Courses & curriculum

Course structure

This online program is comprised of 24 credits and can be completed either full or part-time. At this time, the program offers a thesis option only.  

Courses and Descriptions

OCCU 6510: Occupational Science Theory: Doing, Being, Belonging, and Becoming (3 credit hours)


This is a foundational course in occupational science that critically examines current theoretical and conceptual models in occupational science and the evidence supporting human occupation. Course content will explore and critique contemporary theoretical models and the various theoretical constructs that have evolved within the occupational science literature and related interdisciplinary fields that inform occupational science. This course will provide students with the opportunity to examine humans as occupational beings, the relationship between occupation and health and well-being, as well as consider how occupational science theories, models and constructs may be used to address contemporary health and social issues. This course will encourage students to apply occupational science theories, models and constructs to explain contemporary health and social issues facing society as well as to develop new insights and potential solutions to address them.



OCCU 6511: Research Methods and Literacy (3 credit hours)

This course provides an introduction to theories and epistemologies underpinning qualitative and quantitative research methods, distinguishing between naturalistic and experimental approaches used to study human occupation. Goals of the course are to be able to apply knowledge to appraising the research literature and to developing proficiency in designing and pursuing research projects.

Please note that while you may use the research proposal you develop in this course as a basis for developing a research proposal for your graduate degree or professional environment, assignments for this course must satisfy the requirements of this course and may not be completely transferrable to other contexts. 

OCCU 6513: Putting Knowledge to Use (3 credit hours)

This course provides an introduction to theories and epistemologies underpinning qualitative and quantitative research methods, distinguishing between naturalistic and experimental approaches used to study human occupation. Goals of the course are to be able to apply knowledge to appraising the research literature and to developing proficiency in designing and pursuing research projects.

The course examines the best ways to move research findings forward to affect practice, policy, and action. Examining ‘knowledge translation’ and ‘implementation science’ frameworks, we will interrogate how to get occupational science evidence taken up by people and organizations that can put it to practical use. Students will prepare a knowledge translation portfolio based on their expertise from course assignments and projects.

OCCU 6512: Social Inequities in Everyday Life (3 credit hours)

This course aims to introduce students to empirical evidence and theoretical arguments concerning social inequities in everyday life and occupations, as well as implications for health and well-being. In occupational science, ‘occupation’ refers not to jobs but to all meaningful activities with which people occupy themselves, including work and education, care for self and others, leisure, and activities through which people connect with themselves and each other.

OCCU 6514: Capstone Project: Leadership Through Occupation (6 credit hours over 3-4 terms)

In the Occupational Science Program, graduate students have gained theoretical knowledge; critically examined intersecting occupational contexts and tensions between individuals, groups, communities and society; and related them to living as occupational beings. In this course, students will identify a defined cluster of these complexities for their Major Project, and will experience the context and tensions firsthand by engaging with, and taking leadership in, making an occupational change in a chosen organization/system. Students will further deepen and solidify their appreciation and understanding of occupational science through this experience. Drawing on occupational science theories, change theories, leadership and critical themes, students will create a plan that allows them to take leadership in making an occupational change at the level of services, systems, and/or policies.
Once students start this course, they are expected to enroll in this course each term during which time they will receive a grade of “In Progress” (IP).   A final grade will only be assigned in the last term when course requirements are completed.

OCCU 6515: Contemporary and Global Issues in the World of Work

This course provides a critical examination of current work, vocational rehabilitation and work disability literature using occupational science theories and key constructs. Students will examine current readings in the field of using occupational constructs, such as occupational balance, transition, justice, and identity.  With a backdrop of neoliberal advanced capitalism and global capitalism, the course will explore the meanings of work, transitions into and out of paid work, and relationships between paid work and identities. This course will encourage students to reconsider previously held beliefs about work, to apply an occupational science lens to answer long-standing questions/problems in the field of work, and to develop new insights and solutions to contemporary work issues facing society.

OCCU 6516: Aging, Inclusion and Participation

This course provides an intensive examination of selected substantive issues related to older adults, their inclusion and participation in occupations (that is, the things they want to do, need to do, and are expected to do), and the policies and resources that support their occupational lives. Students will critically explore a range of issues including theoretical approaches to aging; demographics of aging; biological, psychological and social aspects of aging; healthcare policies and strategies related to participation, social inclusion, housing, transportation, pensions and financial issues; family caregiving; and death and dying.

OCCU 6517: Program Planning and Evaluation

This course is aimed at developing knowledge and skills relative to program evaluation and critically appraising key issues and challenges with respect to program evaluation. The course provides an overview of the key phases in program evaluation, including program planning and design, drawing on program evaluation literature, as well as occupational sciences literature.  
  A series of assignments will take students through the various stages and types of evaluation, ending with the development of a major program evaluation project in areas of interest. 

OCCU 6518: Identity & Transitions: We Are What We Do?

Who are we, and how do we know who we are? How and when does our sense of self develop and through what processes? How are identities formed through what we do in our daily lives? What happens to identities at times of transition, such as adolescence, retirement or unemployment, experiences of loss, experience of disability, or the onset of illness?
This course explores the mechanisms and theories of identity development and transitions in relation to participation in activities of everyday life. The course focuses on how individual and social identities interact with life transitions, while attending to  the influence of social categories, such as culture, race, gender, age, disability, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation.

OCCU 6519: Assessing Health and Occupational Outcomes

This online course provides students with the opportunity to: (a) understand how outcome measures are developed to generate reliable, valid, and sensitive measures; and (b) determine if  existing outcome measures generate accurate, consistent and meaningful data. The focus will be on assessment of the complexity that is occupation – the things people want, need and are required to do, the things with which people occupy themselves. A comfort with reading and assessing statistics is helpful.

OCCU 6520: Community Development: Daily Lives and Collective Doing

This course explores ways to promote well communities through community development approaches within a health promotion and occupational rights/justice framework. The course uses community-focused experiential learning processes to enable students to understand: their own communities in relation to community development approaches; principles and theories, with a particular focus on the occupations communities engage in to support their wellness; and, how to create positive change.

OCCU 6521: Chronic Conditions in Everyday Life

This course consists of an intensive, cross-disciplinary examination of the empirical literature related to living with a chronic health condition. In this course, students will explore and interrogate a range of issues including: selected chronic conditions across the life span, potential impacts on occupation (what people want and need to do), and the value of interventions such as technology and  self-management. The relationship between chronic conditions and occupation will be the primary focus.

OCCU 6523, 6524, 6525, 6526: Special Topics (courses that will change based on current topics, issues)

This on-line seminar course is an intensive examination of a selected substantive issue that will be critiqued using an occupational science lens. Particular attention is given to practice, policy, economic and/or sociocultural issues that arise in diverse contexts. The specific topic differs from year to year; consult the School prior to registration.