Sports Management LabWestern Health Sciences

Practicum and Independent Study

The School of Health Studies offers its fourth-year students the opportunity to enhance their educational experience and explore additional learning opportunities through its practicum and independent study courses.


The practicum course in the School of Health Studies allows students to put into practice their knowledge of health and health care by working with a community partner. The School of Health Studies does not presently have a list of partners from which students may choose to conduct a practicum. 

A variety of practicum placements are available for students to enhance their learning and gain practical experience. Students interested in these placements must apply through procedure outlined below. Please note that placements are subject to availability and not all opportunities are offered each year.

Placements may be available in the following areas: Lifestyle/Health Promotion, Aging, Geriatric care, Health/Fitness and Education, Allied Health, Health Policy, Health Administration, Health Information/Technology, Health Inequalities/Social Justice.


The intent of the practicum opportunity is for students to develop hands-on experience working on health related issues. The practicum is not an opportunity to gain course credit to shadow a health care professional to see if you “like the job”. Usually, there are projects or specific roles that the student will accomplish for the organization.

Examples of preceptors and community partners:

  • St. Joseph’s Health Care and Parkwood Hospital
  • London Health Sciences Centre
  • Regional Health Units (please note that the London-Middlesex Health Unit does not accept undergraduate placement students)
  • School boards
  • Non profit organizations (Boys & Girls Club, Alzheimer’s Society, Epilepsy Foundation, Health & Stroke Foundation)
  • Private health providers (physical therapists, chiropractors)
  • Governmental ministries (child and youth services)

Core Expectations

The expectations are that the practicum starts with the commencement of classes (in early September or January depending on course) and continues through to the end of the respective term (December or April). This would represent 13-14 practicum weeks with an average of 6-8 hours per week commitment to the organization. Please note that the nature of those hours can vary substantially depending on the needs of the organization.

Students can expect variability within placements. Examples of scope include:

  • Practicum placements that have regular, weekly requirements at the placement location
  • Practicum placements that offer responsibilities where a physical presence at the organization is occasional, (e.g., students may be asked to analyze a database)
  • Volunteer locations that are turned into practicum placement opportunities

Students will submit for assessment:

  • Learning contract (developed in collaboration with the practicum supervisor)
  • Practicum poster and presentation
  • Practicum report

Requirement: Registered in Honors Specialization

Application Deadlines and Details

Application Deadlines

  • Term 1: Application Deadline: June 1
    Student Must Accept Placement By: August 1
  • Term 2: Application Deadline: October 1
    Student Must Accept Placement By: December 1

NOTE: Deadlines that fall on the weekend or a statutory holiday will be accepted the following business day.

Application Details

All properly completed applications will be considered as part of this competitive process. Not all who apply will be accepted. The applicant will receive communication about the acceptance or rejection via their Western email account. Placements are subject to change from term to term/between the time of application and acceptance.

Students interested in only one (or few) placement(s) may not be afforded an experience. They must remain flexible to find the best fit during the matching process which will be conducted collaboratively by the student, preceptor and the placement coordinator based on unique skills required for each job.

Students are encouraged to be open to learning in all areas as these opportunities are valuable for personal growth, theory integration, development of skills, communication and employability.

Submitting An Application

To submit an application, complete the steps below:

Independent Study

An independent study course provides a student the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a project of mutual interest. Students seek out such an opportunity by contacting instructors/faculty members whose research and scholarly interests match their own. Faculty members do not need to be within the School of Health Studies. Students have worked with faculty members in the Sister Schools of the Faculty of Health Sciences as well as researchers in other Faculties at Western and at other institutions. Elements of the independent study course are arranged with the specific faculty member; that is what makes it an independent experience.

