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Department of Music

Guidelines for Independent Study Projects and Extended Essays

The Guidelines for the Independent Study Project (ISP) are based on the SOAS "Code of practice: Undergraduate Independent Study Projects", which will be found in the Undergraduate Handbook. The A&H Faculty Handbook for students provides further guidelines about coursework submission. You should read both of those documents carefully. The Guidelines here summarise those provisions of the ISP "Code of Practice" that are most relevant to Music students, most of which also apply to Extended Essays (EEs), and incorporate certain provisions (identified by underline) that are specific to the Department of Music.

1. Eligibility

You may apply to take an Independent Study Project (ISP) or Extended Essay (EE) in Music provided that:

  • you are a single honours BA Music Studies student or a joint honours BA Music-and-another-subject student; ISPs/EEs in Music are not normally available as floaters,
  • you will not be in your first year of study.
  • you do not exceed the School’s limit on the total number of essay-only courses that you may take in one year: namely, one unit in pre-final years, which may be increased to two units in your final year with the approval of your undergraduate tutor(s).

NB. There are TWO Extended Essays available in Music (EE 1 and EE 2) but only one ISP. Obviously you can only take each of these once, just like any other course.

2. Application

If you are eligible you should start planning the ISP/EE well in advance, preferably discussing your plans/subject with your Personal Tutor and/or probable supervisor in Term 2 or 3 of the previous session. You must pre-register for ISP/EE online in term 3, and by the close of pre-registration, you must send an email to the convenor with a proposed title and paragraph explaining the project.

Your application may not be approved if the project depends crucially on fieldwork or the assistance of a particular informant, in case your travel plans collapse or your informant becomes unavailable. This is why it would be wise to carry out any crucial fieldwork and interviews during the summer before submitting your application, having discussed it thoroughly with your Personal Tutor and/or probable supervisor.

3. Approval

If you are deemed eligible for ISP/EE, you will be accepted provisionally after the meeting of the undergraduate board after the end of term 3. Before the end of the first teaching week of Term 1, a Department meeting will be held to consider all applications received on time, and you will be informed of the outcome on Friday morning of that week if possible. At this meeting, your application may be accepted, rejected, or accepted subject to amendment or conditions. Conditions may include a requirement to take a specified course, such as a regional Music course, in addition to the ISP/EE. In essence, approval depends on the Department being convinced that you are able to carry the proposed project to a successful completion.

At this meeting, the Department will assign you a supervisor (who is often but not always the "probable supervisor" with whom you should have discussed your plans).

If you wish to change the topic and/or title of your ISP/EE after it has been approved, you must apply to do so in writing to the Undergraduate Tutor, and your supervisor must sign to say whether the application meets with his/her approval.

4. Supervision

You should arrange to see your supervisor for a tutorial as soon as possible. You are entitled to a maximum of 6 hours (ISP) or 3 hours (EE) individual supervision during the year (this may be different from your entitlement in other departments). It is your responsibility to arrange meetings with your supervisor, and to produce work in draft by agreed deadlines. Your supervisor will comment on such drafts but will not grade them.

A draft, detailed outline, bibliography or other piece of work in progress, as agreed with the supervisor, must be submitted by Day 5, Term 2.

5. Submission

Deadline for submission: first Friday of term 3, 4.00pm. Length: 10,000 words for an ISP or 5,000 for an EE. Text submitted in excess of this limit will be penalised. Musical notation and other non-text material may be included: the supervisor will advise on the appropriate amount of such material and whether this justifies or requires a reduction in the length of the written text.
Number of copies: 2 complete copies must be submitted. You are advised to keep a third copy.

6. Examination

A candidate submitting an ISP may be required to attend an Oral Examination ("viva"), at which the External Examiner may be present.