BIOL 448 – Directed Studies Project Requirements & Guidelines

BIOL 448 – Directed Studies in Biology provides students the opportunity to explore authentic research in life sciences by carrying out an individual research project under the supervision and guidance of a UBC faculty member.  BIOL 448 projects may be done in the lab, or field, or be computational-based, with clear research question(s), objectives and/or hypothesis-driven. The nature and scope of the project are to be negotiated between the student and the prospective supervisor.  To registered for this course, students need to fill out a BIOL 448 application form (link to a fillable form is provided at the bottom of the page) and submit the completed form to the Biology Office for approval.  When approved, a maximum of 3 credits of BIOL 448 may be used to satisfy Life Science Selection requirements in Biology Major. Once a project is approved the student will be registered in the course.   A student can do no more the 6 credits of directed studies with the same supervisor and can only register in a maximum of 12 credits of directed studies.  Please read the requirements and guidelines listed below before filling out a BIOL 448 application.

Research Project:

  • An individual research project under the supervision and guidance of a UBC faculty member.

  • A post-doctoral fellow or graduate student may train the undergraduate researcher, but the faculty member is responsible for setting the scope of the project, monitoring progress, and evaluating.

  • Research should be grounded in the current literature.

  • The project may be done in the lab, or field, or be purely computational, as long as it is hypothesis-driven and/or are discovery projects with clear research questions and objectives.  All BIOL 448 applications must include clear objectives, research questions and/or research hypotheses.

  • Must be an independent project.

  • Sufficient time must be planned to repeat experiments.


  • Expected that each student will spend a minimum of 8 -10 hours per week on average on the project over the course of the term.

  • Expected that the supervising faculty member will arrange to meet with the student on a regular basis (at least during weekly/biweekly lab meetings).

  • Undergraduate students must be supervised by a graduate student or faculty member when working in a lab or in the field.

Method of Evaluation:

Every BIOL 448 project must include a written research report and oral presentation as part of the method of evaluation for the directed studies project.  All BIOL 448 applications must include a detailed method of evaluation!

Written Research Report:

The report must be written in the format of an undergraduate thesis with a minimum length of 10 pages, including the following:

      • Introduction (including Background/Literature review, Rationale, Objectives, and Research questions/hypotheses)

      • Materials and Methods

      • Results (Research findings including statistical analysis)

      • Discussion

      • Bibliography

The final written research report is to be posted on the BIOL 448 Canvas site (ideally by the last day of classes) and a mark for the project/course will need to be submitted by the last day of the exams.

Oral presentation:

The project must include a formal presentation to the research group where the project is completed, with the student responding to questions from the audience.

Info-graphic slide or Poster:

To wrap up the student’s research project they are asked to put together an infographic or poster about their research project and then post it to the BIOL 448 canvas page along with their written report.


BIOL 448, directed studies projects are intrinsically diverse and many require unique assessment schemes. However, an example that has worked well in the past with a variety of projects is as follows:

    • 10%   Proposal – one-page written introduction to the subject.  This would include preliminary results, the objective of your study, references, brief mention of methods. Due end of the first month of the term (September,  January, May, or August).

    • 20%   Effort – coming to the lab on a regular basis, taking care with experiments, following safety rules, etc.

    • 20%   Lab Book – writing down the experimental protocols and keep results organized.

    • 25%   Oral Report – to be presented at lab meeting – a summary and interpretation of results.

    • 25%   Final written report + info-graphic slide summarizing the project – due ideally by the last day of classes, and to be posted on Canvas.

Final Grade Submission:

The project supervisor must submit a final grade as a whole percentage and a copy of the student’s written research report to the Biology office by the end of the exam period of the term of the project.  The final grade and the student’s written research reports should be emailed to!

Application Form: (Fillable PDF)

For 2024S term 1 and Term 1-2 BIOL 448 applications are due May 15 and term 2 are due July 3!

For 2024W Term 1 and Term 1-2 BIOL 448 Applications are due Sept 11 and Term 2 are due Jan 13!

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