A seminar is a course offered to between 12 to 18 students, where a primary goal of the course is discussion. Such courses are usually designated with an S, such as ENGLISH 89S, but there are some that do not carry an S designation in the course listing. If you look on the DukeHub listing of courses, all seminars, whether they have an S or not, will have "seminar" listed in the course characteristics.

Note: the fact that a course has a small enrollment does not mean that it is taught as a seminar or will meet the Small Group Learning Experience requirement.

While there is no set format for seminar courses, they do share some features in common that distinguish them from many other courses that you will take at Duke:

  • Class Size: Seminars are generally limited to fifteen students. Under no circumstances may enrollment exceed 18 students.
  • Active Student Participation: Seminars are cooperative ventures and their success depends upon the full and active participation of each member of the class. Therefore, conscientious preparation and regular attendance are required. You should expect to be fully and actively engaged in the work of the seminar, whether in connection with class discussions, research, or completion of original projects or reports. Regular writing assignments are also common features of seminars and help with the refinement of your skills in expository writing.
  • Scope: Most seminars do not attempt to survey a topic. Rather, students and faculty investigate some particular aspect of a topic or field. You should not rely upon seminars—particularly first-year seminars in the 89S-series—to provide a broad factual background for advanced study in a given department or area of knowledge.

Note: While enrollment in seminars is limited, it does not follow that all courses with enrollments below 18 are seminars. When an instructor chooses to offer a course as a seminar, she/he intends for the course to be relatively small but also to involve students in regular class discussion.

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