, Extracurriculars

6. Getting help with Academics




A common question asked by first-year students is: “Should I take summer school?”  I kind of already answered this question as a reply to someone who asked on my blog, but I’ll repeat myself again here.

There are advantages and disadvantages to taking summer school.  One of the main reasons why summer school is offered to students is so that students who failed a course in the winter term of first year can retake it in the summer and thus still be able to graduate within four years (or whatever many years they want to).  Some of these courses commonly offered in the summer session include CHEM 121, 123, 233, 235, BIOL 112, 121, 200, 201.

The summer session runs from early May to late August and is generally split up into two terms, just like in the Winter Session.  The first term runs from early May to mid July and the second term runs from early July to late August.

For example, CHEM 233 runs from May 9th to June 17th (6 weeks) this summer.  In fact, this is usually the case from what I’ve seen for first term summer courses.  Pay particular attention to the deadlines (shown by the bottom purple arrow in the diagram).  These deadline dates tell you the date you need to drop a course by without getting a W and the last date after which you cannot withdraw from the course at all.  Supposedly, they give you less time to drop a course in the summer.

Top arrow shows the course duration, bottom arrow shows the course ‘deadlines.’

Another example of a course offered in summer is MICB 202, which runs from July 4th to August 12th this year (6 weeks as well).

However, there are also courses that run for more than 6 weeks, such as STAT 200 which runs from May 9th to July 29th.  Due to this, STAT 200 is only on 2 days (4 hours a week, labs already included).  But for most courses that last 6 weeks, you can expect to be attending school for three or four days per week at approximately 8 hours a week for just that one course.  There are also courses that do not start in May, but rather in June.  These are a bit uncommon but they do exist – for example, PHIL 120 runs from June 20th to July 29th this year.  There are also courses that last less than 6 weeks, like BIOL 200 (3 weeks) and CHEM 121 (4 weeks).

1. What are some of the major advantages to taking summer school?

In summer school, courses are usually condensed into 6 weeks (from 13 weeks, usually).  If you learn quickly, this may be good – the pace may be better suited for you and since the course is condensed, more information may be retained when you get to the final exam.  Another advantage to taking summer school is that you are able to focus on only one course and can therefore “get it over with.”  Furthermore, when you take courses in following winter session, you may not need to take as many courses (depending on whether you want to qualify for certain scholarships and Honours), which means you’ll be able to focus on less courses in the Winter Session as well.  Some courses in the summer session don’t have many people taking them (especially MATH from what I’ve seen) which may result in smaller classes which some people prefer.

2. What are some of the major disadvantages to taking summer school?

As previously mentioned, summer school is very condensed.  If you find Winter session courses (13 weeks) condensed, then summer school may be too rushed for you to keep up.  However, you should also consider that you would only be taking one course (do not underestimate it though).  Since summer school is condensed, you will need to review more for one course everyday than you normally would in the winter session (2 – 3 times as much for that course).  From my experience, I find this to be extremely tedious.  Purely reviewing and pre-reading for 3+ hours for JUST one course everyday can become very tedious, very quickly.  And if you slack, you will really fall behind due to the sped up pace.  A particular example of a very crammed course would be BIOL 200, which lasts only 3 weeks – lectures are everyday Monday to Friday and each lecture is 2.5 hours each.  This is almost like going to school during the Winter Session with 4 – 5 courses.

Course evaluation during the summer tends to consist purely of midterm(s) + final because there is not enough time (or TAs) to mark things.  This simpler course evaluation may be advantageous, or the opposite.

The last disadvantage that I can think of is the final exam.  In the summer, the final exam is usually a few days after the course has finished, or less.  In fact, many courses in the summer have the final exam scheduled on the day after the course has finished.  This can be disadvantageous as you will not have much time to study.

3. If I only take one course, it’ll be pretty lax, right?

You might think that taking one course in the summer would be relaxing, but this is not always the case.  I didn’t feel relaxed even though I was only taking one course at a time in the summer, because I had to go to school 7 hours a week which is half as much as I would during the winter for FIVE courses.  Some courses are much worse – if you take BIOL 200 this summer you will have to attend class at least 14 hours a week (BIOL 200 lasts 3 weeks).

You may be able to avoid this by picking courses that only run on 2-3 days a week, or perhaps distance education courses.  I would also not recommend taking two courses concurrently.

4. Why did you take summer school in first-year?

I had spare time during the summer so I thought I might as well do some coursework.  I took MATH 200 in first term and MICB 202 in second term.

5. I am not sure which courses to choose, or whether the workload is appropriate for me.

You can always register in the courses that you are interested in taking (see below for “alternate method”).  Then, go to a few classes before deciding whether to continue in them or not.  If you decide not to continue with one or more of them, make sure to drop the course on the SSC by the deadline.  This is very important because you cannot drop the course after the deadline has passed.  Note: You have to pay a $100 non-refundable deposit (for returning domestic undergraduates) in order to register for courses in the summer session.  This fee cannot be transferred to other sessions (e.g. the next Winter session) unless you haven’t registered in any courses yet. (edited April 2013) – see UBC’s Policy on Fees. Another somewhat related page is UBC’s Policy on the Refund of Tuition Fees – according to this page, tuition is NOT 100% refundable in the Summer (it is in the Winter if you drop the course by the specific deadline).


Edit (2011): “Alternate method”: What I usually find for many but not all courses is that people tend to drop out after a while.  What I’ve seen some people do is that they don’t register for ANY courses, which means they don’t have to pay registration fees or tuition fees.  Then they attend some classes that they’re interested in taking.  And then later on, they can decide to register in it, or just stop attending and take it some other time.  For classes that are in high demand, it might be hard to register, but often people will drop out of the course nearer to the drop deadline.

