Independent Studies


If you have an interest in a topic not available through regular course offerings, or if you want to a persue a particular question in more depth, you may be able to enrol in an Independent Study.

Independent Study courses are most frequently taken at the third-year level, although they may be taken at the second, third, or fourth-year (see requirements for each level below).

If you are interested in completing an Independent Study you should talk to the professor who may act as your advisor. This is usually someone with whom you have taken a class and/or who studies the topic in which you have an interest. They may ask you to provide additional information such as a transcript or written proposal.

If your chosen professor agrees to supervise your Independent Study they will help you fill out the registration form, including the course title and description. This paperwork should be submitted as early as possible to ensure you are properly registered in the semester in which you want to complete this credit.


Please note that a maximum of five Independent Studies courses may count for degree credit; and combined degree students may count only three. 



Independent Studies in History at this level earn the same credit-hour value as other history courses offered at the 2000 level (3 credit hours). Like other 2000-level courses, they are also meant to be general surveys of a specific area of history. The student may therefore be required to do reading and research that will result in the production of a single paper of approximately 30 pages in length, or a series of shorter essays that add up to a total of 30 pages. Or the student may be set a programme of reading and be tested according to a standard midterm and final examination format. Or, alternatively, the student may develop a project to achieve a similar level of historical knowledge that will be approved and tested in ways to be set by the instructor, but subject to approval by the Department Chair. Examples of courses at this level might be surveys of a state or nation or region that is not the subject of an existing survey course. For example, a student wishing to pursue general studies in the history of Parliament, Nova Scotia, India, the Iberian Peninsula, or South Africa could do so through a 2990 Independent Study. Courses at this level night also be thematic in orientation, again on a theme that is not the subject of an existing 2000 level survey course, for example, the History of the Family.

Independent Studies in History at this level are intended to be equivalent in value and similar in scope and nature to other 3000-level history courses. They are usually more specific in their subject content than 2000-level, and concentrate on depth of historical knowledge, a grasp of the particular methods and approaches to history in a given field, and an understanding of the type of historical analysis appropriate to it. An independent study at the 3990 level tends to stress analysis in a specific historical topic within a clearly defined area of history. Such a study would require the production of a general research paper of about 35 pages in length, or a series of smaller research papers on the subject. 3990 projects usually also require the analysis of primary historical sources, and often a section describing the historiography of the subject. As with 2990 level Independent Studies, precise requirements will be set by the supervisor of the Independent Study, to be approved by the Department Chair. Examples of courses at this level are Greek Colonization, Women in Medieval England, The Industrialization of Japan, The American Civil War, Peasants and the Russian Revolution, Pacifism in the First World War, and Homicide as a Tool of Mafiosi.

The 4990 Independent Study is the senior undergraduate independent study. As such, it should embody the highest standards in the quality of work. If presented in the form of a single piece of work, the paper should be about forty-five pages in length, though a number of smaller papers amounting together to that length might also be acceptable. It is entirely possible, however, that the project might consist of an investigation of original source documents that could differ in form from a major paper. As with Independent Study at 2990 and 3990 levels, the precise requirements will be set by the supervisor, to be approved by the Department Chair

The evaluation and final grading of 4990 Independent Study projects in History will be done jointly by the student’s supervisor and an additional advisor. The Department Chair will appoint a suitable Faculty member to act as advisor at the same time as the Chair approves the original proposal while also informing the student of the name of the advisor. After the supervisor has graded the student’s work, the advisor will examine the work, submit written comments on it, and suggest a final grade. Should the supervisor and advisor differ in their assessments, they should meet to discuss their reasons for the difference and attempt to find grounds for a common assessment. In the final instance, however, the supervisor shall determine the grade to be assigned for the whole project.

*History 4990 CANNOT be used to complete either of the two 4000-level course requirements for the History major.