Belize Primatology

Explore the field of Primatology in an immersive and engaging setting! 

The Primatology program at the University of Calgary is widely recognized as the best in Canada and among the best in North America. Students have the exceptional opportunity to research primate behaviour in Belize, a country known for its verdant jungles, diverse ecosystems, ancient ruins, white sand beaches and the warm Caribbean Sea. In the Belizean forest and under the direction of Dr. Kayla Hartwell, you will learn the fundamentals of wild primate research design and data collection through first-hand observation of Howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). Students will be trained in all aspects of conducting fieldwork on wild primates, and specifically the sampling techniques required to collect behavioural and ecological data necessary to primate research. This intensive training will equip you with the ability to carefully plan a relevant and detailed research project proposal that will be submitted at the end of the session in Belize. This field experience will also foster the development of other skills necessary to successful fieldwork, including teamwork, individual problem solving, the ability to be flexible in the face of changing circumstances and altered logistical arrangements, field safety, and generally coping with working in another country.


Students will be based out of Monkey River village, a small, traditional Creole village at the mouth of Monkey River, where you will be immersed in a unique cultural experience. Trips to Placencia, the barrier reef and the Tropical Education Centre and Zoo in central Belize will round off your field school experience!

More Information




Spring 2021 

Program Type

Group Study 

Application Information

Application Status



Application Deadline


Eligibility Requirements

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


Info Sessions

For the recording of the info session from Fall 2020 click here.


Student Experience

image of field school students at Welcome To Monkey River signpost
image of howling howler monkey

Have Questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Hugh Notman at  

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

Other useful links: 

Info session Fall 2020

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 three courses:

    ANTH 505: Primate Behavioural Research Design (3 units) 

    ANTH 552: Field Studies in Primatology (6 units) 

    ANTH 553: Research methods for the study of neotropical primate ecology & behaviour (3 units) 

  2. Prerequisites

    All course offerings require ANTH 311 and consent of the program instructor. 

  1. Pre-Departure

    April (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs.
    May 3-7, Calgary: On-campus training and preparation for field travel

  2. In-Field

    May 6, Calgary/Belize: Travel to Belize, arrive at Tropical Education Centre (TEC)
    May 7, TEC: Classroom lecture and night tour of Belize Zoo
    May 8, TEC: Runaway Creek visit, Sibun River paddle and Methods exam
    May 9, Monkey River: Travel to Monkey River Village
    May 10-13 Monkey River: Field work day
    May 14, Monkey River: Field work and reef field trip
    May 15, Monkey River: Field work, forest ecology talk, and exam
    May 16-18, Monkey River:  Field work day
    May 19, Monkey River: Proposal presentations and coursework
    May 20, Monkey River: Field work day
    May 21, Monkey River: Coursework, exam prep and due date for lit assignment
    May 22, Monkey River: Field exam
    May 23, Monkey River/Placencia: Travel to Placencia; De-Tach dinner, coursework and write up
    May 24: Placencia: Lagoon cruise and group dinner and final write-up
    May 25, Belize/Calgary: Return to Calgary or independent travel

    For a comprehensive program itinerary, please click here

  3. Post-Field

    June (date TBA): ANTH 553 research proposal due

  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 $7,072.

    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.

For the majority of the program, participants will be staying in rustic guest houses in Monkey River Village that accommodate a minimum of two people per room.

Other forms of accommodation include a rustic jungle lodge at the Tropical Education Centre and a budget hotel in Placencia.

Participants will always have at least one roommate, and on occasion may stay in rooms with two or more people.

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad, and after your supplementary questionnaire has been received by the program instructor.

  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 Transcripts

    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 directly to the instructor, Dr. Hugh Notman, at

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 kind of food will be available?
A: Some locally-cooked meals will be provided for you and covered in your fees, but others you will buy on your own. Please see the Student Cost Summary for details. For meals purchased on your own, these will range in cost depending on the venue, but you can anticipate to spend from $10 - $20 CDN per meal.

Belize Primatology was a challenging, fun, rewarding, incredible once in a lifetime experience. It was a great introduction to fieldwork. Now I cannot wait to be a primatologist! Every minute of every day in Monkey River was filled with some unique experience unlike anything else. I feel so lucky for this opportunity.


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.