London offers the perfect opportunity to encourage and support students in their steps towards independent academic research.  Students participating in Lawrence’s London Centre program have the possibility of pursuing independent study work overseen by Appleton-based faculty while also taking courses in the program.  Independent studies while at the London Centre could be an opportunity for onsite research related to Senior Experience or honors project work.

An IS in London can especially benefit students by allowing them to develop their initiative and independence in conducting research on a topic that holds deep intellectual interest for them.  The offerings of London allow students to delve into research beyond the confines of the Lawrence campus and Appleton: for instance, working with manuscripts and letters in the archives of London, studying original artwork from museums’ collections, analyzing connections between research and the historical sites that students can visit, and interviewing individuals in specific communities in London and elsewhere in England.

Students are encouraged to consider possibilities for an independent study that involves research moving toward an honors project or Senior Experience.  For example, a student might do a 3 unit independent study during their term at the London Centre where they utilize the resources (perhaps primary sources) of London and communicate with their faculty advisor through the term by email or Skype.  Once returning to campus, the student works more closely with faculty to develop an honors project or take a Senior Seminar that incorporates their research from London into their project which is based on the work they did while in London.

Lawrence’s London Centre Resident Director is a key resource for students pursuing an independent study.  While students conduct their independent study with a faculty member in Appleton, the program’s director is someone in London to help students consider their options, start to make local connections, and help navigate accessing resources in London.

Due to UK immigration regulations, students are limited to taking a maximum of 6 units in independent study during a term at the London Centre which could be split into a maximum of 2 independent studies.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Independent Study at the London Centre

  1. Talk with your advisor(s) or faculty to find out if they have time in their schedules and would be interested in working with you on an Independent Study in London. You will find plenty of resources and information below which will help you organize your Independent Study.
  2. Talk with the Off-Campus Programs office about your interest in doing an Independent Study in London. When you apply for the London program, you should list your intended or potential Independent Study in the Academic Plan section of your application. Due to UK immigration requirements, the Off-Campus Programs office and London Centre Director must give final approval for London Centre students to conduct an independent study.
  3. At least a term before you study at the London Centre, you should work with the faculty who will oversee your Independent Study to plan your approach and start on any preparatory work that needs to be done before you travel to London.
  4. At least a term before your term in London, you should contact the London Centre Resident Director Christine Hoenigs to share information about your plans and goals for your Independent Study. While the independent study will be conducted with your Appleton-based supervisor, Christine is an onsite contact and she can help you plan details, e.g. getting library passes or access to archives. She will be able to help you find uniquely London ways to approach your topic and can advise you as you plan for logistics, help facilitate local connections, and explain local academic research practices (e.g. how to use a reading library, explore archives, etc.)
  5. At least a term before your term in London, you should make a detailed plan for your Independent Study, bearing in mind that certain aspects of your research may require a considerable amount of planning pre-departure.  See more detailed information below about accessing resources in London and how to prepare for your independent study experience to make the most of your time in London. 
  6. During open registration period no later than the term before your term in London, you will need to register your Independent Study.  It is important that you list in the Academic Plan section of your London Centre application materials that you would like to conduct an independent study.  Students will use the 'London Centre Independent Study' form available from the Registrar’s office to register for an Independent Study at the London Centre.  This form includes the title and number of units for the independent study and requires a signature from the Appleton faculty member overseeing the IS.  This form must also be signed by the Off-Campus Programs office before being submitted to the Registrar’s office.  Due to UK immigration requirements, the Off-Campus Programs office and London Centre Director must give final approval for London Centre students to conduct an independent study.
  7. During your time in London, you should check in with Christine in the first weeks as you start working on your project. For UK immigration compliance purposes, any student doing an independent study must submit a brief weekly activity log to Christine as documentation of their academic work and progress.  Feel free to contact and work with her throughout the term should any further questions arise.

Additional Resources and Considerations

Factors to consider when preparing for your Independent Study in London.  How to prepare for the experience.  What type of research or primary resource access is typically available in London.

