Upper Year Research Projects and Experiential Courses
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.
Any student interested in completing an Upper Year Project must complete the application form.
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. This course is a full year course.
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. This course is a full year course.
Physics Teaching Placement - Physics 3ET3
The physics teaching placement is an opportunity for students to explore teaching or education as a career. The student will take on 60 hours of experiential work under the supervision of a placement supervisor, involving teaching, assisting a teacher, and/or tutoring. In parallel, students will do a literature research on a topic related to physics pedagogy under the supervision of an academic supervisor and write a report or do a presentation about what they have learned.
Before a student can register in the course, they must secure a placement supervisor (usually a high school physics teacher) and an academic supervisor (a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy), and fill out a learning contract with their supervisors that needs to be submitted to the Science Career and Cooperative Education Office (SCCE). This course can be taken as a full year course or over a single semester (Fall, Winter, Spring or Spring/Summer).
Independent Study - Physics 4IS3
The independent study course gives the opportunity to student to either participate in a research project or take a reading course on a particular topic of their interest under the supervision of a faculty member.
Being only a 3-unit course (that can be taken over one or two semesters, including in the Spring/Summer), this course is a lesser commitment than the senior research project, and can be a good solution for students looking to get an experience in research but unable to commit to a project for a full year. Inversely, it can be a good solution for students who would like to complement their 6-unit senior research project with 3-units of research either with the same or a different supervisor.
This course is also a good solution for students wanting to explore an area of Physics not currently part of the curriculum, by doing a reading course.
Before they are allowed to take this course, students must secure a supervisor (see list of possible departments under 'Senior Research Project' above, exceptionally, students have also been able to select supervisors who are faculty member in another university), and write a learning plan including a proposal for assessment, then submit it to the course coordinator.
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.