Access to Courses

When registering for a course, students must satisfy the prerequisite(s) for the course - a background course(s) that must be completed beforehand (sometimes with a particular mark). For some courses, having the prerequisite may not be enough to secure a spot in the course.

Access to many courses is controlled by placing constraints on registration (priorities and restrictions) and by reserving spaces in courses. Constraints on basic medical science courses are complex due to enrollment pressure and multiple enrollment periods. Constraints on basic medical science courses are not waived due to enrollment pressure. Students may register in an alternate course, if they do not satisfy the priority constraints for a particular course, then go back into the enrollment system and indicate that they want to "swap" this alternate course for the course that they want to take (joining the wait list for the preferred course during the swap transaction). If there is space in the waitlisted course (in the specific section, if more than one section exists) on the day that the priorities lift/shift, then the first student on the waitlist will be enrolled in the course if the addition of the course does not create either a timetable conflict or a course overload.

Each of the constraint charts (see below) for courses offered by the basic medical science departments contain information about the priorities in place during the enrollment periods, as well as when wait lists should be joined and when enrollment from the wait lists occurs.

Watch this new video from summer 2022 as Kathy and Jen, BMSUE Coordinators, talk about wait lists

Watch this video from summer 2021 as Kathy Boon, BMSUE Coordinator, explains the constraint charts, the advantages of joining wait lists for courses, etc. for basic medical science courses.

Constraints - priorities

Courses with priorities in place tend to be higher-demand courses, i.e. more students want to register than there are spaces available.

Priorities are placed on courses to allow certain students to have better access to courses during online registration.
Students with priority access to a course can register as soon as their enrollment date arrives while students without priority access have to wait until the priority lifts (and can only register if spaces are still available).

Priorities specify that students must be registered in one (or more) of the following to have access:

  • a degree type (e.g. priority to students in BMSc degrees)
  • a "program" (e.g. priority to students in Medical Sciences 1 or 2)
  • a type of module (e.g. priority to students in Honours Specialization modules)
  • a specific module (e.g. priority to students in a Major in Physiology)
  • a year(s) (e.g. priority to students in Years 3 and 4)
  • a combination of some of the above (e.g. priority to students in Years 3 and 4 of modules in Microbiology and Immunology)

Most courses offered by the basic medical science departments have priorities in place for Fall/Winter registration - see the links for each department.
Summer offerings of most basic medical science courses, e.g. Anatomy and Cell Biology 3309 does not have priorities in place (anyone with the prerequisite can register).

Courses offered by other faculties, e.g. Biology courses or Psychology courses, indicate whether or not a priority (or restriction) is in place in the Notes beside each course in the Fall/Winter Academic Timetable. If the note is blank, there is no priority or restriction in place.

Constraints - restrictions

Restrictions are placed on courses to allow only certain students to have access throughout the entire online registration period.
Requests for special permission to register in basic medical science courses that have a restriction in place are not approved.

Error message "available seats are reserved and you do not meet the reserve capacity requirements"- what does this mean?

This error message pops up when your attempt to register in a course is prevented because you either do not have priority access to the course OR the spaces allotted to students in your module have been filled. 

You are encouraged to register in an alternative course but join the wait list for the course you would like to get into and choose to swap out this alternative course when you join the wait list.

See information about wait lists on the Office of the Registrar's webpage "Register in Courses".


The waitlist option available on most basic medical science courses allows students to join a queue for automatic enrollment into a course component (lecture) or combination of components (lecture + lab/tutorial) when/if a spot opens. Enrollment from a waitlist is the result of an automated process run by the Office of the Registrar. When a space opens in a course, the waitlist process checks students in order of waitlist position to see if they satisfy all conditions for enrolment in the course at the time the waitlist is run.

