About CHEM 4300

Who is eligible to take this course?

This course is not freely available and permission to enroll is from the Undergraduate Program Director or the Department Chair.
There are a few conditions for permission to enroll:

  1. With some exceptions (see First Offering below), this course cannot be used to avoid other 4000-level courses. It would normally be taken as a last resort in fulfilling degree requirements. Only occasionally are students unable to take other 4000-level courses, such as students in Double Major degrees, and their circumstances are assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, students in other situations may wish to take this course out of interest and to deepen their exploration of an area. Prospective graduate students may also be asked to take this course in a qualifying year.
  2. The student must identify a willing faculty member to act as supervisor for this course.
  3. The supervisor will have an approved plan regarding the conduct and the expectations of the course, and regarding the assessment of the final grade. Under no circumstances will permission be granted if the topic of interest matches the topic of a previous or current CHEM or BCHM 4000 project for which substantial literature research has already been conducted or will need to be conducted, in order to avoid twice obtaining academic credit for the same work. Nor can it match the topic of current research by the supervisor, for which substantial literature research has already been conducted. It can explore a new topic that could later inform new research.

The amount of time that the student can expect to spend on the course should match that required in any other three-credit, 4000-level course, that is on the order of six hours per week for twelve weeks, including in-person interaction with the supervisor, literature search and individual work.

If permission is granted, the main office staff can assist with enrollment and the course can be scheduled in any term. However, the final grade will need to be submitted at the normal end of that term, and the normal drop and withdrawal deadlines of that term will apply to these courses. The enrollment deadlines are more flexible, provided that sufficient time is available to conduct the course in a meaningful manner.

What does this course involve?

The conduct of the course is flexible. Three possible formats are as follows:

  1. Individual Guided Literature Research:
    This is the most common format used.
    The goal of this version of the course is for the student to produce a substantial, professional and focussed review of state-of-the-art knowledge and research on a specialized topic. Ideally, the final product would be publishable as is but will, at minimum, reflect a high standard of scholarship appropriate to the senior undergraduate level. (Group work may be appropriate if the objective needs more than one student to accomplish but group work should not be any less demanding on each student.) Alternatively, more than one topic may be tackled separately, with necessarily prorated expectations for each. The role of the supervisor is then to guide the student in the starting point and direction of the literature search and in the interpretation of pertinent articles, to advise on the goals, structure and content of the review and to provide feedback on progress. Normally, the grade would then be determined by another faculty member in the relevant sub-discipline, by the Undergraduate Program Director or by the Department Chair.
    Although the details may vary, the supervisor and student would be meeting frequently until the final topic(s) is (are) finalized, then less frequently over the bulk of the term to allow for the supervisor to provide oversight, guidance and feedback before the review(s) is (are) written. In the closing weeks, meetings may only be required to submit and discuss a first draft.
    Assuming one major review topic, the suggested milestones are

    • finalization of the topic, by the end of week 4;
    • identification and clarification of the majority of literature sources to include and an outline of the review based on those sources, by the end of week 8 (or the drop deadline, whichever comes first); at this point, the student should have received a sufficient amount of feedback on the progress made in order to be able to wisely decide to either remain enrolled in the course or to drop it;
    • submission of a first draft by the end of week 11;
    • feedback on the first draft by the end of week 12;
    • submission of the final draft by the end of the examination period; if this is not met, then the final grade will be determined by an assessment of the first draft.
  2. The supervisor may impose a greater number and/or firmer milestones and deadlines, particularly if the course tackles several topics, or may forego the production of a first draft and feedback on it.
    If a student-written review is eventually published, in original or edited form, then the authorship of the published work should fairly reflect the contributions toward the published version of both supervisor and student.

  3. Topic Overview:
    This format resembles a regular course and may involve several students.
    The goal of this version of the course is to provide a broader overview of an area or field, much like a regular 4000-level course. Much like a regular lecture or seminar course, this version of the course would have regular scheduled meetings, term tests (written or oral) and/or assignments and a final capstone assignment or examination (written or oral). This format is flexible but should respect the need to meet academic integrity, to maintain high standards of scholarship in a specialized area appropriate to the senior undergraduate level and to provide challengeable feedback to the student.
    Participating students need to be aware of a caveat to this format: If the course material essentially matches that of an existing course not on offer at the time, then the student will not be able to later enroll in that existing course.
  4. First Offering:
    Occasionally, this format is used as a first run of a new 4000-level lecture or seminar course, in anticipation of obtaining Senate approval for a new course, and will otherwise resemble a regular 4000-level course. This is the only occasion when CHEM 4300 will be considered a possible replacement of another available 4000-level course that would meet a student's degree requirements.
    The instructor will need to coordinate with students on the scheduling of meetings and make any needed room bookings.
    Participating students need to be aware of a caveat to this format: If the course will be mounted later under a new course number and title, then the student will not be able to later enroll in that new course.

How to enroll in this course

For a course conducted according to the First Offering format, enrollment will not be restricted. Except for the First Offering format above, the process is as follows:

  • Request Permission to Take CHEM 4300 3.0 (online form) with the name of your proposed supervisor.
  • The UPD will contact the proposed supervisor with respect to the conduct of the course, then make a recommendation to the department Chair.
  • The Chair will direct final approval of enrollment.
  • You will be contacted by email from the Undergraduate Program Assistant with an online enrollment window.