Know what to look for and where you might find it:

  • Museums and galleries for example are usually exhibiting their general collections free of charge, but it might not be possible to gain access to art works which are not currently on display. Check the websites for contacts and opening hours, and consider writing an email to a curator, librarian or educational department to ask for information on how to access the collections.
  • For libraries you will need a readers pass, but application procedures vary, so check ahead to make sure you can organize any references before you come to London. Most research libraries have their collections in storage and you will have to order books and other material in advance, sometimes up to a week in advance. Make sure you gather information in advance or else you might lose valuable time when you are in London. Make sure you know how to research material in library catalogues – you can always ask for help at the libraries if you aren’t sure how to find what you are looking for.
  • Archives might have restricted access for researchers, so it is essential to contact them ahead of time to check. 

As you prepare for your IS in London (before your arrival), be mindful of the following:

  • Contact archives and libraries where you might want to conduct research and ask if you need to apply for a reader’s pass, if you require any letters of references to gain access to collections (e.g. from your academic advisor), and if you would be allowed access as an undergraduate. At some archives and smaller libraries research places might be limited and book up months in advance, so make sure you make a detailed plan when you would like to work where and book yourself a space as early as possible. Check opening days and times, and how you will commute to the location. You will receive your class schedule during onsite orientation, so please make sure to communicate this with the archivists when you make a booking.
  • If you want to interview specific people in London, you should contact them in advance to allow enough time for replies. Explain why you would like to talk with them, explain your project in a short, direct, but polite way. Be considerate and avoid dictating terms or times for interviews, but work with the people to show you value their input and respect their other commitments.
  • Plan accordingly for time and logistics if you are considering research outside of central London.  Consider time needed for transportation if you anticipate needing to work outside of London and how you will schedule this with your class schedule.  This pre-departure planning is important for you to have a realistic approach to a successful independent study.
Suggestions about conducting an independent study at a distance.

Before you go to London, work with the Appleton-based faculty member supervising your IS to write a schedule for the amount and kind of work that you’ll plan to do each week.  Discuss the degree to which you may revise this schedule (and what steps to take to revise it) in response to your findings with your research once you’re in London.  Also, prior to leaving for London, determine with your supervising faculty member the schedule and process for communications while you’re in London: specific expectations for the timing and amount of email correspondence or Skype sessions, etc.

Consider whether a 3-unit Independent Study or 6-unit Independent Study would be most appropriate for you.

Students work with their Appleton-based faculty member supervising the IS to determine their goals for the work, the scope of what research might be possible, and how the student will utilize the opportunities available in London.  The amount of credit assigned to the IS should be based on the expected number of hours per week the student will spend on the course.  A 6-unit IS should require the same time and effort as a full 6-unit course, with a greater proportion of time devoted to the student working on their own and a correspondingly lesser proportion to meetings with the faculty member.  A 3-unit IS would correspond similarly to a half-course. As a general rule, a 6-unit course on campus would expect about 10 to 12 hours per week of work and a 3-unit course on campus would expect 5 to 6 hours of work per week.  In determining expectations for an Independent Study while at the London Centre, it is also pertinent to consider opportunities for experiential learning and work with primary resources in addition to time researching in a library or producing written work.  When establishing equivalent working time for an independent study in London, the student and faculty member supervising the IS may want to also consider time spent navigating access to museums, collections, archives, or interviews as valid investments in the IS.

Are there sources for supplemental funding to support independent study work?

Students undertaking an independent study are responsible for costs associated with their research and work. There are, however, some resources to know about if your work for your independent study will carry additional costs.

  • Senior Experience funding.  If your independent study is related to your Senior Experience, you can apply for Senior Experience funding toward additional costs specifically related to your Senior Experience.  While Senior Experience funding is not able to cover tuition or standard program fees for study abroad, you can apply for this funding if you will be conducting work for your Senior Experience while studying abroad as long as costs in your application are directly related to additional costs associated with your Senior Experience.
  • Bertrand A. Goldgar London Fellowship.  English students might pursue funding for costs associated with their research through The Bertrand A. Goldgar London Fellowship program.  This fellowship is overseen by the English department to support English students conducting research in London.  At most, one student each year receives this funding.  This fellowship is awarded through the English department and questions should be directed to the chair of the department.