Core Expectations

All students are required to completee certain components during the course, including:

  • A written independent study proposal
  • A report of the research project (in a format and style agreed upon with the supervisor)
  • An abstract submission and presentation at the term-end Independent Study Research Forum

Requirement: Registered in Honors Specialization, 75% cumulative average

Application Deadlines

Term 1 and Full Year (HS4990F)

  • Application Deadline: June 1
  • Review and Approval by Chair: July 14
  • Student Must Add Course By: July 21

Term 2 (HS4991G)

  • Application Deadline: October 1
  • Review and Approval by Chair: November 14
  • Student Must Add Course By: November 21

NOTE: Deadlines that fall on the weekend or a statutory holiday will be accepted the following business day.

Practicum and Independent Study FAQs

Why can’t I add these courses to my timetable?

The independent study (HS 4990F/HS 4991G) and practicum (HS 4900E, 4910F/G) courses require an application by students. These applications can be found on the School of Health Studies website under the experiential learning tab. The applications have deadlines; ensure that you have completed and submitted your application in advance of the deadline and have met the requirements (agreement by the supervisor or organization) at the time of submission.

How much time is involved with the independent study course?

Each independent study course is a unique arrangement between the student and faculty supervisor. The expectations and required time commitment will be different for each student.  There are required course components in addition to the project arranged with your supervisor, which includes a project proposal, abstract submission and presentation at the year-end research forum. There is also a weekly one-hour tutorial/seminar.

How much time is involved with the practicum course?

The practicum requires students to spend on average 6-8 hours working for the organization or community partner each week of the term (generally 13-14 weeks for a one term course and 26 weeks for a full course). The time commitment may fluctuate each week depending on the needs of the organization and type of project you are involved with. In addition, there are course requirements, including a learning contract and practicum poster along with a weekly one-hour tutorial/seminar.

Can I take both a practicum and independent study course?

Yes. Students can take both courses in their senior year.

Can I take two independent study courses?

Yes. However, the projects must be substantially different so that you are not risking plagiarizing yourself. To take both courses you would enroll in HS 4990F in the fall term and HS 4991G in the winter term. You would be required to complete all course components for each course, however students taking two independent study courses would not be required to attend the second term tutorials.

Are there scheduled and required class times for these courses?

Yes. The independent study and practicum courses have a shared one-hour weekly tutorial/seminar where we discuss course requirements and students can ask questions regarding course elements. Given the time is shared between the two courses, it is likely students would not be required to attend every week as the topic may be related to a course in which they are not enrolled.

These are essay-designated courses, how much writing is required?

As an essay-designated course, the independent study and practicum courses require a minimum amount of writing as stipulated by university guidelines. Final reports consisting of a minimum of 2000 words for a one-term course and 4000 words for a full-year course should be expected. This would be in addition to other obligations such as learning contracts or project proposals. See course outlines for greater detail.

How do I find a supervisor for an independent study?

It is recommended that you contact potential supervisors early (usually in the spring for a fall independent study project and early fall for a winter term course). Consider your specific interests and approach faculty members who share a similar area of interest and with whom you feel there would be a positive working relationship. Supervisors for an independent study do not need to be faculty members in the School of Health Studies. Students have found supervisors from several different Faculties across Western and in some cases supervisors from other institutions where students worked on projects in the summer, for example. Not all faculty members supervise independent study students. There is no list of potential supervisors.

Do I have the option to take a full- or half-credit?

Yes, for the practicum courses. There is a full course (HS 4900E) or a one-term course (HS 4910F/G) that can be taken in either term (but only once). You cannot take both half courses or a full course and a half course. All independent study courses are one-term, half courses.

How are students selected?

Independent study courses and practicum courses require applications. The application forms are available around the beginning of April. Deadlines are identified within the applications. Applications must be complete to be considered. These courses are intended to extend your knowledge of health and health care. Project proposals that are not deemed to meet that expectation will not be approved. However, the discipline of health is broad and the interpretation of projects equally broad.

Do I have the option to do an independent study courses/practicum course in my 5th year?

Yes, however, preference is given to senior (fourth-year) students. Should we determine that we have reached capacity for one of the courses, offer of enrollment will be extended to four-year students first.