Individual Study

Undergraduate students have the option of taking an individual study course, in which they work under a professor on a topic that is not covered in any currently offered classes. The course takes place during an academic term, and the student is expected to do an amount of work equivalent to a regular class (though individual study often amounts to more work).

Submitting a proposal

If you are interested in an individual study course, please contact a potential supervisor to discuss the course details. A faculty member must submit a proposal for an independent studies course to the Associate Chair (Undergraduate) no later than 1 week before the start of the term in which the course will be taken.

  1. Define your course using this template
  2. Send the proposal to the Associate Chair Undergraduate for approval or changes
  3. The Undergraduate Student Advisor will oversee registration logistics
    • A 400-level topics number will be assigned
    • A hardcopy of this information will be retained in the student's file along with a description of the course the student has taken
    • Advisor will confirm that the course is consistent with the requirements of the Honors/Specialization program that the student is enrolled in (General degree students and students in other Departments/Faculties are responsible for checking with their corresponding advisors)

Intent of independent studies

Independent studies courses are intended to be flexible courses, both in terms of their definition and in student evaluation. However, there is still a need to specify what the course content is, how it will be managed, and how the student will be evaluated. This specification serves as a record in the student's file about what the course content was and how the grade was assigned. The course description should give a student enough structure so that what you expect from the student is clear, while still allowing the course to take shape as it is progressing.

Important notes

  1. In general, independent studies courses will not be approved if they are equivalent to a course currently being offered that semester. So just because you don't like Hoover's version of 325, you can't bypass it with an independent study. An exception is in the case of program requirement conflicts, especially if they would delay the graduation of the student.
  2. In general, only one independent studies course will be approved for a student in each semester (Fall, Winter, combined Spring/Summer).

Proposal template

  1. Independent Study Course Title
  2. Level of course (ie. CMPUT 2XX, 3XX, 4XX)
  3. Term YYYY (ie. Winter 2013)
  4. Course Weight (ie. 3 credits)
  5. Instructor / Supervisor
  6. Student Name(s) and ID(s)
  7. Objectives
    • 1 or 2 sentences describing the objectives of the course
  8. Notes
    • Any special notes (ie. This course will serve to satisfy the operating systems requirement for the Software Practice program.)
  9. Description / Scope / Topic List
    • Provide an itemized list of the high-level topics that the student will be examining, so that a reader knowledgeable in the area would be able to understand the depth and breadth of the content the student will covering
  10. Materials
    • Indicate whether it's a textbook, or various books, or journal articles
    • If journal articles, provide a partial, tentative reading list
    • If the student is defining the reading list completely, then provide an indication of articles considered central to defining the topic, which the student is supposed to follow up on
  11. Lab Resources
  12. Format
    • Indicate here how you will meet with the student (ie., "weekly meetings of 2 hours" or "attends lectures in CMPUT XXX plus meets with me 1 hour every other week")
  13. Term Work / Evaluation
    • Indicate the milestones or work upon which you will base your evaluation, plus their weights and possible due dates.
    • If possible, try to avoid loading evaluation on a single deliverable. You want to have opportunity to communicate your performance standards to the student throughout the term, and give the student an opportunity to obtain feedback in various forms.
    • For project courses, think about whether you can set due dates for design specifications, or partial implementations, that you can give the student feedback on
    • For courses with a heavy reading component, think about whether the content to be covered can be divided into smaller chunks with some concrete analysis after each
    • For survey courses (in which a student is to do a survey of current literature on some topic), consider breaking this task into smaller items (ie., creating the bibliography, writing smaller papers on sub-parts of the topic, rather than 1 large paper, or whatever works)
  14. Contract
    • An optional section where the professor and student sign in agreement (ie. "By signing below, we agree to course syllabus defined above and to carry out the work according to this syllabus.")

**Please note that individual studies and/or 400 level special topics courses which are based on 600 level courses must have distinguished grading and evaluation criteria stated.**