Independent Study

Course Outline and Guidelines for MUSI 4999, section 26: Independent Study

Course Description:

An independent study is an advanced, student-driven investigation of a particular theme or topic in (or related to) music, through projects and research. It is designed for students who have completed basic courses and who want to study specific topics that are not offered elsewhere in the curriculum. Independent Study provides an opportunity for a deeper understanding of a specific area or topic.

The student formulates the experience with the instructor who will direct the Independent Study. The content is, ultimately, personalized to the student’s interests and concerns, and thus is modifiable so as to create an exceptional learning experience. Specific learning goals are to be determined by the student at the beginning of the semester.

Semester: Spring 2024
Course #: MUSI 4999, section 26
Credits: variable
Instructor: Earl MacDonald, Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies
Class Meeting Times & Office Hours: by appointment
Office: Professor MacDonald is teaching online this semester.

Course Objectives:

The student will:

  • develop and pursue a unique study through substantial research and/or creative activity that fosters professional development.
  • document work and sources, thus establishing a record of the creative activity leading up to and including the final artistic products.
  • gain a thorough understanding of the selected topic through investigation, and artistic practice.
  • contribute original creative work/scholarship about the chosen topic, including developing a bibliography and summary of work.

Course Requirements:

An independent study student will:

  • have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • submit a proposal to the instructor that details what the student would like to accomplish or address.
  • submit a calendar that structures the independent study.
  • develop a list of resources, including textbooks, journal articles, and other reading material, and online resources (demos, tutorials, participation in professional groups/message boards), artist interviews, etc..
  • attend regular meetings with the instructor to review and evaluate progress toward the agreed-upon objectives.
  • complete all agreed-upon assignments to a standard deemed acceptable by the instructor.
  • write a final statement, reflecting upon the independent study experience.

Additional Requirements:

The number of credits attempted must be commensurate with the proposed assignments. For example:

  • In general, spending approximately 60 hours working on a topic is equivalent to one credit of independent study. (4 hours per week x 15 weeks; 12 hours per week x 5 weeks, etc.)
  • Ergo, 180 hours is equivalent to three credits (12 hours per week x 15 weeks)
  • Ergo, 360 hours is equivalent to six credits (24 hours per week x 15 weeks)
  • Time is adjusted for an intensive session, such as May Term. The necessary 60 hours per credit must fit into the three-week session, i.e. 20 hours per week x 3 weeks.

Course participation:

Expect to meet weekly or bi-weekly with the instructor for discussion, advising, and constructive criticism. However, students are personally responsible for the development and progress of the project. Contact via email, phone, ZOOM or Facetime is appropriate in addition to a physical meeting or if a physical meeting is not possible.


Grades for independent studies may range from A to F, depending on the degree to which the student completes the study. Any student not completing the study will earn a failing grade.

Regular participation in meetings is required and essential for success. If special circumstances arise, the student must contact the instructor as soon as possible.

Communication policy—E-mail is the instructor’s preferred method of communication with students. Please allow 48-hours for replies. When requesting a meeting with me outside of my office hours, please submit several meeting time options. I prefer to be addressed as Professor MacDonald.

It is the responsibility of all students to acquaint themselves, and to adhere to all university policies. Please review the following:

Students are expected to follow all safety protocols and to keep current with university communications regarding COVID-19.

Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence

The University is committed to maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living, and working environments for all members of the University community – students, employees, or visitors. Academic and professional excellence can flourish only when each member of our community is assured an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of the University community are responsible for the maintenance of an academic and work environment in which people are free to learn and work without fear of discrimination or discriminatory harassment. In addition, inappropriate amorous relationships can undermine the University’s mission when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their authority. To that end, and in accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits discrimination and discriminatory harassment, as well as inappropriate amorous relationships, and such behavior will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University. Additionally, to protect the campus community, all responsible employees (including faculty), as outlined in the Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence, are required to report to the Office of Institutional Equity any information that they receive related to sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and/or stalking involving a student. An exception to this reporting exists if students disclose information as a part of coursework submitted to an instructor in connection with a course assignment. Even in the absence of such obligation, all Employees are encouraged to contact OIE if they become aware of information that suggests a safety risk to the University community or any member thereof. The University takes all reports with the utmost seriousness. Please be aware that while the information you provide will remain private, it will not be confidential and will be shared with university officials who can help. More information, including confidential and exempt employee resources available for support and assistance, can be found at and

Statement on Absences from Class Due to Religious Observances and Extra-Curricular Activities

Faculty and instructors are expected to reasonably accommodate individual religious practices unless doing so would result in fundamental alteration of class objectives or undue hardship to the University’s legitimate business purposes. Such accommodations may include rescheduling an exam or giving a make-up exam, allowing a presentation to be made on a different date or assigning the student appropriate make-up work that is intrinsically no more difficult than the original assignment. Faculty and instructors are strongly encouraged to allow students to complete work missed due to participation in extra-curricular activities that enrich their experience, support their scholarly development, and benefit the university community. Examples include participation in scholarly presentations, performing arts, and intercollegiate sports, when the participation is at the request of, or coordinated by, a University official. Students should be encouraged to review the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts and promptly notify their instructor of any anticipated accommodation needs. Students are responsible for making arrangements in advance to make up missed work.

For conflicts with final examinations, students should contact the Dean of Students Office. Faculty and instructors are also encouraged to respond when the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes (CPIA) requests student progress reports. This will enable the counselors to give our students appropriate advice.

Students with Disabilities

The University of Connecticut is committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and assuring that the learning environment is accessible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. Students who require accommodations should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities, Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020 or

Emergency Management/Preparedness

In case of inclement weather, a natural disaster, or a campus emergency, the University communicates through email and text message. Students are encouraged to sign up for alerts through Students should be aware of emergency procedures, and further information is available through the Office of Emergency Management at

Some useful telephone numbers:

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