Independent Study

Fourth year research project courses

Each student will be assigned a project in consultation with a supervisor. Written reports and oral presentations are required.


Physics 598 F(0-9)

Honours research thesis

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 443, 449, 455 and consent of the department

Physics 599 H(0-9)

Senior research thesis

Prerequisite(s): consent of the department


Please note that PHYS 599 is a decimalized course and may be repeated once for credit.

Experimental projects: 599.01 and 599.02
Theoretical or computational: 599.03 and 599.04

PHYS 598 is reserved for honours students.

Students majoring in physics or astrophysics instead take PHYS 599. One semester of PHYS 599 fulfills the major requirement. However, a student is allowed to take PHYS 599 twice. Two enrolments require two different decimal numbers (two distinctive course codes).

A project can be planned for eight months with an assessment performed and grade assigned upon completion of the first semester. The introductory report and first presentation can build on the final report and presentation for the second PHYS 599 course.

Acceptance into a project is required for enrolment. Available PHYS 598 and 599 projects are listed on the PHYS 598/599 project list website.

Students should contact their preferred supervisor as early as possible. Students should work with the supervisor to develop a research project and plan. A completed proposal includes the student and course details, project title, and a paragraph project description.

After this, students should submit a completed proposal through our PHYS 598/599 webform. An email is generated and sent to the supervisor for acceptance. The supervisor then forwards their acceptance to the convener for endorsement. The convener performs a quality check of the submitted project before forwarding their endorsement to the physics and astronomy undergraduate associate head. The associate head makes the final decision whether or not the student can enrol in PHYS 598 or PHYS 599. The whole process takes roughly one week.

After receiving department authorization, students can register for PHYS 598 or PHYS 599 through the course registration website.

    A student is expected to spend about 12 hours per week during the semester to complete course tasks.

    1. Introductory report

      The introductory report should include the topic of investigation and a brief background, motivation for the investigation, a brief literature survey, and an outline of the method of investigation. The report should be a maximum one page in length, not including references. It should be single spaced in 12-point font and must state both the student’s and supervisor's names below the title. Use a preferred journal's style guide for reference.

    2. First presentation

      The content of the introductory report is pitched to fellow undergraduate students. The oral presentation is strictly seven minutes long with three minutes for questions.

    3. Interim report

      The interim report should summarize the project’s progress to date. It is a maximum of two pages in length including germane figures and tables and references. It should be single spaced and in the same format as the introductory report. It must be approved by the supervisor.

    4. Final report

      The final report should be in the style of a journal article with section headings. It can be up to 20 pages double spaced in length, not including appendices or references. In order to achieve an excellent grade, PHYS 598 final reports must demonstrate a substantial advance in the field of study. PHYS 599 final reports need to demonstrate a distinct advance in the field of study.

    5. Final presentation

      For PHYS 598, the final presentation is 20 minute presentation. For PHYS 599, the final presentation is a poster presentation.

    Introductory report
    Grade: 5%
    PHYS 598 deadline: Friday, Sept 20, 2019
    PHYS 599 fall deadline: Friday, Sept 20, 2019
    PHYS 599 winter deadline: Friday, January 24, 2020

    First presentation
    Grade: 10%
    PHYS 598 deadline: Tuesday, Sept 24, 2019
    PHYS 599 fall deadline: Tuesday, Sept 24, 2019
    PHYS 599 winter deadline: Thursday, January 30, 2020

    Interim report
    Grade: 10%
    PHYS 598 deadline: Friday, Dec 6, 2019
    PHYS 599 fall deadline: Friday, Oct 18, 2019
    PHYS 599 winter deadline: Friday, February 14, 2020

    Final report
    Grade: 50%
    PHYS 598 deadline: Friday, April 3, 2020
    PHYS 599 fall deadline: Monday, Dec 2, 2019
    PHYS 599 winter deadline: Friday, April 3, 2020

    Final presentation
    Grade: 25%
    PHYS 598 deadline: Thursday, April 2, 2020
    PHYS 599 fall deadline: Thursday, Nov 28, 2019
    PHYS 599 winter deadline: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

    1. The Craft of Scientific Writing (Third Edition)

      Author: Michael Alley
      Publisher: Springer

    2. The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid)

      Author: Michael Alley
      Publisher: Springer