FAQs


What do I do if...
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What do I do if a Religious Obligation conflicts with a final exam?

No later than three weeks before the start of the examination period, students must contact the Course Director to arrange an alternative examination date. An Examination Accommodation form is available for this purpose from Student Client Services (Student Services Centre) or on the Registrar's website. When suitable and agreeable arrangements cannot be made, or if the student does not feel comfortable about approaching the professor to request a religious accommodation, then the student should contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs not less than fourteen days prior to the start of the examination and, if requested to do so, present evidence concerning the religious obligation(s) involved. The Associate Dean may consider a number of options to provide an accommodation, depending on the student's particular circumstance. The Associate Dean may elect to treat the situation as an exam conflict, and accommodate it within the examination period on another date, or to arrange for a deferred examination as soon as possible.

What do I do if a Religious Obligation conflicts with a lab or test?

No later than fourteen days ahead of a conflict between religious and academic obligations (except for final exams), students must notify the Course Director or Lab Coordinator of their conflict in order to gain accommodation. Accommodation may take the form of a rescheduled lab/test, an alternative task (such as an assignment in lieu of a test), or restructuring the grading scheme to eliminate the lab session or test component from the grading scheme. If no suitable and agreeable accommodation is found, students should approach the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, who may request that the student present evidence concerning the religious obligations involved. The Associate Dean will convey the decision to the instructor and student.

What do I do if I am overwhelmed by coursework?

Frequently, students have multiple obligations (tests, assignments, lab reports) occurring within a short time frame. This is normal and expected during the middle of the term, and Course Directors cannot possibly accommodate everyone's most desired wishes. They in fact are not obligated to accommodate the demands of other courses, provided the demands of their own courses are not unreasonable themselves. To meet concurrent obligations, students are expected to stay abreast of the course material, prepare for scheduled tests in an on-going manner and to tackle lab reports, essays and assignments without procrastination. If you experience difficulty meeting academic obligations, assuming that these are not a priori unreasonable, it may be that you have taken on too much in the context of your non-academic (family, personal, work-related) obligations and need to review what would be a more manageable course load. It may also be that you could use some help to better handle the workload. Feel free to discuss this with an academic advisor or with the Undergraduate Program Director.

Normally, the demands of a course are to be made clear at the very start of term, including the dates of tests and the deadlines for essays/assignments and lab reports, and you need to assess at that time whether or not you can meet them in the context of all your other obligations. If you feel that the demands of any particular course are unreasonable, disproportionate or overwhelming, or if you feel that they have changed or increased or are otherwise discordant with the expectations announced at the beginning of term, or if the actual demands were not clearly laid out, discuss this with the Course Director or contact the Undergraduate Program Director.

What do I do if I fail (or don't do as well as I can in) a course?
As of Fall 2016,* students may retake a failed course up to twice more if they have failed to achieve sufficient standing to proceed in a program-mandated course or in a prerequisite course. Students may also retake a passed course to better prepare themselves for later courses or simply to improve their GPA. The second or third grade, whichever is the most recent becomes the grade of record (whether it be higher or lower) and is used in gpa calculations, though all re-takes appear on transcripts, with prior grade(s) designated as NCR (No Credit Retained). The grade in any course taken more than three times is also designated NCR.
* Prior to Fall 2016, only two attempts were allowed, the second grade became the grade of record when a course was repeated, and subsequent attempts were designated NCR.

As well, the university now allows students to withdraw from a course past the drop deadline and until the last day of classes. In that case, a "W" grade appears on the transcript but the attempt at the course does not count as a failed attempt. In other words, students are allowed three attempts at courses above and beyond any withdrawals. (A course attempt does not appear on the transcript if it is dropped before the drop deadline.)

Contrary to what some might think, York University is interested in your success and in the wise use of taxpayer dollars, and not interested in simply collecting tuition by letting you re-take courses as often as you want. Hence, it limits the number of attempts at courses at three, on the expectation that students re-taking a course will devote special attention to doing well the next time. However, the university does not deny the possibility of subsequent attempts, recognizing that individuals sometimes operate under difficult circumstances or circumstances beyond their control. In such circumstances, petitions may be appropriate and consulting an academic advisor on that is perhaps a good idea.

In order to take a CHEM course a third time, the department has adopted the policy of requiring students to get permission from the UPD by submitting a "Request to Attempt a CHEM Course a Third or Subsequent Time", even if the attempt will count. The purpose of this is to make sure that the student will be successful without wasting money and time. You would be asked to examine the causes of your previous failed attempts and to detail the strategy that you will implement to significantly improve your result on the next attempt, after considering what was not working in the way the course was handled and/or in personal circumstances. If nothing changes in these regards, a better result will not be expected when repeating a course, so help with courses, academic skills, or with personal issues may be warranted.

Enrollment in repeated courses is often subject to course availability and/or space limitations.
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What do I do if I have a complaint about a professor?

It depends on the nature of the complaint.

