SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H500 Independent Study Project (Asian and African History)

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year
The Independent Study Project (ISP) is a unique opportunity for a student to work on his or her own initiative. Undertaken during the final year, it involves researching and writing up a long essay, on a topic usually related to other courses which the student has already studied or is about to study. The utilisation of primary sources is encouraged. Writing an ISP is particularly useful for students thinking of doing postgraduate study, or taking employment involving some kind of research component.

Students wishing to do an ISP should consult with their personal tutor to choose a possible topic and a potential supervisor during Term 2 of their second year. They must obtain the consent of a supervisor, who recommends reading for the long vacation. The ISP should not exceed 10,000 words in length, including footnotes, graphs, tables and appendices, and candidates may be penalized for not keeping to these limits.

When students register at the beginning of the new academic year, they should confirm with their personal tutor that they intend to proceed with the ISP, collect an ISP form from the Faculty Office, and fill it in. This involves formulating a provisional title, which must address a problem rather than simply eliciting a description or a narrative. Student and supervisor should both sign the form, and the supervisor should return it to the ISP Convenor. Any student withdrawing from an ISP must inform their supervisor and the Convenor.

Early in the first term, students registered for an ISP will be required to attend a meeting with the ISP Convenor, who will brief them on how to prepare and write an ISP. Failure to attend this meeting without good reason will be treated as a cause for not allowing students to proceed with their ISP. Students are encouraged to follow up this formal meeting by organizing their own informal meetings, at which they can discuss their work with each other.

Students must consult with their supervisors regularly. Failure to demonstrate sufficient progress may lead a supervisor to recommend the termination of an ISP. Supervisors are not allowed to make detailed comments on final drafts, which might be construed as partly or wholly writing the essay for the student. At the first meeting of the first term, pace of work will be discussed. At a meeting at the end of the second term, a final title needs to be agreed. A student can normally expect to spend nine hours in all with her or his ISP supervisor.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. To introduce and enable students to develop an understanding of some of the methods, practice and key issues in African and/or Asian art history and archaeology.
  2. To provide a supportive context for a critical appraisal by the students of the various approaches and issues developed within this Independent Study project.
  3. To enable students to develop a range of skills relevant to an understanding of African and/or Asian art history and archaeology.
  4. To enable students to develop their own professional and personal interests through participation in the module.
  5. To enable an appreciation of the variety of cultural values and their implications for equality issues such as class, "race", gender, sexual orientation, age and disability.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework 


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