6. I heard that the grades you get for courses you take in the summer do not count towards your GPA.  Is this true?

No, grades you get in the summer still appear in the grades section of the SSC. (See Academic Performance and Continuation.) Credit obtained during the summer session also counts toward the degree program, but it is important to note that they do NOT count as part of the full-time program of the Winter Session.  This means that for example if you take 15 credits in the winter term and 8 credits in the summer term, even though you will have received 23 credits total that ‘year’, you won’t be considered a full-time student.  (Note: A full-time student in the Winter Session needs 9 credits per term and a full-time student in the Summer Session needs 9 credits over all summer terms.)  (See Credit at UBC and Elsewhere.)  This may have repercussions for you – Honours programs, scholarship eligibility, loan eligibility, etc. require a minimum credit load OR full-time status.

edit (2011): Grades received in courses taken in the summer session will not count towards calculating GPA for the purpose of determining registration dates for the coming Winter Session (Thanks to Tyler).  Grades received in courses taken in the summer session may or may not count towards calculating GPA for the purpose of admission to certain programs in certain schools like UT Medicine (thanks to ‘asdf’).  Essentially, the question “Will summer GPA count?” really depends on what the purpose of calculating it is.  But generally speaking, UBC summer courses are not courses you can just do poorly in and expect no consequence and should be treated the same as with winter courses.




Before the start of second-year, you will need to be accepted into a specialization (you need to be in a specialization in order to register for second year).  A specialization is the specific field that you plan to major in, such as Chemistry or Biology.

There is an application process for gaining entry into your specialization of choice and it begins edit (April 2013): June 4th this year (2013) and will end on June 18, 2013. June 6th this year (2011) and will end at 11 pm on June 21 (see for the most updated information and times/dates).  The process, which is online, allows you to pick your top 3 choices for specializations (in order of preference).  Entry into the specialization is for the most part based on your grades and NOT based on a first-come first serve basis.  So make sure you are sure about which specializations you want to apply for before you submit the application.  It’s best to start researching about specializations as early as possible (perhaps during the winter break of first-term?) and you should have a decent idea of which specialization(s) you want to choose by the end of first year.

Some specializations require in addition to the Science specialization application, an external application; or they may look at factors other than grades for admission.  For example, Pharmacology requires you to go through an interview.

A list of all the specializations is given on the UBC Science Program Specializations page.

You can basically apply to any specialization, but make sure to click on the Calendar Entry on the page above with the list of specializations so that you know you have the correct prerequisites.  If you do not have all of the prerequisites, you probably won’t get admitted.

The UBC Science site has an overview of the entire degree planning progress.  The application for specializations is done at this page:

1. What do I need to get into Honours?

Many Honours programs are not available to apply for before second year.  You will know when you apply for the specialization and only see the majors choice.  Rather, you apply for the regular major before second year to get into the specialization and then at the end of second year you may apply for the Honours option.  Also, you may need to take certain courses in first and second-year to qualify for Honours in your specialization – see the calendar entry links on the UBC Science Program Specializations page.

Calendar Entry

Also, to get into Honours, you need a 68% average to qualify and you need to take at least 30 credits in first-year (summer credits do not count towards this). This average may be higher depending on the department. If you took fewer than 27 credits in first year and/or you failed a course, you will most likely not get into Honours by second year (assuming the application begins that early).  You still might be able to get into the Honours program at the end of second-year (by third-year) if your average improves and you take 30 credits or more during the Winter Session.

However, even if you do take 30 credits and you get a 68% average in first-year, this does not guarantee access to the Honours program in your specialization – whether you get in will also depend on the number of the seats as well as the demand, which will vary by specialization.  Once you get into Honours, you must maintain the 68% average and 30 credit course load for the Winter Session (many specializations require 75% and I think most Honours programs require more than 30 credits per Winter Session).

2. Should I apply for a specialization that I do not have the prereqs for?

Probably not, because the chances of getting into that specialization without having the pre-reqs is slim.  Although you could, technically speaking, still choose that specialization as your first choice and have two backup choices – that’s what the second and third choices are for anyway.

But you should be realistic and don’t apply for something like three Honours specializations all of which you don’t have the prereqs for, because you risk not getting into any of your top 3 choices.

You can check out what prereqs you need for your specialization of choice here:

3. What if I just take the prerequisite course(s) that I am missing in the summer before second-year?  Wouldn’t that be fine?

Generally, no.  That might be a good idea so that you can get into the specialization in third-year, but it probably won’t help you get into the specialization by second-year simply because of timing issues.  The admission decision for the specializations are based almost entirely on the courses that are taken during Winter Session of first-year.  If you get credit for a summer course before the application for the specializations is over (it will be over June 21 for this year – 2011), then they may consider that when they go through the specializations admission process – however, there is no guarantee that they will.

edit (April 2013): Certain specializations are “open access specializations” which means if you complete the prereqs by the end of summer, they will still consider you.  These specializations are listed on the UBC Science website here (near the bottom of the page).

4. What if I do not get into my first specialization of choice?

If you don’t get your first choice because it is full or you did not have the right prereqs, then they will try to put you into your second choice, and then your third if you didn’t get into your second choice.

If you want to switch out of your second choice specialization and into your first choice, you may be able to do so at the end of second-year and before third-year starts.  Many specializations have some spaces for students to enter in third year, although it is probably harder to do so since many of the spaces in the specialization are already filled.

Programs like Biochemistry and Chemistry are particularly difficult to enter in third year if you did not get into the specialization in second year.  I think the reason for this is because you need special second-year Chemistry courses like CHEM 203 and 204 that are ONLY available to Biochemistry and Chemistry majors usually.

If you want to get into a specialization in third-year that you did not manage to get into in second-year, you should contact the departmental advisor as soon as possible (at the start of second year or even earlier) to see what can be done and to make sure you are taking the right second-year courses or enough courses to qualify for entry into that specialization in third year (but if you don’t get into that specialization by third-year, then you might be in an unfavourable situation if the second-year courses you took only count towards a major in just that one specialization that you failed to get into).  In some cases, they may just change your specialization right away instead of having you wait until the end of second-year (in most cases, you do have to wait until the end of second-year).  In the case of Chemistry/Biochemistry, maybe they can squeeze you into the course(s) CHEM 203 and 204 during second-year; I think that’s what one of my friends did (this may be a rare exception) – in any case, contact the departmental advisor in whichever specialization you are interested in.

5. What if I got NONE of the three choices that I wanted?  What if I am not sure whether I can get into a specialization?

Again, avoid this situation by picking specializations reasonably.  Don’t pick all the high demand specializations for your top 3 choices like (for example) physiology, pharmacology and biotechnology unless you are very confident.  Your grades should be well above the recommended minimum average specific to that specialization.  According to the UBC Science website, the minimum averages for certain popular specializations are:

Biochemistry – 72%
Biology – 64%
Biotechnology – 70%
Chemistry – 68%
Microbiology & Immunology – 78%
Pharmacology – 82%
Physiology – 82%

If you don’t get into any of your top three choices, you’ll probably be contacted by the Science Information Centre to put you into another specialization.

