Directed Studies in Marine Science


Undergraduate and Graduate Directed Studies may be undertaken at any time during the Summer or Fall term. Study will involve a research project approved by a supervisor in the student’s field of interest. Projects will be designed to take advantage of laboratory and/or field opportunities (as much as possible given COVID-19 restrictions), offered by the BMSC. Applications should be accompanied by a project outline and a letter from a faculty member willing to supervise. Tuition and supplemental fees will apply. The Directed Studies Course add-on option is subject to availability.

Who can supervise and grade your Directed Studies:

Your Directed Studies supervisor must have a PhD in the relevant field of study. A supervisor may be an instructor at the BMSC or a WCUMSS* faculty member. Professors may also supervise from off-site.

*WCUMSS (Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society), is the governing body of the BMSC, and its members include the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.

How to prepare and apply for Directed Studies:

  1. Check with your department advisor that you will receive credit towards your degree for a Directed Studies course. (For example at UVic, a student may take up to a maximum of 3 units from MRNE 400, BIOL 490A, BIOL 490B, BIOL 490D, BIOL 490E, BIOL 490F, BIOL 490G, BIOL 490H, BIOL 490J.)
  1. Find a supervisor – as defined above. Ideally, your supervisor would be a professor at your home university who is qualified to supervise and grade your project, and is familiar with BMSC. Check out the course listings, content and instructors listed for each course taking place during the summer/fall, or researchers previously visiting BMSC, to see whether one has similar research interests. Once you have a clear idea of who you would like to work with and a project idea, we can help you connect with a faculty member, or provide suggestions for an alternative if they are unable, however, it is ultimately your responsibility to find a qualified supervisor for your directed studies project.
  1. Once you identify one or two professors that you would like to work with, reach out to them with your information and interests. This would include:
    • Your academic history and future plans: (i.e. how has your academic history prepared you for a directed studies project, what are your plans for the rest of your degree, after graduation?);
    • An unofficial transcript;
    • A statement of interest: for example, describe what research areas you are interested in (e.g. behavior, physiology, community/population ecology, natural/sexual selection), and how that meshes with the research area of the professor; and how this project will help you achieve your future goals.
    • An informal project proposal: An introduction to the topic and theoretical background, including the significance of your proposed research to the field, and potential model organism(s); Research question and hypotheses being tested; what question are you trying to ask, methods you will use, and the predicted outcomes.
  1. Once you have confirmed a supervisor and a project idea, apply to BMSC for a 3- week Directed Studies course. We accept applications for Directed Studies any time, however you must apply by the summer/fall application deadlines to be eligible for scholarships. If you have already applied for one summer course, and you wish to add Directed Studies to your summer program, you do not have to pay the application fee again.
  1. Your online application should be accompanied by:
    • A project outline;
    • A letter from your supervising faculty member including:
      • A statement indicating agreement to supervise, mentor, assess, and provide a grade within the grading deadline.
      • How the project be assessed – provide a rough rubric (proposal, written report, presentation?).
      • How you plan on mentoring/providing direction.
      • Learning objectives you expect the will get from this project. 
    • A completed project proposal form. The project proposal form requests information required by University Programs, Animal Care and Safety departments. Each department must approve the relevant sections before you may start collecting organisms and initiating your project.
  1. Once you have been notified by BMSC that you are accepted for your Directed Studies course, register at your home university. We will send a message to your department to notify them of your acceptance as accepted for a Directed Studies course.

There is no true start date – though it is recommended you start at the same time as new summer/fall courses are starting, for a) meeting new people, and b) required orientation participation

Prerequisites by university:

  • UVIC: Minimum third-year standing; and minimum cumulative GPA of 5.0 in the last 15 units of coursework.
  • UCalgary: Consent of the Department
  • UAlberta, UBC, SFU: set by BMSC

University Calendar links, Summer 2020:

UVIC MRNE 400, (1.5 or 3.0 credits), MRNE 500 (1.0 – 6.0 credits)
UBC MRNE 400A (3 credits), MRNE 400B (6 credits)
SFU MASC 401 (3 credits) , MASC 400 (6 credits)
UCalgary MRSC 500 (6 credits), MRSC 507 (3credits)
UAlberta MA SC 400