Biology Honours Program

Honours Degree Options

Recommended Course Schedule

Optional concentrations:

  • Applied Ecology and Conservation
  • Aquatic Life
  • Biological Tools and Techniques
  • Biology for Health Professions
  • Comparative Biology
  • Evolutionary Ecology
  • Molecular, Microbial and Cell Biology

Students accepted to the Honours program in Biology, with or without a declared concentration, have the option to apply to our Cooperative 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, 4245 or 4404)
  • Fourteen (14) Biology electives* at the 2000, 3000 or 4000 level, except Biology 2040, 2041, 2120, 3053, and 3820. A maximum of 9 credit hours can be in Biology courses with no associated laboratory/seminar
  • Biology 499A & 499B
  • Twelve (12) non-Biology required science courses:
    • Biochemistry 2201 and 3206
    • Chemistry 1050, 1051, 2400 and 2401**
    • 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 the second year Organic Chemistry courses (2400 and 2401), which are in turn prerequisites or corequisites to a number of core second year Biology courses.

***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 catergory will have one less general elective to complete.

****Physics 1021 (or 1051) is prerequisite or corequisite to Biology 2060, which is normally taken in the Winter semester of the second year of study.


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, SN 1098.

Students who are accepted to the program will receive an email indicating their acceptance and outlining the next steps. Specifically, supervisor selection and registration in BIOL 499A.

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 Biochemistry, 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 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.