Biology Honours Program

The Biology (Honours) program allows students with a keen interest in Biology to take their degree a step further. Students completing this program complete more Biology electives, giving them a broader experience in the field and allowing students to dive deeper into their preferred study area, or take courses in other areas they may find interesting. Students in our Honours program also conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty advisor through the completion of a two-semester Honours thesis.

Recommended Course Schedule

Students accepted to the Honours program in Biology, with or without a declared concentration, also have the option to apply to our Co-operative program.

Course Requirements

An honours degree in Biology requires forty (40) courses:

  • Seven (7) core Biology courses (1001, 1002, 2060, 2250, 2600, 2900 and one of 3401, 3402, or 4404)
  • Fourteen (14) Biology electives* at the 2000, 3000 or 4000 level, except Biology 2040, 2041, 2120, 3053, and 3820. A maximum of half of all biology electives can be biology courses with no associated laboratory/seminar
  • Biology 499A & 499B
  • Twelve (12) non-biology required science courses:
    • Human Biosciences 2001 and 2003 (or the former Biochemistry 2201 and 3206)
    • Chemistry 1050, 1051, and 2400**
    • Six (6) credit hours in Critical Reading and Writing (CRW) courses, including at least 3 credit hours in English courses.
    • Mathematics 1000***
    • Physics 1020 and 1021 (or 1050 and 1051)****
    • Statistics 2550 or or any of the courses listed in the credit restrictions of Statistics 2550
  • 5 General electives (may include additional Biology courses)

Note: This is for advisory purposes only and all degree requirements are as specified in the University Calendar.

*Students are encouraged to complete one or more of BIOL 2010 (Botany), 2122 (Invertebrates) and 2210 (Vertebrates) early in their program as they are key prerequisites to many 3000 and 4000 level courses. Our Academic Program Officer can provide advice on which course should completed based on your area of study.

**Completion of Chemistry 1050 and 1051 in the first year of study is essential for timely progress through the Major program. Both courses are prerequisites to second year Organic Chemistry (2400), which is in turn required for registration in BIOC 2201.

***Dependent on Math Placement Results (MPT) , students may be required to register for and successfully complete MATH 1090 before registering for MATH 1000. Students in this category will have one less general elective to complete.


Students admitted to the former Cell and Molecular, Ecology and Conservation and Marine Biology Honours programs can view previous Calendar regulations here.


Frequently Asked Questions: Honours Edition

I’m really interested in the Honours program. How do I apply?

Biology majors with a good academic record (a 65% or 'B' or better in each Biology course completed beyond first year OR a 75% average in Biology courses course completed beyond first year) may submit an Application for Admission to the Honours program.

Before submitting an application, students are required to complete, at a minimum, BIOL 2060, 2250, 2600 and 2900, with the aforementioned academic average.

Completed forms can be submitted to the Academic Program Officer via email or in person in CSF 2344. Students will receive an email indicating the outcome of their application and outlining the next steps.

I’m not sure who to approach as an Honours supervisor. Is there a list of faculty members who are accepting students?

Honours supervisors will normally be a faculty member of the Biology Department, or a faculty member who has been cross-appointed to the Biology Department. We currently have faculty members who are cross-appointed to Biology from the Departments of Human Biosciences, Earth Science, Psychology, Medicine, and Ocean Sciences.

Students sometimes choose to approach faculty members who have been their instructor or a guest lecturer. Other students prefer to review the current research topics that each faculty member is pursuing to locate a supervisor working within their area of interest.
Regardless of which method you choose, you should provide any potential supervisor with a copy of your C.V., an up to date transcript and an outline of your area of interest and how it aligns with their current research.

How much work is involved in an Honours dissertation?

The amount of work involved in BIOL 499A or 499B is intended to be equivalent to other senior level Biology courses. Generally speaking, students should expect to devote between 5-10 hours/week to their dissertation. Your supervisor will help you select, define or redefine research topics to ensure a manageable workload.

What is the “Red Book”?

The Honours Thesis Writing Guide (or, the "Red Book") is a guide for both students and supervisors for the registration and successful completion of the Honours Dissertation courses, Biology 499A and 499B.