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As departments grow, they tend to hire people in the same area of research. And different people from different communities call things differently. For example, people in Statistics may call it "Statistical learning", while others "Pattern recognition". If several departments or people within the same department propose courses with similar content but different names and no one wants to change, what can be done at this point? Offer 2 courses but allow students to take only 1? Offer 2 courses and try to minimize the overlap? A senior faculty, chair, or dean should decide on 1 course only? Other ideas?

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    Why take any action? The purpose of a course is to teach students something, not to make life hard for them. Lots of courses overlap in lots of ways. It is unavoidable in some fields. Some places teach essentially the same course in different departments. It is up to advisors to advise and work with individuals on what meets their goals. I see no real problem here. An education doesn't consist of a bunch of discrete topics. – Buffy Nov 6 at 17:34
  • @Buffy it is fine if it is different departments, but within the same department there is no point of taking 2 similar courses – Thomas Lee Nov 6 at 18:02
  • You've already given three options for how to proceed, all of which are used. How many more do you hope to find? – Jessica B Nov 6 at 21:05
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    In all universities I know of, new courses and course changes have to be approved by some curriculum committee (or the faculty senate) that ensures that there is not too much overlap. So two almost identical, proposed courses will run into this exact problem, and likely neither of the two will get approved. – Wolfgang Bangerth Nov 6 at 21:10
  • @JessicaB these might not be the best options – Thomas Lee Nov 7 at 15:10
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If it is between 2 possible courses, its better to check what is different and what is the same, then join what it is the same and if there are not that many differences then add them all in the same course, if there are many, then you can either give one course with extra set of classes for each course (which is a bit of an administrative nightmare), or you can give 2 courses with shared classes of those that are the same.

As an example, in my university there are 2 extremely similar careers. 1 in the Licencee in Informatic sciences, and the other is the Licencee in Enginery of Informatic sciences. They are basically the same in most courses with same professors teaching in both, however, the first one has administration courses and the second has instead physics and chemistry. The other difference is that one has 1 semester of probability and another of statistics, and the other has both probability and statistics on the same semester. Who decides this? the direction of the school and the heads of careers/departments. they revise and update curriculum plans and then send them for approval/registration to the national education department, which might not be needed in your case.

My suggestion regarding the courses is in sum to check what is different between the proposed courses and see if it's worth A)to make them separate, B)Mash them together into 1 course, or C) Make 1 course with 'optional' extra classes needed for the student to Attain the credits to the different subjects.

Who needs to be consulted? All your stake-holders, meaning all the professors, chairs and such that would participate in the definition of the curricula.

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Note that I am not totally sure what the problem is. I assume you don't want your students to get credit twice for the same material.

In this case, if you have the power to do so, you could split up both courses into the"overlap" and the "rest", each a seperate course. (If there are two many students, both profs could teach the overlap simultanously.) Now students might take both courses, but get credit for the overlap only once.

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I'm not really sure what the issue is. Similar courses are offered all the time. Some examples from my own life would be:

  • A physiology department offering courses for majors, pre-med students, and nursing majors.
  • A linguistics department offering syntax courses for theoreticians and computational linguists. My department had Intro to Linguistics for non-majors (a number of foreign language departments required it and I believe it was also an elective for English), and prospective majors.

It's common for undergraduates to not be allowed to take both for credit, or can only use one to fulfill a requirement and the other only for elective credit. It's nice to take a class that's geared toward your subfield.

I'm not sure what your role in the department is, but if the chair doesn't have an issue, then there's no reason to change.

  • Similar courses in same department for same students – Thomas Lee Nov 6 at 19:10
  • @ThomasLee Not sure what that's supposed to mean – Azor Ahai Nov 6 at 19:16
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    @AzorAhai The issue is if a single student can gain 2 courses worth of credit while only learning 1.2 courses worth of material. Some overlap is fine, but it shouldn't be too substantial. – Jessica B Nov 6 at 21:03
  • @JessicaB That's only an issue if it's happening. The post only says two similar classes exist, not that all of the students are taking both ... it's not clear what role the OP has. In any case, I address that situation in my third paragraph – Azor Ahai Nov 6 at 21:11

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