Step 4: Select Your Courses

Once you have an idea of what general direction you would like your future degree program to take, you can then start planning what courses you will take in first year. 

Selecting your concentration courses
Selecting your elective courses
Courses available to First-Year students
Taking Science Courses as an Arts Student/Arts Courses as a Science Student
IB, AP and A-level Transfer Credits
Course Timetable
Course Load
Course Details on SOLUS
Build your Timetable Step by Step
Course Slot Chart
My Planner
Shopping Cart
Course Sections (lectures, labs, seminars and tutorials)
Full Year courses

All Arts and Science degree programs are made up of two components: concentration courses and elective courses and you will need to choose some of each.

Selecting Your Concentration Courses

Now that you have a few areas of study or “Plans” in mind, you should identify the specific first year courses you need to take in order to move forward in one or two of those Plans for second year.  You can do this by reviewing the different Plans available to you in Arts and Science by browsing through the Arts and Science Calendar and reviewing the required first year 100-level courses (or “concentration” courses) for each plan (as well as the other future requirements to progress through that course of study.) 

How many concentration courses do I need to take in first year?

It depends.  If you are admitted to a Science degree program you may need to take up to four required courses and only one elective course in first year.  If you admitted to an Arts degree program, you may only need to take one required course (we suggest that you pick at least two or preferably three 100-level courses in areas that you are interested in to pursue as a potential future Plan to give you a wider range of options going into second year).  You can find out exactly what 100-level courses you should take by accessing the Faculty of Arts and Science Calendar and reviewing the plan(s) you are interested in pursuing.  The requirements for each plan are listed by Department. 

OR You can find out exactly what courses you need for a specific Plan by clicking on the scroll bar “Other Academics” and selecting “What-if Report”. Click on “Create New Report” and choose the Academic Program and Academic Plan that you are interested in pursuing. Click on “Submit Request”.  The report you generated will list all the courses you will require for that particular plan.

For more information see:

Building your Degree in Arts and Science

Choosing or Changing your Plan

Plan Selection for First Year Students on SOLUS

What it Takes to Get Accepted to a Plan

Selecting Your Elective Courses

Elective courses are free-choice courses in your Degree Program that you choose in addition to those courses required for your Plan.  With a few limitations, electives may be chosen freely from any course offered through the Faculty of Arts and Science.  Depending on what Plan you are interested in, you may have more or less electives to choose to round out your schedule (for instance, in a science degree program, students may only have room to take one elective in their first year whereas students in an Arts degree program may take three or four electives).

Some tips on choosing elective courses:

  • You should consider electives in areas that you are interested in or that you feel are complimentary to your intended plan.
  • Consider different fields of study.  Don’t limit yourself!  Not only will you be increasing your own personal diversity but by taking introductory courses in a variety of different areas you will also be maximizing your access to different degree plans.  Introductory courses will also help you assess your interest in these different fields before you decide to pursue them as a plan.  Many students come to university with an idea of what subject they wish to pursue and change their minds after first year! 
  • Read carefully – some courses may only be open to students in specific degree plans (for instance, BIOL 102* is only open to students in BSCH, BPHEH, BCMPH and the Concurrent Education Program).

HINT:  Having trouble finding an elective course to fit your schedule?  Search on classes by clicking on "Search" and "Additional Search Criteria".  Enter the parameters you are interested in searching (classes on Mondays, for example) and click on "Search".  This will provide you with a list of all the courses available during that particular time and/or day.

Courses Available to First Year Students

Learn more about Courses available to first year students.

Taking Science Courses as an Arts Student/Arts Courses as a Science Student

If you have been admitted to a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program can you still take science courses or switch to a science program?  If you have been admitted to a Bachelor of Science (Honours) program can you switch and take all Arts courses instead?  It depends.  Enrolment in some first year science courses is reserved for students who are registered in a Bachelor of Science (Honours) program and enrollment in some Arts courses is reserved for students who are registered in a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program.  Therefore, while you are free to pursue most plans of your choice offered through the Faculty of Arts and Science, you may not necessarily be able to access the courses you need to pursue a particular plan. 

Enrolment restrictions are applied to some courses during the Course Selection period between July 14 - 27 to ensure that the students who need these particular courses for their registered program will get them.  These restrictions are removed during the Open Enrollment periods between July 28 - August 1 and then again between September 3 - 19 so any spaces remaining in those courses at that time will be open to all other students on a first-come, first-served basis.  Some important restrictions to note are:  

 Courses reserved for 1st year SCIENCE students (including BCH and BPH):  

BIOL102/3.0 and BIOL103/3.0  (also available to BPH); CHEM 112; PHYS 117   


Courses reserved for 1st  year ARTS students:   

DEVS100/6.0, ENGL100/6.0. 


Some other course restrictions include:   

1.      HEBR 190/6.0 – blocked by the department, students need departmental permission to take course

2.      MATH 124/3.0 – for students who have an IB credit for Math (second part of Math 123) 

IB, AP and A-level Transfer Credit at Queen’s University Faculty of Arts & Science
What credits are transferable?