Specializations that are generally always open to students (ie. pretty much guaranteed entry) are Astronomy, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Geographical Biogeosciences, Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics.

So even if you get into none of the three specializations that you chose, you should be able to choose one of these specializations above and then you’ll be able to pick the second-year courses that you want that will be pre-reqs for the specialization that you want to get into for third-year.

6. When/where do I check whether I got into my specialization of choice?

I’m looking through conversation and e-mail logs and it seems that I checked that I got into my major on June 29th, 2010.  I checked by logging onto the SSC, going to the Course Schedule, then MyProgram (on the left) and then looking under Specializations.

I then got an e-mail from UBC two weeks later telling me to go check what specialization I got into by telling me instructions to the same place, lol.

7. What happens once I get my specialization confirmed?  Does this mean I am guaranteed a spot in the specialization for the rest of my degree?

You congratulate yourself and enroll in the courses (on your registration date, which is sometime in July) as per the Calendar Entry on the UBC Science Specializations page.

However, you usually need to maintain your grades to avoid being kicked out of the specialization, especially if it is an Honours specialization which requires 30 credits (sometimes higher) per Winter Session and a 68% (sometimes higher) average.  For example, if you enter the Microbiology & Immunology specialization in second-year, this does not guarantee you a spot in the specialization in third-year.  Rather, it will depend on your second-year performance relative to the other people who are also interested in the program.  There is a chance that you may kicked out from the specialization between second-year and third-year, especially if your marks drop.  Many specializations “officially” admit in third year.

8. What is the Combined Major in Science specialization?  Do I apply for it if I want to get a combined major in say, Mathematics and Computer Sciences?

No, the Combined Major in Science (CMS) is actually a major by itself. See the UBC Science Specializations page (link above).

There should be a separate specialization code for each combined major (e.g. combined major in mathematics and computer science), just like the majors.

9. How do I find out about different specializations?

There was a “Beyond first year – Choose your major” workshop on February 28th, 2011 that informed first-years about what they needed to do to choose their major and there was also a place where all the students got to go around booths from each specialization to get info, ask questions, etc.  Each booth representing each specialization usually had students and professors from that specialization.

Here are some “notes” from this event – edit (2013 version):

There is also information on the UBC Calendar (see the UBC Science Program Specializations page, again) as well as on the departmental websites (see the same page).

You could also contact departmental advisors and ask them for information.  Some departments offer info sessions and those are usually advertised through classes or posted on sites like  I don’t know if any other sites have information about these info sessions (comment if you know any).

10 None of the specializations really appeal to me in particular.  I want to learn about microbiology but not the immunology part, and I want to learn about biology but not plant biology.

If you have interests that span across multiple disciplines, you should consider the Integrated Sciences program, an alternative to the traditional major/honours program that will allow you to design your own curriculum according to your interests.  Also see the UBC Calendar entry and this blog post about a student’s decision to enter Integrated Sciences.

11. How do I apply for double majors (both in Science) and minors?  What if I cannot choose between two majors?

According to the UBC Calendar, you should try to speak to departmental advisors from both specializations by the end of first-year.

See,215,410,1468 for more details, and for information about Dual Degrees in Science and another Faculty (e.g. Arts).

The application forms (and possibly useful information) for double majors is available here:

If you want to specialize in two or more disciplines, you can consider doing a Combined Major (or Combined Honours), a Minor, or applying for the specialization of General Science or Integrated Sciences.

If you want to apply to a minor, you should contact Science Advising by the end of second-year.  Minors in Science or other Faculties usually require 18 upper-level (3xx or 4xx) courses in the specialization.  You need to speak to departmental advisors in both specializations (the major and the minor).  The application forms for minors are available on the same site as for double majors: page will also have useful information about minors.  You can also see the calendar entry:,215,410,410.

The Integrated Sciences specialization is one that allows you to design your own program with the help of an advisor, which is great for people who don’t want to stick to only one major and want to gain a wider perspective of Science by studying multiple disciplines concurrently, which also allows for exploration of the links between these disciplines.  There also an Integrated Sciences calendar entry.

12. How/where do I contact a departmental advisor?

See the UBC Science Program Specializations page.  Instead of Calendar Entry, click on the Program Advisors link above your specialization of choice.

13. What specializations did you apply for?

My first choice was the Microbiology & Immunology major.  The Honours option was not available to me since I was only going to second-year at that time.  My second choice was Pharmacology.  And my third choice was Mathematics.

I just finished second-year, and had to apply to the specialization of Microbiology & Immunology again – officially, this time, through the Microbiology department website rather than the coordinated specialization application that is done in second-year.  This application was a form that I submitted in early May, online, to confirm my grades in some second-year courses that they would use to decide whether I would get into the program or not.  They also looked at some extracurricular activities.  They said they were more likely to consider people if they’ve had lab experience.

edit (2012): Looking back, I should have applied to Pharmacology as my first choice, because I think I would enjoy smaller classes.  I also should have considered the combined major in Microbiology & Immunology and Computer Science, which is only 12 credits more, and then I would be able to find computer science-related jobs for co-op and after graduation.





You should read the Calendar Entry for the specialization of your choice when choosing courses to take in second-year.  But there may be similarities among second-year Science students – for example, the courses taken during second-year are very similar among Life Science majors.

There is a Calendar Entry for every specialization in Science.  For example, if you got accepted into Chemistry as your specialization, you would visit the Chemistry page on the UBC Calendar for a guide when choosing courses.  The pages for all the specializations are listed on the UBC Calendar here (scroll down a bit).

Some courses may be deferred to third-year or fourth-year.  Read the footnotes on the Calendar Entry and/or e-mail the departmental advisor.

1. How will I know which courses to choose if I do not even know which major I got accepted into?

You will be sent an e-mail from UBC Science regarding which major you are accepted to for second-year.  This e-mail is supposed to be sent before your registration date.  If you do not get an e-mail and you know that your peers did, then you should probably e-mail Science Advising, especially if you haven’t received an e-mail by your registration date.

