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Distance education - Program information

Welcome to the Distance Education Program of the Department of Occupational Health. When you register in the Master's of Occupational Health Sciences (Applied), our common goal is for you to successfully complete the program and obtain the MSc degree. We will put at your disposal all the necessary means to reach this objective.

This program has been organized to respond to the specific needs of occupational health professionals and to maximize the benefits of distance education. It is very important that you follow the directives provided.This "Program Information" section explains how the program works.

Getting started

You absolutely need to set time aside for individual study and let nothing interfere while you are working because it is easy to be distracted and to lose the concentration required for success in a course requiring self-directed study.

Prior to the beginning of each term, the Distance Education Coordinator will send you a questionnaire relevant to your choice of courses. Your prompt response will ensure that you receive the appropriate materials on time and that you have sufficient time to order and receive the required textbooks.

Course registration is the responsibility of individual students. The registration process is entirely automated, through the MINERVA system.

While some course materials (e.g., professors' notes, reproductions of articles, videos, etc.) will be sent to you from the Occupational Health Distance Education department, textbooks must be purchased individually by the students. You will be provided with a comprehensive list of required and optional textbooks for program courses. The most efficient means of obtaining textbooks is through direct Internet purchase from the publishers; alternatively, you may order through the McGill Bookstore:
Tel. 514-398-8351 or 514-398-7444
Fax: 514-398-7433
Web: http://www.mcgill.ca/bookstore/

It is imperative to order your textbooks at the earliest opportunity.

Once the course begins, you must submit your assignments regularly. This is the only way for the course supervisor to monitor your progress during the course. It indicates how well you are doing, and whether you may be having difficulties. If you fall behind for any reason, it is a good idea to let the course supervisor know the circumstances so that special arrangements can be made.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of reserving enough time for your studies. The amount of time required to complete each course is estimated at 6-7 hours a week and may be more for some students. Be careful in your planning; it is important that you do not overload yourself.

Definition of terms and directives

Distance education

A teaching program addressed to practicing professionals based on self-directed learning supported by postal distribution and electronic methods of communication (email, Internet).

The McGill Occupational Health Program has incorporated Internet technology. The integration of computer technology and the Internet is intended to support interactive discussion among student groups; to deepen the learning process through the sharing of knowledge acquired through critical reading of research articles and the application of this knowledge to clinical/professional experiences; and to enhance ongoing communication among students, and with professors, tutors and experts in the field. Further, students are strongly encouraged to access leading-edge resources and references available through the Internet.

Basic word processing and Internet navigation skills are all that is necessary to participate in courses using the WebCT program design.

Master's of Occupational Health Sciences (Applied)

Degree obtained from McGill University on completion of 45 study credits: 10 courses of 3 credits each and a project report of 15 credits.


The program necessitates completion of 10 courses of 3 credits each. Each course emphasizes a specific area of occupational health and safety, and may use different teaching and evaluation methods. Recommended study paths have been designed as guidelines for courses selection. The objectives, activities and evaluation methods for each course are described on the WebCT course home page. Each course has been planned to fit into a 13-week period. This will give you extra time for revision at the end of the course, before your final exam. McGill reserves the right to cancel a course without notice should the enrolment not meet the required number.

Time to completion

Regulations put forward by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies require that students complete all academic components of the Master's Degree - Occupational Health Program within a 5-year timeframe. It is strongly recommended that part-time students plan to complete the required coursework within 4 years, in order to allow sufficient time for the development of the Research Project.

Course sections and study units

To allow you to proceed through the courses logically, each course is divided into sections. The Course Outline (Contents section) suggests what to study and how much time you should spend on each section. Sections consist of subject material related to a particular topic, such as skin disorders, or gases and vapours.

Course supervisors and collaborators

Course supervisors are professors who are responsible for the development, organization and implementation of a course. Course supervisors and collaborators are listed in individual courses.

Course outline and course content

A document prepared by the course supervisor describing course objectives and providing helpful directives, references and resource materials. There is one Course Outline/Course Content for each course. Each course outline describes a number of assignments to be sent to the Department.

Required reading

The courses are based on the readings from textbooks and/or pertinent articles published in the scientific literature. Some of the material is written by the course supervisors or is based on existing texts. Follow the Course Content/Course Outline carefully to focus your study on the material relevant to the objectives. This will save you precious time!

