Independent Study

As a prerequisite to Senior Independent Study, students concentrating in Government and Politics in the United States, International Relations or Comparative Politics will successfully complete Research Methods and Design (PSCI 40101). Students with a concentration in Political Theory will successfully complete a tutorial on Research in Political Theory (PSCI 40102).

Successful completion in both courses requires earning a grade of C- or higher. Students are advised to retain course materials from PSCI 401 to consult during the I.S. Thesis process. All Political Science majors then proceed to register for Senior I.S. in Fall (PSCI 451) and Spring (PSCI 452) Semesters. Double majors must register for the I.S. Thesis in one major during Fall Semester and in the second major in Spring Semester.

The serious mistake most often made in Senior Independent Study is insufficient work in the first semester. For that reason, the Department has adopted the following process and requirements for PSCI 451:

  1. Students are required to arrive on campus prepared to start PSCI 451 with the completed Senior I.S. Proposal Form. The proposal form must be submitted to the Chair of the Department by noon of the first day of classes. The Chair will distribute all proposals to faculty so that they have the material in advance of meetings with students.
  2. Students are required to meet with at least two faculty (who are available to serve as I.S. advisers that academic year) to discuss and receive feedback on their Senior I.S. Proposal Form. These meetings must be with faculty available for such meetings from the second day of classes through the following Thursday.
  3. Students must turn in an updated Senior I.S. Proposal Form to the Chair of the Department by the second Friday of the semester by 4:00pm. The updated version should also include a list of faculty with whom the student met and an indication of adviser preferences.
  4. Students will usually be notified of their First and Second Reader assignments by the Chair of the Department by the following Tuesday (the second Tuesday of classes). Your First Reader will serve as your I.S. Adviser. Many First Readers will require students to be available to meet that Thursday (the third Thursday of classes) at 11:00am, so students should ensure that they keep their schedule open for this meeting. Regular one-on-one meetings with the First Reader will be established at a time to be determined by the First Reader in consultation with the student.
  5. Students must do a poster presentation of the main elements of their I.S. to faculty and students. Guidelines for the poster will be distributed by the Department. The presentation session is usually scheduled for Tuesday at 11:00am in Week 10. The Second Reader, among others, will visit their advisees’ posters to provide feedback.
  6. At the request of the First or Second Reader, a joint meeting between the student, First Reader, and Second Reader may be arranged during the semester.
  7. Students must complete two substantive chapters (typically the theory/literature review and research methods chapters), in acceptable draft form, and a bibliography, before the Friday before the last week of classes in fall semester.
  8. Your First Reader is required to submit an evaluation of your progress to the Registrar at the end of your first semester of I.S. In order to receive a grade of “Satisfactory Progress,” you must satisfy the above requirements and have demonstrated (through regular attendance of I.S. appointments, submission of outlines and other material requested by your adviser) to your First Reader that you have successfully completed a full semester of work at the level of a Political Science senior. Failure to complete this requirement by the end of the first semester will result in a grade of “No Credit” (NC) for PSC 451 and ineligibility for 452 in the following semester.

Examples of I.S. Projects

For a searchable list of I.S. Titles, use Open Works. To see the range of projects that students are pursuing, you can search by major.