Semester in Alternate Realities

Next offering: TBD

About the program

Semester in Alternate Realities (SIAR) pro­poses a unique edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence meant to inspire inter­dis­ci­pli­nary teams to solve a real-world prob­lem explor­ing Virtual real­ity (VR) and hybrid VR phys­i­cal instal­la­tions.

In this project-based course, par­tic­i­pants will be chal­lenged to develop solu­tions using tech­nolo­gies such as VR (e.g., Meta Quest head-mounted dis­plays) and immer­sive multi-modal media instal­la­tions. In addi­tion to focus­ing on the co-construction of dig­i­tal pro­to­types afford­ing mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences in “alter­nate real­i­ties”, our objec­tive is to stim­u­late doc­u­mented reflec­tion and dis­cus­sion through­out the process. Participants can expect to work col­lab­o­ra­tively, be matched accord­ing to the skills they bring, and be pro­vided time and resources to learn new tech­niques and approaches, soft– and hard skills, and processes to con­duct user research.

Participants will get the oppor­tu­nity to reflect on future tech­nolo­gies and their poten­tial impact on the world, and improve their pre­sen­ta­tion skills and pub­licly show­case their projects. To incor­po­rate diverse per­spec­tives, stu­dents from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines are invited to apply and, in their appli­ca­tion, argue how they could con­tribute to the course and the co-construction of team projects.


  • For general course questions contact siat_advising@sfu.
  • For detailed course questions or requirements for joining the course that are not covered here please contact Dr. Bernhard Riecke at

How to apply

To apply for this course, students must download and complete the application/project proposal form (link below) and submit the completed form to SIAT's advising team at

Deadline: Applications are closed

Course Focus and Design Challenge

The Spring 2023 semester’s design chal­lenge was “cre­at­ing for good” i.e., using alter­nate real­i­ties tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies, guid­ing the­o­ret­i­cal frame­works, and appro­pri­ate processes, project man­age­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion approaches to iter­a­tively ideate, design, pro­to­type, and eval­u­ate an inter­ac­tive alter­nate real­i­ties expe­ri­ence that affords mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences for the bet­ter­ment of human­ity and/or our planet.

Who can apply

Upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students with a keen interest in addressing real-world problems through designing alternate realities experiences. Students are expected to be fearless in their exploration, adoption and experimentation of immersive technologies, and open to and interested in exploring new ideas, concepts and perspectives in an interdisciplinary setting. Come prepared to work collaboratively with others.

The couse is open to stu­dents with the nec­es­sary back­ground in VR, both for SIAT stu­dents and stu­dents from other depart­ments of SFU or other universities.

For more information about the course, please see our course information video.

Student Experiences

“The high­light of my SFU career was a Semester in Alternate Realities (SiAR). I thought I was in way over my head when I was accepted into the course, but I was able to explore and excel in var­i­ous roles I hadn’t been exposed to pre­vi­ously includ­ing project man­ager, art direc­tor, scrum master, and so much more. Following this course, I con­stantly uti­lized my agile devel­op­ment, design and team man­age­ment skills to push my school projects fur­ther and this made a big dif­fer­ence when I landed my first co-op job.”

Elene Wanner, SIAT graduate

Student Feedback

  • "The most unique and engaging semester I've had in my university career so far"
  • “A once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends, and work with technology for the greater good.”
  • "The most intensive course at SFU where students get hands on experience with cutting edge technology."
  • "I actually know everybody's name"
  • "It's a unique experience where the class actually feels like a community"
  • "The most intensive course at SFU where students get hands on experience with cutting edge technology."

Interested in Learning More?

Learn more about the course and explore some of the past VR projects created by students in the course.