Survey School was a rite of spring at Queen's. For three weeks after final exams, the campus was crowded with engineering students armed with tripods and other equipment, taking physical measurements of the university.
The "school" was in fact a first-year course in elementary surveying offered by the Department of Civil Engineering. Students in the course learn the basic techniques of surveying in a combination of lectures and fieldwork. Instruction in surveying has been offered since engineering began at Queen's in 1893 (see Engineering and Applied Science).
Some surveying methods and equipment have changed very little since then; in fact, some of the transits and levels used by students today are the university's original instruments, carefully maintained over a century of use. Other methods have changed dramatically due to modern electronics, and so sleek electronic distance-measurement instruments now keep company at the school with the century-old equipment.
The department offered a two-week field course in advanced surveying, conducted in the vicinity of Kingston every September.
The Survey School has since been discontinued at Queen's.