Vancouver Summer Program: Integrated Sciences

Explore game theory, symmetry and Vancouver sustainability with some of UBC’s best science professors. Join the Vancouver Summer Program with UBC Integrated Sciences.

The Vancouver Summer Program (VSP) is a four-week academic program offered by UBC for students from cooperating universities. It gives undergraduate students the opportunity to learn from world-class professors, while exploring Canadian society and culture through interactive lectures, social activities, and intercultural workshops.

The 2019 VSP for UBC Integrated Sciences consists of two packages of two courses, each consisting of approximately 39 hours of class time, equivalent to six credits. Courses are directed and taught by UBC faculty members and overseen by Professor Lee A. Groat, award winning scientist and teacher. Classes are interactive and may include group discussions, guest lecturers, research projects, laboratory experimentation, daytrips, and visits to research facilities. Course credit will be granted at the discretion of the participating universities.

The program includes a city tour, welcome and farewell lunches, and many social activities in the evenings and during weekends. Activities may include museum visits, outdoor activities such as canoeing and cycling, with plenty of opportunity to explore sites of interest in Vancouver.

Program Overview Handout

Package A: Game Theory and Symmetry

Game Theory

Game theory is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. It’s applicable to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in computers and organisms. Game theory is an important tool in computer science, biology, economics, political science and psychology. By the end of this course, students learn how to describe real-world interactions in terms of game theory, recognize and solve game types (cooperative/non-cooperative, symmetric/asymmetric, zero-sum/non zero-sum, simultaneous/sequential), and learn to apply game theoretic models to dynamics problems in evolutionary biology.


Symmetry is a transformation that can be applied to an object that leaves it looking unchanged. This relatively simple idea provides a powerful tool for looking at the world. Symmetry is all around us—in the forms of plants and animals, in patterns and shapes of art and architecture, and in the structures of materials from simple molecules to complex proteins and minerals. The principles of symmetry play important roles in biology, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, mathematics, astronomy, and many other sciences. In this course, we will discuss basic principles such as mirror reflections, rotations and repetition, and how different symmetries combine into groups in two and three dimensions. Students will learn to recognize different kinds of symmetry in shapes and patterns, and use their understanding of symmetry to discover how it appears in science and art. These courses are equivalent to the UBC Science credit courses: ISCI 312, ISCI 344.  

Package B: Exploring Vancouver: Systems and Sustainability

Solutions to complex global challenges such as environmental sustainability require ‘systems thinking’--the process of understanding how components influence one another within a whole. In these courses, modeled on successful UBC field courses in Iceland and Hawaii, we approach the Vancouver region as a system and consider the effects of inputs such as climate change on that system. This package features expert lectures and field trips around the Lower Mainland. By the end of this course, students will know more about the Vancouver system than many residents, and will be able to identify systems where they reside and travel. This package includes field trips to Bowen Island, Capilano River, Whistler, Squamish and various other locations in and around Vancouver. Apply early as space is limited.

The Vancouver Environment

This course focuses on Vancouver’s environment. We study the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere of the Vancouver system.

The Vancouver Anthrosphere

This course focuses on Vancouver’s anthrosphere—the part of the environment that is made or modified by humans for use in human activities and human habitats. 

These courses are equivalent to the UBC Science credit courses: ISCI 360. ISCI 361.

Duration and dates

 The summer program will run two four-week offerings: July 13 to August 13, 2019. 

Program size

 The minimum group size is 24.


Participants will be housed in UBC residences on campus with easy access to classes, libraries, sport facilities and transportation. Students will stay in shared suites that include four to six 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 residence staff. If maximum occupancy is reached in apartment style accommodation, students may be placed in dormitory style accommodation.

Dates and deadlines

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


The current package fee is $5,250 (Canadian Dollars) per student. That includes:

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

Application and requirements

Students need to meet their institution's requirements for studying abroad, must be proficient in English, and must 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. Visit the central UBC VSB site for details. Course packages have minimum and maximum class sizes, so institutions are encouraged to register their students early. If you’re interested in joining the VSP UBC Integrated Sciences course packages, please contact us at