Self-evaluation exercises

Within selected courses, you will find a series of exercises that will help you to learn and assess whether you have successfully achieved the objectives set out for specific sections of a course. Answers are provided so that you can evaluate your progress.

Assignments and final examinations

Professors may use a variety of means to grade a student's performance. Assignments vary in number and format with each course. They are usually set for a fixed date. Read carefully the section "Assignments" of Course Outline/Course Content to make sure that you do not miss any deadlines.

All assignments are reviewed by faculty and/or teaching staff. Constructive feedback is provided to each student in a timely manner.

Final examinations are held on set dates, at locations convenient to each distance learner. Examinations are held under the supervision of qualified proctors. Students are responsible for ensuring that appropriate proctors are available and remunerated.


The Distance Education program is not exclusively off-campus. There is a practicum for each course during which students are required to come to McGill. The practicum is usually scheduled during the last third of the session. The practicum agenda is designed to give students practical experience in the different disciplines of Occupational Health. Practicum sessions have their own specific objectives and methods. The tutors supervising the practicum will evaluate your performance using various evaluation methods. Practicum sessions are a mandatory part of the program.See Practicum Agenda

Location of the practicum

Practica are held on the McGill University campus at:

Purvis Hall
1020 Pine Avenue West

Nearest Metro station: Peel

Final details and schedule of the practicum will be sent to you prior to the event.

Student course evaluation

We will invite your comments and opinions about the courses towards the end of each session. Comments may be made any time, and we definitely want to hear about any ideas for improvement that you may have. The response from course evaluations is reported, and from this information we make improvements to our course content, operations and procedures.

Reply to your assignments

Comments and remarks on your assignments, along with the marking, will be returned to you. The reply is designed to set out constructive advice about your work and to guide you in future assignments.

Integrative examination

Integrative examination in late spring

Upon successful completion of course requirements students must pass an integrative examination. See course OCCH-600-001/-088 Comprehensive(Integrative) Examination.

This is a closed book examination under the supervision of a proctor.

The examen is usually built around a scenario that raises a multidimensional problem whose solution requires the kowledge and skills developped throughout the study of the several disciplines covered by the entire Program.

Students must have successfully completed 30 course credits in the Occupational Health Program in order to qualify to write the examination.

In the event of a student failure of the integrative examination the policy and procedure will be the following:

OCCH-600-001/-088 Comprehensive(Integrative) Examination is registered as a required course of the Program. A failure will be treated as a course failure. However, considering the special characteristic of this integrative exercise, Faculty will take the following procedure. It will allow one repeat of the integrative (in whole or in part). The first time a student fails, he/she will be informed in writing that he/she has failed the integrative examination. Alongside this information, conditions relating to a repeat of the examination will be specified.In the event of a second failure, a grade of F will be reported to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office(GPSO).

If this is the only failure recorded in the student file, the student will be entitled to retake the examination the following year. The Department may specify further requirements such as to take an additional course or additional courses in areas where the student has shown weakness on the examination. In case of a failure the second year around or in case of failure of another course of the Program, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.

Review and Reassessment

Rereads. In the case of the integrative examination, the Reread Policy for the comprehensive examination of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office applies.


The Distance Education program is based on several types of communication methods: regular mail, telephone, fax, email and Internet.

Regular mail

The initial contact with you is through regular mail. This is how you receive our brochure, send your admission papers to the Department, and how the Department responds by mailing course materials, receipts and other documents. You may also rely on mail service for sending your Project Report (final year) and other long assignments. For this purpose you might want to try Special Letter Rate envelopes for rapid delivery.


Expenses for your long distance calls are your responsibility.The program coordinator's phone number is 514-398-6989. This number is connected to a voice mail service that will take messages any time, seven days a week. When leaving a message, specify a convenient time for us to reach you. Use this phone number for any inquiries of an administrative or logistical nature. Questions regarding the content of a course or the textbook should be directed to the appropriate course instructor. Email addresses are provided on the sidebar of this web site, and within the Course Content/Course Outline section of the course web site.


Our fax number is 514-398-7153. You may use the Department's fax for written administrative inquiries and for the transmission of appropriate documents.


