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Including an explanation of courses?

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I hope this is the best place to post this...

I've heard from some students that it's a good idea to include an explanation of courses list as supplemental material to an application- I was curious if this is a good idea? Some of the course titles on my transcript are somewhat vague, and I don't feel they would give reviewers an idea of what the course covered.

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If there is space in the application for supplemental material, it certainly can't hurt. It's especially helpful if the course names are vague and the instructors are not writing you LORs, in which case the adcoms will have no other way of deducing from the transcript what you actually learned during your degree. In my opinion it's much better than wasting space in the SOP discussing your undergrad classes.

One of the schools I applied to actually required applicants to submit such a document - I think it had to list the official course names, the instructors' names, a brief description of content, any textbooks used in class, and I added a one-line description of the paper(s) I wrote for each class. After I prepared the document I submitted it to every school that would accept it. I don't know that it helped--it wasn't explicitly mentioned in interviews, whereas other parts of my application were--but it also didn't hurt.

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I think that in many cases it can be very helpful.

When I applied to American universities, a few of them asked me to list relevant courses which I've taken, and the amount of time spent studying each one. The British system often works in a different manner, so I called the different universities to get their opinion on what I should do. They all suggested writing a supplemental document that explains what was covered, what kind of work it entailed (number of essays/classes/lectures) and how much time was spent on it. All of them emphasized that supplemental material was seriously considered by the admissions board (a claim which you can take which a grain of salt, but which was revealed to clearly be true in one case when an interviewer asked me about information from that document).

So I support Fuzzylogician's view - if you think it'll help elucidate the titles of courses, and there's room to provide this information, by all means do.

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