  • Professors are accorded considerable freedom as to course content, how the material is conveyed and the conduct of the course itself. If your concerns are about how the course is taught, what is taught, the structure and organization of the course, and so on, especially if you have some constructive suggestion to make, you can certainly approach the Course Director. If you do not feel comfortable speaking with the professor directly on such a matter, then approach the Undergraduate Program Director. At the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to express your likes and dislikes about both the course itself and the professor, on the Course and Lecturer Evaluations.
  • Professors do need to frame the course within the parameters set by the University. Examples of such limitations, which apply to all courses, are that the expectations (grading scheme, workload, materials required, learning outcomes) must be communicated within two weeks of the start of the course, course policies (with respect to missed tests, assignment extensions, etc.) must be set at that time, no change in grading scheme can occur after that time unless it benefits all students and benefits them evenly, and 30% of the grade must be determined and feedback on this must be provided before the drop deadline. If you feel that this course is not being conducted within this regulatory framework, then it is better to approach the Undergraduate Program Director.
  • You have the right to be clear on the expectations of assignments, tests and exams. You have the right to know why you received a particular grade and how you can improve your performance in the course. This includes being sure that assignments, tests and exams are marked correctly and fairly. Always bring such a concern to the Course Director first. If this does not clarify things or if you have difficulty contacting the Course Director, then approach the Undergraduate Program Director.
  • If it concerns your particular situation in the course, for instance if you feel treated unfairly with respect to the other students, or if it concerns the conduct of the professor in or out of class, then you should approach the Chair of the department or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
What do I do if I have a complaint about my lab T.A.?

We take the role of Teaching Assistant very seriously and we are keenly interested in our students having a good lab experience. This includes a civil relationship between you and your T.A., in which you feel treated fairly and professionally. Teaching Assistants have very important responsibilities, namely to ensure the safety and expedient conduct of the lab exercises, to achieve their intended pedagogic results, and to be of assistance to their students to achieve those results. As professionals, they are accorded considerable leeway in meeting their responsibilities and have access to resources, including their own experience as well as the experience of their fellow Teaching Assistants, the Lab Coordinator and the Course Director. For any course that has a lab component, the Course Director is responsible for the conduct of the lab and that of the Teaching Assistants for the course.

  • If you are unhappy about the design and conduct of an experiment, about the quality of the equipment or reagents used, or have safety concerns relating to the experiment, you can certainly voice your concerns to your T.A. but you should approach the Lab Coordinator with the specifics of your concern, since experiment design, organization, scheduling, equipment, supplies and conduct are the Lab Coordinator's responsibilities.
  • You have the right to be clear on the expectations of the lab exercises and your Teaching Assistant's expectation with respect to lab reports. You have the right to retrieve your marked lab reports in a timely manner. You have the right to know why you received a particular grade and how you can improve your lab reports. This includes being sure that lab reports are marked correctly and fairly, and being able to contact the T.A. outside the lab. Always bring such a concern to the T.A. first. If this does not clarify things, or if you experience difficulty in contacting the T.A., then approach the Course Director with the specifics of your complaint. You can do this by e-mail if you are not comfortable meeting in person with the Course Director on this matter. In many cases, simply speaking with the Lab Coordinator can resolve the issue, or the Lab Coordinator can approach the Course Director on your behalf.
  • You have the right to be treated in a civil and professional manner, and a responsibility to behave in the same way. If you feel slighted in this manner, always approach the Course Director, who will approach the Teaching Assistant to assess both sides of the issue. Similarly, the T.A. can lodge a complaint about you. If the conflict persists and if it will assist the situation, every effort can be made to have you moved to another lab section with a different Teaching Assistant. If this is not possible or if the Course Director's handling of the situation is unsatisfactory, you can approach the Undergraduate Program Director (UPD) about it and the UPD can intervene on your behalf and take action.
  • You have the right to be treated fairly with respect to other students in your lab group by the same Teaching Assistant, whether with regard to expectations or grading. Approach the Course Director if you feel unfairly treated within your lab group. However, you cannot expect to be treated equally with students of other Teaching Assistants, since different Teaching Assistants can have different expectations. Some Teaching Assistants are considered harder than others. Some indeed ask more of their students, but no student should suffer as a result. It is therefore the Course Director's responsibility to ensure that, in the end, there be no significant differences in the lab grade distributions and will adjust the grades if such a discrepancy arises but, usually, the Course Director will instruct the Teaching Assistants at the start of the course to prevent such a situation. However, if you feel that your Teaching Assistant's expectations are unreasonable with respect to other Teaching Assistants, by all means contact the Course Director.

Toward the end of every lab course, you will have the opportunity to formally evaluate your Teaching Assistant and register your concerns. These evaluations and your anonymous comments -- both favourable and critical -- are read by the Teaching Assistants. They are also read by the Course Directors and affect how Teaching Assistants are deployed in the future. They also enter into their teaching dossiers, and can affect their career prospects. Hence, everyone has a stake in ensuring that you have a satisfactory lab experience and your comments never go unnoticed.

