The Faculty of Arts at UBC brings together the best of quantitative research, humanistic inquiry, and artistic expression to advance a better world. Graduate students in the Faculty of Arts create and disseminate knowledge in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Creative and Performing Arts through teaching, research, professional practice, artistic production, and performance.

Arts has more than 25 academic departments, institutes, and schools as well as professional programs, more than 15 interdisciplinary programs, a gallery, a museum, theatres, concert venues, and a performing arts centre. Truly unique in its scope, the Faculty of Arts is a dynamic and thriving community of outstanding scholars – both faculty and students. 

Here, our students explore cutting-edge ideas that deepen our understanding of humanity in an age of scientific and technological discovery. Whether Arts scholars work with local communities, or tackle issues such as climate change, world music, or international development, their research has a deep impact on the local and international stage.

The disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches in our classrooms, labs, and cultural venues inspire students to apply their knowledge both to and beyond their specialization. Using innovation and collaborative learning, our graduate students create rich pathways to knowledge and real connections to global thought leaders.


Research Facilities

UBC Library has extensive collections, especially in Arts, and houses Canada’s greatest Asian language library. Arts graduate programs enjoy the use of state-of-the-art laboratories, the world-renowned Museum of Anthropology and the Belkin Contemporary Art Gallery (admission is free for our graduate students). World-class performance spaces include theatres, concert venues and a performing arts centre. 

Since 2001, the Belkin Art Gallery has trained young curators at the graduate level in the Critical and Curatorial Studies program in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory. The Master of Arts program addresses the growing need for curators and critics who have theoretical knowledge and practical experience in analyzing institutions, preparing displays and communicating about contemporary art.

The MOA Centre for Cultural Research (CCR) undertakes research on world arts and cultures, and supports research activities and collaborative partnerships through a number of spaces, including research rooms for collections-based research, an Ethnology Lab, a Conservation Lab, an Oral History and Language Lab supporting audio recording and digitization, a library, an archive, and a Community Lounge for groups engaged in research activities. The CCR includes virtual services supporting collections-based research through the MOA CAT Collections Online site that provides access to the Museum’s collection of approximately 40,000 objects and 80,000 object images, and the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN) that brings together 430,000 object records and associated images from 19 institutions.

Research Highlights

The Faculty of Arts at UBC is internationally renowned for research in the social sciences, humanities, professional schools, and creative and performing arts.

As a research-intensive faculty, Arts is a leader in the creation and advancement of knowledge and understanding. Scholars in the Faculty of Arts form cross-disciplinary partnerships, engage in knowledge exchange, and apply their research locally and globally.

Arts faculty members have won Guggenheim Fellowships, Humboldt Fellowships, and major disciplinary awards. We have had 81 faculty members elected to the Royal Society of Canada, and several others win Killam Prizes, Killam Research Fellowships, Emmy Awards, and Order of Canada awards. In addition, Arts faculty members have won countless book prizes, national disciplinary awards, and international disciplinary awards. 

External funding also signifies the research success of our faculty. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Faculty of Arts received $34.6 million through over 900 research projects. Of seven UBC SSHRC Partnership Grants awarded to-date, six are located in Arts, with a combined investment of $15 million over the term of the grants.

Since the 2011 introduction of the SSHRC Insight Grants and SSHRC Insight Development Grants programs, our faculty’s success rate has remained highly stable, and is consistently higher than the national success rate.

Graduate Degree Programs

Recent Publications

This is an incomplete sample of recent publications in chronological order by UBC faculty members with a primary appointment in the Faculty of Arts.


Recent Thesis Submissions

Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation Program
2019 Why do some people believe in the supernatural and others do not? Dr. Baimel examined the psychological foundations of supernatural beliefs in diverse samples of the world's religions. His work identifies both cross-cultural stability and variability, and stresses that any complete account requires consideration of the world's vast religious diversity. Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
2019 Dr. Lark studied the cognitive processes required for completing prospective memory tasks, which involve executing a previously formed plan while engaged in another activity. Her research suggests that after executing a plan, it takes extra time and effort to switch attention back to the other activity, and performance on that activity suffers. Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
2019 Dr. Wei studied the reading practices and scholarly culture of Qing Dynasty China. He studied a variety of writings and symbols drawn by readers in the margins of books called marginalia. This study explores how this culture took form, gained momentum, and shaped styles, as well as the scholars' lives, thoughts, and mind-states in the Qing dynasty. Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
2019 Dr. Hackinen studied how corporations use donations to non-profits as a tool to influence regulators during the notice and comment process for U.S. federal rulemaking. He also developed new tools measuring for political influence using the text of comments submitted to regulators. Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (PhD)
2019 Dr. Reid showed how glaciation, landslides, and forestry practices impact mountain stream channels and salmon habitat through time and across space. This study helps watershed managers predict effects of land cover changes and water widthdrawals on sensitive fish habitat. Doctor of Philosophy in Geography (PhD)
2019 Dr. Sommerville researched recent agricultural investment ventures pairing marginalized communities with wealthy investors in Canada and South Africa. She found that the schemes allow investors to benefit from land claims and land reform programs, compromising the benefits offered by such programs to First Nations and black African communities. Doctor of Philosophy in Geography (PhD)
2019 Dr. Jansen's research analyzed technological features of preservation systems that support the authenticity of digital records. From his findings, he produced a model that can be used by memory institutions to evaluate their digital archives' ability to assess, document and maintain the authenticity of digital records over the long-term. Doctor of Philosophy in Library, Archival and Information Studies (PhD)
2019 Dr. Simard-Duplain examined how divorce influences the labour supply of married women, from the time of marriage to the period following dissolution. She found that divorce impacts women by exacerbating vulnerabilities that already existed during marriage. This research informs how public policy can support people through marital transitions. Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (PhD)
2019 Dr. Tocco examined the role of the individual and the state in Latin American detective stories. His research contrasts these narratives with classic detective stories written in North America and the United Kingdom, offering new ways of reading them. Researchers and the general public interested in detective stories will benefit from his findings. Doctor of Philosophy in Hispanic Studies (PhD)
2019 Dr. Gainey developed a method for using the harmonic series as an analytical referent to explain the overlapping roles of timbre and harmony in spectral music, and how these roles reflect deeply ingrained features of our auditory cognition. Doctor of Philosophy in Music, Emphasis Theory (PhD)