Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation in Belize

Get up-close and personal with tropical wildlife!

The Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation in Belize Group Study Program will introduce students in Biological Sciences and other related majors to tropical biology, field techniques, and biodiversity and conservation in a developing country. Prior to departure, you will participate in a one week on-campus introduction to patterns of global biodiversity, tropical ecology and the natural history of organisms local to the field site, efforts at conservation in a developing country, as well as a brief overview of the history, politics, and culture of Belize.


While in the field, from the base at Lamanai Outpost Lodge in the Orange Walk District, you will gain first-hand experience in observation, data collection and analysis of local flora and fauna, including birds, bats, insects, crocodiles, lizards, medicinal plants and more. Experientially, you will have the opportunity to view and consider anthropogenic effects, both current and historical, on the tropical landscape of Belize.  

More information





Program type

Group Study 

Application information

Application status

Closed - program full

Application deadline

First come, first considered
until November 6, 2019. 
Programs fill quickly - apply today!

Eligibility Requirements

This program is open to students from the Faculty of Science (BIOL, ZOOL, ECOL) or the Faculty of Arts (GEOG, ANTH, PRIM). See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info Sessions

October 2, 4 – 5pm, BI 249 
October 3, noon – 1pm, BI 249 

Student experience

image of students rowing canoes in Belize
image of students in rainforest looking up binoculars

Photo credits: Robert Barclay

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Professor Robert Barclay at or Professor Mindi Summers 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:

    BIOL 520: Field Course in Tropical Biology (6 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    Students must have BIOL 313 / Biological Sciences Core Curriculum to apply.

    *Please note: BIOL 313 is next offered in Winter 2020 semester. Students who are registered to take this course in Winter semester are welcome to still apply for this program; successful completion of BIOL 313 will be expected before departure for Belize. 

  1. Pre-departure

    March (date TBD): Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs
    4 May: Lectures/discussions. Introductions (students, instructors, the course); Belize history, culture, biology; what is biodiversity and how do we measure it?
    5 May:Lectures/discussions. Conservation issues; Characteristics of tropical forests
    6 May: Lectures/discussions. Plants, invertebrates and vertebrates of Belize; equipment demo’s
    7 May: Lectures/discussions. Insect diversity and behaviour; video “The chocolate farmer”
    8 May: Student presentations, exam, hazard assessment/safety discussion, equipment distribution

  2. In-Field

    10 May: Calgary to Houston, Overnight in Houston as flights do not guarantee same-day departure and arrival into Belize City
    11 May: Houston - Belize City - Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Land/water transport from Belize City to Lamanai Outpost Lodge; Safety talk, introduction to lodge and environs, evening walkabout
    12 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Morning, whole group, general bird, plant, insect, lizard observations in primary and secondary forest.  Late afternoon/evening – Mist nets and bat observations
    13 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Field Research, various activities and experiences 
    14 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Field Research, various activities and experiences 
    15 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Field Research, various activities and experiences 
    16 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Field Research, various activities and experiences 
    17 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Field Research, various activities and experiences 
    18 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Research projects - data collection 
    19 MayLamanai Outpost Lodge, Research projects - data collection; paper presentations;
    20 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, School visit in Indian Church; Research projects - data collection
    21 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Research projects - data collection; paper presentations
    22 MayLamanai Outpost Lodge, Research projects - data collection
    23 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Research projects - data collection
    24 May: Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Project presentations; pack; farewell dinner
    25 May: Belize to Calgary, Land transport to Belize City; departure for Calgary

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Belize Primatology Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations, and meals. The program cost is $6,359.

    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.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  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.

Participants on this program will be housed in shared rooms at the Lamanai Outpost Lodge. 

Please note that the lodge will provide all meals for the duration of your stay; you will only be responsible to provide your own food on the designated travel days. The lodge kitchen is able to accommodate dietary restrictions.

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from the Faculty of Science (BIOL, ZOOL, ECOL) and from the Faculty of Arts (GEOG, ANTH, PRIM).

Applications will be considered after your application, unofficial transcript, and supplementary questionnaire 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. Program-specific questionnaire

    Click here to download the supplementary questionnaire for this program.

    Submit your completed form to

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


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: Is Belize safe?
A: Yes, Belize is a safe country to travel and work in. Saying that, there are always precautions that should be taken whenever one travels in a foreign country. We will discuss these precautions before we go.

Q: What are the biggest risks of this program? 
A: Of course there are always risks when studying wild animals, but the instructors are well-experienced in this area and will be directing your work with all safety precautions in mind. The biggest risk overall is actually from the climate. Belize is a very warm, humid environment; heat stroke and dehydration are common. The instructors will provide advice about clothing, waterbottles, etc. at your predeparture meeting.

The Belize field school was certainly the best course I’ve taken at the university ... If you are at all interested in tropical biology and learning what it’s like to work in the field in a brand-new location, I highly recommend this course! Fantastic adventure.


Belize Program Past 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 Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 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.