At first sight, there may appear to be a very wide range of project situations that are in use. Students may seem to be doing the equivalent of postgraduate work, or may seem to be working on contract basis, or may even seem to be doing rather long term laboratory exercises, or some mixture of all three. However, there are in essence two major types of project situations — the free-scope project and the set-piece project.
The free-scope project attaches importance to the selection of project topics by the student. The student may be told to select a problem from the entire spectrum of problems offered by the science of astronomy, and to get on with it, or there may be guidelines to restrict the choice. Nevertheless, the choice of topic is the prerogative of the student, and it is believed that the effort of making that choice is important in the teaching/learning process. Because of the range of formats for free-scope projects, it is a convenient form to adapt to meet varying local circumstances.