Course Review: UBC 2016W (Year 1)

I recently completed my first year as a LFS student at the University of British Columbia, and as I am scrolling through forums and blogs for information on year 2 courses.. I thought, hey why not make one for the courses I took in the first year? If any prospective UBC LFS students, or any UBC students, have any questions or concerns at all, I would love to help!

LFS (Land and Food Systems) branches to 3 major streams- Applied Biology, Global Resource Systems (2nd year entry) and Food, Nutrition and Health (the program I am currently in)- each with a variety of majors that students can apply to in later years. Currently, I am working through the first 2 years of the FNH major calendar, as well as the Dietetic pre-reqs. With that said, my academic calendar comprises of the basic faculty courses (LFS, FNH), art electives and plenty of science courses.

My first year looks a little different than most of other FNH freshmen because of my AP transfer credits. Also, there are changes to the FNH academic calendar that have also been implemented for the upcoming 2017/2018 year. Either way, I hope this review would help even just one (confused) student, and give a better overview of what to expect in the first year.

Here we go! 

LFS 100 (Introduction to Land, Food and Community)

  • my class average: 73
  • no formal exams; group projects, assignments, in-class activity
  • 1 credit

This mandatory first year course consisted of weekly 1.5h lectures, there is only one classroom lecture so most first years would be in the same section, except for those who opt for the online course. I found that this course was quite tedious with the assignments for a one-credit course, and the marking is harsh. There are no midterms or final exams, but lots of group projects, in-class quizzes/ clickers and independent assignments. The up side is that you will be able to meet and collaborate with tons of LFS freshies!

Advice-review the lecture slides- the test content is all pulled directly from the lectures

BIOL 112 (Biology for the Cell)

  • my class average: 83
  • 2 midterms, final exam (cheatsheets!), online quizzes, in-class activity
  • heavy on memorization
  • 3 credits

I found that this course wasn’t too difficult, and compared to other first year science courses, the class averages are relatively high. (However, I took AP Biology which eased my learning for about half the course.) It is extremely heavy on memorization, but I believe that if you put the time and effort (which means attending lectures, making notes, doing all the assigned exercises, reviewing terminology), you will be able to succeed in the course. Although cheat sheets are allowed on the exams as reminders, the exams are concept and application based so thorough understanding of the content is expected.

Advice– don’t skip lectures, don’t cram- your brain will explode from the volume of terms and concepts. [PS- Karen Smith is an amazing prof!! xD]

CHEM 121 (Structure and Bonding in Chemistry)

  • my class average: 68
  • 2 midterms, final exam, in-class quizzes
  • building on high school chemistry
  • 4 credits

Please don’t let the low class average scare you! The chemistry department requires a 70-ish average, and first year chemistry courses tend to very fast-paced. However, with CHEM 121, I found that the first half of the course is built on the foundation from high school, and the latter half is where the concepts begin to complexify. The CHIRP is a workbook that is used in lectures, and it contains lots of notes that profs outline during class and exercises. If you’ve taken AP Chemistry, this course will be quite easy for you because almost all the chapters will already to familiar to you.

LAB (20% of the course, passing in this portion is required)- The labs are biweekly (with alternating at-home “dry lab” and actual “wet lab” where you perform the experiment). The online resources prepare you well for each experiment and the lab TAs provide a lot of assistance throughout each lab.

Advice– do the CHIRP exercises and consider pre-reading before each lecture!

MATH 102 (Differential Calculus with Applications to Life Sciences)

  • my class average: 72
  • one midterm, final, webwork (pre-lectures, post-lecture assignments), OSH (old-school homework), in-class quizzes
  • 3 credits

Another infamous first year course. Unless you’re a math genius or your intended major specifically requires this, I’d recommend you to not take this course. Many students do not know this, but even if you’re in science or science-related faculties, you can complete your first-year math requirements with other calculus courses (MATH 104, which is business, MATH 101 for engineering and MATH 184 for students who haven’t taken high school calculus). This course is extremely challenging, and having spoken to friends taking other first-year math, it seems to have the heaviest work load as well. (OSH are devils in disguise.)

