UNIV*2800 / UNIV*3800 / UNIV*4800: Independent Research

Course Description

These independent study courses are intended as an opportunity for students who have completed a URA, or faculty-guided research project, to receive course credit. These courses can take place concurrently with the project or during the following semester.

To apply for this independent study program students must have a faculty supervisor in order to complete a Course Outline, Learning Contract, and Course Waiver. These documents must then be reviewed and approved by the Associate Vice President (Academic) for enrollment.

  1. Course Outline: Working with their faculty supervisor, students will create a Course Outline with a grading structure. The supervisor must also be available to meet throughout the semester to grade assignments and provide feedback. Please note that 20% of the grade must be in by the 40th day of class, and the final submission cannot be more than 50%.
  2. Learning Contract: A Learning Contract must also be completed with the faculty supervisor and include details of the learning outcomes and requirements.
  3. Course Waiver: Finally, a Course Waiver must be completed and included with your submission. All three documents must be signed by your faculty advisor and submitted for approval by the Associate Vice President (Academic).

If the AVPA approves your independent study course, students submit their package to Enrollment Services (es@uoguelph.ca), for activation in the CourseLink module.

Please note that students may come from any program and research experience does not need to be paid to qualify. It is recommended that students consult with their program counsellor to determine how the course will count toward their program.

Semester Offerings: S, F, W
Credit Weight: 0.50 credits
Prerequisite(s): 4.00 credits completed; minimum 60% cumulative average
Restriction(s): Instructor consent, and approval from the Associate Vice President (Academic) is required

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Research Experience

Students are responsible for securing their own research experience and work supervisor by applying for open positions through sites like Experience Guelph and through programs like Undergraduate Research Assistantships (URA) and Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA). Students may also find it beneficial to speak directly to a faculty member whose research they find particularly interesting regarding possible positions in their lab.

  • To qualify as a research experience, a student must be predominantly engaged in research activities and developing relevant research skills during the research semester.
  • A research experience can be paid or unpaid.
  • Students are expected to complete a minimum of 420 hours over at least 11 weeks during the research semester.
  • The research semester can be completed concurrently with the course or in the semester prior to taking the course.


Course Design

In addition to a work supervisor, students must find a faculty member to act as the faculty supervisor for the course. The faculty supervisor may also function as the work supervisor.

  • Any U of G faculty member can take on a student through UNIV*2800, UNIV*3800 or UNIV*4800 provided the student meets the minimum requirements for the research experience semester.
  • Details of the activities included in the experience will be outlined in a learning contract initiated by the student (see sample under Course Documents). The learning contract must be approved by the work supervisor, faculty supervisor, and course coordinator (avpa@uoguelph.ca) by the end of the third week of the academic semester.
  • Assessments are to be agreed upon between the faculty supervisor and the student. A minimum of 20% of the course grade should be allocated to assessments occurring before the 40th class day with no more than 40% of the course grade being allocated to a final assignment.
  • UNIV*2800, UNIV*3800, and UNIV*4800 are not prerequisites for each other. Students should register in the course that most closely relates to their year of study. For example, students in their second year should register for UNIV*2800.


Assessment Opportunities

The following activities may be incorporated into the learning contract as assessment opportunities. For more information about any of these resources, please contact the Experiential Learning Hub (experience@uoguelph.ca ).


Deadlines and Registration

To complete registration, students should complete and submit a Course Waiver Request Form with their faculty supervisor's signature under Instructor's Acknowledgement during the course selection period. Students and their faculty supervisor should finalize and submit the learning contract to the course coordinator (avpa@uoguelph.ca) for approval no later than the end of the third full week of classes of the course enrollment semester.


Course Submission Templates

  1. Sample Course Outline (DOCX 30KB)
  2. Learning Contract Template (DOCX 14 KB)
  3. Course Waiver Request Form



Can I use a Co-op Work Term as the Work Experience for this course?

Yes, provided that the work being completed in the Co-op position is predominantly research in nature and that the graded academic assessment opportunities outlined in the Learning Contract represent substantial extra effort and differ significantly from the Work Term Report requirements for your Co-op Program.

For example, the Learning Contract may require you to complete a substantial research paper and attend a series of professional development workshops recommended by your faculty supervisor, both of which are in addition to any job requirements or Work Term report requirements

Is a Work Study applicable to this program?

A Work Study can be applicable and will be approved on a case to case basis by the AVPA.


Course Contact:

For AVPA approval and questions related to Course Design, Learning Contracts, Waivers, assessment, and approvals, please contact:

Office of the Associate Vice President (Academic)

Experience Profiles