Bahamas Island: Tropical Life, Coral Reefs, White Sand & Caribbean Rocks

This is not your typical field school!

Going to the beautiful island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, we have the unique opportunity to study modern sedimentary processes in a variety of carbonate-forming environments, both on land and under water.

You will be hiking and snorkeling to a dozen sites around the island where you will make observations on a variety of environments such as an underground cave system, sand dunes, paleosols, an hypersaline lake with living stromatolites, a Pleistocene fossil reef, modern and ancient beach deposits, and a whole variety of underwater shelf, lagoon and reef environments and their living biota. You will learn how carbonate sediment is produced and accumulate in a tropical setting and how it is rapidly transformed into solid rock. You will also see for yourself how the reef-dwelling biota shows severe signs of stress due to mankind activities.

The knowledge and skills gained in this course will equally serve those interested by the origin of carbonate rocks and the resources they contain, and/or those who care deeply about the fate of our oceans at a time of rapid environmental change.

Key information




Spring 2021

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status

Accepting Applications

Click here to apply!

Application deadline

Applications considered on a first-come first-considered basis until January 15th. Apply early!

Eligibility requirements

This program is open to students from all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

October 6th, 12:00PM on zoom:

Student experience

Information session

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Benoit Beauchamp at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in one course.

    GLGY 599: Bahamas Island: Tropical Life, Coral Reefs, White Sand & Caribbean Rocks (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    GLGY 599: GLGY 201 required (equivalent education from other institutions will be considered). GLGY 381 is also recommended.

  1. Pre-departure

    TBD, Calgary: Two-day snorkeling initiation and First Aid session facilitated by UCalgary Active Living

    May 1, Calgary: Mandatory safety briefing and pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs.

  2. In-field

    May 2, Calgary: Depart Calgary for Nassau

    May 3, Nassau: Travel from Nassau to San Salvador Island

    May 4 - 11, San Salvador Island: Program activities

    May 12, San Salvador Island: Travel from San Salvador Island to Nassau

    May 13, Nassau: Depart for Calgary or independent travel

    For a comprehensive program itinerary, please click here

  3. Post-field

    Assignment due dates to be determined.

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Bahamas Island: Tropical Life, Coral Reefs, White Sand & Caribbean Rocks Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $4121.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary.

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    IDEAS Fund: All undergraduate students who are in good standing and enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty of Science are eligible to apply for financial support from the IDEAS Fund. find out more here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

    Click here for more info on funding opportunities!

Hotels/hostels will be booked for overnight stays in Nassau. 

Upon arrival at San Salvador Island, students will be housed on-site at the Gerace Field Station. Students will be provided three meals a day at the field station cafeteria.

All accommodations will be arranged for students and more details will be available prior to departure. 

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties. Students in Geoscience majors who have taken GLGY 201 & GLGY 381 will be given priority consideration.

Applications will be considered after your application, unofficial transcript, and swim assessment results have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

  3. Swim Assessment

    Please note that at this time the swim assessments are paused due to the evolving pandemic conditions. Applicants of the program will be contacted in the new year once we are able to book assessments and have updated instructions. Thank you for your patience.

    All applicants must successfully complete a swim assessment, facilitated by UCalgary Active Living. After submitting your application, you will be sent instructions to sign up for a swim assessment. Please watch your UCalgary email account and follow these instructions in a timely manner.  

    For an idea of what the swim assessment entails, click here to view last year's requirements. 

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: How physically demanding will this trip be?
A: Swimming/snorkeling plays a significant role for the aquatic aspects of this program. Being a reasonably fit and confident swimmer in open water is an asset. You are welcome and encouraged to contact the instructor at any point before or after applying for this program if you wish to discuss concerns regarding your physical limits. 

Q: What about safety?
A: Students will receive thorough training in safe snorkeling practices and water-specific First Aid prior to the program, as well as a safety orientation upon arrival on-site. The instructor will demonstrate proper techniques for any tools used. Note that field school participants are never asked nor allowed to work alone. 

Q: Do I have to provide my own equipment?
A: Students are required to provide their own snorkeling gear (at minimum: mask, snorkel, and fins). As part of the program fees, a snorkeling safety vest will be purchased by Group Study Programs for each student. Note: Scuba diving equipment is not allowed on this field school.

This was an amazing experience, it provided me with academic development and allowed me to test my skills in a real life situation. In geology it would be impossible to learn what we did in class.

Past program participant

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Global Learning 101 for general information.

Watch Global Learning 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.