Non-Topical Research and Reading Courses


At U. Va. students ordinarily take three 3-hour graduate-level courses for grade credit and one 3-hour course of Non-Topical Research, to bring the total credit hours to 12 as required by the state. In semesters when a student registers for fewer than three courses (in the second year of the M.A. program, for instance) the student registers for enough hours of Non-Topical Research to bring the total hours to 12. For example, if you register for two 3-hour courses, you must also register for 6 hours of Non-Topical Research.

The following course numbers are designated for Non-Topical Research.

897 Non-Topical Research
Preparation for Master's Research
898 Non-Topical Research
For Master's Thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
997 Non-Topical Research
Preparation of Doctoral Research
999 Non-Topical Research
For Doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

Students do not pay for Non-Topical hours, nor do they receive credit for them towards the degree requirements.

One important point to note is that a Non-Topical Research course must have a faculty modifier number to complete registration. The Advisor for course selection or the office staff can give you this number. Some faculty know theirs as well.


Regarding reading courses, M.A. students register (with the instructor's approval) for ARTH 591 or 592. Ph.D. students register for ARTH 893 or 894 for reading courses of ARth 995 for dissertation research. Again a faculty modifier number is required to complete registration. For reading courses, be sure to register for courses with grading methods "G" or "O".

For the M.A., the distribution requirements are one course each in Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Modern, and Non-Western, and the Methods course. These may be taken at any point in the M.A. program, but should usually be completed as early as possible. During the first year students will ordinarily take three courses each semester. None of these may be reading courses. In the second year,students may distribute their four remaining courses in the two semesters as they choose, 3 and 1 or 2 and 2. With the approval of the Graduate Advisor, up to two of these second-year courses may be reading courses. It should be noted that each reading course must be approved by the instructorand that these courses are given entirely at the discretion of individualfaculty members. The availability of reading courses is not guaranteed.

Ph. D. students are encouraged to complete their 8 courses by taking 4 courses each semester of the third year. Of these courses, one each semester will be a dissertation proposal course taken as a tutorial/reading course with the dissertation director. The first semester of the dissertation prposal course will be devoted to defining the dissertation field and topic, and the second to writing the dissertation proposal. Ph.D. students may take up to two additional reading courses with appropriate faculty with the aim of developing their familiarity with the dissertation field, preparing for the field exam, and doing the background reading for the dissertation.

The four remaining Ph.D. courses should be within the regular graduate courses. In general, Ph.D. coursework should be done with an eye to developing the dissertation topic and to acquiring background in fields that can serve either as complements to the dissertation field or as providing competence in a broader range of areas, such as Asian or other non-Western areas. Courses in other departments that serve the same purposes may be taken as part of the Ph.D. course work with the approval of the dissertation director and the graduate director.

In some cases, this 4-course-per-term schedule may not be feasible, but whenever possible students should try to follow it. Some Ph.D. students, especially those working as T.A.s may find the 4-course schedule difficult to complete. At their dissertation director's discretion they will be allowed to take incompletes as needed, subject only to the Graduate School's rule that INs convert automatically to Fs at the end of the following semester (December 31st for courses ending in May; May 31st for those ending in December.)

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