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I am writing a letter to the head of my department stating that I want to pursue an optional course in Philosophy. In the letter, the departmental norm is to mention the "department" of my choice rather than the subject. So, I wrote the following sentence:

  1. I wish to do the optional course from the department of philosophy.

But, according to my friend, the preposition after course should be in. Hence, the sentence according to him would be:

  1. I wish to do the optional course in the department of philosophy.

I'd be grateful if you guys can help me out with this confusion, and also if you can point out some other grammatical inconsistencies in the above sentences.

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I see no important difference, and it is unlikely that an admissions tutor would care about or be influenced by your choice. If it is "from the department", it is (coming) from or (emanating) from the expertise of those in the department, with final qualifications given from the department. If it is "in the department" it is delivered within the structure and function of the department, with final qualifications given in accordance with those structures. The end result is the same.

It is a mistake to focus on secondary matters such as this when your main and primary attention should be on saying: why you want to pursue the course; why you are qualified to do it; why you have chosen that department; and what you hope it will lead to in future. These are the things that an admissions process needs to know.

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