Up to 18.0 units in transfer credits may be allowed for certain courses presented at the higher-level IB, AP and A2-level , provided minimum academic standards are met.  See the following links for details:

I’m registering in my first year courses but my transfer credits aren’t showing yet.  What should I do?

The Registrar’s Office is often unable to fully assess transfer credits until well into the summer, often after the Course Selection period has passed.  Therefore, all students are recommended, in the first instance, to register in first year courses as though they do not have any transfer credits.  Course choices can be amended during the Open Enrolment period which starts a week before the first day of classes.

Should I repeat a course for which I received a transfer credit?

You may choose to repeat any course for which you have transfer credit, and in most cases this is the best decision.  In that case, the credit may not be counted twice (see what’s an exclusion?) towards your plan requirements. 

Why does Queen’s suggest I repeat first year courses while some other universities don’t?

Your first year experience in University will be very different from your experience in high school.  You will work much more independently and you will have access to teachers who are experts in their fields and are in touch with the current research in their area.  As a result, you will gain a very different insight into the field compared to high school. 

We have conducted surveys into the performance of AP students in second year courses, primarily in the science disciplines, and found that students who repeated courses for which they obtained AP credit managed to perform on average approximately 10% higher on second year courses in the discipline than those students with AP credit who chose to proceeded directly into a second year course in the same discipline from high school. 

Most importantly, entry into second year academic plans can be very competitive at Queen’s. This means you need good marks in first year, and have completed certain first year courses at Queen’s, to be eligible to proceed in certain disciplines. 

What do I use unspecified (UNS) courses for?

If you have an unspecified transfer credit you can “bank” this course as an elective and reduce your course load in later years.  However, if you do have an unspecified first year course in a certain discipline, this does not mean you shouldn’t take a first year course in the subject.  Entry into second year academic Plans can be very competitive at Queen’s.  This means you need good marks in first year, and have completed certain first year courses, to be eligible to proceed in certain disciplines.

What does an “exclusion” mean?

An exclusion refers to two courses that are so similar they cannot be counted twice towards your Plan requirements.   This will be obvious in cases where the course maps directly onto one offered at Queen’s, e.g. an AP Chemistry credit transfers directly as the first year chemistry course CHEM 112.  In some other cases, however, the course does not map directly onto a single course but onto a combination of Queen’s courses.  In this case, the course will be noted as unspecified but have an exclusion defined.  You may not gain extra credit for the exclusions if you take them.  Such an example is the AP or IB in Biology that will appear as BIOL 1UNS but has as an exclusion the two one-term courses BIOL 102/3.0 and BIOL 103/3.0. 

Course Timetable

The course timetable for the 2014-2015 academic year will be available on SOLUS beginning June 23.  Once classes are available on SOLUS you can begin adding them to your shopping cart.  The course timetable lists all of the classes that will be offered in the Fall and Winter sessions along with class meeting times.  Not every course listed in the Arts and Science Calendar is offered every year so be sure to check the timetable. 

HINT: Before leaving your shopping cart be sure to click on the Validate button.  This will check to see that you meet the requirements for the classes that you have chosen.  It will also check to make sure that you do not have any timetable conflicts.  If you need an override on a class, you must contact the department offering the class to obtain a permission number.

Course Load

Arts and Science students may select courses as follows:

  • As a full-time student you may select a maximum of 30.0 units over the fall-winter session (five 6.0 unit full year courses or five 3.0 unit courses per term)
  • As a part-time student you may select a maximum of 18.0 units over the fall-winter session (three 6.0 unit full year courses or three 3.0 unit courses per term)
  •  As a student admitted to a Non-Degree: Interest - Distance student program you may select one 6.0 unit course over the fall-winter or two 3.0 units taken consecutively (one in fall and one in winter)
Course Details on SOLUS

You can find a short description of courses by accessing your student centre on SOLUS and clicking on “Search”.  The tabs at the top of your screen will give you five options: search, plan, enroll, my academics, search for classes, browse course catalog.  Click on browse course catalog to find a course and view the weight (units), the components (lecture, lab, tutorial), when it is being offered (fall or winter term) as well as the course description.  From there you can view the class sections to see how it can fit in your schedule.  You can then add the course to your planner.