What do I do if I have an exam conflict?
Conflicts between mid-term tests (which some students call "exams") should never arise since mid-term tests should be held during normal lecture or tutorial times, and because courses themselves should never conflict on these times. If you have enrolled in courses that conflict, you have placed yourself in jeopardy. If this is your situation, contact the two Course Directors, explaining your situation, to see if some accommodation can be made by one or the other. If not, see the Undergraduate Program Director. If a Course Director schedules a mid-term test outside of regular lecture and tutorial hours, see the Undergraduate Program Director or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

The Registrar's Office normally knows about final exam conflicts before the exam schedules are posted, since they know what courses everyone is taking and when the exams are scheduled, and so they would be contacting you directly concerning your conflict and proposing a remedy. Usually, this means you would be taking one of your conflicting exams at an alternate time and location that does not cause a further conflict. Normally, then, there should be nothing special for you to do, but you can fill out an exam conflict form if you have a conflict but have not been contacted. Make sure you understand what constitutes a final exam conflict.

What do I do if I have Transfer Credits from another institution?

Be sure to get an advising appointment as early as possible in order to select the courses necessary for you to complete your York degree in a timely manner.

After you applied to transfer to York from a college or from another university, the Admissions Office will have examined your transcript, with help from the institutionally issued course descriptions and from the York departments concerned, in order to ascertain which, if any, of the coursework completed elsewhere can be credited toward a York degree. The Admissions Office will have issued you its determination in a letter, in the form of Transfer Credits (also known as Advanced Standing) apportioned to one or more levels of study, and as Course Credit Exclusions in certain York courses, if the previously taken courses are deemed substantially the same. Marks earned in courses taken at other institutions do not count toward your York GPA and any transfer credits do not enter into the GPA calculation. You may not re-take the courses in which you have been awarded Course Credit Exclusion, as stipulated in the letter from Admissions. Courses in which you have Course Credit Exclusions can nevertheless serve as pre-requisites for York courses. Any transfer credits that are not Course Credit Exclusions nevertheless count in all the appropriate credit totals required in your program (total credits in all courses, total credits in Science courses, total 1000-level Science credits, total upper-year Science credits, etc.). The Registrar's website gives answers to many frequently asked questions concerning Transfer Credits.

When you visit the Chemistry department for your advising appointment, bring with you a copy of all Advanced Standing documentation issued to you, so as to be able to determine the program requirements still outstanding in the completion of your degree.

If you were denied Course Credit Exclusion in a particular course taken elsewhere, it may be that the course was of insufficient depth or breadth to be considered equivalent to a York course, granting equivalence may leave you at a significant disadvantage if attempting a successor course at York, the course lacked a lab component (if a lab component is part of the York equivalent), it had too few lecture hours (and/or laboratory hours in courses with a lab component), or because the grade you earned was too low. Courses that have no York equivalent but appear to be of appropriate level and depth, and in which the grade you earned was sufficiently high, may be granted transfer credit without Course Credit Exclusions.

If you are unsure of your Advanced Standing, or if you think you have been wrongfully denied Course Credit Exclusions for some of your previously taken courses, be sure to contact the Admissions Office as soon as possible. While the Chemistry department is responsible for assessing Chemistry and Biochemistry courses taken elsewhere for possible Course Credit Exclusions, it cannot initiate the granting process and has no influence on the assessments made by other departments for courses in other disciplines.

What do I do if I know in advance that I must miss the final exam?
Students are expected to write final examinations when these are scheduled, except when there arises a conflict with a religious obligation. The University publishes the start and end dates of the examination period well in advance of the start of the academic session, even though the actual examination schedule is published after the start of the academic session (late October for December exams, late February for April exams). Students must remain available and not make travel plans or take on outside obligations during those examination periods, except in extraordinary and unavoidable circumstances, which must be explicitly detailed when seeking accommodation. This allows for rescheduling exams, for instance owing to inclement weather.

In very rare situations, a student knows in advance that he/she cannot avoid missing an exam, owing to an outside, non-religious obligation than cannot be altered, and which cannot have reasonably been avoided.

If you know in advance that you will not be able to attend the final exam for a course, and you have a legitimate and unavoidable reason for this, you should communicate this as early as possible to the Course Director, armed with documentation to substantiate your anticipated absence, in order to attempt to reschedule. Providing your anticipated absence is justifiable, a final exam can sometimes be rescheduled for you before the regularly scheduled date by private arrangement or it may be rescheduled after the regularly scheduled date, through a Deferred Standing Agreement. If rescheduling is not possible for whatever reason, you will need to proceed just as in cases of an unexpected absence.

What do I do if I know in advance that I must miss a lab?

Students are expected to attend all lab sessions when these are scheduled, except when there arises a conflict with a religious obligation. Lab schedules are established at the very start of the academic term and usually published in lab manuals and labs take place during lab hours.

In rare circumstances, a student knows in advance that he/she cannot avoid missing a lab, owing to an outside, non-religious obligation that cannot be altered, and which cannot have reasonably been avoided.

If you know in advance that you will not be able to attend a lab session, and you have a legitimate and unavoidable reason for this, you should communicate this as early as possible to the lab coordinator, armed with documentation to substantiate your anticipated absence, in order to attempt to reschedule. If your absence is justifiable but rescheduling a lab, you will not be penalized: lab session grades will be prorated.

