Course inventory
topics courses

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Kinds of topics

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Same-as

 

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Common mistakes

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Variable statements

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Additional prerequisites

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Our style

 

Official Publications | Office of the Registrar


Topics courses

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This document is designed to help you understand topics courses, how they fit into the course inventory, and how to request changes using the paper Request for Change in Course Inventory form.

What they are.   If a course has the degree plan statement May be repeated for credit when the topics vary, then it is a topics course. You may offer different topics under the same course number. The title and content of each topic may be different, but they must stay within the limits established by the base course.

The base course.   The base course contains all of the information that describes, in a general way, the topics being taught under it. The title often begins with Topics in, and the subject-matter description should be fairly broad to allow for flexibility in the topics offered. All of the other attributes of the base course, such as contact hours, degree plan statements, and prerequisites, are true for any topics offered under that number.


Kinds of topics

Unnumbered topics.   Unnumbered topics are those that are printed in the Course Schedule only, and not in the catalog; they are the Other Titles that appear on the printout you receive at the beginning of Course Schedule production. Unnumbered topics may be selected, created, and changed during Course Schedule production each semester; these changes are not submitted on the Request for Change in Course Inventory form. All the information that is true for the base course must also be true for each topic, and the topic may not carry any information that is not true for the base course.

Numbered topics.   Numbered topics are printed in the catalog. They are created and changed with the Request for Change in Course Inventory form; once in the inventory, they may be selected during Course Schedule production. All the information that is true for the base course must also be true for each numbered topic. However, each topic may also carry additional information that is not true for other topics or for the base course.

In general, a class should be offered as an unnumbered topic if it is taught infrequently, or if it is a new class that is under development. Once the content of the class is fixed, you should submit a request to create a numbered topic. This will allow the topic to be printed in the catalog. You must also request creation of a numbered topic if any information about the class (such as a prerequisite) will differ from the information for the course as a whole.

All of the instructions given here regarding topics refer to numbered topics. Because unnumbered topics appear in the Course Schedule only, policies affecting them are established by the Scheduling section of our office, and not by Official Publications.


Filling out the form

To add, drop, or change a topic, complete the form the same way you would for any course. Enter the topic number in line 4.

You should view the base course of the topic you are changing in NRCRIN before you complete the form. Make note of the prerequisite, contact hours, and other attributes of the base course so that your topic changes will not conflict with them.

If you are also changing the base course, submit a separate form.

Topic numbers, like course numbers, may not be used more than once.

Common mistakes.   The most common mistake made when changing a topic is including too much information on the form. You should not include information that is already on the base course, such as the degree statement May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. You need only to include statements that are specific to the individual topic.

Another common mistake made when changing a topic involves adding information that conflicts with the base course. For example:

  • The department submits a form to change the subject-matter description and prerequisite of Sociology 326 (Topic 4: American Society). The proposed prerequisite is Sociology 322.

    When Official Publications receives the form, we see that the base course, Sociology 326, Topics in Sociology, has a prerequisite of History 320, 321, and Sociology 322.

    It appears that the department is attempting to make the prerequisite of Topic 4 less restrictive than the prerequisite on the base course (deleting History 320 and 321). This is not allowed, as the entire base course prerequisite applies to every topic.

    Official Publications contacts the department and learns that the department was unaware of the prerequisite on the base course. They agree that the base course prerequisite is more appropriate, and Official Publications crosses out the proposed prerequisite on the form.

    Another example

    The department submits a form to change the meeting statement of Portuguese 311 (Topic 7: Portuguese Film) to Three lecture hours a week for one semester, with weekly film screenings.

    When Official Publications receives the form, we see that the base course, Portuguese 311, Topics in Portuguese Culture, has a meeting statement of Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

    This conflicts with the meeting statement for Topic 7 proposed by the department. Topic 7 cannot require more meeting times than are described on the base course.

    Official Publications contacts the department. The department withdraws the request, since the film screenings are not required, but would like to explore the issue further. Official Publications advises the department on ways to make the base course more flexible. See below.

Variable statements on the base course.   There are instances where topics have slight but consistent differences from their base course. The content and general outline of the topics still match the base course, but each topic has certain characteristics of its own. In this situation, departments can use variable statements on the base course to allow for these differences.

  • We can use the example of Portuguese 311, above. The instructor of Topic 7, Portuguese Film, decides that the weekly film screenings that formerly were optional are now essential to the content of the topic. Topic 9, Portuguese Art, also now requires weekly field trips to a museum.

    The way to allow for these extra meeting times is to modify the meeting statement on the base course to Three lecture hours a week for one semester; additional hours may be required for some topics.

