Fall semester junior year, independent work normally involves participation in a seminar of up to five students under the supervision of an instructor from the faculty of the department. The junior seminar is intended to provide a transition from course work to fully independent work. A junior seminar meets weekly for an hour or biweekly for two hours to discuss readings selected by the instructor, and each student writes a final paper of at least 5,000 words (about 20 pages) usually on a topic chosen by the student from a list provided by the instructor in the area defined by those readings. The student's grade for fall semester independent work will be mainly based on this paper but is usually partly based also on shorter papers and/or oral presentations in the seminar earlier in the term. (Most commonly the split is about 75%-25%).
A listing of the junior seminar offerings available will be posted by the first day of fall semester. Note that there is no requirement for the junior independent work of a student intending to elect a special option (Philosophy of Science, Political Philosophy) to be on a topic relevant to that area; on the contrary, students are encouraged to do at least one semester's independent work outside that area. While the department undertakes to make a variety of junior seminar topics available each year, it does not undertake to provide one directly relevant to each special option each year.
Students will have a few days to report their preferences among the offerings and their schedules to the departmental representative. By the middle of the first week of classes, the placement of students in seminars will be posted by the departmental representative, and notice of the hour, day, and place (usually the instructor's office) of the first, organizational meeting of each seminar will be posted by the seminar instructors. Since this is when the regular meeting time for the seminar will be fixed, it is important to attend this first meeting, especially if the hour is one that would not be convenient as a regular meeting time.
Final papers for junior seminars are due the second day of reading period. This is a University deadline. Late work cannot be accepted for grading by the department unless permission to do so is granted by the student's academic dean. There is a grade penalty of 1 point per weekday to a maximum of 10 (= a full letter grade) for lateness, unless a waiver is granted. Waivers require approval of the seminar instructor and the departmental representative.
Spring semester junior year, independent work consists of writing a junior paper, an essay on a philosophical topic, normally amounting to at least 5,000 words (about 20 pages), written under the supervision of a faculty advisor.
On the one hand, any member of the department faculty is eligible to advise a junior paper if willing to do so, except that a student may not have the same advisor for both semesters' junior independent work (fall seminar and spring paper). Students may find advisors on their own, by agreement with some member of the faculty. On the other hand, certain faculty are assigned by the chair of the department special responsibility for supervision of undergraduate independent work and constitute the Senior Thesis/Junior Paper Advising Panel. Students who do not find advisors on their own are assigned advisors from this panel by the departmental representative. By the end of the second week of classes spring semester, every junior should submit to the departmental representative either confirmation of an agreement about advising with some one member of the faculty, or else a list of several members of the panel by whom the student would be willing to be advised. Notice of advisor assignments will be posted early the next week of classes.
Junior papers are due the second day of reading period. This is a University deadline. Late work cannot be accepted for grading by the department unless permission to do so is granted by the student's academic dean. There is a grade penalty of 1 point per weekday to a maximum of 10 (= a full letter grade) for lateness, unless a waiver is granted. Waivers require approval of the seminar instructor and the departmental representative.