Every year many of physics students completing their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year of university studies enhance their education by spending a summer working for a member of the physics department as a student research assistant. A list of our current summer students and their projects may give you an idea of the widespread opportunities that exist both in experimental and theoretical work.
Students who are interested in working in the physics department over the summer should have a look at the web page of our faculty members and their research fields and then contact a potential supervisor directly. Supervisors will be prepared to give project descriptions to students that may be interested in working for them and will be available for students that want to come and talk about their research.
One important fact to keep in mind is that in early February applications for NSERC USRA (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Assistantships) have to be submitted. These provide a significant amount of funding for students of high academic standing. Applicants must find a supervisor and fill out NSERC form 202. To find a supervisor, just contact physics faculty members directly and ask for research opportunities in their group. You should start this process already in November or December. Detailed information on how to apply can be found on NSERC' USRA web page.
If you are a 3rd year Honours student it is often the case that you would perform a lot of your Honours thesis research in the summer after your 3rd year with the person who would become your Honours thesis supervisor. Even most Advanced Major projects are based on summer research.
The process of determining who is hired, and who works with whom, is a friendly one. Often everyone who wants to work is hired on with someone (although sometimes 1st year students without NSERC USRA’s are not hired). Priority for hiring will definitely be given to 3rd year Honours students, students with NSERC USRA's. 3rd year students, and students with previous experience. In all cases, priority will be given to students who have shown interest and aptitude in physics.