Biology Field Courses

A List of courses for 2024 is now posted on the OUPFB website.     

Applications and Deposits are being accepted by email to:

 first round of applications due Friday February 2, 2024

What is a field course?

Field courses offer small class size with opportunities to travel across the globe, from the Queen's University Biological Station, just 50 km north of campus, to Algonquin Park, the Adirondacks, China, Mexico, Tanzania and many other spectacular places. 

Field courses are numbered BIOL307/317/327. These courses typically last 2 weeks and are led by great instructors from universities across Ontario through the Ontario Universities Program for Field Biology (OUPFB). Each 2 week course is worth 3.0 units.

These courses provide amazing opportunities to gain hands-on experience in different field sites. Class sizes are small (usually 10-20 students) and focus on sampling diverse habitats, identifying different kinds of organisms, understanding their ecology and evolution, conducting independent research studies, and developing strong science communication skills. Students are immersed in the study site for 12-14 days (including weekends), often sharing accommodation, meals, and working environment with fellow students, instructors, and researchers.

Although specific course requirements vary, students are generally graded on participation, field note-taking, seminar presentation, and independent research project report. Students are often expected to prepare for the course by reading assigned scientific literature and preparing a presentation on a selected topic related to the course.

Who can take a field course?

Courses are open to Biology students who have completed BIOL102 and BIOL103 and are registered in a BIOL Major, BIOL Science Minor/General, BIMA Specialization, BIPS Specialization, BTEC Specialization or EBIO Specialization Plan. Students must ALSO satisfy the prerequisites for the specific field course they will be taking.

What courses are available?

Biology students can choose from approximately 19 different field courses offered by 16 universities that participate in the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology (OUPFB).  Many courses are offered at local field sites, including Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS), as well as further afield in Costa Rica, Mexico, Africa, China. Habitats include lakes, temperate and tropical forests, deserts, marine, arctic, alpine, and urban ecosystems. Course offerings change each year and are listed on the OUPFB website. Courses/Modules will be listed on the OUPFB website Friday December 15th, 2023.

We will be offering Local and some National field courses this summer (2024) through oupfb. Queen's safe return to campus protocols and Vaccine mandates will apply to All students and faculty. 

How much do field courses cost?

Students pay a course fee associated with travel, housing, and meals during the two-week course. Fees range from $400 to $5500, depending on the course location.  Each course has a different fee, that may or may not include travel to the site. Note that some courses (urban courses) require that you pay for accommodation separately. Be sure to check this on individual course descriptions available on the OUPFB website.

You must also register and pay course tuition fees at your local university.

How do I apply?

The application process opens on the first day of classes in January each year.  The OUPFB site provides application forms that must be filled out and given to the Undergraduate Administrative Coordinator (Biology Office, room 3109d).  Be sure to list 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices to ensure that you get a placement. You will know by the end of February whether you have been accepted into a course that you are waitlisted for.

A deposit of $350 must accompany your application. Cheques payable to Queen’s University, will be accepted but debit/credit is prefered (paid in Biology Main Office BIOSCI rm. 3111). 

All applications from Queen’s students, regardless of which university is hosting the field course, must be given to Undergraduate Administrative Coordinator.  ***Do not send applications or deposit to the university hosting the field course.

When are applications due?

The first round of applications are due Friday February 2, 2024 but you can apply after that if there is space left in a course. Based on the number of courses that Queen’s faculty offer, we are able to reserve spots in other courses for Queen’s students. If you apply by February 2, 2024, you will have the best chance to get accepted into your top choices.

After this date, spaces not filled will become available to all students on a first-come, first-served basis until courses are filled.  This means that you may also have an opportunity to attend a course where Queen’s didn’t have reserved spots (assuming there are places still available ). The OUPFB site will periodically update the course listings, indicating which courses have spots available. Note that courses may be cancelled if there are too few applicants by the deadline.

What if I don’t get into my first-choice course?

You will be placed in your second or third choice course, based on availability.  For some courses, you may be placed on a waiting list if the course has filled.  Positions in courses can come available, up to several weeks before the course.  If you don’t get accepted into a course, you will be refunded your deposit.

I have been accepted in a course.  Now what?

  1. We will register you for BIOL 307 (or 317 for your second course) in the term that coincides with the dates of your field course (e.g. if you sign up for a module for the summer of 2019 you will be registered for the course in the summer term). Contact Rachel Batson if your course does not appear on SOLUS in the term that you expect it to. 
  2. Wait for specific instructions from course instructor. They will contact you with further information for preparing for the course, including when and how to pay the remaining fee, what readings and other preparations you should do, and a list of items to bring.
  3. Fill out an Off Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) form. Detailed instructions to help you fill out the form are posted here.
  4. Pay remaining fees associated with the course (see #2). This will be paid to the university hosting the field course.

What if I have been accepted in a course and can no longer attend?

You MUST contact Shelley Arnott to drop the course. You will NOT be refunded your $350 deposit unless another student can take your place. 

When do I receive my grade?

Most courses have a research report due approximately 4 weeks after the end of the course.  Therefore, you may not receive a grade for 2 months after the course ends.  Instructors will submit your grade to Queen’s and it will be posted on SOLUS.

I’m an international exchange student.  Can I take a field course?

Yes, provided you are enrolled in a full time undergraduate program and have paid tuition for that term.

I’m a graduate student in Biology.  Can I take a field course?

No, graduate students are not eligible to enrol in OUPFB courses.  However, some instructors for Queen’s-led courses permit graduate students to participate by enrolling in BIOL848.  Contact Queen's instructors for more details.

Is there financial assistance available for field courses?

The Karen Huntley Memorial Award (here) can be used to cover some field course expenses. Application due March 25, 2022. Submit to

The Jessie V. Deslauriers QUBS Diversity Award is for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who wish to take a field course at the Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS). Application is due March 1, 2024 (application)

The Queen's Biology Field Course Opportunity Award is for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who wish to take any field course (BIOL307, BIOL407, BIOL327, including those in the Ontario Universities Program for Field Biology (OUPFB). Application is due March 1, 2024 (application)

The same application can be used for both the Jessie V. Deslauriers QUBS Diversity Award and the Queen's Biology Field Course Opportunity Award. (link here). Submit to: by March 1, 2024.

The Queen's Outdoor Field Experience Initiative (link here) has a lending library for field gear and great tips for enjoying the outdoors.

Summer bursaries are available through Solus.

**Please note, that your deposit will be returned if you were unsuccessful in recieveing an award and if you are financially unable to take the course/module. 

Where can I get additional information?

Shelley Arnott will hold two Zoom drop-in information meetings in January. Rachel Batson will provide the link.

Session 1: 

Session 2:

You can contact Shelley Arnott for more information. 

Payment is accepted via Point of Sale (Debt/Credit Machine) in the Biology Main Office (rm. 3111) 

Applications are being accepted by email to: and deposits can be paid in the main office (3111). 

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