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Living Language: Science and Society

Registration to be open: APSC 402, ASTU 402, FRST 402, LFS 402, LLED 402, and PHAR 402

Don't see your faculty here? Read our info sheet to find out how to register.

In this interdisciplinary 3-credit 'transition-out' course, 3rd and 4th-year students examine, integrate, and apply their subject-specific knowledge through the lens of language and the framework of the language sciences, with a focus on themes of real-world importance. The course will be offered fully online. 

The class structure is comprised of online lectures by Dr. Mark Turin (Anthropology & First Nations and Endangered Languages, UBC-V) and Dr. Elena Nicoladis (Psychology, UBC-O), and invited language leaders across campus and in the wider community, along with student-led reflections and presentations. 

Through the course, students will lead their own exploration of language as it applies to all domains of human life, from the creation and acquisition of spoken language to writing systems, texts of all kinds, arts, culture, science, and technology. Student reflections include both individual written and oral work, small group discussions, and constructive critique of one another's work, as well as assignments in which students work in interdisciplinary groups to address specific questions of problems. Please note, this course is available for transfer credit to UBCO students. Read more in this info sheet

A picture of the Reconciliation Pole at UBC, in front of which Mark Turin is speaking to the Living Language class


Living Language is co-taught by Dr. Mark Turin (Anthropology & First Nations and Endangered Languages, UBC-V) and Dr. Elena Nicoladis (Psychology, UBC-O), and is cross-listed in six faculties as APSC 402, ASTU 402, FRST 402, LFS 402, LLED 402, and PHAR 402. Enrolment for this course will be limited to 40 students from all faculties at UBC-V and UBC-O. Please consult with your academic advisor or read through this info sheet to choose the appropriate registration option for you.

This course is designed for upper-level students in any discipline and from any Faculty who are interested to learn more about how language works and what it does. There are no pre-requirements, other than a commitment to deep intellectual exploration, a willingness to be challenged, and a readiness to reflect on what you have learned in your discipline through the lens of language. 


This course will be held in the 2024 Winter 1 session (September - December 2023). Registration for fourth-year students opens June 14th (TBA at UBCO), and for third-year students, June 28th to 30th (TBA at UBCO). Please refer to the UBC Vancouver Academic Calendar for the deadline for registration. 


We are planning for online cross-campus course delivery this year. This course is open to students from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. Please email for any inquiries. 


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • identify the building blocks and characteristics of language and demonstrate how these shape the ways we think and interact with one another and our communities
  • critically assess how language is used in your chosen field of study
  • reflect on and apply what you have learned in your chosen field of study outside the classroom in critical and creative ways
  • use your enriched understanding of how language functions to communicate your field’s insights to broader audiences
  • be open to learning and listening beyond your discipline
  • recognize the power of language in science and society and when it is harnessed to manipulate rather than inform
  • collaborate with peers across disciplinary lines


For more information or to request a copy of last year's syllabus, please email

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