Independent Study Course
This new course provides the opportunity for specialized and individualized activities that augment a student’s program of study. A student interested in developing competencies in specialized areas of global affairs can take the Independent Study Course (ISC) either to expand on topics within the curriculum or focus on topics not currently offered. Under the supervision of an academic advisor, a student will independently research a topic in depth and then produce a series of writings or other outputs about the researched topic.
Who is eligible: This option is available only to graduate students who have completed at least 9 credits and are in good academic standing, not on academic probation and with a 3.0 grade point average or higher. It requires prior approval by the program.
No student may take more than one ISC. It may be taken as a free elective or, with the approval of the program, may count towards the credit requirements of a concentration.
An appropriate member of the full-time or adjunct faculty will be responsible for advising and grading each student working on independent study. One full-time faculty member will also have oversight of the course as a whole and will run two group meetings in the semester.
What it involves: You will find a member of the full-time or adjunct faculty willing to supervise you for your ISC. During the course of the semester, you will meet or consult regularly with your faculty adviser and produce written work including:
- A Study Plan, completed by the end of the third week of the semester. This will be a substantive summary of the issues to be addressed and methodologies to be used, typically 1,500 words long. It will count for 20% of the total assessment.
- A Literature Review, completed by the end of the seventh week of the semester, exploring and evaluating the relevant literature in the context of your topic. Typically 2,000-3,000 words long, it will count for 20% of the total assessment.
- A Final Paper and/or other writings, to be submitted by the end of the semester, demonstrating sustained and specialized personal research. The exact format will be decided between you and your adviser: it could be a single research paper, a series of shorter briefings spread through the semester or any other appropriate form or combination, adding up to around 8,000-10,000 words. It could also take the form of an online project, a video documentary or some other medium, so long as it represents a comparable piece of work, at the adviser’s discretion. This will count for 60% of the total assessment.
In addition, the member of the full-time faculty responsible for overseeing the ISC program as a whole will hold two group meetings for all students taking this course. You are required to attend both. The first, at the start of the semester, is to clarify policies and expectations and there will be another meeting around the middle of the semester, at which you will also be put into groups alongside others with complementary interests or methodologies, to provide peer support.
Process: If you are interested in taking the ISC, you must identify a suitable topic for independent study and secure the agreement of a faculty adviser. It is your responsibility to do this and, as with theses, potential advisers may well not be able to accommodate you because of existing commitments or other considerations. The program cannot take responsibility for finding you an adviser, but we may be able to help you identify possible advisers if you are having trouble. In the first instance, though, consult the list of potential advisers and faculty bios on the MSGA Student Academic Website.
Students must complete the ISC Registration Form, including a one-page summary of their topic. This must also be signed by your faculty supervisor and submitted to the MSGA Administration. Only the MSGA Administration can register you for the ISC and this will only happen once your ISC Registration Form has been approved and signed by all parties involved.
The program reserves the right not to permit a student to take the ISC.
In addition, if your project will involve the following, you will need to secure Human Subjects Approval from UCAIHS.
- You will be working with vulnerable populations (eg, interviewing refugees, minors or prisoners); or
- You are interviewing people about their own experiences NOT in a professional context (eg, you are interviewing an official about their life rather than about their work); or
- You have a specific and advance intent to publish the work produced in the course.
This can be a lengthy and complex process, and if so you will need to start the process early in the semester before you intend to take the ISC.