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Upper Year Research Project

What is the Upper Year Project?

The upper year project is an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in academia while earning their undergraduate degree. Students may choose to do a research project, literature review, or gain teaching experience through a teaching placement. These projects offer students the ability to get practical experience that will benefit them in their future careers. All three courses are full-year courses. 

Senior Research Project - Physics 4P06/Biophysics 4P06/Medphys 4Y06

The senior research project is an opportunity to participate in the research process under the supervision of McMaster faculty. The student will carry out research, create a poster that will be presented to the department, give an oral presentation to faculty and students, and finally, generate a written report of the work they carried out throughout the year.

Research can be supervised by any faculty member in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Faculty members in other departments with connections to physics can also act as supervisors for these projects. Recent students have found supervisors from the departments of Engineering Physics, Mathematics & Statistics, Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Biology, and Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences. Any supervisor outside of Physics & Astronomy must be approved by the course coordinator before registration can proceed.

Registration in the 6-unit project option requires a cumulative GPA of at least 9.0. This requirement can be relaxed under extenuating circumstances and with permission of the supervisor and course coordinator.

Literature Review - Physics 4L03/Biophysics 4L03

The literature review project is an opportunity for students to get acquainted with the process of doing library-based scientific research. Instead of presenting conclusions acquired through experiments or studies, this project is focused on generating a report by analyzing many relevant papers in a specific field. Students will use multiple literature sources to gather information and write their own conclusions. Students will create a poster that will be presented to the department, give an oral presentation to faculty and students, and finally, generate a written report of the work they carried out throughout the year.

Literature reviews can be supervised by any faculty member in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Very occasionally, literature review students have been supervised by faculty outside the department with connections to physics (see list of possible departments under 'Senior Research Project' above). Any supervisor outside of Physics & Astronomy must be approved by the course coordinator before registration can proceed.

Physics Teaching Placement - Physics 3ET3

The physics teaching placement is for students who want to pursue teaching or education as a career. The student will take on 60 hours of placement work, involving teaching, assisting a teacher, and/or tutoring. Students will study physics pedagogy and write a report about what they have learned over the year.

More information

Information about the 4th year Senior Research Project and Literature review is sent to students by the course coordinator before they start their fourth year. If you want to get a head start, visit the faculty page and contact some professors to see if they are accepting students, and to discuss possible projects. Normally students should start this process in March/April of their 3rd year. For information on the teaching placement, please contact the Associate Chair (Undergraduate).

Registration in all these courses requires the permission of the department. When registration opens in the summer, students must email the course coordinator and the appropriate department staff member with their name, student number, which course number they want to register in, and name of their supervisor. A few days later, the students will have permission on Mosaic to register. 

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Physics & Astronomy