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This course is designed as an introduction to the study of Western humanities and consequently there are no specific prerequisites for taking it. A general familiarity with literature, art, and music would be beneficial, but the course is designed to help you learn how to think about, analyze, and discuss these subjects. Due to the ways that you will interact with the course materials in an Independent Study course, the most important prerequisites involve reading and writing. You should be able to read and understand college-level English, and you should be comfortable with substantial reading assignments. In addition, you will need writing skills that allow you to produce coherent arguments, cite sources correctly, and avoid errors in grammar and syntax. An introductory college writing class (such as BYU’s English 115 or its equivalent) would be excellent preparation in this regard.

Course Learning Outcomes

Course Materials

You will need to buy these textbooks for this course:

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These are open-book quizzes at the conclusion of each lesson. These quizzes consist of 10 to 20 multiple-choice questions with the correct answers immediately indicated upon completion. The quizzes allow you to review the sections of the material as needed. These quizzes do not count toward the final grade.

Short-Response Assignments

At the conclusion of each lesson, you will be given a writing prompt regarding some aspect of the lesson material. You will write a paragraph response to this prompt, and you will grade your own response on a three-point scale according to the provided rubric. Upon submitting your response, you will see a sample response that emphasizes the main ideas, allowing you to double-check your answer and make sure that you are picking up on the major themes in the lesson. Receiving full credit on this assignment is not designed to be overly difficult—the activity is primarily intended for you to practice writing about the material in order to prompt additional thinking and better retention. Collectively, these assignments will be worth 10% of the final grade.

Academic Essay Papers

Throughout the course, you will write three academic essays. These essays should be three pages in length, double-spaced with normal font size and margins. The papers should be written in MLA style (parenthetical references for quotations with a works cited list at the end of the paper); you can consult the Purdue Online Writing Lab website for help with MLA style.

The papers should be close analyses of works you have studied during the course. Sample topics will be provided, as well as sample papers (with the grades and instructor feedback that these papers would receive).

They will be graded out of 30 total points according to the following rubric:

Traits Does Not Meet Standard Meets Standard Exceeds Standard
Points 1–6 7–8 9–10
Argument Lacks a clear, recognizable central argument or assertion. Has a clear, recognizable assertion that provides focus and direction to the essay. Has a clear, recognizable assertion, and shows recognition of opposing views or multiple perspectives while defending this assertion.
Evidence Inappropriate or insufficient evidence in support of the central argument.  Omits issues of major importance and/or reads evidence in a highly idiosyncratic and unsubstantiated manner. Provides adequate evidence in support of the central argument.  The evidence engages with the material, but the full implications are not explored, and the reading is conventional. Provides ample evidence in support of the central argument.  The evidence is explored thoroughly, with an obvious attention to detail and an awareness of the evidence’s implications and limits (no over-reading).
Form Inconsistent in following standards of college-level English, and lacks clear, transparent organization. Characterized by lack of flow and coherence.  Tone is uneven or inappropriate. Generally follows accepted standards of college-level English. Clear, transparent organization. Characterized by coherence and flow within sections. Transitions may be formulaic or mechanical. Tone is generally consistent and appropriate for a college audience. Consistent in following standards of college-level English.   Organized conceptually rather than formulaically. Consistent coherence and flow. Transitions move beyond the formulaic or mechanical.  Consistent voice, style, and tone appropriate for a college audience.

There will be two possible topics for each paper. Each topic will be centered on a work or two that we have studied in this section of the course. In these papers, I would like to see evidence of active engagement with the works that you’re writing about, as evidenced by sufficient length, serious reflection, and quotations. The paper should certainly not be a repetition of course material—while it might mention some of the ideas, it should move beyond them and show your own thinking about the topic. Bear in mind that in these papers, I am looking for depth, not breadth, and so be sure to deal with the subject matter in specific enough detail. The papers do not require any additional outside research, but they do require additional thinking and work on your part as you answer the essay topic. To give you an idea of my expectations, there are two good sample papers available for you to read from a similar humanities course, with my feedback and grade.

The papers will be increasingly weighted, in order to allow you to learn from the earlier papers and improve (Paper 1 will be worth 5% of the final grade; Paper 2, 10%; Paper 3, 15%). Once I finish grading the papers, they will be returned with my feedback, corrections, marginal comments, and summary remarks.

Note: You will not be able to submit Paper 2 until you receive my feedback on Paper 1, and you will not be able to submit Paper 3 until you receive my feedback on Paper 2.

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You will complete three exams for this course. Exams consist of an identification section, a multiple choice section, and an essay. You will be given two possible essay questions and will answer your choice of the two.

I will provide you with a study guide in preparation for each exam. If you are performing well on the self-check quizzes and picking up on the main ideas in the short-response writing assignments, then you are preparing well for the kinds of questions that will be asked on the exams.

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These assignments and exams count toward your course grade:

Short response writing assignments 10%
Academic Essay Paper 1 5%
Academic Essay Paper 2 10%
Academic Essay Paper 3 15%
Midcourse Exam 1 15%
Midcourse Exam 2 15%
Final Exam 30%

Grade Scale

Your letter grades are based on these percentages.

Grading Scale
A 100–94
A− 93–90
B+ 89–87
B 86–83
B− 82–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–73
C− 72–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–63
D− 62–60
E (fail) 59 and below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


The 30 short response assignments may not be resubmitted. However, the 3 essays can be resubmitted for a fee.


Two proctored, instructor-graded midcourse exams, one proctored, instructor-graded final exam. You must pass the final exam to earn credit for the course. 

You may retake each exam once for a fee.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514