Students who seek to undertake an independent project under the guidance of a particular professor need to keep in mind that such a course is above and beyond the professor’s course load. For this reason, SWAGS, like many departments, does not approve – except under very special circumstances – students’ requests to work with pre-tenure faculty visitors, adjuncts, and fellows. Many Special Topics courses arise from questions and texts already examined in an earlier course. When this is not the case, students requesting a professor’s guidance in their project should make sure that the professor actually works in the field or has shown an interest in pursuing it. If you are considering a Special Topics course, here is what might be expected of you at the time you make your request:

  1. that you already have a topic or set of interests in mind and some readings that will allow you to pursue your interests;
  2. that you will meet with the professor at regular intervals;
  3. that you will undertake substantial writing over the course of the semester.

What you read, how often you meet, and what and how much you write are something that you will determine with your project’s advisor.

There are a few other things that you might want to consider if you are interested in Independent Study: Remember that the amount of work required of you in a special topics course will be equal to that of a regularly offered course. The difference is that you will read the material and write about it independently during the semester. Deadlines for Special Topics assignments are the same as they are for all courses at the college. If you cannot complete a course on time, you will have to apply for an extension from your class Dean who will consult with your professor.