Individual Studies Courses

Individual studies courses (PHL 495-497), which involve directed study and research, are available to advanced students. Like all 400-level courses in philosophy, the prerequisite is eight half-courses in philosophy.

Students interested in taking Individual Studies should have a considerable background in philosophy.  These courses are intended to provide advanced students with an opportunity to engage in individual study of a philosopher or problem not covered in the regular courses, and to do so under the close supervision of a faculty member.  Students must propose a specific project to an individual faculty member and obtain his or her written approval of the project, as well as approval from the Undergraduate Coordinator, before registering in the course.

Steps in assembling an application:

  1. Figure out what topic interests you, and work out a preliminary reading list.
  2. Download the Application for Individual Studies Form (PDF).
  3. Find a faculty member willing to supervise your project (note: you are more likely to be successful if the faculty member is someone with whom you have previously taken a course, and done well). It may be helpful to provide your prospective faculty supervisor with a copy of your transcript, as well as the reading list you have assembled.
  4. Work out, with your faculty supervisor, both a reading list and a framework for evaluation. Have your faculty supervisor complete the relevant sections of your application form and sign it.
  5. Submit your application form to the Undergraduate Office (JHB 403) for approval by the Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies. This form is due by the Wednesday of the first week of the semester, in the term in which you wish to take the course.
  6. Do not attempt to register via the Student Web Service. If your application is approved, the Undergraduate Office will enroll you directly in the appropriate course.

Please note that no more than one full individual studies course (viz. two half-courses) can be counted towards any philosophy program.

Note also that, although it is called an “individual” studies project, there is no reason that two or more students cannot take an individual studies project together, as a group, with a single faculty supervisor.