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Independent Research

Independent Research

Undergraduate students have the option of working on an independent research course under the supervision of a faculty member. Often, research undertaken for a course leads to a greater interest in the subject, and students engage in an independent research project to probe deeper. Other students pursue their passion on a subject they did not get a chance to study in a course. Independent research helps hone research and writing competencies and helps develop essential skills for graduate study.

Participation in either of these independent research courses also opens the valuable opportunity for students to present their research at the Inquiry @ Queen’s Conference. The I@Q Conference is held annually to celebrate undergraduate research and offers a rewarding opportunity to share your scholarly and creative research alongside your undergraduate peers from a variety of disciplines.


HIST 515: Independent Study Project (6.0 units)

This course provides an opportunity to delve deeper into a research interest developed in a course or to pursue a theme not covered in a course. Some students with a clear idea of what they wish to pursue in graduate history studies have also found HIST 515 useful, but it is by no means required for admittance to graduate school.

Available to fourth-year students taking a major or a medial concentration in History who have maintained a GPA of 3.30. The research paper must be based on independent research involving the use of primary and secondary sources. The instructor may assign additional assessments to assist the student in producing the final paper. Students must obtain the approval of the supervising instructor and of the Undergraduate Committee for any project submitted.

HIST 515 satisfies 6.0-units towards the Option 2A requirement on SOLUS.

HIST 517: Independent Study Project (3.0 units)

This course may be either a one semester research course involving the use of primary and secondary sources, or a more broadly conceived independent reading program. Students must obtain the approval of the supervising instructor and of the Undergraduate Committee.

HIST 517 satisfies 3.0-units towards the Option 2A requirement on SOLUS.

How to Apply

In the spring before your final undergraduate year, find an instructor capable and willing to supervise your topic. You will craft a proposal for your topic, consisting of a bibliography and proposed course of research. Your enrollment in this course is conditional upon the approval of your research proposal by the department’s Undergraduate Committee.

An electronic copy (approved by your supervisor) must be submitted to the Undergraduate Chair at by May 31 or August 15 (see below).  Supervisors must email their approval to the Undergraduate Chair before the proposal is reviewed by the Undergraduate Committee. You will receive an email notification before the end of open enrollment regarding the status of your proposal.

May 31 is the deadline if you would like to be considered for the Prendergast-Rivard Studentship Award, which is given once a year to the best 515 thesis proposal. The award is very competitive.

August 15 is the regular deadline for applications to enroll in HIST 515 and 517.

November 15 is the deadline for applications to enroll in HIST 517 in the winter term.

If you have questions, please email for assistance.

Guidelines for Proposals

The purpose of 500 Level Proposals is to ensure the Undergraduate Committee that students undertaking projects have set feasible goals for themselves. Proposals should demonstrate that students have both realistic research plans and essay topics in mind. The committee typically defers to the wisdom of the faculty advisor on History 500 level proposals. However, diffuse and rambling proposals, sweeping research agendas, and grandiose essay topics may prompt the Undergraduate Committee to recommend that the proposal be revised. Proposals for independent research projects need not be lengthy or detailed. However, they should incorporate the following basic elements.

The proposal should describe:

  • the historical issue or problem to be addressed and its basic importance
  • the basic ideas and hypotheses of the project
  • the methods or approaches the student will use
  • the body of materials that the student will draw on and the ease of access to the material
  • how the project fits within the current literature in the field
    (i.e. a brief summary of the relevant historiography that will inform or frame the study)

Project Proposals need not be longer than 4 pages, including the bibliography. The final bibliography will surely be longer than the one submitted for approval in September.

Typically, HIST 515 theses are 50 to 60 pages long, plus endnotes/footnotes and bibliography, and HIST 517 theses are expected to be 24-30 pages in length, plus endnotes/footnotes and bibliography.

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.