Independent Study or Reading Courses

An Independent Study Course (also known as a Reading Course), is a one-term course, in which most of the learning is done independently by the student, from textbook(s), articles and/or other resources suggested by the supervisor. The supervisor must be a faculty member, who meets with the student regularly to discuss the material and work on problems and/or other tasks assigned. Upon successful completion of the course, the student receives a half credit for a 300- or a 400-level course in the appropriate discipline (Computer Science (CSC), Mathematical Sciences (MAT), or Applied Statistics (STA)).

Students who are interested in taking an Independent Study Course should look for an appropriate supervisor well in advance (1 - 2 months before the beginning of the term in which the course is being taken). Any faculty member can serve as a supervisor (as long as departmental approval is granted). A student may wish to find a supervisor by research area, so they may consider perusing the Research section of our website to find out which Faculty member is involved in what kind of research topics. Additionally, for assistance in finding a supervisor, students may wish to contact either the CSC, MAT or STA Faculty Advisor. Their name and contact information can be found here.

The student should contact the individual faculty member and inquire about their availability and willingness to supervise an Independent Study Course, and possible topics for the course. Faculty members may tend to suggest topics which are closer to their area of expertise. Students must provide a transcript (generated from ACORN) to the supervisor when they apply. 

Both the student and the supervisor can suggest topics. Students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with more than one potential supervisor, and decide together on a topic that is appropriate and interesting to both the supervisor and the student.

Students may not enrol in an Independent Study Course themselves on ACORN.

Once the student has a supervisor and a topic for the course (and both have discussed the relevant details), the student must complete an online Independent Study or Reading Course Application well in advance of the first day of classes, so that enrollments can be finalized by the first day of term. Requests after the first day of term will only be considered in exceptional cases.

Students must select "Student" for #1. After the necessary discussions with a supervisor have taken place, the supervisor may then complete their version of the form (they would select "Supervisor" in #1). The online form will be sent electronically to the Academic Advisor & Undergraduate Program Administrator for that discipline. Once the department approves the application, the student will be enrolled in the course on ACORN, using the appropriate course code.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: The last day to enrol in S courses for the Winter 2023 term is January 22, 2023. Winter 2023 Reading Course applications will only be accepted until 12:00 p.m. on January 19, 2023 to give the department adequate time to review and process the form in advance of the enrolment deadline.

Mathematics - Independent Study or Reading Course Application
(Possible course codes: MAT397H5, MAT398H5, MAT497H5, or MAT498H5) 

Statistics - Independent Study or Reading Course Application
(Possible course codes: STA378H5, STA398H5, STA478H5, STA498H5)

Computer Science - Independent Study or Reading Course Application
(Possible course codes: CSC392H5, CSC393H5,CSC492H5, CSC493H5)

Normally, there are no tests or exams in these courses. However, the supervisor may assign a final project. The final project can be in the form of a written essay, a presentation, a computer simulation, etc.

The supervisor will evaluate the student based on the meetings and on any written or other work assigned.

Students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.50 to participate in an Independent Study Course. Other prerequisites may be imposed by the supervisor.

The supervisor will decide whether the course is at the 300- or 400- level.

Normally, the course will run for 12-14 weeks. The expected amount of work should be about the same as in an equivalent 0.5 credit course. Students should take note: the time spent on the course spend is very much up to the student, and that many students find these courses highly interesting and can often put in more hours than they might in a regular course.

If more than one Reading Course application for the same term/session has been submitted, then they will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The student ought to contact their discipline’s Academic Advisor to discuss this further.

Last updated 18-Nov-22

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