Guidelines for Independent Studies

MUSC1999 [099] Independent Study is designed to provide a unique learning experience not achievable by ordinary course work. 

Only Music Majors are eligible to register for an Independent Study in Music. Any member of the standing faculty (and only a member of the standing faculty) may offer an independent study to a student at the professor's discretion. Students can consider pursuing an independent study during their junior or senior years after completing the Core Requirements for the music major. Independent Study will involve an academic research/capstone project (musicology, ethnomusicology, theory), or a creative project (composition), or a combination of both, following an appropriate pathway in previous coursework, and is designed according to the needs of the student in collaboration with the faculty member supervising.

The independent study may count towards one of the six electives required for the major (i.e., courses at the 3000 [200] or 4000 [300] level, earning one credit each).

MUSC1999 [099] is different from research courses taken by students who are eligible for departmental honors  (MUSC4097 [formerly 239] in their junior year and MUSC4098 [259] in senior year, see guidelines here.   However, MUSC1999 may fulfill a similar purpose, that is, to provide a capstone experience by pursuing a research project resulting in a substantial final paper, a creative project resulting in one or more musical works, or a mixed-mode project resulting in a creative work using technologies of inscription or involving community engagement.  

General expectations 

A typical independent study in musicology, ethnomusicology or theory will involve weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the faculty sponsor, during which the student’s ongoing academic work will be discussed. Meetings will include regular assignments. Final projects may include a traditional essay, a conference paper, a film, a documentary, or a multimodal work, but other forms can be discussed with the faculty sponsor.  

A typical independent study in composition will involve weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the faculty sponsor during which the student’s ongoing creative work will be discussed. A steady output is expected; the study may be designed around a single, substantial work or may involve smaller projects. Regular listening and score study will be expected. The professor may choose to assign exercises in addition to the student’s creative work. It is possible that a newly composed work may be included on a Penn Sound Collective performance (at the professor’s discretion). 

Other kinds of independent studies are possible with input and consultation from a member of the Music faculty. 

Procedure to start an independent study

Students seeking registration in an independent study will need to contact a faculty sponsor to agree to supervise the independent study before the final day of classes of the semester preceding registration in MUSC1999.  Coordination is key.  Before approval, the potential supervisor may ask to meet in person to discuss the topic and the expectations. When you and your faculty sponsor have decided upon the topic and terms of your independent study, please communicate this by e-mail to the Undergraduate Chair and the Undergraduate Coordinator, no later than the end of the reading period of the semester preceding the one in which you will register for the independent study.