What do I do if I know in advance that I must miss a test?
Students are expected to write class tests when these are scheduled, except when there arises a conflict with a religious obligation. Course Directors make clear, early in the academic term, when tests are scheduled. Except under unusual circumstances, in-class tests are scheduled during lecture or tutorial hours.

In rare circumstances, a student knows in advance that he/she cannot avoid missing a test, owing to an outside, non-religious obligation than cannot be altered, and which cannot have reasonably been avoided.

If you know in advance that you will not be able to attend a test, and you have a legitimate and unavoidable reason for this, you should communicate this as early as possible to the Course Director, armed with documentation to substantiate your anticipated absence, in order to attempt to reschedule. If your absence is justifiable but rescheduling a test is not possible, legitimately missed tests will be treated according to normal course policy for unexpectedly missed tests.

What do I do if I unexpectedly miss a final exam?
Students are expected to write final examinations when these are scheduled, except in cases of conflict with religious obligations which are not considered here. If you unexpectedly miss your final exam with reasonable justification for your absence, you will need Deferred Standing to write a deferred examination.

There are two ways to obtain Deferred Standing:

With a Deferred Standing Agreement through a signed Deferred Standing Agreement form duly filed by the prescribed deadline.
By a Petition for Deferred Standing submitted to Student Client Services (Student Services Building) by the prescribed deadline.
In either case, reasonable justification for your absence will need to be provided.

Because of recent changes in Petitions Committee policies, please consult the Missed Exam Policy Documenton how to proceed, on the documentation required and on applicable deadlines.

Once your deferred exam is marked, your final grade will be communicated to the Registrar's Office by the Course Director with a Course Grade Notification form.

Any student found to misrepresent circumstances or to present falsified, fabricated or untrue documentation (including information pertinent to a Deferred Standing Agreement or a Petition for Deferred Standing) is guilty of Academic Dishonesty as per Senate Policy on Academic Honesty paragraph 2.1.8, the penalty for which can range up to expulsion from the University with transcript notation.

What do I do if I unexpectedly miss a lab?

Students are expected to attend all lab sessions when these are scheduled. The lab schedule is established at the very start of the academic term and is usually made known in lab manuals. If you have a reasonable justification for an absence, see the laboratory coordinator for your course immediately, armed with documentation justifying your absence (e.g. a physician's statement clearly explaining that you were medically unfit to attend school). The lab coordinator may allow you to make up the missed lab, if there is space available in another lab section, in order for you to get the benefit of the lab. Lab experiments lasting more than one week probably cannot be made up. If the missed lab cannot be made up, you will not be penalized and your lab grades will be prorated.

What do I do if I unexpectedly miss a test?

Students are expected to write class tests when these are scheduled, and Course Directors are obligated to make clear, early in the academic term, when these are scheduled. Course Directors also set the policies regarding missed tests in their courses. If you unexpectedly miss a test or midterm, contact the Course Director immediately with reasonable justification for your absence (e.g. a physician's statement clearly explaining that you were medically unfit to attend school). The Course Director may be able to make arrangements for a make-up test, or may shift the grade weight of the missed test onto another grade component, such as the final exam, or may prorate the values of the other grade components, guided by the need to uphold the academic integrity of the course and the need to ensure fairness to other students in the course.

What do I do if my gpa drops below the minimum?

The situation depends on your degree program, and on how low your gpa drops. A notation to take action will appear on your transcript, and you will have certain options in view of the minimum gpa requirements of the various programs:

  • If you are in an Honours program and your gpa falls just under the required minimum, you may request an Honours Waiver so as to proceed in the same program.
  • If you are in an Honours program whose minimum gpa requirement is greater than 5.0 and your gpa falls below that minimum but remains at least 5.0, you can transfer into another Honours program with a lower gpa requirement. If your overall gpa falls just below 5.0, you may request an Honours Waiver so as to proceed in an Honours program.
  • If you are in an Honours program whose minimum gpa requirement is 5.0 and your overall gpa falls below that minimum, you can transfer into the Bachelors program.

For students in Honours programs, there are several options to consider when they stumble academically, including shadowing the program in an alternate strategy.

