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Independent Research

Independent Research Projects


The Biology Department offers several Independent Research Projects to provide students with opportunities to experience biological research. These projects can be initiated at any time during your undergraduate degree and may count toward complementary credits for your program.


Independent Research Projects can be undertaken with any professor in the Biology Department. To identify potential supervisors, browse our Faculty Profiles and connect with professors whose research expertise aligns with your own interests.

In order to register for an Independent Research Project, you must complete an Independent Research Project Application and submit it to nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson) at least 3 working days before the end of the add/drop period. Following approval, register on Minerva using the quick add/drop menu.

Upon completion of an Independent Research Project, you must prepare a written report on your research and submit it to your project supervisor(s) for evaluation by the last day of lectures, or by August 15 for summer courses. Your final course grade is a combination of the evaluated written report and an assessment of any laboratory/field work you conducted. The Supervisor must then submit an Independent Research Project Mark Sheet to nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson) 5 days after the last day of classes, or by August 20 for summer courses.

For information regarding the eligibility criteria, the expected workload and the responsibilities of the student and supervisor(s), please see Guidelines for Taking and Supervising Independent Studies.

BIOL 377: Independent Reading Project (3 credits)


Terms: Fall, Winter or Summer.

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructor(s): Any faculty member of the Biology Department.

Restrictions: Open to U2 or U3 Biology students ONLY.

Prerequisites: BIOL 200, BIOL 201 or ANAT/BIOC 212; or BIOL 215; or BIOL 219; or permission of instructor.

Overview & Outcomes: Literature survey under the direction of the Instructor(s).

Method of Evaluation: Please see Suggested Criteria for Independent Reading Projects for guidelines on writing your dissertation.

BIOL 413: Directed Reading (1 credit)


Terms: Fall, Winter or Summer

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructor(s): Any faculty member of the Biology Department

Prerequisites: BIOL 200, BIOL 201 or ANAT/BIOC 212; or BIOL 219; BIOL 202, BIOL 205, BIOL 215

Overview & Outcomes: Special topics paper under the guidance of the Instructor(s). This course is intended as an opportunity to improve scientific writing skills.

Method of Evaluation: A review written in scientific format. Please see Suggested Criteria for Independent Reading Projects for guidelines on writing your dissertation.

BIOL 466: Independent Research Project 1 (3 credits)


Terms: Fall, Winter or Summer

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructor(s): Any faculty member of the Biology Department

Restrictions: Open to U3 Biology students ONLY.

Prerequisites: BIOL 206 or BIOL 301, or another suitable 300-level laboratory course.

Expected Workload: Students are expected to work a minimum of 9 hours per week for 13 weeks for a 3-credit project. Honours Biology students may include a maximum of 6 credits of independent research as complementary credits. Liberal and Major Biology students may include a maximum of 9 credits of independent research as complementary courses.

Overview & Outcomes: The project is to be carried out independently by the student under the guidance of the Instructor(s). The project may include experimental work or concentrate on a study of published data and theories. Emphasis is on the acquisition of technical, analytical and communication skills relevant to the process of generating a scientific report.

Method of Evaluation: The Instructor(s) supervising the project will evaluate the overall performance in the various stages of the project, including the final written report. The work performed and the report will receive separate marks, summarized in a final mark with weighting (70/30, 60/40, 50/50) at the discretion of the supervisor. An electronic copy of the marked report must be submitted to Nancy Nelson.

BIOL 467: Independent Research Project 2 (3 credits)


Terms: Fall, Winter or Summer

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructor(s): Any faculty member of the Biology Department

Restrictions: Open to U3 Biology students ONLY.

Prerequisites: BIOL 206 or BIOL 301, or another suitable 300-level laboratory course.

Expected Workload: Students are expected to work a minimum of 9 hours per week for 13 weeks for a 3-credit project. Honours Biology students may include a maximum of 6 credits of independent research as complementary credits. Liberal and Major Biology students may include a maximum of 9 credits of independent research as complementary courses.

Overview & Outcomes: The project is to be carried out independently by the student under the guidance of the Instructor(s). The project may include experimental work or concentrate on a study of published data and theories. Emphasis is on the acquisition of technical, analytical and communication skills relevant to the process of generating a scientific report.

Method of Evaluation: The Instructor(s) supervising the project will evaluate the overall performance in the various stages of the project, including the final written report. The work performed and the report will receive separate marks, summarized in a final mark with weighting (70/30, 60/40, 50/50) at the discretion of the supervisor. An electronic copy of the marked report must be submitted to Nancy Nelson.

BIOL 468: Independent Research Project 3 (6 credits)


Terms: Fall, Winter or Summer

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructor(s): Any faculty member of the Biology Department

Restrictions: Open to U3 Biology students ONLY.

Prerequisites: BIOL 206 or BIOL 301, or another suitable 300-level laboratory course.

Expected Workload: Students are expected to work a minimum of 9 hours per week for 13 weeks for a 3-credit project. Honours Biology students may include a maximum of 6 credits of independent research as complementary credits. Liberal and Major Biology students may include a maximum of 9 credits of independent research as complementary courses.

Overview & Outcomes: The project is to be carried out independently by the student under the guidance of the Instructor(s). The project may include experimental work or concentrate on a study of published data and theories. Emphasis is on the acquisition of technical, analytical and communication skills relevant to the process of generating a scientific report.

Method of Evaluation: The Instructor(s) supervising the project will evaluate the overall performance in the various stages of the project, including the final written report. The work performed and the report will receive separate marks, summarized in a final mark with weighting (70/30, 60/40, 50/50) at the discretion of the supervisor. An electronic copy of the marked report must be submitted to Nancy Nelson.

BIOL 469: Independent Research Project 4 (9 credits)


Terms: Fall or Winter

Coordinator: nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Nancy Nelson).

Instructors: Any faculty member of the Biology Department

Restrictions: Open to U3 Biology students ONLY.

Prerequisites: BIOL 206 or BIOL 301, or another suitable 300-level laboratory course.

Expected Workload: Students are expected to work a minimum of 9 hours per week for 13 weeks for a 3-credit project. Honours Biology students may include a maximum of 6 credits of independent research as complementary credits. Liberal and Major Biology students may include a maximum of 9 credits of independent research as complementary courses.

Overview & Outcomes: The project is to be carried out independently by the student under the guidance of the Instructor(s). The project may include experimental work or concentrate on a study of published data and theories. Emphasis is on the acquisition of technical, analytical and communication skills relevant to the process of generating a scientific report.

Method of Evaluation: The Instructor(s) supervising the project will evaluate the overall performance in the various stages of the project, including the final written report. The work performed and the report will receive separate marks, summarized in a final mark with weighting (70/30, 60/40, 50/50) at the discretion of the supervisor. An electronic copy of the marked report must be submitted to Nancy Nelson.

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