Waitlist Enrollment Criteria

The waitlist process checks the following:
  • All course prerequisites are satisfied;
  • All enrollment conditions in place on the course at the time are met (priorities or restrictions);
  • Completing the enrollment transaction will not put the student into a time conflict with other registered courses;
  • Completing the enrollment transaction will not put the student into a course overload or an unbalanced load e.g. six 0.5 courses in the Fall Term and four 0.5 courses in the Winter Term. 
When a student joins a waitlist, they indicate criteria for the enrollment transaction when/if a spot opens for them in the course. For instance, a student may simply choose to “add” the course if a space opens or they may choose to “swap” out of another course if a space opens for them in their desired course.

Below are some strategies to consider on registration day to ensure the greatest chance of getting into your desired course when joining a waitlist:
  • Course Component combination: Keep an eye on the component combination you requested at the time of joining a waitlist. For instance, if you joined a waitlist for Course A: lecture section 001 and tutorial section 003, and you find the lecture says that there is space available, it could be that the tutorial section you’ve asked for is full and you may not end up getting into the course. There must be space available in both course components for you to be admitted to the course.
  • When to join: Join the waitlist as soon as possible, even if you don’t meet the priority criteria for enrollment at that time. Priorities on course change throughout the enrollment period so you want to be positioned as high up on the waitlist for when priorities lift and waitlists are run against new or modified enrollment criteria.
  • Swap vs Add when indicating your enrolment transaction

    Use the Swap option to your advantage:
    • Should you join a waitlist with “add” as the basis of your enrollment transaction, you must maintain space in the term in which the course is offered to meet the waitlist enrollment criteria stated above. We recommend you have a back-up course in mind should you find that your desired course is full.  Simply add yourself to the back-up option, then join the waitlist for your desired course electing to swap out of your back up if a spot opens for you.
    • Stick to Like courses when using the swap, e.g. First-term with First term, Full-year with Full-year... etc.. If you go outside of the term, you may find you don’t meet the criteria stated above because admission to the course will put you into an unbalanced load. Worse, if you join a waitlist for a second term course, electing to swap out of a first term course, the waitlist may run after the drop deadline for the first-term course, and effectively give you a failure in the first-term course when it completes your waitlist request.
  • If you used the Add option as the basis of your enrollment transaction, it would be wise for you to be mindful of Priority change dates and consider dropping a course ahead of the next priority change date so that you will have space available in your schedule when the waitlist is run with modified priority criteria. For instance, if you don’t meet the priority criteria during the Priority Enrollment Period (PEP), but do meet the priority criteria for the Adjustment Enrollment Period (AEP), consider dropping a disposable course on the eve of the AEP so that you will have space in your schedule when waitlists runs with new APE priority criteria.
  • Waitlist Housekeeping: Review your waitlist positions periodically and certainly ahead of Priority Change dates. Priority Change Dates are identified at the top of every Course Constraint Chart below.  If you’ve since changed your mind about course enrollment after joining a waitlist, the system will still automatically enroll you if the Waitlist Enrollment Criteria is met. It will not ask you before dropping you from the course you elected to swap out of.
  • Be flexible with your course selection: Have back up plans in place – you may not get into the course for which you are waitlisted.

See Register in Courses on the Office of the Registrar’s website for more information about Waitlist functionality.

Reserved spaces in 4000-level basic medical science courses - no longer available

Most basic medical science departments reserve spaces in the 4000-level courses offered by their department. These departments almost always give the best access to their 4000-level courses to students registered in Honours Specialization modules offered by their department, followed by students registered in Majors offered by their department.

For students registered in Majors, those registered in Honours degrees containing Double Majors may have better access than students registered in a Major (whether in addition to an Honours Specialization module or in addition to another Major in a non-honours degree, etc.).

Posting of the spaces reserved in 4000-level basic medical science courses has become increasingly complex, particularly as the size of the Year 4 BMSc class has increased. The BMSUE Program Committee (which includes the undergraduate chairs from all basic medical science departments) has agreed that this information can no longer be made available to students.

If you find a document on the internet, then please note that it is no longer valid.

Constraint Charts for Basic Medical Science courses

The pdfs below display the constraints on courses offered by the different basic medical science departments.

** These charts have been updated for the 2023/24 registration cycle**