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Specialized Courses

Special Topics Courses

Departments are encouraged to try out new course material on an experimental basis through the use of a Special Topics course number before formally proposing as a new course with a permanent number. 

The use of special topics numbers (and other general numbers in the 290 or 490 series) for the experimental introduction of new courses is encouraged under two conditions:

  • The content of the course is appropriate to the department or program offering it 
  • The experimental course is proposed as a new course with a permanent number in CIM prior to its being scheduled for a third time. This ensures that the course can stand in student curricula and audits under a permanent number.

Most departments have a designated course number approved for offering an experimental course; normally within the course number range of 290-298 or 490-498. Offering a course as a special topics using an existing special topics course number does not require approval beyond the department or other internal processes for such an offering as established by the College. 

Not all course prefixes have a special topics number established. To establish a special topics course number in your department/college, the proposal must be submitted as a new course via CIM. See UCCC Recommendations/Guidelines for Specialized Coursework about how to fill out Special Topics Courses in CIM Courses.

Special Topics courses should have special topic IDs in order to illustrate on a student’s schedule and transcript the content of the special topics offering. To create a specific title for the special topics offering, contact the University Scheduling Office in Registration and Records to establish the title for use when scheduling the section of the course for an upcoming term. Notes about the content of the special topics (course description, contact information) can be added to the section offering of the course by the departmental scheduling officer in the “notes” section of the schedule.

GEP Special Topics Courses

GEP Special Topics Courses are a special kind of Special Topics experimental offerings that will also count towards a GEP category. These offerings are requested through the college and OUCCAS and reviewed by the faculty of CUE prior to being scheduled by OUCCAS. 

These courses must be approved for each offering and have a maximum of two offerings prior to the course obtaining a permanent number. These offerings must be approved prior before OUCCAS can schedule the section for student enrollment.

To request a special topic that will also satisfy a GEP category/co-requisite, fill out the relevant “Special Topics GEP Form” and contact your college liaison to begin the approval process.

Special Topics Change in Grading Method

The instructor for a special topics offering may request to have the approved grading method changed for the course offering on a per semester basis. Please note that the grading method must be one of the ones included in the catalog entry for the course (ex: OPT course selecting S/U only). Adding grading methods to a course that is not represented in the catalog also requires initiation of the course action form in CIM for the course prior to approval.

Request to Change the Semester Grading Method form must be completed, be signed by the department head and submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Courses and Curricula via email (courses-curricula@ncsu.edu) for processing and approval by the Dean of University College or their designee. Please contact courses-curricula@ncsu.edu for further guidance or questions.

Example 1: ABC 295 has a grading method of Graded/SU listed in CIM Courses and the desired grading method is SU. Instructor should fill out the Request to Change form as described above.

Example 2: ABC 295 has a grading method of SU listed in CIM Courses and the desired grading method is Graded. Instructor should initiate the major change in CIM Courses to change the catalog grading method to Graded/SU and once they have initiated workflow, fill out the Request to Change form as described above.

A request to change the grading method must be submitted each semester the course is offered. A course action should be submitted prior to the offering of a special topics for a third time.

Other Specialized Courses

A number of other courses differ in structure and pedagogy from the single-topic, permanent course number. These include 

  • A Permanent Course Topic Shell
    Permanent courses that share student learning outcomes, but that use different content to guide students to those outcomes.
  • A Special Problems course (SP)
    Faculty-supervised academic study in the discipline or field involving two or more students focused around a central theme.
  • An Independent Study (IND)
    A course requiring students to participate in individualized, independent, directed, or guided studies under the supervision of an expert or qualified representative of the field or discipline that cannot be otherwise classified as an Internship, Field Experience, Cooperative Education, Practicum, Recital, Performance, or Ensemble.
  • An Undergraduate Research (RSC)
    Faculty-supervised individual or group research related to a specific interest or academic discipline.
  • An Internship (INT)
    A course requiring students to participate in a partnership, professional employment, work experience, or cooperative education with an entity external to the institution, generally under the supervision of an employee of the given external entity. 

See UCCC Recommendations/Guidelines for Specialized Coursework for set up guidance.