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Undergraduate Thesis in Applied Biology
APBI 499
Instructor: See Lesley Dampier for more information.
Office: McML 191
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Classroom: n/a
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Overview

This course provides an opportunity for students to develop and strengthen their research skills and to accommodate research interests that cannot be met through other APBI courses. Admission to APBI 499 is arranged through the undergraduate program advisor for the relevant major, and must be recommended by the faculty member who will be supervising the work that the student is to undertake.

Students interested in APBI 499 should contact the undergraduate advisor for their major and an individual faculty member within APBI who will act as their academic supervisor. This should be done well in advance of the beginning of the academic term; for example, students should approach potential supervisors in summer regarding thesis projects to start in September.

The course is based on experiential learning. You will work together with your supervisor to develop your research question and proposal, review the literature, and conduct original research.

The undergraduate thesis is worth six (6) credits. The expectation is that the work involved will meet or surpass 240 credit hours of study. Students should anticipate devoting as much time per week to this course as two 3 credit upper level classroom-based courses.

Please consult the course syllabus (2019 version) for additional details.


APBI 499 is a required course for students in the Honours program.  For APBI students not in the Honours program, APBI 499 counts as a restricted elective towards their degree requirements.  Opportunities for conducting projects are limited and admission to this course is not guaranteed for those outside the Honours program.

Students must complete a registration form, adhering to the university’s deadlines.

As part of this registration form, students must have a draft research plan and several signatures. Please ensure the registration form is complete prior to submission.  The APBI Program Coordinator (Lesley Dampier) will complete the registration in conjunction with LFS Student Services.  Please consult Lesley with any questions well in advance of registration deadlines.

Contact: Applied Biology Program Coordinator, Lesley Dampier,, (Room 191 MacMillan), 604-822-2794.

Registration Form

Responsibilities and Expectations

Student Responsibilities and Expectations:

  • Find an Academic Supervisor for the thesis. Students planning to undertake a thesis are advised to begin seeking an academic supervisor at least four months in advance of the anticipated thesis start date. The supervisor must be an LFS faculty member with a continuing appointment.
  • Complete the registration form, including obtaining all signatures, by the registration date indicated on the form.  Consult the Program Advisor with questions regarding registration dates. Please note that this includes:
    1. Submission of a draft research plan (finalized plan due within two weeks of the start of the term).
    2. The Academic Supervisor’s signature.
    3. If the thesis involves an additional research supervisor (i.e. a local site supervisor for off campus or remote locations, lab supervisor, etc.) this secondary supervisor’s signature is also required.
    4. If there is no secondary research supervisor required, a secondary marker is required to sign the form.
  • Scheduling of regular meetings with the academic (and research) supervisor.
  • Adherence to deadlines and guidelines for the course, as stated in this document and arranged with the supervisor.
  • Submit copies of the project proposal to the project supervisor and the Undergraduate Advisor within two weeks after the start of the term. The thesis proposal (~2 pages) will consist of the following information:
    1. A clear statement of aim.
    2. The significance of the project (why is it important), supported by relevant background information and literature.
    3. A brief description of the proposed research methods.
    4. Difficulties anticipated in the project.
    5. The timeline for the work (with specific milestones for completion of data collection, the literature review and the final written thesis).
  • The thesis proposal must be approved by the undergraduate advisor within the agreed upon date or the student will be removed from the course.

Supervisor's Responsibilities:

  • Review the APBI 499 course syllabus with the student prior to registration.  Please note that the student cannot be registered for APBI 499 prior to this step.
  • Selection of appropriate research project in conjunction with the student.
  • Provision of suitable laboratory supplies and equipment to perform the work.
  • Providing guidance on experimental design, data analysis, and presentation of results.
  • Giving feedback in a timely manner.
  • Appointing an on-site research supervisor (if necessary).
  • Arranging for a secondary marker.
  • Scheduling the final student presentation (for APBI Faculty)


The student’s work will culminate in a thesis and a final presentation; in some cases, students may also be evaluated on their lab work (if applicable).  All elements will be evaluated by the academic supervisor and a secondary marker. A suggested marking scheme is provided below. This scheme may be modified by the supervisor, in consultation with the student and the secondary marker at the beginning of the project.

Lab Work (optional; suggest a maximum of 10% weighting of final mark): Evaluation criteria: Initiative, Technique, Comprehension, Organization, Work habits, Attention to safety/proper protocols, Dedication.

Final Oral Presentation (required; suggest a maximum of 10% weighting of final mark): Evaluation Criteria: Consult the rubric found in the course syllabus.

Final Thesis (required; suggest a minimum of 80% weighting of final mark): The thesis includes both a literature review of the topic, and a research paper describing original data collected or compiled by the student.

Expectations for Undergraduate Thesis Completion/Grade Reporting

It is expected that APBI 499 Undergraduate Thesis courses will be completed within no more than two consecutive terms, unless otherwise agreed to at time of registration. If a grade has not been reported by the deadline, a "T" standing will be recorded. The "T" standing may be changed once the thesis Academic Supervisor submits a written record of the grade to the APBI Program Coordinator.

Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference

Although not required, students are encouraged to look into the Annual UBC Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC).  MURC is a conference for UBC undergraduate students to showcase their research in front of their fellow UBC students, family, and friends. Researchers may choose one of two formats to showcase their research: presentation or poster.

Any UBC undergraduate student who is participating in, or has completed, their own Faculty-supervised research project can apply to present at MURC. All Faculties and Schools are welcome. For more information, please visit the Present at MURC page.

Please note that participating in MURC requires the permission of your supervisor.

Thesis Submission to cIRcle

Undergraduate LFS students who want to make their completed undergraduate thesis openly available are encouraged to do so through cIRcle, the University of British Columbia's digital repository for research and teaching materials. cIRcle was created by the UBC community and its partners to allow open access to anyone on the web, and to properly preserve and archive materials for future generations.

Three elements must be completed to allow an undergrad thesis to be accessed via cIRcle.

  1. A faculty sponsor (normally the thesis academic supervisor) needs to complete the Undergraduate Approval Form. This indicates which student will be submitting content and that the faculty sponsor has deemed it suitable for open access archiving via cIRcle.
  2. The student will need to complete the cIRcle license. It’s best if they cc their faculty sponsor when they complete this form (there’s a field on the form for this).
  3. The faculty sponsor or student will need to submit a clean copy of the paper to cIRcle via email to