2. I did not get accepted into my first specialization of choice, which courses do I choose?

Read what I said above about applying to specializations later on – you can apply after second-year to your specialization of choice.  You could just take the same courses as you would if you had been accepted to the specialization before second-year.  Depending on how confident you are about being accepted into your first specialization of choice before third-year, I might also consider taking other courses that are required in second-year for your second/third choice major that you got into, in case you do not get into your first choice by third-year.  It may be risky to take courses towards a major that you are not accepted into because if you do not get accepted later on, then it might have been for naught, depending on if the courses also count for other majors too.

3. Aside from the courses listed under each year level on the Calendar Entry, what should I consider when choosing courses?

Make sure you take enough credits.  UBC Science’s website says the following:

  • To hold a UBC award you need to register in at least 24 credits in winter session. To be considered for an award after first year you must register in at least 27 credits in winter session of first year
  • To qualify for an Honours option in second year you must successfully complete at least 30 credits in winter session with no failed courses
  • To live in student housing you need to register in at least 12 credits a term
  • For local government-sponsored student loans, you need to register in at least nine credits a term

Another important thing to consider is the lower-level requirements in the Faculty of Science.  Lower-level requirements are requirements that you should definitely already be familiar with – they are requirements that Science students must meet within the first 60 credits that they take.

Summary of lower-level requirements in Science – to fulfill them you must take:

1. Any two of ENGL 110, 111, 112, 120, 121, SCIE 113, 300, or ASTU 150, or their equivalents.
2. A differential Calculus course plus 6 credits of Computational Sciences (STAT, MATH, or CPSC).
3. 6-8 credits of CHEM and/or PHYS lecture courses at the 100-level beyond CHEM 111 and PHYS 100.
4. Usually 3 credits of BIOL (see link above for details/exceptions).
5. Two lab courses from ASTR, BIOL, CHEM, EOSC, GEOB, PHYS, and PSYC.

Please see the link above for details of the lower-level requirements.

It is also necessary to consider promotion requirements when choosing courses.  Choose courses in second-year such that you will be granted promotion to third-year after your second-year (unless you do not want to be promoted for some reason).  The requirements for promotion to third-year include the successful completion of 48 or more credits.  You must also complete a large chunk of the lower-level requirements (see above).  Details about promotion requirements (there are more requirements than what I have just covered) are on the UBC Calendar here.

Not only are there general promotion requirements, but also requirements that are specific to you depending on which major you are in or which major you want to go into in third-year.  For example, even if you met the promotion requirements for third-year, you will NOT be promoted to third-year standing if you are in say, Environmental Sciences but did not take ENVR 200.  All the specialization-specific courses that you need to take by third-year and fourth-year are listed on the UBC Calendar here.

4. What electives should I take?

You can choose electives from whichever subject you want.  Can’t really say much about this, I can only tell you to choose electives that interest you.  You don’t even necessarily need to take electives in second-year, as long as you meet the requirements (promotion requirements, degree requirements for BSc).  The Calendar Entry for your specialization can tell you whether you have space to take electives or not.




4. CO-OP

The Science Co-op program is a great way to get real, paid work experience, ideally in a field that is related to Science or your specialization.  Many students do their co-op term in an academic lab on campus (or at another university); at a pharmaceutical or biotech company; at a government lab facility, etc.  Students are able to do their co-op term not only out of province, but in another country.

The Science co-op website has plenty of information.  They also have info sessions, see their schedule.

The deadline to Science co-op depends on your specialization, but for most specializations, it is sometime during second year: If you want to read about my co-op experiences, see my Involvement & Extracurriculars post.





Being involved on campus is a great way to develop skills, meet other people, diversify your experience, and have fun.  University isn’t all about studying, after all.

See Get Involved for a fairly comprehensive list of things you can do to get involved. I recommend joining a club or two that interests you.

EDIT: Unfortunately, the above link is no longer a list and you’ll have to explore several pages to learn about all the different involvement opportunities.

The UBC Birdcoop is a fitness facility available to students for $30/term.  It is subsidized by your student fees; and unfortunately it is often crowded.  UBC Rec is also a place you can go to exercise — they have free drop-in basketball/badminton/volleyball and they have classes (martial arts, yoga, etc).  They also have competitive leagues (different levels) for those sports and others, including soccer and ultimate.  The UBC Aquatic Centre also has a fitness centre and pools obviously, and they are both free for student use.  If you look at the list of AMS clubs, you’ll see that some of them are dedicated to exercise related activities, such as the Quidditch club (lol), Weightlifting/Powerlifting Club, Fencing club, Tennis club, etc.

There are several ways to get a job on UBC.  For starters, I recommend looking at CareersOnline and the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers (CSI&C).


In terms of getting volunteer/research/work positions, especially in the summer:

-A general rule of thumb is that you should start looking for a summer position or placement no later than March. For certain programs, the deadline to apply may be even earlier than that.
-Summer Work Learn positions get posted in mid-March.
Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Research Program positions get posted starting December
-I highly recommend checking out CareersOnline periodically if you are interested in finding a job
-Consider placements out of the area, for example UToronto has a research program open to any undergrad student around the globe (this is just one example)
-Talk to your professors if you are interested in their research, and ask if there is space in their lab.
-Your Department will often post opportunities for research/volunteer positions, so watch for those e-mails/bulletins.
-Also look out for the Distillation E-mails sent to all Science students.
-Check Facebook pages, such as the one for UBC Science Students (this is just one example)
-Do your own research/talk to other people and see what’s out there.

See my Involvement & Extracurriculars post for a list of most of my on campus non-academic activities.





For any degree information related help, you should see your Departmental Advisor(s) or the Science Information Centre.

Other than tutoring, there are other ways to improve your grades!  One of these ways is by getting help through Academic Coaching.  Students coming in to university often do not adapt their study strategies for university courses, because they don’t know how or they don’t know to do so.  Academic coaches meet one-on-one with students to assess their study skills/strategies, and give them appropriate tips so that they can study more efficiently and more effectively, leading to less stress and possibly better grades.  We are often asked for tips in improving time management and general study skills.

Science Peer Academic Coaches (SPAC):  Currently, we offer one-on-one academic coaching both via appointment and via drop-in basis in the Chapman Learning Commons in IKB.  We also offer workshops such as Deal with December Now! and Deal with April Now! which focus on exam prep strategies for final exams (see the website).

Another resource is the Wellness Centre.  Health and well-being are important for doing well in school, it’s not just about studying hard/smart.  You can drop in the Wellness Centre to talk to a Wellness Peer about any questions you have concerning health and well-being.

