You are here

About Independent Studies

The Independent Studies program is in the process of being phased out at the University of Waterloo. New or transfer students will not be accepted into the degree program. This page provides guidance for students currently in the program to plan their courses toward graduation.

Choose your own courses

You can choose to work entirely on self-directed study units, Independent Studies (IS) courses, or you can choose a mix of IS courses and regular university courses. As an Independent Studies student, you may take almost any course at the University of Waterloo, including on-campus and distance education courses, except those restricted by their own programs. What you choose depends entirely on what you want to achieve.

Courses offered by Independent Studies have been set up especially for the Independent Studies Program, and they serve to help pace you through your self-selected topics. If you're new to university-level academic work, we recommend taking Introduction to Research Methods (IS 100).

Explore the possibilities

Here are some of the topics that Independent Studies students in the pre-thesis phase have been investigating over the past years (2000-2001):

  • knowledge and skills required to become a Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist
  • requirements for developing a high-tech business plan for application to a personal start-up business
  • oppression in the "Third World" and revolutionary or other strategies to end it
  • use of theoretical models of computing and practical programming
  • languages to design and develop Interaction Nets
  • critique of the logic underlying some rules of grammar in the English language
  • song writing and effects of gardening to help special-needs children in schools or in home schooling situations
  • reconciliation of incompatible archaeological chronologies of ancient civilizations in the Middle East
  • the reunification of Korea in the context of global and regional politics
  • gaining proficiency in written and spoken Mandarin Chinese or Korean, by two non-native speakers of these languages
  • the potential of community gardens to build neighbourhood solidarity

Focus on what interests you

As your studies progress, you are encouraged to think about the topic that will become your thesis project. Here are some thesis project topics which Independent Studies students are currently working on or have completed over the past few years:

  • Amish folk medicine in the context of Amish theology
  • Building a simple household robot
  • Comparative analyses of identity-based conflict
  • Comparative study of neolithic mortuary customs
  • Complementary care in child birthing
  • Computer security and cryptography
  • Defining and measuring "coping" humour: testing for psychometric properties of the uses-of-Humour inventory
  • Dissenting daughters: young Canadian women in revolt
  • Elections and the Internet
  • Embodiment of women in mid-life through feminist spirituality
  • Guilty as sin: the calling of Michael (script and film)
  • Immunological control of neoplasia with emphasis on leukemia
  • In the beginning: the genesis of terraforming in the popular press
  • Is greatness out of date?
  • Joint health and safety committees in Ontario: an outsider's view
  • Mandatory environmental compliance audit feasibility study
  • Modern communication networks and the search for information
  • Moving towards healing: feminist movement therapy as an adjunctive treatment approach for post traumatic stress
  • Producing, packaging, and selling contemporary music
  • Questioning to understand: myth in the novels of Robert Kroetsch
  • Rosenstiehl at Chartres: the mathematics of the cathedral labyrinth
  • Stone soup: three short stories and an exploration of the process of writing
  • Selected topics in Bioinformatics
  • The Inuit and the Aurora (creative writing)
  • Telecommuting and productivity
  • The medium's owner is the message: how the commercial mass media and the corporate power elite promote environmentally destructive patterns of automobile use
  • The Rothko Chapel: a tragic sense of place
  • The systemic arts: explorations in an emerging field
  • Traditional ecological knowledge

I credit IS whenever I can, because even with all the other influences and studies [I've had], it was IS that really enabled me to focus on what was important personally. IS allowed me to develop in a way that no other program could have. I think I’m learning that more now than even when I was in the program.

–Micaela Fitzsimmons
BIS 2007


Important IS Dates

Administrative musts for IS