Build Your Timetable Step by Step
  1. Once you have decided what concentration course(s) you would like to take, view the times that all of the requirements (lectures, labs, tutorials, etc) are offered on SOLUS.  Pay particular attention to all the blocks of time when a course takes place in the week.  For instance, lecture section A of CHEM 112 has a total of 2 lecture hours per week and is divided into one hour classes at two different times during the week (Mondays at 11:30,  and Thursday at 12:30 pm, for example).  If you choose lecture section A for CHEM 112, you will be expected to attend all two of those scheduled times; you cannot attend some classes from one lecture/lab/tutorial section and some classes from another section.  Quite often, the sections are taught by different instructors so their coverage of the material could be very different.  As your instructor will create the exam that you have to write at the end of the term, you will want to make sure that you have attended your assigned section to ensure that you are adequately prepared for coursework and examinations.      
  2. Be aware of the time requirements for the course(s).  First-year courses will have a lecture requirement and a number of courses will also have a tutorial or lab component.  When you are timetabling, you should timetable all of the lectures first.  Many first-year courses will have more than one lecture time offered so it is important when you are timetabling that you check to see if a course is offered more than once in the event that you run into a course conflict and need to change sections.
  3. Be aware of how long the class is as this could cause a potential scheduling conflict.  You will notice that most first-year courses are one hour long (9:30 to 10:30 am, for example).  If you want to take a course that begins at 10:30 am but one of your other courses ends a 10:30 am, you can take both courses; this is not a conflict.  All courses will end at either twenty after or ten minutes to the hour (so the course that is scheduled to end at 10:30 am will actually finish at 10:20 am, allowing you time to travel to your next class at 10:30 am).
  4. Be aware of whether the course is a multi-term or a single-term course.  When you enrol in the "A" suffix course in the Fall Term the "B" suffix will be automatically added to the Winter Term. Both halves of the course will be offered at the same time in the course timetable.  If you want to take two half year courses that are offered during the same time slot, check to see whether or not they are offered in separate terms (one in fall term and one in winter term).  If this is the case, then there is no conflict.  
  5. Write all of the sections for your concentration course(s) – lectures, labs, tutorials, etc. into a blank Course Slot Chart. You should have no conflicts in your schedule. 

HINT:  Use a pencil to complete this exercise!  You may need to erase if a particular section doesn’t work.

  1. Decide what elective courses you would like to take and search these courses on SOLUS to see when they are offered.  Do these course(s) fit in your schedule around what you have built in so far?  If not, you may need to choose another section or if no other section works, you may need to choose a different elective course instead. 
  2. Are all of your courses slotted into your course slot chart?  Did you remember to add all of the required components (lectures, labs, tutorials, etc)?  Is your draft schedule conflict-free?  If so, congratulations!  Your timetable is complete and you are ready to load your courses into your shopping cart.
 Timetabling Tips
  • Focus first on your core or required courses.  Required courses should be timetabled into your course slot chart first and should be conflict-free.
  • Elective courses should be given lower priority.  If a required course overlaps with an elective course and both are offered in one time period only, then you will need to choose a different elective course.  Elective courses can be taken during any year of study at Queen’s so if you cannot take a particular course this year due to a timetable conflict, you may be able to take it in a subsequent year instead.
  • SOLUS will not permit a timetable conflict so ensure that your schedule is conflict-free before adding your courses.
My Planner

The “My Planner” tool on SOLUS is exactly as it sounds – your planning tool.  By adding courses to your planner in your Student Centre on SOLUS, you can easily view the list of courses you plan to take in future years.  You can also generate a “What-if” report using the courses you have added to your planner to see if the courses you plan to take are the courses you need to fulfill the requirements for your Plan. 

Shopping Cart

Once you have found some courses you plan to register in, go ahead and log in to your Student Centre on SOLUS and add them to your shopping cart.  Begin by clicking on “Enroll” and select the term you wish to add your courses and click on “Continue”.  Find your courses by clicking on “search” and select the courses you wish to add.  Choose your desired tutorial or lab sections and click “next”.  Proceed to fill your shopping cart with the courses you wish to take for both the fall and the winter term. Once you are finished, click on “validate”.  SOLUS will check to ensure that you have met any prerequisites that may be required for these courses, that there are no timetable conflicts or course exclusions.  You will know that your choices are ok if you see all green “checkmarks”.  If there is a problem with any of your choices, you will see a red “x”.  You may leave your courses in your shopping cart until it is time for your enrollment appointment.   


You will notice that most first year courses are one hour long. If you want to take a course that begins at 10:30 am but another class you want ends at 10:30 am, that is ok. This does not represent a course conflict.  All lectures will be finished by twenty after or ten minutes to the hour; so the class that ends in your schedule at 10:30 am will actually be let out at 10:20 am to give you time to travel to your next class.

Course Sections (lectures, labs, seminars and tutorials)

The courses you plan to add will have multiple lecture, lab and/or tutorial sections.  In many instances, you will be required to choose one of each.  For example, in CHEM 112A (Fall Term), you must choose one of four lecture sections, and one of several lab and tutorial sessions.  If you find that you have a scheduling conflict, you may wish to consider changing your section.  How will you know if a tutorial or lab section is required for a particular course?  These sections will appear on SOLUS when you attempt to add the course and it will prompt you to choose a lab section and/or tutorial section before the course can be added.  

Multi-Term Courses

Many first year courses run from September to May and they appear in SOLUS with an A (Fall Term) and B (Winter Term) suffix. It is important to check that both the fall and winter portions have been added and appear on your timetable when you are registering for these courses (SOLUS will automatically add the Winter Term portion for you).  You must be in the same sections for both fall and winter terms. 


Need help with adding courses on SOLUS?  In your Student Centre, under Links for Queen’s, click on SOLUS Help and access the easy-to-follow tutorials via the “See It” or “Try It” mode.   

Need advice on what courses to pick or have questions? Call the Registration Hotline at (613) 533-2470 and one of our friendly and knowledgable Registration Assistants or Academic Advisors will provide you with the assistance you need. Or, calll the Department you are interested in pursuing a Plan in.


Proceed to Step 5