Free tutoring is available courtesy of AMS Tutoring and the Math Learning Centre:

AMS Tutoring, for help with a variety of subjects:
Math Learning Centre, for help with math courses:
Writing Centre (Chapman Learning Commons) for help with writing essays and the like:
Chemistry Resource Centre

There is a Biology Learning Centre on the second floor of Wesbrook that is open from 9 to 5 weekdays for help with courses such as BIOL 112, 121, 200, and possibly others.  Your instructor should mention it at the beginning of the course.


If you have a question, please submit a comment below and I will probably respond within a few days.  If you have a suggestion (e.g. topics to cover), please submit a comment below and I will take it into consideration.






  1. There are also courses that run less than 6 weeks XD

    I like how you use the GPA argument (which isn’t really logical, btw ;D) for taking MICB 202 in the Summer, but you ignore it for CHEM 233 which usually has a lower average in the Summer XD

    Summer courses do count towards your GPA. What they don’t count towards is the calculation for when you pick courses in the coming Fall (only Winter Session courses count for that).

    • Ah yes, I forgot to mention that ;D

  2. UT Medicine does not count your summer courses to be part of your cumulative GPA.

    Also, you forgot to highlight the most important weakness of taking summer courses. You cannot use the time to diversify yourself with extracurricular activities, such as sports, research, internships, etc.

    • Thanks, I didn’t know about UT Medicine. I’m guessing there are probably other schools/programs that don’t calculate ‘summer GPA’ for admission purposes.

      As for how I “forgot to highlight the most important weakness of taking summer courses,” I don’t think it’s something that I could see first-year students ask about. Perhaps because it is a bit obvious that you can’t be in two places at once, e.g. typical classroom and research lab (although I wouldn’t be too surprised if you thought some of what I said in my post was obvious, but whatever). I’m pretty sure that if a student wants to do a full-time internship during the summer, they don’t need to question whether or not they should be taking summer school. Also, I’m not sure why a student couldn’t balance school and extracurricular activities “such as sports, research, internships, etc.” I know plenty of students who “diversify” themselves with extracurricular activities, for example through Work Study, a program that even requires you to be taking courses.

      …In any case, point taken :)

      (P.S. You forgot to mention an important exception to UT Medicine’s rule on calculating GPA from Winter courses only – Co-op students who are scheduled to do a study term in the summer do have those courses counted towards GPA for the purpose of admission to UT Medicine.)

  3. Sorry for the bluntness of my previous post, but I just wanted to say that you have a great blog here. Thanks for the follow-up information on UT Medicine.

    You addressed the strengths and weaknesses of taking summer courses in your post, but you didn’t really delve into comparing taking versus not taking summer courses, which is an important discussion in my opinion.

    The reason why I added on my perspective on taking/not taking summer courses is because first year students frankly sometimes don’t see the bigger picture, hence I wanted to point that out. I can see that you want to genuinely to help others through the university experience, and this is why I thought that should be included to provide a more comprehensive outlook on summer school.

    Sadly, I see more and more high school and university students taking on summer courses just to “get ahead” in terms of education. I don’t agree with this notion, and summer school is a oxymoron and should be treated as such. In today’s society, jobs and schools want real and diverse experiences outside the class… because everyone has a Bachelor’s anyway.

    • I suppose I can understand where you’re coming from a bit better now. It’s true that non-academic interests and experiences are important and valuable, especially since as you said everyone has some sort of undergraduate degree in the end anyway.

      Perhaps there is a lack of emphasis or discussion on this topic in my blog posts because I am not one who is very experienced with that sort of thing. After all, I am the one who went to school during the summer after first-year :).

      This blog was initially created with the purpose (among other general purposes) of giving others access to my academic experiences and through those, some insight and advice on academic-related matters.

      I will see whether I can change that.

  4. Hi, I’m a first year science student, and I find your site incredibly helpful! Thanks for all the information! I was wondering if you could give me some insight to choosing specializations for second year? If you are not eligible for your desired specialization, do you simply pick a random specialization that you CAN apply to? And if you are not accepted to any specialization, are you UNABLE to register for second year courses?
    Sorry for bothering you with these questions, but I just read a whole bunch of information on the UBC calendar regarding specializations and it left me very confused. Is there any way you can help me with this, please? =)

    • Ugh, I am very sorry for the delay in my response. I did this because I am planning to update this post with information that will most likely answer your questions, at least to some extent (if they don’t, you could ask more specific follow-up questions). Hopefully, I will have this information up soon, so please be patient! In the meantime, you could reply and tell me which posts/which information on the UBC Calendar regarding specializations were confusing if you want. But yeah, information will be updated on post soon *crosses fingers*

      • No worries, thanks for replying! =)

      • Applications start June 6 and close June 21. Yup, looking forward to those updates for this post. Thanks!

    • With the exception of biochemistry and chemistry (I think those are the only two that matter), the specialization declaration doesn’t really matter since it is a separate application in most cases to be accepted into a specific program. Also, most of them do acceptances after second year, and you can always switch later.

      If you’re not accepted to any specialization, I believe you’re just grouped in General Science (although, I think they’re calling it a Combined Major this year…)

      • Ahh thank you so much for the information. =)

  5. Thanks for the updates.

    Was wondering if you have anything to recommend to students who didn’t have a very smooth transition going into first year from high school, with grades that suffered and although promoted to second year, sessional averages are nowhere near those minimum averages posted… as well as tips on how to pick choices 1, 2, and 3 (this situation)? :S

    • It kind of depends how close your average is to the minimum average of the specialization you want. However, recall that meeting the minimum average does not guarantee admission into that specialization.

      For example, Pharmacology’s minimum average is 82% and Microbiology & Immunology’s admission average is 78%. If you have something like a 80% average, then you could pick Pharmacology and Microbiology & Immunology as your top 2 choices (we’re assuming here that these are the two specializations of interest to the student), but then you should pick a third choice that you would be pretty much guaranteed to get in with a 80% average, say, Biology (minimum average 65%).

      Basically, the point of choosing 3 specializations is to make sure that you end up with something. You should think about what to pick for your third choice just as much as what you pick for your first and second choices, especially if you are not sure whether you will get into those top 2 choices. So don’t just pick some random third choice that in reality you don’t really want to go into, but at the same time make sure that the third choice is a “safe” choice for you (because it is something like a last resort) in that you would have a high chance of getting in (whether specializations are “safe” choices depends on your grades).

