Advice for Structures Students at UBC

To UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS Enrolled in Civil Engineering at UBC
Structural engineering is the topic of several “core” courses in Civil Engineering at UBC Vancouver: CIVL 230, CIVL 231, CIVL 331, CIVL 332, and CIVL 430. Beyond those courses you have several courses available as electives:

  • Term 1:
  • Term 2:
    • CIVL 433 Advanced Concrete Design
    • CIVL 436 Matrix Structural Analysis and Dynamics
    • CIVL 439 Design of Timber Structures

Notice that CIVL 435 and CIVL 436 are “analysis courses” rather than “design courses.” Analysis courses often have content applicable across materials and structure-types. In my experience, it is often wise to take analysis courses while you are at the university. In engineering practice they will teach you design if you do not already know it, but they rarely teach you advanced analysis methods if you missed that in school. Regardless of your interest, when you start your 4th year, please consider applying to one of our graduate programs. Many consultancies seek students with a Master’s degree, and our Master of Engineering program (MEng) is ideally suited for complementing the 4-year BASc degree. The application deadline is January 31st for enrolment the following September. The MEng program is course-based, meaning that you will NOT write a thesis. Rather, you will typically take 10 courses related to structural engineering; see details further down this page. The other graduate program relevant for you is the Master of Applied Science program (MASc), which is harder to gain admission into. For the MEng program you stand a reasonable chance of admission if your overall GPA is 76% or above. Conversely, the MASc program is thesis-based; hence, you usually need an admissions recommendation from a professor, who typically commits research funding to pay you a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). If you wish to apply for the MASc program then please feel free to contact the professors you may wish to work with and do not forget to apply for an NSERC CGS-M Award by the November deadline if you are a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada.

To Prospective and Current GRADUATE STUDENTS in the Structural & Earthquake Engineering Specialization
If you are enrolled in the MASc or PhD program then my advice is simple: Please talk to your research supervisor, i.e., professor regarding all aspects of you study. That advice applies from course selections to research topics. However, it may still be interesting for you to read what I have to say in the following to the MEng students about course selection.

First be aware of the comment I made above to the undergraduate students; namely, that you may want to take courses at the university in which you will learn things that you will not learn later in engineering practice. For that reason, please consider analysis-oriented courses, such as CIVL 507, CIVL 518, and CIVL 537. That trio of Term 1 courses was mandatory for all MEng students until recently and they are still strongly recommended. The formal course requirements in the Structural & Earthquake specialization are as follows:

  • MEng students must as core coursework take at least 8 (eight) 500-level courses from the list of graduate courses below. The remaining two courses you need may also be from that list, or they can be other 400-level or 500-level courses in Civil Engineering. Please do not forget to submit a Coursework Plan form to me by email so that I can sign it in my capacity as specialty advisor.
  • MASc students must as core coursework take at least 2 of the courses CIVL 507, CIVL 518, and CIVL 537.
  • PhD students must as core coursework take all of the courses CIVL 507, CIVL 518, and CIVL 537.

Also remember that it is mandatory to register for the CIVL 597-004 Structures Seminars once during your program. For MEng students, my suggestion is to take maximum 3 or 4 courses per term, starting in Term 1, i.e., in September of your first academic year. Because we do not offer structures courses in the summer term we often suggest that you distribute the courses in the following fashion:

  • Term 1, starting in September of the first academic year: Typically CIVL 507, CIVL 518, and CIVL 537.
  • Term 2, starting in January of the first academic year: 3 or 4 courses.
  • Summer Term: No structures courses are offered, except possibly CIVL 596 Directed Study credits from individual professors; hence, it is common to apply for a leave of absence, or “Continuing Status” for international students, to avoid paying tuition fees during the summer.
  • Term 1, starting in September the second academic year: 3 or 4 courses.

Please do not worry if a structures course is labelled “full” when you try to register for a course; please contact the instructor or me, and ultimately the staff at will help you get registered.

  • Graduate Courses in Structural & Earthquake Engineering
    • Term 1:
      • CIVL 507 (3 credits) Dynamics of Structures I
      • CIVL 511 (3 credits) Advanced Topics in Steel Structures
      • CIVL 518 (3 credits) Reliability and Structural Safety
      • CIVL 537 (3 credits) Computational Mechanics I
      • CIVL 598M (3 credits) Design of Masonry Structures
    • Term 2:
      • CIVL 505 (3 credits) Seismic Response of Structures
      • CIVL 509 (3 credits) Nonlinear Structural Analysis
      • CIVL 513 (3 credits) Concrete Structures
      • CIVL 516 (3 credits) Behaviour of Timber Structures
  • Graduate Courses Currently NOT Offered in Structural & Earthquake Engineering (temporarily or not, 2024/25)
    • CIVL 504 (3 credits) Seismicity and Seismic Design Parameters
    • CIVL 506 (3 credits) Performance-based Earthquake Engineering
    • CIVL 508 (3 credits) Dynamics of Structures II
    • CIVL 510 (3 credits) Behaviour of Steel Structures
    • CIVL 517 (3 credits) Advanced Topics in Timber Structures
    • CIVL 538 (3 credits) Computational Mechanics II
    • CIVL 539 (3 credits) Advanced Theory of Structures
  • Undergraduate Courses in Structural & Earthquake Engineering
    • Term 1:
      • CIVL 432 (3 credits) Advanced Structural Steel Design
      • CIVL 435 (3 credits) Advanced Structural Analysis
      • CIVL 498M (3 credits) Design of Masonry Structures (same as CIVL 598M)
    • Term 2:
      • CIVL 433 (3 credits) Advanced Concrete Design
      • CIVL 436 (3 credits) Matrix Structural Analysis and Dynamics
      • CIVL 439 (3 credits) Design of Timber Structures (same as CIVL 516)