Skip to main content

Student Organized Seminars

A Student Organized Seminar (SOS)  is a credit-bearing, P/N elective course initiated by a small group of School of Communication (SoC) students who wish to explore a well-focused topic not already covered in existing SoC courses but deemed appropriate to the School of Communication curriculum. SOS are supervised and sponsored by one or more SoC faculty who must attend at least two of the seminar’s meetings and are responsible for assigning final grades (P/N). To lead a SOS, one or more SoC students work with a faculty sponsor to prepare a seminar proposal using this form. Student organizer(s), take responsibility for:

  • developing the syllabus,
  • organizing the week-by-week work of the seminar,
  • advertising the seminar, and
  • distributing special permission numbers for registration

Once the faculty sponsor and sponsoring department chair, approved their proposal, student organizers are required to meet with their SoC Academic Advisor to review their materials and discuss any support needs before submitting their proposal to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Advising for approval. Students who are interested in proposing a SOS but have not yet identified a faculty sponsor are invited to consult with the Associate Dean regarding their project.
Proposals on a wide range of topics have been approved in recent years. These include:
10 Minute Play Festival, Interview Based Playwriting, Creating the Waa-Mu Show, Seesaw Theatre – Rockin’ Rodeo, Narrative & Stage Combat, Teaching Shakespeare to Young Audiences, Playwriting and Documentary Theatre for Activism, Purple Crayon Players, Quality TV of the 80’s and 90’s and Financial Restructuring for Film Projects

Annual Proposal submission deadlines are as follows:

  • Winter quarter: November 20 *Winter quarter 2021 deadline has been extended to Dec 11, 2020*
  • Spring quarter: February 20
  • Summer/fall quarter: May 20

Rules for SOS Seminars in SoC:

Credits and Grades

  • Student Organized Seminars are listed as CMN 396-0 (General Communication 396-0) and are worth one unit of credit. They must be taken on a P/N basis.
  • All students completing the work in a seminar will receive one unit of elective graduation credit; credit earned in SOSs cannot apply towards any School of Communication major, minor, certificate, area of concentration, module or distribution requirement. A student cannot receive duplicate credit for a seminar that repeats.
  • School of Communication SOS student organizers must be School of Communication undergraduate students who must also enroll in the seminar.  A student may take or teach only one SOS per quarter and must register for the class as pass/no pass (P/N).  A student will be dropped from the class if this condition is not met.
  • The total number of seminars that may be taken for credit towards a School of Communication degree is limited by restrictions on P/N grades.

Student participation

  • Student organizers must detail eligibility requirements in the course proposal.  Prerequisites or restrictions must be appropriate for seminar content.  Preference may be given to students in SoC, but no restrictions can be imposed based upon class year or grade point average.
  • Ideal class size is 10 or fewer. Seminars must enroll at least 4 students in order to be offered.

Faculty Sponsors

  • Sponsoring faculty members must be from the School of Communication; SOSs sponsored by non-faculty members cannot be approved. A faculty sponsor agrees to attend at least 2 seminar sessions, including one during the first or second week of the quarter.
  • Faculty members are not obligated to sponsor such seminars. There will be no compensatory reduction in other teaching duties for faculty volunteers who sponsor Student Organized Seminars.
  • No faculty volunteer will sponsor more than one seminar a year.

Seminar topics and work products

  • Each student enrolled in the seminar will produce some permanent examinable products, such as seminar papers, essay exams, artistic projects etc.  These work products will be made available for subsequent review by the Associate Dean.
  • The sponsoring faculty member has final responsibility and authority for evaluating seminar work, assigning and submitting final grades in CAESAR.

Proposal submission and approval

  • Student organizers work with a faculty sponsor to prepare their seminar proposal, which must include:
    • course logistics, (including any space or equipment needs),
    • a description of the topic,
    • any course prerequisites
    • class requirements and the basis of evaluation
    • and a complete syllabus which details the course reading list or other materials, specifications of assignments and/or examinations, prerequisites, the meeting schedule,
    • written approval of the sponsoring faculty member and sponsoring department chair.
  • Student organizers submit the signed, completed proposal with attachments to the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Advising via email dear-soc@northwestern.edu. Once approved, the Office will contact student organizers with enrollment instructions.