      If your average is ‘significantly’ lower than the minimum average then I would probably not apply to that specialization. For example, I wouldn’t apply to a specialization that requires 82% when your average is say, 72% or lower. But if you think you might still be able to get in through extracurriculars or whatnot (but not all specializations look at those), then really, you have to make the choice yourself of whether you think applying to the specialization is a good idea even if you have a low average compared to the minimum average. If you decide to apply to a specialization whose minimum average is significantly higher than your average, I would recommend picking two “safe” specializations as your second and third choices which would give you more of a cushion should you not be admitted into your first choice.

      Remember, many specializations admit students in third-year which means that if you really want to get into a specialization that you do not meet the requirements for right now, you have second-year to improve and show that you are capable enough for that specialization. I would say that this path (switching specializations between second-year and third-year) is not easy, but definitely possible.

  6. Thank you :)

  7. Hi, I’m a first year student and didn’t get promoted to second year because I didn’t have enough credits. So does the specialization thing apply to me?? I didn’t receive an email or anything so I’m worried. Any help would be appreciated! Also if I obtain the required credits by taking summer courses this year, will they promote me right away? So that I will be a second year student for the 2011-2012 winter session?? Thank you! I love your site, it’s incredibly helpful!

    • Hi there~

      The specialization application does not apply to you at this point since you did not get second-year status yet because you did not meet the promotion requirements for second-year. According to the promotion requirements (see links here and here), promotion to second-year (or any subsequent year) is granted based on credit up until the end of the most recent Winter Session. This seems to mean that you would not be promoted to second-year until next year (at which point you will do the specialization application).

      So unfortunately, I don’t think taking summer courses would help with respect to early promotion. However, I very strongly recommend contacting Science Advising as soon as possible to inform them of your situation to see if they would have any exceptions, albeit probably rare, to this rule. Also, they would be able to confirm the information that I have given or perhaps elaborate on the details. But even if you were to get promoted before the 2011 Winter Session, it would probably be too late to apply for a specialization, in which case you would probably have to choose a specialization that is always open and then possibly switch specializations if you want to change, at a later point in time. Nonetheless, it is advantageous to have a specialization for registration purposes. This is also something to ask Science Advising and/or department advisors of the specialization(s) you are interested in.

      Even if you are not promoted to second-year, you might still be able to take some second-year courses this Winter Session, but space is limited for those that are not in a specialization (the restricted seats in a section are for those in specific specializations).

      Sorry that I was not of great help, but I hope this answers at least part of your question and I sincerely hope that you get this situation sorted out soon :)

      Edit: Taking summer courses this year could still help you potentially get into third-year after Winter Session 2011 if you obtain enough credits; that is also something I would inquire about.

  8. Thank you SO much for the info! You are seriously awesome! Cheers!

  9. Thank you for the detailed information =)

    I was wondering though about taking summer courses that are required as pre-reqs for courses in the next winter session… i’m taking chem 123 this summer, and it’s a pre req for almost ALL the courses i need to take next winter… however, the final marks won’t be out before my registration date… does that mean i won’t be able to register for most of my winter courses? Would i have to waitlist? =/

    • My understanding was that you could e-mail someone from the department, or the coordinator for that course, or the professor to tell them that you are completing CHEM 123 at the end of summer and they could let you register in the course. For example, for CHEM 233 you can try to e-mail the CHEM undergrad registration help with your UBC student number. The e-mail is listed on this website: You could also try to contact Enrolment Services at: local: 1.604.822.9836, toll-free in Canada and the US: 1.877.272.1422. I am looking into this matter, if I find anything I will update but I cannot guarantee that I will find an answer in time for your registration. Please let me know if it works out so other people in your situation can know too (:

      Edit: AskMe@UBC recommended to check with the Department that offers the course(s), and then possibly Science Advising.

    • Hi,

      How long does Chem 123 run in the summer session?

      • Hi,

        Can’t remember for sure; something like 4-6 weeks and either starts in late July or in August.

        OOPS, I’m incorrect. You can go to the SSC and check out the course times already, because the schedule for 2012 Summer is out. It’s June 25 to August 3 which is 5 weeks.

  10. Hey, do you have any idea if being “REGISTERED” for chem 123 in the summer… will allow me to register for chem 233 next winter? Haven’t yet acquired chem 123 credits because it only starts july 25th… so do you know if I have to wait until i actually PASS the course to register for chem 223 or will my REGISTERED status for chem 123 simply allow me to register for chem 223?

    thanks! =)

    • My understanding was that you could e-mail someone from the department, or the coordinator for that course, or the professor to tell them that you are completing CHEM 123 at the end of summer and they could let you register in the course. However, I am not sure how this works for sure for CHEM 233. You can try to e-mail the CHEM undergrad registration help with your UBC student number. The e-mail is listed on this website: I do not remember who the course coordinator was for CHEM 233, perhaps it was Jackie Stewart. You could also try to contact Enrolment Services at: local: 1.604.822.9836, toll-free in Canada and the US: 1.877.272.1422. I am looking into this matter, if I find anything I will update but I cannot guarantee that I will find an answer in time for your registration. You should send an e-mail to someone from the CHEM dept (like that e-mail from the link above) as soon as possible. Please let me know if it works out so other people in your situation can know too (:

      Edit: AskMe@UBC recommended to check with the Department that offers the course(s), and then possibly Science Advising.

      • Thank you for looking into this. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into answering question here =)

        I went to Science Advising today about waitlisting, and all they said was I would have to AT LEAST wait until the course (chem 123) STARTS to see if I can get off the waitlist and register for chem 233. In any case, I have to stay on the waitlist until they decide to put me through. =/ hopefully, there will be a spot for me in chem 233 after july…

        • Hey, I’m glad you got some answers from Science Advising, even if it wasn’t that much. Thanks for letting me/us know about the situation, it’ll probably help others as well. Last year when I took CHEM 233, a lot of people dropped the course right before the date to withdraw because the midterm marks were released a day or two before the withdrawal date. The average of this midterm was a failing one, and I think that was what prompted a lot of students to drop the course and try to take it in the next summer instead because of how badly they had done on the midterm or whatever. Even if you go now to the SSC and look at the 2010W session (last year’s) for CHEM 233, none of the sections are full, even though some were full at the very beginning of the term. So I would think that a similar situation would quite likely occur this year as well, which is a good sign (but not guaranteed).

