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Field Courses

Students enjoying the view during a field course


Western is a member of the Ontario Universities' Program in Field Biology (OUPFB), which offers field courses each year that students can take for academic credit. Some of these courses are taught by Western faculty, but you are eligible to take any of the courses offered in a given year.

Field courses are intensive learning experiences that can take you to remote parts of the planet. They require students to pay fees (in addition to tuition) to cover the costs of accommodations and transportation. Financial aid is available through the Jack Millar Field Course Travel Award.

Most field courses are during the summer. For 2022, OUPFB is offering domestic field courses only. A complete list of modules is here, with links to course outlines.

Two information sessions were held in January 2022, one was recorded.

How to apply for field courses

Field course applications are accepted beginning January 28.

Complete the application form. The instructions on the form are written assuming students will apply in person and are therefore slightly out of date. You do not need to print the form. Instead, follow the instructions below:

Note: If you pay by cheque (Option 1), we do not cash the cheque unless you are placed in a course. If no spots are available in your chosen modules, we can destroy or return your uncashed cheque, and you are never charged. However, if you pay by credit card (Option 2), your card is charged immediately. If no spots are available in your chosen modules, we will refund your deposit, but this can be time-consuming.

Payment of Deposit must be received by February 25, or you will lose your spot.

Students must also fill out the Western University Student Events/Field Trips Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk form here before attending the course.

Reserved spots

Western has reserved spots in many field course modules. We give these out on a first-come basis. You will know whether you got a reserved spot within a few days of submitting your application. If you do not get a reserved spot, you may still get into one of your chosen modules, but you will not find out until early to mid-March.

Title Host Western Guaranteed Spots Location
Ecology of Spring Queen's 2 Queen's University Biological Station, ON
Aquatic Insect Behaviour Brock 2 Algonquin Wildlife Research Station, ON
Blurring the Lines for Ecological Clines: Field Methods for Measuring Spatial and Temporal Gradients York 2 Sheguindah, Manitoulin Island, ON
Field Ornithology in Algonquin Park York 0 Algonquin Wildlife Research Station, ON
Turtles: Ecology, Behaviour, and Conservation Carleton/Ottawa 2 Queen's University Biological Station, ON
Field Botany - Medicinal Plants in Flora of Ontario Wilfrid Laurier 1 Waterloo, ON
Urban Water Ecology Ryerson 1 Ryerson Campus, ON
Canadian Scientific Research Diver Carleton 0 Queen's University Biological Station, ON
Marine Biology & Oceanography Guelph 1 Hunstman Marine Sciences Centre, St. Andrew's, NB
Fish Ecology and Fisheries: The Science Behind Conservation and Management Carleton 1 Queen's University Biological Station, ON
Ecology and Conservation in Algonquin Park Western 4 Algonquin Wildlife Research Station, ON
Experimental Studies in Marine Biology Western 4 Hunstman Marine Sciences Centre, St. Andrew's, NB
Environmental Change in Lake Ecosystems Queen's 2 Queen's University Biological Station, ON
Restoration Ecology: A UN Decade Course of Microbes to Forests to Fish Laurentian 2 Hanna Lake, Sudbury & Killarney Park, ON
Winter Ecology of Birds Queen's 2 Queen's University Biological Station, ON

Jack Millar Field Course Award

Awarded annually to full-time undergraduate students in any program who intend to take a field course within continental North America through the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology, based on academic achievement. Students must submit a one-page statement to Ben Rubin (brubin2@uwo.ca) outlining their field course plans and travel costs by February 28. The awards committee in the Department of Biology will select the recipient. This award was established by Alumni of the Department of Biology, in honour of Professor John S. Millar.

Professor John (Jack) S. Millar was the former Head of the Department of Biology at Western University and retired in 2015 and passed away in 2021. He was an outstanding educator and biologist. One of Jack's enduring impacts on Biology undergraduate and graduate students was his insistence on the importance of experiential learning in the form of participation in field courses and field work in natural environments.

Value: 1 at $1,000

If you have questions about field courses, please contact Brenda Beretta.