Advice– do all the webwork and make sure you understand the concepts from OSH (I found that the challenge questions on exams are directly related to previous OSH assignments), do previous midterms/ finals to prepare for the exams

ENGL 112 (Strategies for University Writing)

  • my class average: 75
  • in-class writing, home assignments, participation, midterm, final exam
  • 3 credits

For LFS students, LFS 150 is a parallel to this course. However, I would definitely recommend to take this course for its versatility (for other faculties and programs) and applicability (a broader theme). Although the requirements differ depending on the professor, the course generally requires a lot of time and effort. Unlike other lectures, ENGL 112 classrooms are smaller-sized, usually around 25 people. Participation and attendance are considered, and especially important when it comes to in-class activities (debates, presentations).

Advice– I took this course during second semester, and I often asked my friends outside of class to peer edit my work. Receiving feedback and editing accordingly helped me improve my writing and provided reassurance for major assignments.

CHEM 123 (Thermodynamics, Kinetics and Organic Chemistry)

  • my class average: 70
  • 1 midterm, final exam, in-class quizzes, section-specific exercises, in-class participation (Clickers)
  • 4 credits

Although I found this course significantly harder than CHEM 121, both the class average and my personal grade scored higher than in CHEM 121. The course consist of 2 portions- physical chemistry and organic chemistry. The relative difficulty of the two are subjective, but they both require lots of practice and conceptual understanding.

LAB (20%, passing required)- Similar concept as the CHEM 121, but for CHEM 123, it is a lot more independent work. Lab reports and self-designed labs are also introduced, which are more challenging than before. There is also a major group lab which consist of a collaborated experiment at the beginning of the term, and a oral/ poster presentation at the end of the term.

Advice– Do practice questions (lots of resources online) and exams to familiarize yourself with the format of the test questions

MATH 103 (Integral Calculus with Application to Life Sciences)

  • my class average: 65
  • 2 midterms, final, Webwork (assignments), OSH
  • 3 credits

Calculus II is notorious for its difficulty and low marks. This is undoubtedly a tough course, and I’m not sure if the other calculus options would be any less. The lectures were not useful to me, as the lecturer just copies notes directly from the online resources and I find it difficult to grasp concepts this way. The OSH assignments are not as challenging as the ones from MATH 102, and they definitely helped provide a boost for my overall mark. Unlike MATH 102, there are no in-class quizzes for this course.

Advice– Practice, practice, practice. The OSH and webwork assignments are for your own good. 😛

PSYC 102 (Introduction to Developmental, Social, Personality and Clinical Psychology)

  • my class average: 70
  • 2 midterms, final, activity assignment, HSP (human subject pool)
  • 3 credits

I chose this course thinking that my AP Psychology  that this would be a GPA booster. But I was proven wrong. The art department also require a 70 average and although the content of this course was relatively straightforward, they balance the grade distribution with extremely difficult exams. The exams are all multiple choice questions but they are challenging and require critical thinking and application of the concepts explained in lectures and from readings.

Advice– Don’t neglect the readings or leave them till the last minute. And please attend lectures and take good notes in class!

PS- If you’ve claimed AP credits and do not need to take this course like me, I would suggest that you don’t. My grade actually ended up being slightly than my science marks so it really didn’t serve me any good in terms of the time and money I invested. 😛

PPS- Simon Lolliot is my favourite professor out of my entire first year; he is lively and attentive to his students and you will definitely enjoy his lectures. If you do decide to take this course I would highly recommend him!

SOCI 200 (Sociology of Family)

  • my class average: 71
  • papers, group presentation, in-class activity, 1 midterm, finals
  • 3 credits

With no background in sociology, I took this course to fulfill my second year restricted elective requirement. I honestly found the content quite dry and mainly common sense, but my friend on the other hand, enjoyed it so I guess it depends on your interests. The exams consist of multiple choice/ T/F and “short answers” which are actually page-long responses. Compared to my English papers, the marks I received for papers in this course were significantly lower; I feel that a well-defined criteria and the preparation process for the assignments are lacking.

Advice– visit office hours! Admittedly, I’ve never been to office hours for any other courses but when I did for this one, I received good clarification on what is expected for the assignments, and was able to look at sample work from students of previous years.

That is all for my first year, and I wish all the best for everyone for the next!

<3, Rae


2 thoughts on “Course Review: UBC 2016W (Year 1)

  1. “The lectures were not useful at all, as the lecturer just copies notes straight from the online resources.” So true LOL. At least we passed 🙂


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