    The meeting statement for Topic 7 should be changed to Three lecture hours a week for one semester, and a weekly film screening. The meeting statement for Topic 9 should be changed to Three lecture hours a week for one semester, and a weekly field trip.

A base course may also have a variable prerequisite. This allows each individual topic to have a different prerequisite. Here's an example:

  • Marketing 327, Topics in Marketing, has two topics. Topic 1 explores the sociological aspects of marketing, so requires sociology coursework. Topic 2 explores the artistic aspects of marketing, so requires design coursework.

    The prerequisite of Marketing 327 should be Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule.

    The prerequisite of Topic 1 can then be Sociology 301 and 302. The prerequisite of Topic 2 can be Design 401 and 402.

Note   Official Publications recommends that you use the statement Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule instead of just Varies with the topic. The former allows you to print in the Course Schedule a different prerequisite for any unnumbered topics you currently have or may add in the future.

What Official Publications will do with variable statements.   If you send a form to add a variable statement to a base course, and then put specific statements on individual topics, we will assume that any remaining topics still require the original, nonvariable statement that was on the base course. For example:

  • With Portuguese 311 (above), the department changed the meeting statement on the base course to a variable statement to allow for extra required meeting times on Topics 7 and 9. However, Portuguese 311 also has several other topics, Topic 1, 2, and 8.

    Official Publications will assume that these other topics still require the original meeting statement that was on the base course, so we will add Three lecture hours a week for one semester as the meeting statement for Topics 1, 2, and 8. If one of these topics actually requires a different meeting statement, the department must submit another form to modify that topic.

Departments often make the mistake of overlooking these other topics when they add variable statements. This extra step of reviewing all the topics under a given course number is the price you pay for the convenience of having variable statements on base courses.

If you add a new topic in the future, you must consider the variable statement on the base course. For example, if in the future you add Topic 10 to Portuguese 311, you should indicate on the form how the new topic will meet. If you fail to do so, Official Publications will insert Three lecture hours a week for one semester as the meeting statement for Topic 10.

Additional prerequisites.   While the prerequisites of topics need to conform to the prerequisite of the base course, topics may have additional prerequisites. This is often a way to have a bit of flexibility with topic prerequisites without adding a variable prerequisite to the base course. Here is an example:

  • Geography 302C has a prerequisite of Geography 301.

    This prerequisite is appropriate for all the topics offered under Geography 302C.

    However, Geography 302C (Topic 7: Maps of Ancient Rome) also requires a bit of preparation in classics. So you submit a form to add an additional prerequisite to Topic 7; in box 15, type Additional prerequisite: Classical Civilization 309.

Our style.   Official Publications uses a certain style when listing topics, which you too should use when preparing forms. The topic number and title should always be in parentheses, and you should avoid abbreviations. Here are some common statements:

  • Only one of the following may be counted: European Studies 345, 347 (Topic 11: Russia in the Time of Stalin), History 321 (Topic 9: Stalin's Russia). (degree plan statement)

    Prerequisite: Upper-division standing, Biology 328, and Nutrition 365 (Topic 8: Fad Diets). (prerequisite)

    Same as Anthropology 324L (Topic 28: Sacred Geometry and Decorative Tiling), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 372 (Topic 21: Sacred Geometry and Decorative Tiling), and Middle Eastern Studies 320 (Topic 15: Sacred Geometry and Decorative Tiling). (same-as statement)

Note   If you have a series of courses, alphabetize them by field of study; courses in the same field of study should be put in Course Schedule order by number.


Same-as topics | primarily used in liberal arts

All of the issues described above are particularly important when a same-as relationship is established between two or more topics in different fields of study. Since same-as courses must be identical, departments must frequently make their base courses as flexible as possible in order to accommodate different topics.

In the College of Liberal Arts, same-as relationships are very common. Here are some tips to keep in mind when working with same-as courses:

  • If you are establishing a same-as relationship between two or more topics, the topics must be identical. If the prerequisites or meeting statements on the base courses are not identical, a solution would be to make them variable so that each topic can have its own statement.

    If you are changing an existing same-as relationship, make sure the same change is made to every topic involved. Official Publications cannot process a change until forms have been received for every course or topic in the same-as group.

    Use the following style for same-as statements. Note that the fields of study are listed in alphabetical order, and that the topic titles are spelled out in their entirety:

    Same as European Studies 361 (Topic 6: Introduction to Germanic Religion and Myth), Germanic Civilization 340E (Topic 1: Introduction to Germanic Religion and Myth), and Religious Studies 361 (Topic 8: Introduction to Germanic Religion and Myth).

Official Publications | Apr 05



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Course inventory
topics courses

    Office of the Registrar     University of Texas at Austin copyright 2005
    Official Publications Thu 21 Apr 2005