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Courses Are they mandatory courses?

  1. Jul 1, 2007 #1
    Every time I look at the list of engineering courses offered by universities, I notice that " Special Topics of Engineering " or " Individual studies " or " Special Projects for ENgineering" are offered by every engineering department. What are they? I know that these are not mandatory courses. Are they individual research topics of real-life problems? Is there anyone who knows what they are?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2007 #2


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    Every now and then a student wishes to get credit for some work that isn't part of the normal curriculum, so they put those credits in these "generic" classes on their transcripts.

    - Warren
  4. Jul 3, 2007 #3
    Thanks for your reply. Do you know what topics these classes teach and discuss?
  5. Jul 3, 2007 #4


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    They don't teach any specific topics -- that's the point. They're catch-all "classes" for students who are doing work outside the normal curriculum. They normally aren't classes at all in the normal sense. They're just a label for the university to award the credit under.

    - Warren"
  6. Jul 3, 2007 #5


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    It really depends on the policies of the university and the department. Where I teach, a "Special Topics" course is a more or less normal class, on a subject that is not listed as a regular course in the official catalog. A professor can offer such a course on a particular topic without having to get it approved by our Academic Affairs Council, which has to approve all new regular courses. However, he is allowed to offer it only twice as a "Special Topics" course. After that he must propose it as a regular course if he wants to teach it again. Students register for it in the same way that they register for normal courses, and the professor teaches it pretty much like a normal course.

    A "Directed Study" on the other hand, is initiated by the student, who chooses a topic and seeks out a professor to supervise it, on a one-to-one basis. The student studies the material mostly on his own, under the guidance of the professor. The professor does not lecture, but checks on the progress of the student and tries to answer questions when necessary.

    This is how we do it; other schools may have different procedures and terminology.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
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