  • If you are in the 90-credit Bachelors program, you will need to achieve a minimum overall gpa of 4.0 in order to graduate. If your gpa drops below this minimum at the end of any academic session, you will be issued an Academic Warning, which will appear on your transcript. Then:
    • You can continue under an Academic Warning and strive to achieve a cumulative overall gpa of at least 3.5 by the end of the next 30 credits, in which case you may continue toward your degree (you must still achieve an overall gpa of 4.0 to graduate). If you do not manage to reach an overall gpa of 4.0 before the completion of 102 credits, you will need to contact Science Academic Services.
    • If you continue under an Academic Warning but do not achieve a cumulative overall gpa of at least 3.5 by the end of the next 30 credits, you will be attributed a Failure to Gain Standing. If so, you will not be allowed to register for any courses until you gain re-admission, and you will not be re-admitted for one year. Re-admission requires that you have a valid basis to expect better success, and is not guaranteed. If you are re-admitted, you will be issued a Debarment Warning and will need to raise your gpa to at least 3.5 over the next 24 credits.
    • If you return under a Debarment Warning but do not achieve a cumulative overall gpa of at least 3.5 by the end of the next 24 credits, you will be debarred. If so, you will not be allowed to register for any courses until you gain re-admission, and you will not be re-admitted for two years. Re-admission after debarment requires that you provide convincing evidence that you will profit from university studies.
  • If, at any time after having completed 24 credits, your cumulative gpa falls below 2.5, you will be attributed a Failure to Gain Standing. If so, you will not be allowed to register for any courses until you are re-admitted, and you will not be allowed to gain re-admission for one year. Re-admission requires that you have a valid basis to expect better success, and is not guaranteed. If you are re-admitted, you will be issued a Debarment Warning and will need to raise your gpa to at least 3.5 over the next 24 credits. If you fail to do so, you will be debarred, not be allowed to register for any courses until you gain re-admission, and you will not be re-admitted for two years unless you provide convincing evidence that you will profit from university studies.

Any change in degree program requires departmental approval after an advising session. To proceed and progress, you may need to repeat the failed courses that are required by your program. To raise your gpa, you may also choose to repeat failed elective courses but it may be wiser to choose different electives. You may also choose to repeat passed courses though perhaps only certain passed courses would be worthwhile to repeat. You should consider getting advice from your advisor about what courses to re-take, if any. In any case, it would be wise to examine why you did not do as well as hoped in earlier courses, both in general and in those particular courses that you intend to repeat, because doing better on a second attempt requires that you tackle the course(s) differently, deal with unfavourable circumstances and/or adjust your work habits. To do better in your courses, you may need help with particular courses, help with your academic skills, or help with personal issues.

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How do I ...
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How do I add a course after the enrollment deadline?

There are two enrollment deadlines. The first, about two weeks* after the start of the academic term, is the deadline to add a course without needing the Course Director's permission. The second, about two weeks* later, is to add a course with the Course Director's written permission. (As at any time, enrollment is subject to space availability and other restrictions, such as prerequisites.) If you are unable to enroll because you are on an enrollment waiting list, attend all lectures and tutorials and take any quizzes scheduled in that period, so as not to miss anything. The Course Director may deny permission if you have not been attending the first few weeks of lectures/tutorials and if it is felt that too much material has been missed as a result, or if too many lab sessions have been missed (you are not allowed to attend lab sessions if not enrolled). If the Course Director gives you permission to enroll after the first deadline, then you cannot be penalized for any lab sessions missed because of your inability to enroll owing to space restrictions.

After the second deadline, you can only add a course by formal Petition. This will be necessary under certain conditions, for instance if you faced enrollment restrictions but have the Course Director's support to add the course late as a result of an opening, or if you faced no enrollment restrictions but can provide documented justification for not having been reasonably able to add the course before the second deadline (e.g.you were physically unable to enroll).

How do I appeal the decision on my Petition?

Details on how to appeal a petition decision are given in the letter notifying you of the decision, and also appear on the area of FSc website dealing with petitions and appeals. Most importantly, you can only appeal on new evidence or new grounds that could not reasonably have been cited in the original petition, or (much more rarely) on procedural grounds. You cannot simply restate your case.

How do I select my courses?

Since no two students are identical, the advice provided here must remain of a general nature. Clarifications can be had, particulars and special situations can be examined during Advising Sessions, which are free and informative sessions designed to help you select courses and get advice of all kinds.

