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Independent Inquiry Flag: Information for Students

UT Austin’s new core curriculum, which is now being implemented by individual colleges and schools, requires all undergraduates to earn credit for flagged courses in six areas: Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, Global Cultures, Cultural Diversity, Ethics and Leadership, and Independent Inquiry. Upon full implementation, students will be required to earn credit for one course flagged for Independent Inquiry in order to graduate. You should check with your advisor to find out how many flag requirements have been implemented for your degree program.

The Independent Inquiry requirement is intended to give you the opportunity for independent investigation and presentation of your own work. Courses carrying the Independent Inquiry flag are designed to engage you in the process of inquiry over the course of a semester, providing you with the opportunity for independent investigation of a question, problem, or project related to your major.

These are generally upper-division or capstone-style courses that challenge students to integrate skills and knowledge they have acquired over the course of their undergraduate careers.

Independent Inquiry courses may be flagged simultaneously with any of the other flags, but there is a three-flag limit per course.

What is an Independent Inquiry flag class like?

Independent Inquiry courses are taught in departments all over campus, primarily at the upper-division level, and cover a wide variety of topics. For example, an Independent Inquiry class might ask you to develop a research question and write a research paper on a topic of your design, it might give you the opportunity to work as part of an engineering design team, or it might ask you to engage in the scientific research process. No matter the topic, all Independent Inquiry classes must meet the following requirement:

At least one-third of the course grade must be based on the students’ independent investigation and presentation of their own work. The presentation of their work can take place in many venues including presentations in a capstone course, a performance, independent research, or a thesis.

Each instructor will use the flag requirement in unique ways to enhance the class. Depending on your major, you might be asked to take on part of a developing an integrated communications plan for a client, conduct laboratory experiments, or present your own portfolio of creative work. Any such activities aim to help you engage in independent inquiry in the context of your discipline and field.