Clayoquot Sound Field Semester

A partnership between the UVic Department of Geography and the Raincoast Education Society of Tofino

Students learning about integrated monitoring and management in Cox Bay (Photo by Shannon Fargey)

Students assess the impacts of storms on coastal landscape evolution in the Schooner Cove Dune System (Photo by Erin Schott)

Conducting a bird survey to help support a long-term monitoring project for the Raincoast Education Society (Photo by Shannon Fargey)

On the way to Schooner cove to conduct a field survey of the dune system (Photo by Shannon Fargey)

Learning about emergency management protocols in Tofino (Photo by Erin Schott)

Students work on an eelgrass mapping project in Grice Bay (Photo by Erin Schott)

Visiting the Tsunami Memorial Art Installation, made of debris collected on the Ucluelet shoreline from the deadly 2011 earthquake/tsunami in Japan (Photo by Erin Schott)

Students enjoy a game of soccer on the beach in Tofino (Photo by Shannon Fargey)

Please note: At this time, this field program has been discontinued. It may return in future in a different format. Information will be provided as soon as it is available.

When and Where

2023 Field Semester: January 5th - April 1st

Places visited: Clayoquot Sound (Nuu Chah Nulth Lands) Tofino & area; Tla-o-qui-aht, Ucluelet, and Ahousaht Territories (Canada)

See Complete Information Sheet for a program overview and tentaitve itinerary. 

How to Apply

Apply in: Fall term.

Applications are now closed. Stay tuned for future offerings!

Contact if you have any questions

Program Overview

For a full program description (including tentative itinerary), see the Complete Information Sheet. 

A semester you’ll never forget.

The Clayoquot Sound Field School semester is a unique immersive learning experience based out of Tofino in Nuu Chah Nulth First Nation territories on the magnificent west coast of Vancouver Island. This program affords students the opportunity to learn in a living ecosystem and community ‘laboratory’ outside a traditional classroom setting. Constructed around a sequence of interrelated courses, the semester-long program will promote deeper understandings of cultural and environmental processes and complex relationships between the Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and non-human communities in Clayoquot Sound.

Clayoquot Sound (a world famous UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) is a unique region on the west coast of Vancouver Island, defined by a rich history and strong presence of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, a diverse and complex natural landscape, and a potent conservation movement marked by decades of environmental campaigns. The region is home to one of the largest remaining tracts of old-growth temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island, and supports a thriving community of front-line conservationists working to uphold the natural integrity of the region, from Nuu-chah-nulth Guardians to scientists, educators, and community members.

As good citizens and community-engaged students and researchers, we will commit to having a positive local impact. Through each course, and in particular the foundational community-based research & practice course (Geog 391), students will connect with not-for-profit organizations, businesses, and governments (Indigenous, municipal, provincial, and federal), learning from these partners and making meaningful contributions in return. Our vision is that we leave with rich memories, a transformative learning experience, and a positive local legacy.


  • Students must have third or fourth year standing, with preference given to Geography students
  • This field school is designed primarily as a capstone experience for senior students, but the selection committee will consider other applicants based on a variety of factors, including course, life, and work experience.
  • This field school will involve outdoor activities that will at times be physically demanding, such as hiking over rough or steep terrain. Although some accommodations are possible, we ask that applicants mention if they have any accessibility needs that may affect their ability to participate in these activities.
  • Finally, we ask applicants to answer several questions, which allows us to assess the fit of each applicant and what they could contribute to the learning and community-engaged experience.

Three scholarships for local Indigenous students (preferencing those from Nuu Chah Nulth communities) will be available covering the field school fees (i.e. costs beyond regular tuition, etc.).   

If you have any further questions, please email Cam Owens ( or Chris Darimont (


This field program consists of six courses and students must enroll in all six.  Applications for individual courses will not be accepted. Each course is worth 1.5 credits, for a total of 9.0 credits. Successful applicants will be registered in the courses by the Department of Geography. (Students will not register themselves).

  1. Geog 391 A02 – Topics in Geography: Community Engaged Research & Practice (Maftei)
  2. Geog 491– Advanced Topics in Geography: Indigenous Environmental Activism (Smiles)
  3. Geog 339– Disaster Management & Community Resilience (Owens)
  4. Geog 424- Field Studies in Coastal Geomorphology (Kwoll)
  5. Geog 487– Advanced Landscape Ecology: Rainforest Biocultural Ecology (Mackinnon & Martin)
  6. Geog 391 A03Topics in Geography: Geographies of Surfing (Darimont)

Field School Fees

For field schools, students pay regular UVic tuition plus field school fees.

Field school fees can be paid by cheque, money order, counter cheque, or cash ONLY. Cheques should be made payable to the University of Victoria. Payment can be dropped off at the Geography main office (David Turpin Building, room B203) or mailed (cheques only).

Field school fees*:

  • $1000 deposit paid at time of application (deadline Sept 15, 2022)
  • $2000 paid by Friday, Oct 28, 2022
  • $2000 paid by Friday, Dec 16, 2022

Field school fees cover:

  • accommodation at the Tofino hostel (in shared dorms) from January 5th to April 2nd, 2022
  • compensation for guest lecturers and knowledge holders
  • classroom space
  • assistance with community engaged work and activities to build relationships with community leaders
  • teaching- and research-related equipment and materials
  • instructor expenses
  • boat charters
  • some other field course expenses

Field school fees do not include:

  • tuition
  • transportation (e.g. to and from Tofino and to field trip sites)
  • meals and entertainment
  • other expenses such as any personal gear (e.g., hiking shoes) required for the course.

Financial Support

The Faculty of Social Sciences has provided a grant to subsidize costs (approximately $15,000 to the program). Students are encouraged to explore other funding opportunities for example at the Undergraduate Scholarships & Funding page:

Three scholarships for local Indigenous students (preferencing those from Nuu Chah Nulth communities) will be available covering the program fee.  

COVID 19 Precautions

Given the uncertainty in the context of the ongoing pandemic, students are highly encouraged to stay up to date on the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in advance of the field school. Due to local community concerns and requirements, not being fully vaccinated may limit your ability to participate in all activities. Students must follow all local, provincial and university policies and guidelines related to COVID-19.