How to address reading courses in cv for Phd application for pure math? I can only think of listing topics we covered in the course. But that seems to me very pointless since professors know the major topics of most math courses without reading that. However, I think independent readings are important experiences for math students, they definitely deserve a place in my CV.

  • Unless the course involved reading several papers on different topics, it shouldn't take more than something like "studied the first 4 chapters of Lambek's Lectures on Rings and Modules, working approximately half of the exercises". If you think more should be said, then give the details in your cover letter. Oct 1, 2017 at 19:44

2 Answers 2


It would be helpful to list the topics you looked at, and their sources. Even "standard" courses, with standard names, vary wildly depending on the choice of textbook or other sources, and depending on the instructor (who may be the author of notes or textbook for the course!)

Similarly, "reading course in X" tells far too little, just as saying "standard course in X" would. Prior to the enforced uniformization of applications to our grad program, as occasional Dir of Grad Studies in Math, I required applicants to not only tell the course name, but also, even more importantly, the (title and) author(s) of the text(s)/source(s) for the course. Reading courses treated the same way.

To repeat: the standard catch-phrases/labels of course names absolutely do not describe the content... so, yes, please do give more details. These details are not at all implied by the general, vague, cliched titles.


If it's a reading course, then it should have had some sort of course title for administrative purposes. If it didn't, it should be possible to make up a sensible title which would be as informative as a standard course title, and designate it as "reading course in..." along with the rest of your courses.

  • I am sorry, but I mean do I need to expand on it a little bit besides just listing it there?
    – Keith
    Oct 1, 2017 at 0:53
  • @Keith Do whatever you do for other courses. Why should a reading course be treated differently? Oct 1, 2017 at 15:23
  • I'd object that what people "do for other courses" is wildly inadequate to describe their content, because it is (incorrectly) presumed that there is standard content... Oct 31, 2017 at 0:25
  • @paul Fair enough, but whatever you do for one you should do for the other. Oct 31, 2017 at 0:27
  • Yes, indeed! I did elaborate on this in my own answer: telling author(s) of source(s) is essential, contrary to any idea that there is some sort of standard content. Oct 31, 2017 at 0:33

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