  • Get with the program Choosing a program may or may not be easy for you. Some advice is available under Choosing a Program, as well as in Advising sessions. Fortunately, should you change your mind a little later, you can perhaps transfer between programs, provided space is not restricted and you meet the minimum GPA requirement for the new program, with minimal disruption and delay. Once you've settled on a program, you should follow it, minimizing delays as much as possible (see below), and doing your very best in your courses.
  • Take a normal course load Unless you have a compelling reason not to, the best advice is to plan on about 30 credits every academic year. You can, of course, take a lighter course load and, if possible, take some courses in the summer terms. Your OSAP eligibility or entitlement may be affected, as can your eligibility for Work-Study positions. As well, if medicine is what you aspire to, you should know that most medical schools require a full load, while others will weigh your results according to your course load. The Student Ombuds Service of Bethune College has some advice for medical school aspirants.
  • Courses are normally taken in the years corresponding to their level. Course numbers reflect academic level but are not restrictive. The general expectation is that 1000-level courses will be taken in 1st year, 2000-level courses in 2nd year, and so on. But these labels are not restrictive. For instance, a 1000-level course can be taken at any time during an undergraduate career, but might be a prerequisite or corequisite to a 2000-level course, which, in turn, might be prerequiste to a 3000- or 4000-level course. At the other extreme, a few 4000-level courses can be taken in 3rd year because they only have 2000-level prerequisites, but most have 3000-level prerequisites and can only be taken in 4th year.
  • The order in which courses are taken may therefore be important. The requirements for your degree program, as published in the Undergraduate Calendar, might be unreadable and confusing, but a study plan, such as those detailed under Program Requirements on this website, is an orderly guide suggesting a workable sequence. Many variations on a suggested course sequence are usually possible.
  • Key considerations in course sequencing are prerequisites. There is a chart available (the Scheduling & Prerequisite Chart) to rapidly and graphically visualize the CHEM prerequisites of all CHEM courses, but be aware that some CHEM courses have prerequisites in other Sciences, which themselves may have prior prerequisites. For instance, CHEM 4050 requires BIOL 2021, which itself requires BIOL 2020, which itself requires BIOL 1010. In general, the pre/corequisites of program-mandated courses are themselves mandated, but this may not be true of elective courses. Thus, the two programs requiring CHEM 4050 (Pharmaceutical & Biological Chemistry stream and Specialized Honours Biochemistry) also require the BIOL 1010/2020/2021 sequence, but CHEM 4050 would only be a possible elective in other programs, and so the BIOL 1010/2020/2021 sequence is not required in other programs. All pre/corequisites are clearly indicated in the course descriptions on this site under CHEM COURSES, on the University Courses website and in the Undergraduate Calendar, and it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with upper-year elective courses before you reach your upper years.
  • Cognate courses can often be safely delayed. While some courses, particularly cognate courses such as CSE (formerly COSC) and General Education courses can be safely delayed, others should not, lest there result a scheduling conflict. Scheduling conflicts often arise when trying to schedule lectures and labs for courses from several levels, because courses within any one level are scheduled so as not to conflict with other courses of the same level or with cognate courses of the same level. On the other hand, General Education courses are extremely varied in nature and schedule, and should be chosen last, fitting in a time-slot not occupied by degree-mandated courses. Similarly, you have a selection of CSE courses from which to choose, though CSE 1540 is preferred. On the other hand, PHYS 1010/1410 and MATH 1013 and 1014 should be taken in 1st year, as they are prerequisites for CHEM 2010 and CHEM 2011, which are prerequisites for later courses.
  • Later on, you might delay courses in subject areas you don't intend to pursue. For instance, to use an example from the Specialized Honours Chemistry program requirements, if Physical Chemistry is a subject you know you will not want to pursue, then it would be reasonable to expect you to not take a 4000-level elective course in Physical Chemistry, which means that CHEM 3010 or CHEM 3011 could be taken in 4th year, CHEM 2010 and CHEM 2011 could be taken in 3rd year, and PHYS 1010/1410 and/or MATH 1013 and/or 1014 could be delayed until 2nd year. On the other hand, you need to know that CHEM 4090 prerequires CHEM 3010, so that delaying CHEM 3010 to 4th year will likely mean that you won't be able to take CHEM 4090. Another example is in the Analytical area: taking CHEM 2080 in 3rd year and CHEM 3080 in 4th year, if the elective course CHEM 4080 is not likely to be chosen. There is some danger in this, especially if planning this kind of delay early in your undergraduate career. Firstly, you might feel that you don't like a particular sub-discipline now, but this might be based on ignorance, rumour or fear, and you might discover that you actually prefer that sub-discipline when you actually take a course in it. Secondly, interests change over time. Because you never can predict where your interests will shift, the general advice remains to take courses of a given level in the corresponding year. However, there are situations possibly arising later in your undergraduate career that might dictate a delay in courses in one or another sub-discipline, and it would be natural to choose to delay a course in a sub-discipline that you are clear on not pursuing, based on experience.
  • Electives or courses which are prerequisites to no other can also be safely delayed. Elective courses and courses that are not prerequisites, usually 3rd year courses like CHEM 3050 or CHEM 3071, can be safely delayed to 4th year, but their prerequisites must be taken earlier.
  • Not all courses are available every year. This is particularly true for 4000-level courses, which are often elective courses. If a program mandates a particular 4000-level course, then it either is available every year or it can be taken in your 3rd year (that is, if it has only 2000-level prerequisites). Otherwise, be prepared to be flexible in your 4000-level choices.
  • Some courses are available in summer terms.If you're missing a prerequisite or need to repeat a course, you can often "catch up" by taking a course in a summer term. This is particularly true for many cognate courses such as 1000-level Science (SC) courses, many General Education courses, CHEM 2020 and CHEM 4000. Some other CHEM courses are occasionally offered in summer terms, and some higer-level courses in cognate subjects are available as well. The terms in which CHEM courses can be taken in any academic year are given under COURSES ON THIS YEAR and summer courses are explicitly listed under SUMMER OFFERINGS. The cognate and General Education courses available in summer terms must be identified by consulting the Summer Lecture Schedule, published during the preceding Winter term, or by consulting the offering departments. You can take up to 15 credits in any summer.
How do I change my exam date?

Students do not set exam dates and generally cannot initiate a request for an alternate date. Exam dates are set according to the type of exam requested by the Course Director and according to room availability, and never conflict with known religious holidays, but may occur on weekends. Accomodations can be made for other religious obligations. On the other hand, the start and end dates of the examination periods are published well ahead of the start of any academic term, and students are expected to plan accordingly.

