Experiential Learning 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 experiential learning and independent study courses.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

The experiential learning courses in the School of Health Studies (SHS) allow students to put into practice their knowledge of health and health care by working with a community partner. The Experiential Learning Coordinator works with students to find a placement that fits best with their interests and goals. SHS offers two different experiential learning opportunities for students. Students may apply to both, however, if selected, may only enrol in one of the courses.

Going into fourth year?

STEP 1: Register for an information session

STEP 2: Attend a resume workshop

Prior to submitting an application and students must attend a mandatory resume workshop. Please see the "Resume Workshop" section below for details.

STEP 3: Submit an application

Please see the “Application Deadlines and Details” section below to learn more about applying. Completion of an application is required to be considered for a experiential learning opportunity.

Health Studies (HS4995/4996)

The intent of this experiential learning opportunity is for students to develop hands-on experience working on health-related issues. The placement is not an opportunity 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.

Placements may be available in the areas of senior exercise and lifestyle, physical activity and rehabilitation, health policy, health promotion, health equity, nutrition, and mental health and wellness, or other areas as appropriate. It is offered in half- and full-year placements.

Rehabilitation Sciences (RS4970)

This unique practicum provides students with the opportunity to examine concepts and practical considerations of rehabilitation in a clinical environment. Students will be exposed to a broad range of activities over several patient populations and associated with a variety of health care disciplines.

The Rehabilitation Sciences practicum is a full-year course (September to April). Preference will be given to students in the Rehabilitation Sciences module.


The prerequisites for the Health Studies experiential learning placements are:

  • Registration in fourth year Honors Specialization or Honours Double Major in a School of Health Studies module with 75% cumulative average or above

The prerequisites for the Rehabilitation Sciences practicum are:

  • Registration in fourth year Honors Specialization or Honours Double Major in a School of Health Studies module with 75% cumulative average or above

NOTE: At this time, international students are not eligible for practicum.

All students applying for experiential learning opportunity must attend a mandatory resume workshop.

Core Expectations

The placement starts with the commencement of classes (in early September or January depending on the course) and continues through to the end of the respective term (December or April). This represents 11-12 placement weeks with an average of 6-8 hours per week onsite at the organization. Please note that the nature of those hours can vary substantially depending on the needs of the organization.

Resume Workshop

All students applying for an experiential learning placement must attend a mandatory Zoom resume workshop. This should be done prior to submitting your application.

Please register for one of the workshops below:

If you have conflict with all these times, please email experiencefhs@uwo.ca as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.

Application Details and Deadlines

Application Details

Applications are required. 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 based on the needs of the organizations.

Students must remain flexible to find the best fit during the matching process which will be conducted collaboratively by the student, supervisor, and the Experiential Learning Coordinator based on the student's interests and goals and the organization's needs.

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.

Application Deadlines

Health Studies Experiential Learning

  • Term 1 and Full-Year Placements: April 1
  • Term 2: Fall

Rehabilitation Sciences Practicum

  • Full-Year Placement: April 1

Submitting an Application

Prior to submitting an application and students must attend a mandatory resume workshop. Please see the "Resume Workshop" section above for details.

Health Studies Experiential Learning

Rehabilitation Sciences Practicum

Practicum Video Information Session

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. 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 complete 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

Requirement: Registered in a Honours module, 75% cumulative average

Application Deadlines

Term 1 (HEALTSCI 4990F)

  • Application Deadline: September 13, 2024 (last day to add a course), applications should be submitted allowing time for review prior to the start of term

Term 2 (HEALTSCI 4991G)

  • Application Deadline: January 14, 2025 (last day to add a course), applications should be submitted allowing time for review prior to the start of the term

Experiential Learning and Independent Study FAQs

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

The independent study (HS 4990F/HS 4991G) and experiential learning (HS 4995F and HS 4996G) courses require an application by students. These applications can be found on the School of Health Studies website under the Experiential Learning and Independent Study tab. The applications have deadlines; ensure that you have completed and submitted your application in advance of the deadline and have met the course requirements.