          Even if the sections are full, you could still go to the lectures despite being in a waitlist, and you could even talk to the prof at the beginning of the term so that he/she will maybe record your clicker marks or whatever even though you’re not yet in the section officially. And then later on hopefully you would be able to get into the section that you want.

          Have you tried talking to the CHEM dept?

  11. FYI, iClicker responses are recorded by whoever clicks in the class, regardless of their registration status. So you can sit in a class all term with no intention of registering it, and your clicker votes will be saved.

    At the end of term, they extract the results of the people who are in the class and throw out the others.

    Thus, you won’t need to talk to the professor about recording your iClicker marks.

    • Hi Tyler, I’ve declared Int. Sci as my specialization, and I want to ask you a question about Second year courses.

      I know that this will depend on the areas of integration, but generally what do people take in Second year? Also, if you could show me the courses you took in 2nd/3rd year, that will be a great help.

      Another question is regarding BIOL 201 and MICB 201. I’m interested in integrating physiology/anatomy and neurobiology. I know that it is probably the best to talk to the advisor about this matter (as a matter of fact, I’ve already made an appointment with Dr.Rik Blok about this),but will you suggest that I go ahead and take those courses? I’m a little confused as to if I should take them because they’re not strictly required for the areas of my integration and I’ve heard they are not easy courses, but I have a feeling that they might provide me with useful knowledge and that I might be needing them in the future.

      If you could share me some of your insight on these matters, it will be greatly appreciated!

      • Generally, take the second year courses you expect to be prereqs for your third year courses, which will vary greatly depending on what you’re integrating.

        My general integration areas are Microbiology, Computer Science, and Geography, so I took: ASIC 200, BIOL 200, BIOL 201, BIOL 240, CHEM 233, CPSC 211, CPSC 221, GEOB 102, GEOB 103, MICB 202, MICB 203, PHYS 108
        For more info:

        If you’re integrating physiology/anatomy and neurobiology, I would guess that BIOL 201 is useful (because it’s a prereq for many life sciences courses), but I don’t know about MICB 201–I don’t think prokaryotes would be very useful for a physiology/anatomy/neurobiology degree (focus on humans, I guess? Medicine?).

        I don’t know much about those areas of integration at the moment, but the courses I’ve taken that I would recommend are BIOL 200, BIOL 201, and CHEM 233 (because they’re the standard life sciences pre-reqs).

        Hope this is helpful–you can also check out some of my blog posts for more info, or send me a message/leave a comment on my blog if you need more info and I’ll try to help.

  12. Hey, thanks for giving me some hope on getting into chem 233 =) It’s a relief to know that none of the sections were full. Hopefully I’m one of the first on the waitlist and get in!

    I haven’t spoken to the chem department… the science advising people seemed a little matter-of-fact-ly when they said i would just have to wait it out. Do you think I should still talk to the chem dept?

    • Hey — really sorry, for some reason I missed this comment… but I hope things worked out :x

  13. What was your average to get into microbio major?
    Thank you.

    • Check your e-mail. If you commented with the wrong e-mail, reply back and I’ll re-send it.

      • Thank you so much for your reply. Was your average lower when entering 2nd year MBIM? Marks are just out for term 1, and I have an average in the low 60s for the 4 subjects taken. Do you think I have a chance of getting into major MBIM major?
        Thanks again.

  14. Hi
    I have two questions.
    1) Do you recommend taking another course (econ 101) alongside with MICB 202 in the summer?
    2) Under the major microbio, one of the elective requirements is at least 6 credits of MATH/CPSC/STAT/BIOL 300 (9 credits computational), do Math 105 (3) and CPSC 101(4) satisfy this requirement? I guess I am a little bit confused on the “9 credits computational.”

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi again,


      I’m noticing on the SSC that there are two sections available for ECON 101 this summer — one that runs from May to June and the other option is . The other section for ECON 101 runs from June to late July. If you choose the first option, it won’t be alongside MICB 202 because they don’t overlap and there is an extremely small chance that you’ll have your ECON final after MICB 202 starts.

      On the other hand, even if you choose the ECON 101 from June to July, ECON 101 and MICB 202 will be staggered so that your two finals probably wouldn’t be close together (separated by more than a week). Nonetheless, two courses concurrently might be more work than you think. Fairly doable though.

      For what reason are you taking ECON 101? Just curious.


      The 9 credits include differential calculus so you would have MATH 104, MATH 105 and CPSC 101 for a total of 10 credits. So yes, that works! (MATH 100 or 102 can be substituted for MATH 104).

  15. Hi your blog is amazing, I really admire all the time you put into it!

    I have a quick question. I just finished my second year in UBC but am doing a dual degree in Science and Arts – on SSC, I am first year Science and second year Arts. I have to apply for a specialization in June and my GPA is pretty high, so I plan on trying to specialize in Pharmacology (fingers crossed lol). However, my second year Science corresponds to my third year Arts, and I really need to focus on my Arts courses. If I do not finish the second-year prerequisites by the end of my second year in Science, am I automatically kicked out of the specialization I wanted to get into?

    I plan on elongating my second year of Science to two years by not taking enough Science credits to promote to third year. According to the website, if I do not take 15 or more Science credits eligible in my program, I stay in second year. I find this a bit risky, but I honestly have no choice. Do you think that decreases my chances of getting into the specialization I want?

    • Firstly, sorry for my slow response. What are you majoring in for Arts? Just wondering lol.

      You should probably speak with Science Advising ( to determine whether you get kicked out of the specialization at the end of second year; and also to discuss whether you are still bound by the max number of credits you can take before being promoted to the next year (based on the link in your comment).

      Based on the information about admission to Pharmacology available online (,215,410,433 and, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to be eligible for admission into Pharmacology after second year. The interview for admission, if I’m not mistaken, is sometime in second year.

      However, I believe that it is important that you contact the department directly and see what they say about your query, because your situation is quite unique. I’m guessing you should contact Wynne Leung (

      Can’t really say much more than that unfortunately… but I do hope all goes well for you. Let me know what they say about your situation — I’m curious to know as well :) Sorry I wasn’t of that much help.

      • No problem. I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do before contacting the Science Advisers – I hate going there and finding out that the answer was right there in front of me lol.

