Special Academic Projects
Students have the opportunity to undertake Directed Studies, Independent Studies, and Senior Research. These are explained below.
A student in good standing may work intensively in areas of special interest under the Directed Study plan. A Directed Study is appropriate when a student wants to explore a subject more fully than is possible in a regular course, or to study a subject not covered in the regular curriculum. A Directed Study should not normally duplicate a course that is regularly offered. A student electing a Directed Study must submit to the Registrar a proposal with appropriate departmental approval no later than the first Friday of the semester. Directed Studies are normally taken for 3 or 4 credits. A one-semester Directed Study is limited to a maximum of 4 credit hours. The form required for Directed Studies is available in the Office of the Registrar.
Independent Study engages a student in the pursuit of clearly defined goals. In this effort a student may employ skills and information developed in previous course experiences or may develop some mastery of new knowledge or skills.
A proposal for an Independent Study project must be approved in advance by the faculty member who agrees to serve as the project advisor. The approval must be submitted on the appropriate form to the Registrar no later than the first Friday of the semester.
The chief distinction between this and other options for individual study is that an individual faculty member works with the student only prior to the initiation of the study (or at its very beginning) and at the completion of the study. A student may propose an extensive independent project up to the equivalent of a full semester’s work. An Independent Study project that constitutes a student’s total academic load in a given semester may be done either on or off the campus. Any proposal or combination of proposals to do independent work, carrying more than four credit hours, must be submitted to the Academic Affairs Council. Such proposals would be subject to careful review and only with extenuating circumstances would be considered for approval. Examples of Independent Studies approved recently include: “An Existential Search for Religion,” “Genetics of Sarracenia,” “Creativity and the New York Musician,” and “Behavioral Studies of the Primates of the Peruvian Amazon.”
Students may enroll in Senior Research in their final year at Denison. Normally, Senior Research requires a major thesis, report or project in the student’s field of concentration and carries eight semester-hours of credit for the year. Typically, a final grade for a year-long Senior Research will not be assigned until the completion of the year-long Senior Research at the end of the second semester. In which case, the first semester Senior Research grade will remain “in progress” (PR) until the completion of the second semester Senior Research. Instructors who choose to assign a grade at the completion of the first semester Senior Research should notify the Registrar at the beginning of December. Semester hours of credit for Senior Research shall not be counted toward the maximum hours allowed in the student’s major. Each semester of Senior Research is limited to a maximum of 4 credit hours. The form required for Senior Research is available in the Office of the Registrar.