Important: Students should be prepared to write exams at any time during the examination period, and so must remain available for the entire period (and not make any travel or other plans). Religious obligations are exceptions and students must follow a specific procedure to secure an accommodation for religious obligations. A student can normally only petition for Deferred Standing to accommodate an unexpected event. A student normally cannot petition for Deferred Standing on the grounds that an exam conflicts with another obligation (other than religious ones, as stated above) or with travel plans, whether arranged prior to publication of the exam schedule or not, unless it can be argued, with supporting evidence, that there was no reasonable alternative course of action and/or that circumstances beyond the student's control dictated the course of action. In such cases, students should follow the instructions for cases of advance notice of an absence.

Except for known exam conflicts, arranged religious accommodations and deferrals by virtue of a Deferred Standing Agreement or a Petition for Deferred Standing, it is virtually impossible to change an exam date, once the final exam schedule is published.

How do I change my Major or degree program?

You can request a Change of Major or Program online and you can use this online tool to manage your request and check the status. You have until the 10th day of fall-term classes to do this.

Since some programs have limited enrollment, not all program transfers will be approved. Acting early is best. As well, there are minimum GPA scores required for some programs.

How can I do better in my coursework?

You can get help for a particular course while it is running, or with general student skills such as time management, studying, exam preparation, note-taking, etc. If you suspect you might be hampered by your personal or family situation, by outside obligations, by a medical problem, by the way you learn, or by anything else of a non-academic nature, you should address such an interference in order to be at your academic best. A review of your obligations, a lighter course load, counseling, specific help or some form of accommodation might be appropriate. You can speak with the Undergraduate Program Director about your course load or for guidance on how to address your situation, or you can get specific help to address learning and productivity issues, to be assessed for a learning disability, or simply for support and counseling.

How do I drop a course after the drop deadline?

The course drop deadline is late enough in the academic term to give you ample time to decide whether or not you should remain in a course. Before the drop deadline, you should have had the opportunity to earn marks worth 15% or more of your final grade, to provide you with feedback and to help you decide on whether or not to stay. After the deadline, you can only withdraw from a course before the last day of classes (earning a grade of "W") or drop a course by formal Petition through the FSc, and only if you can provide documented justification for not having been reasonably able to drop the course before the deadline. Normally petitions for late withdrawal from a course will only be considered if they are submitted within three weeks of the release of final grades for any academic term. Such petitions may be considered for a period of up to one year after the release of final grades for any academic term if they are based on special circumstances. If a petition is submitted after the one-year deadline, the petition must also address why you should be exempted from the one-year deadline, again citing why an earlier petition was not possible. Petitions to drop courses offered by other faculties may be subject to a firm one-year deadline.

How do I find out when tests/exams are scheduled?

The Course Director sets the schedule for each course, including when tests and other grade items (such as assignment deadlines) are scheduled. Final exams are scheduled by the University, usually in October for Fall term (F) exams, in February for exams for Winter term (W) and full-year (Y) courses, and in May or June for summer-term exams (there are several summer terms). Although the University makes every effort to avoid exam conflicts, the first published schedule remains tentative until conflicts and other issues are identified and resolved as much as possible, then a final schedule is published shortly thereafter. Exam schedules appear on the Registrar's website.

How do I get a lab exemption?

A lab exemption is often awarded when a student repeats a course with a lab component. At the discretion of the Course Director, it is an exemption from the need to retake the lab component of the course, and is awarded if the student completed all of the lab experiments successfully and obtained a satisfactory overall mark for the lab component of the course. On rare occasions, exemptions from certain lab experiments are awarded to students with documented allergies or sensitivities to particular solvents or chemical substances, or to pregnant students.

If you have earlier completed the lab component to a course you are repeating, request the exemption here.

How do I get a recommendation letter for graduate studies?

A worthwhile recommendation comes from a professor who knows you well enough to comment first-hand on what the admissions selection body wants to know. Graduate schools want to know about such things as intellectual ability, potential for research, independence, maturity, work ethic, creativity, communication skills, and so on, by asking for ratings on each criterion, as well as a letter detailing strengths and weaknesses. On these points, the obvious candidates would be your supervisor for your undergraduate thesis course (e.g. CHEM 4000), other professors on your examining committee, or supervisors in other lab work (NSERC, Dr. James Wu Internships, Work-Study positions, volunteering). Professors generally know too little to answer in a meaningful way unless they have gotten to know you personally quite well. Supplying a professor with a CV won't help much, as the information therein is second-hand. Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor just because you got a good mark in that course may not be a good idea, especially if it was a large course because most professors in that situation can only state from first-hand knowledge how well you performed in his/her course, perhaps ranking you against other people and highlighting whether or not you stood out in this or that grade component of the course. Usually, that is not what a graduate school is looking for, as they can surmise much the same information from your transcript. Even so, keep in mind that professors in large courses probably get a large number of requests for recommendation and may not be willing to write on your behalf if they don't know you. If you engaged in conversation or email with your professor, they might feel comfortable enough to comment about how well you communicate, so long as they can associate you with your exchanges but, too often, professors in large courses cannot associate faces with names or with an email exchange or two.