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 will be different for each student. Typically, students commit 8 hours per week to their independent study. There are required course components in addition to the project arranged with your supervisor, which include a project proposal, abstract submission, and presentation.

How much time is involved with the placement course?

The experiential learning placement requires students to spend on average 6-8 hours working with the organization or community partner each week of the term (generally 11-12 weeks for a one semester course and 22-24 weeks for a full placement). The time commitment may fluctuate each week depending on the needs of the organization and type of project the students are involved with. In addition, there are course requirements, including a learning contract, reflection assignments and a final report.

Can I take both a placement and independent study course?

Students are permitted to do both an independent study and experiential learning placement; however, only a maximum of 1.0 credit can be completed between the independent study (4990F and 4991G) and placement courses (4995A, 4996B, and 4970E).

Can I take both HS 49990F and HS 4991G?

Yes. However, you must arrange the deliverables for the two courses so that the second term is a continuation of the work done in first term (e.g., completing the ethics protocol in first term, and the empirical data collection in second term; or completing a literature review in first term, and an ethics protocol in second term). Students enrolled in more than one term of the independent study course are required to complete all course components for each course (i.e., HS 4990F and HS 4991G).

Can I take two practicum courses?

Students may take HS4995A and HS4996B and receive 0.5 credits for each course (1.0 credits total). Students taking the Rehabilitation Sciences placement (4970E) may not also take HS 4995A or HS 4996B.

Are there scheduled and required class times for these courses?

The independent study is completed online and does not require any in-class time.

Experiential learning courses will have some scheduled class time. Please refer to the Western timetable.

How do I find a supervisor for an independent study?

It is recommended that potential supervisors are contacted early (usually in the spring for a fall independent study project and early fall for a winter term course). Students should consider their specific interests and approach faculty members who share a similar area of interest and with whom they feel there will 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. Not all faculty members supervise independent study students. There is no list of potential supervisors.

How do I find an organization where I can participate in a placement experience?

The School of Health Studies facilitates the partnering of students with potential community organizations. The Experiential Learning Coordinator secures placement opportunities by connecting with organizations that may be interested in hosting a student. As well, students may seek out community organizations where they have been involved in the past, potentially as a volunteer, or suitable organizations that work in an area of health and health care. Placement projects and organizations must be approved by the Experiential Learning Coordinator. Examples of past placements include (but are not limited to):

  • St. Joseph’s Health Care and Parkwood Hospital
  • London Health Sciences Centre
  • Regional Health Units (please note that the Middlesex-London Health Unit does not currently accept undergraduate placement students)
  • School boards
  • Non-profit organizations
    • Horton Street Seniors' Centre (at the Boys & Girls Club)
    • Alzheimer Society
    • Hutton House
    • Heart & Stroke Foundation
  • Private health providers (physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists)
  • Research Centres
  • Retirement and Long-Term Care Homes

How are students selected?

Independent Study: The independent study course requires an application. Applications are due June 1 (fall term or full year independent study) and November 1 (winter term independent study). Applications must be complete and include supervisor and/or organizational details. This course is 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.

Experiential Learning Placement: Students must submit an application; provided they meet the basic criteria for the placement (Honours and cumulative average of 75%+) they will be considered for a placement. Whether a student is matched to a placement, and thus, registered for the course will depend on the number of placement spots available and the fit between the student’s interests and the organization’s needs.

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

Students enrolled in their BHSc in their fifth year may apply for the experiential learning and independent study courses.

What are the deadlines?

Independent Study: Applications are due September 15, 2023 (fall term) and January 16, 2024 (winter term). Please note those are the last day to drop a course dates.  Applications should be submitting allowing time for review prior to the start of the term.

Experiential Learning Placement: Applications for the fall semester or full year placements (September to April) are due in the spring. Applications for the winter semester placements are due in the fall. Students will be notified when applications are available.