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Athabasca University

Reading Courses

Reading Courses are restricted to Program students who have successfully completed at least 15 credits of coursework (including MAIS 601 and MAIS 602) and demonstrated their ability to be self-directed learners. A Study Plan may include up to 3 reading courses, but arrangements must be made well in advance because such courses are not always available.

Reading courses are of two types: Foundational and Advanced.

Foundational Reading Courses, such as MAIS 750 and MAIS 751, assist learners unfamiliar with an area of study to develop an understanding of and appreciation for the concepts, key thinkers, modes of inquiry, and body of knowledge in that area. Typically the instructor, in consultation with the leaner, will prescribe the parameters of the study, as well as the readings and assessment process.

Advanced Reading Courses, such as MAIS 760, are intended for students familiar with an area of study but who wish to explore a specific topic, issue, or question in greater depth. Typically the learner, in consultation with the instructor, will negotiate the parameters of the study, the prescribed readings, and the assessment process.

Other than a brief Course Guide that explains how to develop the required Learning Contract, there are no course materials for reading courses. Prescribed readings, assignments, and the assessment model are subject to negotiation between instructor and student. Acquiring the prescribed readings (either through purchase or loan) is the sole responsibility of the student. Copies of prescribed readings may be available from the AU Library or requested from other libraries through inter-library loan.

The supervision and research interests of MA-IS Faculty are listed on the MA-IS Faculty Page. Should you require further assistance to find a supervisor, please contact the MA-IS Office.

Note that establishing the availability and willingness of an instructor to supervise a reading course is the sole responsibility of the student, as is the submission of the required Learning Contract.

Learning Contract

Learning Contracts are developed through consultation and negotiation between student and instructor and must be submitted, with the instructor's acknowledged approval, to the MA-IS Office for the Director's or Associate Director's approval.

A learning contract is a binding letter of agreement between instructor and student; it should include a full description of:

  • The work entailed (including what each aspect of the work comprises, when it will be completed, and how it will be assessed)
  • The learning objectives (including desired learning outcomes)

Learning Contracts may, with the agreement of instructor and student, be amended after a course has commenced. In such instances, copies of the amended contract are to be submitted to the MA-IS Office.

Students register for Reading Courses as they do for any other MA-IS course; fees are the same as all our other formal courses. To register for the course, please submit the Alternate Course Registration Form located on the MA-IS Website under forms. Note that the instructor's name must be included in the Comments Field, and that registration will not be processed until the Learning Contract has been approved.

Updated December 18 2014 by Student & Academic Services

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