Roanoke College

Independent Study


The Independent Study in Sociology (Sociology 405, 406, and 407) is designed as a supervised research project or critical/theoretical analysis. The Independent Study may focus on any substantive or topical area within sociology and utilizes one or more of the following methodological approaches: (a) modeling/theoretical synthesis; (b) designing and executing an original research project based on survey research, experimental research, observational research, historical/comparative research, or content analysis combined with a literature review and theoretical formulation; and (c) analysis of secondary data combined with a literature review and theoretical formulation.

Independent Study students benefit by: (a) learning sociology through active participation in sociological investigation; (b) practicing the sociological skills learned in the core courses within the discipline (Social Theory, Qualitative and Quantitative Methods and Analysis, and Seminar) and illustrated in all of the sociology curriculum; and (c) gaining experience in independent work that is much less structured than the normal classroom experience.

Requirements for Enrolling

The specific requirements for enrolling in the Independent Study are that the student:

  1. is classified (or will be at the time of the Independent Study) as a junior.
  2. has successfully completed Sociology 351 or 352 Qualitative or Quantitative Methods and Analysis (formerly Sociology 251) and Sociology 350 Social Theory (formerly Sociology 353) with a grade of "C" or higher.
  3. has demonstrated in the application proposal proficiency in writing or potential to develop such proficiency.
  4. has a minimum grade point average in Sociology of 3.0, or permission from the Department before enrolling.
  5. has submitted a Sociology Independent Study Application to the faculty supervisor.
  6. has finalized arrangements with the faculty supervisor.

Students conducting an Independent Study must:

  1. begin work at the beginning of the semester (if not before) and work on the project throughout the designated time period - the Study may be completed in one semester as one unit (SOCI 406) or in two semesters as two 1/2 units (SOCI 405 and 407). On average, students should expect to spend eight to ten hours per week on the project.
  2. meet and work with the faculty supervisor according to a schedule and set of expectations that have been arranged between the two of them.
  3. follow through on all requests from the faculty supervisor for indications of work completed to date (e.g., notes from journal articles, data files, and rough drafts).
  4. complete and submit a final paper at least 20 pages long by the first day of final exams.

Full course credit (with an accompanying letter grade) is awarded for the successful completion of the Independent Study.

Recent Titles of Independent Research Projects:

  • Religiosity: A Protective Factor for Adolescent Drug Use and Its Rehabilitative Potential
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Family
  • Racial and Class Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System
  • An Analysis of Holocaust Denials
  • Alienation, Education, and High School Dropouts
  • An Assessment of Service Gaps in the Roanoke Valley That Result in Out of Community Placement for Children and Adolescents
  • Disability to Ethnicity: A Labeling Approach to Deafness
  • Portrayal of the Physician-Patient Relationship in the Mass Media: A Content Analysis of Medically Themed Movies and Television Shows  
  • Evaluation Research of Family Preservation Services
  • Cultural Relativism and Female Circumcision
  • A Durkheimian Perspective of Redemptive Cults
  • Role of Women in the Ku Klux Klan
  • Durkheim's Theoretical Approach to Suicide
  • Now You Hear Them, Now You Don't: A Postmodern Analysis of One-Hit Wonders
  • Prejudice Among Young Adults
  • Baseball's Color Line 
  • Knowledge and Attitudes about HIV/AIDS
  • A Reconfiguring of Normative Structures and Schemas 
  • Exploring Adjustment among Refugees in the Roanoke Valley
  • The Amanda Knox Spectacle 

Sociology Independent Study Application