A topics course is a designation used for courses with content that varies with each offering.
A topics course will:
- fall under a disciplinary area of closely related course content,
- align with the approved catalog-level components for the course, including learning outcomes, component type(s) (lecture, discussions, seminar etc.), and course designations
- have at least one learning outcome that applies to all offerings of the course, each topic will have additional, section-level outcomes
- appear on students' transcripts with the specific title of the topic,
- typically be repeatable with a different topic,
- follow the same requirements for credit hour, instructor qualifications, syllabus information etc. that all courses must follow.
- be a single component. Multi-component topics courses are unable to be supported in the Student Information System, thus any new course proposals can only be a single component.
Typical Uses of a Topics Course
- Pilot and refine an idea for a new course
- Offered on an experimental or trial basis
- Address a timely issue of special interest
- For courses that will be taught infrequently or a limited number of times such as those offered by visiting professors
- Topics courses should not be cross-listed unless there is a specific programmatic and scholarly reason. The expectation is that there will be shared scholarly oversight among all cross-listed subjects for each offering of the course.
Topics courses should not be used to circumvent the course proposal and approval process.
A new course does not need to be taught as a topics course prior to being proposed and approved with a permanent course number. If a topic title will be a regular offering in the curriculum, it must be created as a new course.Guidelines for Reviewing Topics Courses
The decision to offer particular topics should be part of the regular process for establishing the department/program schedule of courses and should involve conversation with, and planning by, the department faculty members.
On an annual basis, each school or college will be provided with a list of topics courses that were offered through subject listings in their departments showing the number of times each topic has been offered. It is the responsibility of the school or college and their departments to review this list and determine whether there are courses being offered as a topic that should be proposed as a stand-alone course with a permanent number. It is recommended that a limit of being offered three times within a 5-year period should be considered the standard.