        I am actually in the Performance program at the faculty of Music, but I assume that it is under the Arts program. I really need to focus during my third and fourth year because performance majors have to put up an hour-long recital where all the faculty members act as a judging panel and give you a mark for your performance capabilities; Therefore I don’t want to take too many Science courses and not have enough time to learn my pieces and practice. Oh well, I have to contact the Science Advising Office eventually, so I’ll do that once I figure out my next year’s Music courses. Thank you so much for your help! It’s really nice to talk to a Science student since I am mostly at the Music Building and don’t know that many.

        Another quick question: do the Science specializations accept you based on overall GPA or by certain prereq courses? I am never sure whenever they put down GPA, whether they mean overall or selected.

        • It really depends which specialization you’re interested in. Some calculate GPA based on all courses taken, and some calculate GPA based on only a few specific prerequisites defined by the department. I think most look at overall GPA, but you’ll have to e-mail each department specifically if you want to know for sure.

          Microbiology & Immunology calculates GPA based on certain courses. So does Physiology. On the other hand, Pharmacology calculates overall GPA as far as I know…

          Interesting… what instrument(s) do you play? Anyway, hope this helped a bit.

          • I plan on mass-emailing soon ;). I play the piano, and am not planning on (re)learning other instruments. Summer is probably the only time I have to really practice intensely. Hopefully my repertoire is half-ready by the time school starts so that I can focus more on my studies /headwall. Thank you so much, I hope your summer courses are doing well! I’m taking Chem233 right now – so fast-paced!

  16. Hello there, thanks for the detailed explanations!
    I’ve just applied for a specialization yesterday, and I’m wondering if you remember what were the minimum gpa required to enter pharmacology or microbio+immuno? I mean, the actual gpa’s that they used (it’s probably higher than 82% for pharmoco. or 78% for microbio…?)
    My first choice was pharmacology, second was microbio, and the third is general science….
    My gpa for first year was 84%…
    what are my chances?? (actually i’ve heard that first to second year doesn’t matter, it’s the transition from second to third that matters..?)
    Any advice/suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

  17. Hi,
    I was just about to apply for specialization, but had this feeling that I really need to double check with someone about the admission average for pharmacology. It’s listed as 82% on the website, but I heard most people in the program got over 90% in their first year. My first year average was 87%. What are my chances??

    • I think you have a good chance. That’s only an opinion, however. Even if you don’t get accepted into second-year Pharmaco, you can try again the following year. Good luck!

  18. Hello! I am currently in high school and a prospective UBC undergraduate student. In my junior year, I acquired credits for all first year biology course from which I can be exempt. This gives me the opportunity to tackle second year biology courses in my freshman year of university, however, I’m wondering whether or not this will be advantageous to me at all in applying for a specialization when second year rolls around. My natural assumption is that there is a gap in level of rigor between first and second year biology courses, which may lead to me earning a lower grade and therefore hindering my chances of being accepted to the specialization of my choice. But in all consideration, seeing as I would have already covered the material in first year courses, it could be redundant and therefore monotonous for me to be taking these classes. Ultimately, my question is whether or not you think that taking second year biology classes is worth the wager in regards to my first year GPA and my chances of applying to a competitive specialization.

    • Hello,

      I’m not sure if second year Biology would do anything to your chances of being admitted to a specialization with second year standing. The UBC Science website appears to be uselessly silent on whether specializations look at your cumulative GPA of all courses taken; or just the 100-level courses. That being said, even if they looked at all your courses, I don’t think taking second year Biology would necessarily help. It would be best to e-mail an advisor from the Science Information Centre to ask whether they would consider your performance in second year BIOL or not.

      I would agree that there is a gap in rigor between first and second year biology courses, although I would add that it is probably not even close to being as big as you think it is.

      You can take a look at my other post regarding first (and second) year courses if you want to know more about what you’d cover in first year Biology (BIOL 112, 121, 140) and if it sounds like stuff you’ve already covered extensively, so that you can decide not to take it. My recommendation is to skip BIOL 121 and 140, especially 140. I think BIOL 112 is somewhat useful because although you’ve already learned about transcription/translation/basic molecular biology, you may not have covered gene regulation such as the lac operon, or prokaryotes in general, and it introduces you to more problem solving/critical analysis ways of thinking rather than memorization. That being said, BIOL 112 doesn’t really help for BIOL 200. Ultimately, it’s up to you.

      I can’t say whether you’d succeed in second year Biology classes; it really differs from person to person. I know someone who skipped first year BIOL and MATH and did well in MATH 200 and ANAT 390 in first year; and I also know someone who skipped first year CHEM and miserably failed CHEM 233. BIOL 200 isn’t a terribly hard course though, in my opinion. If you decide not to take second year Biology, feel free to take electives (like CPSC :D, or anything that interests you…) or you can take a lighter course load, if you’re not interested in Honours specializations.

      Hope this helped!

  19. Hi, thanks for your blog! It’s really helpful!
    I’m going to second year and need to declare my major soon but I have a very hard time deciding between Biochem and Microbio since I haven’t really taken any courses in those two specific areas… I know a lot of people say to choose what you like but based on my lack of experience, I feel like I really don’t know which one suits me more. Do you have any advice?
    Also, how competitive is microbio in 2nd and 3rd year? Do your grades tend to drop a lot? I know that official admission is based on people being admitted to the third year MICB lab; science advisors told me only about 80 out of 1000 people get space D: Is that true?
    I’m also not very strong in math… do you know if microbio involves less math than biochem?
    Last question – my average is around 81 so do you think I have any chance (at all) for pharmacology?

    • Hello,
      The cutoff for MBIM is most likely around 80% in both years. If you don’t get in this year, you can still get in the year after if your grades improve. If you email me I can give you more info.

      My grades went up between first and second year, but not that much, although it was already nearing 90 at the end of first year.

      I would think Biochem has at least a bit more math because Math 200 is a required course whereas in MBIM you don’t even need integral calc.

      While it is true only about 80 people get into MBIM each year, I don’t know about the ‘out of 1000’ part. There are only about 2,000 first year Science students. Either way, as long as you can get your second year grades into the mid 80s, a spot is a more or less guaranteed in third year.

      I recommend contacting a Pharmacology advisor about your question. You can find their contact info online. My understanding is that you need at least a 90 to get into Pharmacology these days (source is my colleagues in pharmaco), but I/they could be wrong.

      In terms of biochem vs MBIM, send me an email.


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