Guidelines for Project-Based Independent Studies

Independent studies are usually offered at the 3000 or 4000 level and should not duplicate the contents of existing courses.

There are three general formats in which an independent study can be done (although this list is by no means exhaustive):

  1. They can build on or extend from existing courses; for example, if you want to know more about operating systems, and have taken 4650, then you might take a 4990 to study additional topics in operating systems.
  2. They can be in areas in which no courses are offered in the department.
  3. They can be project-based. For example, after taking a course in graphics, a student might do a large project based on graphics.

The usual way to begin the process is to contact a professor who may be interested in supervising your independent study and then to discuss what might be appropriate. It should be noted that a course outline is required and final exams are typical.

A completed independent study form is required. Forms can be obtained from the department office (C526) or the Registrar's Office.

The proposal then goes to a department committee for review, where it will be either accepted or rejected.

Guidelines for professors

An independent study proposal should include the following information (typed):

  • Title
  • Course Number
  • Student name
  • Supervisor's name
  • Semester
  • A 1-2 page description of the project to be undertaken, with as much detail as possible and yet with some flexibility built in.
  • A detailed marking scheme (see example below)
  • A list of the computer science courses taken by the student.
  • Reference texts
  • In addition, a firm deadline must be established with the student for final submission of all components. Regular meetings and specification of intermediate milestones are recommended.

For a project-based computer science course at the 3990 level, the following is an example of a marking scheme:
Code 30%
Documentation 20%
Report 20%
Testing 20%
Demo 10%

Other possible methods of evaluation include: code review, assignments, a poster, a technical report, examinations.

In the past, in Computer Science, the majority of I/S offerings have been of a project nature at the 3000 level. Typically, 2990 has been used for students wanting to learn a new language and do a small project. 4990 courses have been very infrequent, and have usually included assignments and examinations and have not been project-based. Inter-disciplinary I/S courses are also encouraged.