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Neuroscience 3851 Independent Reading Guidelines


The purpose of the Independent Reading Course is to provide the student with an opportunity to do in-depth reading of the literature on a specific topic in Neuroscience with the guidance of an expert in the area. The student works with a member of the Neuroscience faculty at Vanderbilt and, through reading and discussion with the faculty sponsor, will gain knowledge and understanding of the research that has been published on a particular area or problem in Neuroscience. This is an ideal and recommended course as preparation for, or taken in conjunction with, NSC 3861 Undergraduate Research to provide the student with the necessary background in the research area. The course may be repeated once for a total of 2 hour credit toward the Neuroscience major.


Starting Fall 2017: All undergraduate students conducting research in Neuroscience have to complete Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training online.

  • Click here for training requirements and information. When taking the online RCR training, enroll in the Bio/Physical Sciences (VUBPS) course – unless you are working in Wilson Hall with human subjects, in which case, you can select the Psychological Sciences (VUPSY) course as an alternate.
  • Once online training is completed, you will receive a completion report via email. You may either forward that email to the Program Office, or there will be a link that allows you to share the report. Confirmation has to be received by the Program Office before you can be registered for the research course.


This course is intended for Juniors and Seniors. Exceptional students may be admitted as sophomores as long as they have had NSC 2201. In order to register for NSC 3851, a student must obtain an appropriate faculty sponsor and under his/her guidance develop a plan of study for the semester. The plan need not be exceptionally detailed, but should identify the primary goals that the sponsor and student hope to achieve during the semester.

To find a faculty sponsor, look first at the research opportunities available.You will find a short research description of the faculty involved in the Neuroscience Program. It is left to your initiative to determine what area of Neuroscience you wish to pursue.

After you have found a mentor, download the NSC 3851 Contract. Complete the application form and e-mail it as an attachment to your faculty sponsor. Your faculty sponsor should then forward the entire email, including the attachment, to the Program Office. Paper contracts will not be accepted. This process assures the Program that that the sponsor has seen and approved the contract. Assuming you meet all the requirements and have taken the appropriate prerequisites, you will be registered. An email will be sent to both the student and faculty sponsor for confirmation of registration.

**In order to be registered on time, contracts MUST be emailed to Program Office no later than  24 hours before the end of the Open Enrollment period. ***

Students that are considering taking NSC 3851 are urged to make contact with potential faculty sponsors early in the pre-registration period for the semester they plan to enroll. If after following these guidelines you still have questions, contact the Program Office.

Course Structure

Once a student has been admitted to NSC 3851, his or her primary interactions during the semester will be with the faculty sponsor. However, all students are required to write a term paper (8-page minimum, 15-page maximum) on the focal topic of the readings. The document should be double spaced with 1-inch margins, and 12pt Times or equivalently clear font.  NSC 3851 may only be taken twice for credit.


The paper is due on the last day of class. There will be a deduction of 1 letter grade for papers received after the deadline. Copies should be submitted to the program through Brightspace AND to the student’s faculty mentor. The paper is to be graded by the faculty mentor who should submit a recommendation for a final grade to the Program Office within one week of the due date.