It is recommended that you communicate by email in most instances, with the Department and with individual professors. This can be an effective mode of inquiry for questions and/or concerns relating to the program or to specific courses. Often, several students have the same question, so in replying to the class list, the instructor makes everybody benefit from one student's request. The Distance Education Administration can be reached at distance [dot] occh [at] mcgill [dot] ca.


Since September 1997, Internet access has been a requirement for participation in the Occupational Health Distance Education Program. Additional current information is accessible through our web page.

General information

Access to librairies

A recent technological innovation within the McGill Library system now allows Distance Education students full access to the Library resources from their local network or internet service provider (ISP). You will not pay additional long distance charges beyond your usual internet costs. You can only access the online resources by going through the McGill Virtual Private Network (VPN) http://kb.mcgill.ca/it/easylink/article.html?id=1212

This requires a DAS username and password, which all students should have. To know more about the long distance access to DAS, consult http://www.mcgill.ca/ncs/products/network/remote/das/longdistance/ Follow the directions provided to create a McGill VPN connection, to be used in conjunction with your personal provider connection. Once connected, visit the McGill Health Sciences Library - peruse the Journals available - access the full text of selected journals. You can also access a number of databases. Enjoy the reading. Share your great finds with your colleagues.

Accommodation during the practicum

Each individual is responsible for arranging his or her accommodation during the practicum. We will provide some suggestions but we will not make reservations.

Fees and receipts

Detailed information on fees is provided to you through the Occupational Health Distance Education office, and is based on directives from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Download Fees 2007-08 [.pdf].

Fees for the course material (readers, professors' notes, videocassettes, etc.) are not refundable.

Should you encounter any difficulties related to fee payment, you can contact the Student Accounts Office at 514-398-3900. For any further assistance you can call our office at 514-398-6989. The University will send you an official income tax receipt.

Withdrawal from program or course

For information on withdrawing from the program or from a course, please refer to the section "Calendar of dates" in the "General Information, Faculty Regulations and Research Guidelines" brochure sent to you by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. To obtain withdrawal forms, contact the Distance Education Office at the Department of Occupational Health.

Cancellation Policy for Professional Interest Students

A 100% refund of fees paid will be made if a cancellation is received, in writing, before the first day of the course. A 50% refund of fees paid will be made if the cancellation is received, in writing, within a three-week period following the first day of the course and upon receipt, in the Occupational Health - Distance Education office, of the appropriate course materials. We regret that we cannot issue refunds for cancellations after this date.

McGill University evaluation system

Each course will clearly describe its evaluation methods in the Course Outline/Course Content. Generally, marks will be spread between the assignments and the final exam. Participation in the practicum which is a mandatory component of the Program, is evaluated on a pass or fail basis.

For more information on the University's mark classification, please consult the brochure sent to you by the Faculty entitled "General Information, Faculty Regulations and Research Guidelines."

McGill Bookstore

McGill's main bookstore is situated at 3420 McTavish in Montreal. Call 514-398-7444 to obtain information and place orders. Orders may also be placed through the Internet at http://www.mcgill.ca/bookstore/.

Registration and information on fees/marks, etc.

To register for courses or to obtain personal information concerning fees or marks, consult the site Minerva for Students

Email and Internet

Computer and Internet technology is now considered to be an integral component of most workplaces, and a necessary skill for Occupational Health professionals. As a distance education student, there are many advantages to using this technology. It is a simple and effective means of communication for both educational and administrative purposes. You can ask your professors questions or engage in a discussion with your fellow students.


As per regulations from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies: "All students must register (and pay fees) annually up to and including the term in which they expect to graduate. Outstanding fees must be paid before graduation." (This includes students who have completed all their courses and are currently working on their project - these students must remain registered for the fall and winter terms until graduation).

Students who choose to take courses only in one term must also register for the other alternate (fall or winter) term without indicating a course number for the term without courses.

Administrative queries

Distance Education

Tel.: 514-398-6989
Fax: 514-398-7153
distance [dot] occh [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Both these numbers are in operation 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The telephone number is answered by the Distance Education office. In some cases, you should be prepared to leave a message. We have a voice mail service that will take messages.

Mailing address

Distance Education
Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
McGill University
1020 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A2