Thematic Option

This option is a great choice if you discover that the courses that really interest you revolve around a common theme. For example, you may be interested in “Peace and Justice”, or “Public Policy” or “Communications in Business” or “Human Services Administration” or “Language and Cultural Studies”.  Unlike a major in which you specialize by taking many courses in one discipline, a thematic area is one that spans several disciplines. It is interdisciplinary.

To help you determine what a Thematic Option is and how it might apply to you, we've provided some typical questions. If you need further help or when you have an idea for a theme, you should get in touch with the BGS Advisor. Together you can discuss your thematic area and the process for getting it approved.



What is the Thematic Option?
It is an integrated collection of studies in an area in which UFV does not offer a major. The purpose of the thematic option is to enable you to create a relevant and coherent education program that encourages the crossing of traditional disciplinary boundaries. In other words, within the structure of the BGS graduation requirements, you study a topic that you’ve chosen as your individual area of special interest.

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What are some possible thematic areas?
There are no pre-designed thematic areas; each thematic area will be unique. Some possible choices might be: substance abuse counselling, international studies, gender issues, public administration, Canadian studies, applied research, Latin American literature, tourism management, applied communications, teaching English as a second language, social studies, peace & justice, public policy, conflict resolution. 

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What are the technical requirements for a Thematic Option?
In order to have your particular Thematic Option designated on your transcript, you will need to successfully complete all the BGS requirements, including a minimum of 24 upper-level credits (i.e. courses that are designated by UFV as 300-level and/or 400-level) in your thematic area. Your Thematic Option must be reviewed and approved by a team of at least two faculty members.

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Do I have to have a certain grade point average in my thematic area?
Yes. You must achieve a 2.0 GPA in all courses in your thematic area.

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Are there any additional fees or other costs if I decide to do the Thematic Option?

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What if I choose a theme that interests me but the courses I would like to take are not available at UFV? Can I take courses at other postsecondary institutions?
Yes. However, you will have to make sure that at least 6 credits of the required 24 upper-level credits in your thematic area are completed in UFV studies. For each course that you wish to complete elsewhere, you’ll need to complete a “Letter of Permission” form, available from the Registrar’s Office.

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Does anyone check over my plan? Do I require any kind of special approval? If so, who does the reviewing and who grants approval?
This is not a solitary adventure; you have support from the BGS Advisor and from the faculty team. This group of faculty will review your proposal, offer additional ideas, recommend appropriate changes if necessary, and provide final approval. The 2-person faculty team will include a member of the BGS Advisory Committee as well as a faculty member from a discipline related to your thematic area. A third member may be invited to join the team where appropriate and can be recommended by you.

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Is it possible to change my mind once the faculty team approves my program plan? Can I amend my plan after it has been approved?
Yes. Your plan is not etched in stone. If you decide to rearrange your courses or shift the emphasis of your Thematic Option, you’ll need to confirm these choices with the BGS Advisor. Major changes will require a formal amendment to your original plan, after a review by the faculty team. Don’t forget, however, that major changes (and sometimes even seemingly minor changes) may require you to take extra courses.

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What are some of the exciting aspects of this type of program?
There are several things that make this opportunity very stimulating. For example:

  • You get to be in charge of your own learning
  • You create your own way of integrating theory and practice in a way that makes sense to you and around a topic which has meaning for you
  • You develop a greater awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses as a learner
  • You have the support of a faculty team who are enthusiastic about your interest area

For more examples, consider what it is about this approach that makes you excited.

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What are some of the challenges?
Any educational program presents challenges in one form or another. A degree with an individualized focus can mean you face challenges such as:

  • Trying to figure out what your area of special interest is
  • Taking the time to determine the particular combination of courses that will comprise your thematic focus
  • Setting out a realistic plan that takes into account your various resources (time, energy, access to courses, finances, etc). You want your program to be "do-able."
  • Sustaining your enthusiasm for your topic if other like-minded individuals aren’t easily accessible

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Who would be my initial contact person if I decide to pursue the Thematic Option?

Please email or call the Arts Advice Centre on 604 557 4028 

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How do I get started?
Proceed through our Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Thematic Area.


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BGS degree
General Studies Diploma
Proposed plan of study
BGS thematic option
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