Directed Studies

Course Objectives

The purpose of Directed Studies courses is to make it possible to work with a Psychology department faculty member on a reading or a research project of mutual interest.  To qualify for a Directed Studies course, students must have taken all regular courses offered by the Psychology Department that cover relevant background material (e.g., for a Directed Studies course on the attribution process in Asian as compared to Anglo Saxon cultures, a student would need to have successfully completed at least PSYC 260-3, 361-3 and 461-4).  Directed Studies courses may not duplicate material covered in other Psychology courses.

Some reasons for a student to take Directed Studies courses are:

  1. To continue a reading or research project begun in a 400 level seminar.
  2. To develop or assess potential research interests,
  3. To gain additional knowledge and practical experience in designing, conducting, analyzing, and documenting psychological research.

Circumstances where a Directed Studies course is not warranted:

  1. Student is unable to register for a regular course offering and therefore wishes to take the course under the guise of a Directed Studies Course.
  2. Student has not successfully completed all regular courses that cover the relevant background material.

Faculty Obligations

Although students may become involved in data collection, coding, and data analyses of faculty members' research in the context of Directed Studies and Research courses (students are required to complete Tricouncil ethics application in this case), faculty must ensure that the Directed Studies course is devoted to advancing students' knowledge.  If students are engaging in research assistant activities, then they should enroll in the research engagement course (PSYC 393) instead of the Directed Studies.  If a student is engaging in any data collection or data analysis (including secondary data analysis) then the project may require ethical approval, please consult this webpage and the ethics officers.

Course Requirements

The student must perform a sufficient amount of work to justify the credit hours in the course, which is normally a minimum of three hours per week for each credit hour.  The student is also expected to meet with the instructor on a regular basis (i.e., weekly or biweekly meetings).  In addition, the student is required to submit a substantial written report on material covered in the course (i.e., essay, literature review, annotated bibliography, research report).

Application Procedure (Fall Term Deadline - Sept 4th)

The minimum entry requirements include the following: Completion of PSYC 201, PSYC 210, at least 60 accumulated credits, an upper division GPA of at least 3.0. Students may not register themselves for a Directed Studies course.

  1. The student must complete a Directed Studies application form in consultation with the intended instructor. 
  2. Email the application form and your advising transcript to the Psychology Undergraduate Advisor ( before the first week of classes. Please include your last name in the filename.

The course proposal must specify all requirements for the course (reading list, assignments, basis on which the grade will be assigned). Before approving the course, the Chair of the UGSC will ensure that the course meets standards he or she believes are acceptable in the department. Disagreement between instructors and the Chair of the UGSC will be resolved by the Chair of the Psychology Department. Students and faculty are advised to make their arrangements for the course well in advance.

The Psychology Undergraduate Advisor will register the student in the course when both the instructor and the Chair of the UGSC have approved the application.

Credit Limits – PSYC 493-3, 494-3, 495-3

There is a maximum number of Research Engagement and/or Directed Studies courses students can use for their program: 

  • PSYC Minors/PSYC Joint Majors/Major with ABA - a maximum of 3 units can be used from Research Engagement or Directed Studies courses. 
  • PSYC Majors - a maximum of 6 units can be used from Research Engagement and/or Directed Studies courses. 
  • PSYC Honours - a maximum of 9 units can be used from Research Engagement and/or Directed Studies courses. 


If the student's application is denied, they have the option to request an appeal. To do so, the student must submit a statement explaining their case and include a letter of support from their instructor. These documents must be submitted to the Psychology Undergraduate Advisor ( The appeal request will then be forwarded to the UGSC for review.