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 2021
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.

Some useful telephone numbers, websites and services:

Distance Education

Federal guidelines require authenticating student identity in distance education classes. This stipulation is met by having students log in to class materials (syllabus, links to online discussions, any other materials) through HuskyCT.

Student Code

You are responsible for acting in accordance with the University of Connecticut’s Student Conduct Code. Review and become familiar with these expectations.

Academic Integrity

This course expects all students to act in accordance with the Guidelines for Academic Integrity at the University of Connecticut. Consult UConn’s guidelines for academic integrity. Cheating and plagiarism are taken very seriously at the University of Connecticut. As a student, it is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism.

Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence

The University is committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or discriminatory harassment directed toward any person or group within its 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. More information is available at and


Except for final examinations, the instructor has final authority in permitting students to submit assignments late or make up examinations.


My lectures, notes, handouts, and displays are protected by state common law and federal copyright law. They are my own original expression and I have recorded them prior or during my lecture in order to ensure that I obtain copyright protection. Students are authorized to take notes in my class; however, this authorization extends only to making one set of notes for your own personal use and no other use. I will inform you as to whether you are authorized to record my lectures at the beginning of each semester. If you are so authorized to record my lectures, you may not copy this recording or any other material, provide copies of either to anyone else, or make a commercial use of them without prior permission from me.

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

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