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UBC/SFU Digital Media Practicum: Frequently Asked Questions

students in front of an art display

How does this fit into your degree?

SFU Students:

You will receive a total of six credits in CMPT 493. You may use these credits to fulfill six of the twelve units of 400 level CMPT depth and they will be considered to fall within the Table 1 Visual and Interactive Computing concentration (Computer Graphics and Multimedia in older calendars). 

UBC Students:

You will receive six credits in CPSC 491. Your Faculty or department may restrict the total credits available from research/independent study credits from courses like CPSC 448 (directed study), CPSC 490 (student-directed seminar), or CPSC 491 (practicum). Here are some notes that you should confirm with your program's advisors:

  • First-degree CPSC students can generally use up to six credits of research coursework toward their 4th year CPSC requirements. The CPSC department has indicated that CPSC 491 counts for this restriction. So, you likely cannot use more than six credits combined of CPSC 448 and CPSC 491 toward your fourth year CPSC requirements
  • BCS students can generally use up to three credits of research coursework toward their fourth year CPSC elective requirements. The CPSC department has indicated that CPSC 491 counts for this restriction. So, you likely cannot use more than three credits combined of CPSC 448 and CPSC 491 toward your fourth year CPSC requirements. BCSers can use the remaining three credits as third year CPSC elective requirements, exemption replacements, or (if it fits your module) as CPSC bridging credits. BCSers with prior degrees relevant to digital media may be able to use three credits toward the non-CPSC bridging credits; contact for more information. Pick one use for each three credit piece; no double-counting
  • BA students can use CPSC 491 to fulfill their research-intensive course requirement
  • Other programs may have additional restrictions

How will I be assessed?

To fulfill your Practicum requirements, you will participate in all assessments of the MDM teams but you will also: give a 10-20 minute presentation on your project near the end of the term (solo or with your team) and write a project report detailing your contributions, how they fit into the final designed artifact, and key lessons you learned. The report should reference your team's prototype and other artifacts you created during the term as evidence of your contributions and learning. The faculty member for your university will review these reports and the team assessments to assign a final course grade.

Interested students may want to review UBC's notes on the required report and presentation.

How is this different from UBC's CPSC 319?

This course is similar in that you'll complete a project on a team for an external client. However, your team will be a highly interdisciplinary group of Master's-level students with project management/design experience that typically comes from outside CS. Your project will be an interactive media design project (which could be true in CPSC 319 as well). Your external client will typically be from industry, rather than 319's usually local, non-commercial organizations (but both are usually authentic, external clients).

Also, as intense as CPSC 319 is, this course is more intense. After all, it's worth more credits!

How is this different from co-op?

Bearing in mind that some co-op positions may be more like this experience than others, this is generally quite different.

  • First, the logistics are entirely different: you will receive credit toward graduation but you will not be paid, you will receive some training and guidance but you will not take the co-op workshop series, etc.
  • Second, this is a self-contained project on a small team; so, you'll generally have more input into how the project proceeds but less pre-existing structure to support you.
  • Third, your team will definitely be extremely interdisciplinary.

Previous participants feel this course complements co-op.

What is the Master of Digital Media?

The Master of Digital Media is a four-way accredited degree between the partner institutions, UBC, SFU, BCIT and Emily Carr. Students from a range of backgrounds gain invaluable experience collaborating on cutting-edge, innovative, real-world projects in close collaboration with industry partners, mentors, top-notch educators as well as one another.

Although students' bachelors-level background varies substantially, all have thorough background from the MDM program in interactive media and story design, modern software development techniques, prototyping, and project management.

Why are we doing this?

Our primary motivation is fulfilling complementary needs: SFU and UBC CS are looking to expand their interactive digital media-oriented opportunities for their students; the Centre for Digital Media is looking for more computer scientist students with interest and skill in digital media.

What's the catch?

Here are a few caveats you should consider before you apply:

  • You may have trouble using more than 6 credits of research coursework/directed studies toward your degree. If you think you might have other research/independent study/directed studies credit besides this course, talk to us about it early in the application process. (You can also talk to an undergraduate advisor in your program).
  • Offerings of this course are subject to coordination between the Centre for Digital Media and UBC/SFU.
  • SFU and UBC CS along with the CDM fully intend to shamelessly use your contribution to showcase our programs, so your work will be on public display.
  • Your direct mentor at CDM will be managing your project team as a whole, not just you.
  • You will have some say over your project, but not an open choice. Project and team assignments will be made by the program administrators in an over-constrained space.