So, how can you get a professor to know you well enough?
Professors in small classes can get to know you in class if you answer questions well, ask pertinent questions and generally appear to be interested. Ask questions beyond the course material, ask about something you read somewhere, ask for additional course resources, ask about graduate school, ask for career advice, etc. Be interesting and interested. Otherwise, get involved in research, since the student's potential for research is an important (if not the most important) admissions criterion for graduate school. Then do what is expected, show up when you say you will, be punctual, be professional and ask for direction.

What else can you do?
Ask your course T.A., who might know you well enough, to write a detailed letter of recommendation which the professor can then append to a covering letter that, beyond what can be said first-hand, authenticates the source.

How do I get a recommendation letter for a professional school?

A worthwhile recommendation comes from a professor who knows you well enough to comment first-hand on what the admissions selection body wants to know. Professional schools want to know about such things as intellectual ability, independence, maturity, work ethic, leadership skills, community involvement, empathy, and so on, by asking for ratings on each criterion, as well as a letter detailing strengths and weaknesses. On these points, professors generally know too little to answer in a meaningful way unless they have gotten to know you quite well. Generally, they can only comment on what they know first-hand about you, and that might not be much. Supplying professors with a CV won't help much, as the information therein is second-hand. Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor just because you got a good mark in that course may not be a good idea, especially if it was a large course because most professors in that situation can only state from first-hand knowledge how well you performed in his/her course, perhaps ranking you against other people and highlighting whether or not you stood out in this or that grade component of the course. Usually, that is not what a professional school is looking for, as they can surmise much the same information from your transcript. Even so, keep in mind that professors in large courses probably get a large number of requests for recommendation and may not be willing to write on your behalf if they don't know you. If you engaged in conversation or email with your professor, they might feel comfortable enough to comment about how well you communicate, so long as they can associate you with your exchanges but, too often, professors in large courses cannot associate faces with names or with an email exchange or two.

So, how can you get a professor to know you well enough?
Professors in small classes can get to know you in class if you answer questions well, ask pertinent questions and generally appear to be interested. Otherwise, make it a point to get yourself known. Most frequently, it is only students that need help that come to see the professor during office hours, while good students (including those that aspire to enter professional schools) generally don't need help with coursework, so you would need to make it a point to speak with your professor without wasting his/her time asking questions that you don't really need to ask concerning coursework. You could introduce yourself and make clear what your intentions are. Ask questions beyond the course material, ask about something you read somewhere, ask for additional course resources, ask for career advice, etc. Be interesting and interested. If you tutor other students, you could ask for clarification on material.

What else can you do?
Ask your course T.A., who might know you well enough, to write a detailed letter of recommendation which the professor can then append to a covering letter that, beyond what can be said first-hand, authenticates the source. Consider volunteering for research. If the professor accepts, don't expect a letter right away; do what is expected, show up when you say you will, be punctual, be professional and ask for direction.

How can I get advice on course selection?

Students needing special help in choosing courses or plotting an academic plan can always get help through an advising session. In addition, the on-line Progress Monitor can help you keep track of your progress.

How do I get my exam re-marked?

Frequently, students will approach Course Directors informally to discuss their grades and to view their final exams. The exam papers remain the property of the University, but students have the right to see where they went wrong and to check that the marking was fair. It is useful to keep in mind that marking errors occur infrequently and that, when they do occur, they are in the main the result of human error and not bias. Please do not approach a professor in an aggressive fashion, nor with the attitude of a victim, as this is unlikely to garner sympathy. As well, it is useful to know that Course Directors frequently allow for the possibility of marking error in their calculation of final grades, and grades are accorded a margin of benefit. Fairness to other students dictates that, if your exam paper is reviewed, you are no longer entitled to that margin of benefit.

If the Course Director agrees that the exam mark should be adjusted and if this adjustment will affect the final letter grade, then the Course Director can submit a Grade Change Notification form to the Registrar's Office. This approach is usually satisfactory for the students and the professors.

If, however, the outcome is not satisfactory or if you are not comfortable with approaching the Course Director, then, within three weeks of the release of final grade reports in any term, you can make a formal, written request to the department offering the course for a recalculation or a reappraisal, and you must state why you believe that you should get a higher grade in your written request. The department's Chair (or designate) will ask a third professor - one who is not involved in the course but who is knowledgeable in the subject matter - to look over your exam paper. This can result in an increase in the exam mark, the exam mark can stay the same, or the mark can decrease. If warranted, the letter grade is recalculated the recalculated grade becomes the grade of record.

If you cannot reasonably meet the three-week deadline for grade reappraisals and can provide a documented reason, you must formally petition for an exemption to the deadline.

How do I get permission to take a course?

If you do not have the prerequisites for a course, if the system does not recognize your prerequisites (if you have transfer credits, or if you are on LOP or an exchange program) or if spots are reserved for other categories of students, you can request permission from the Course Director.

How can I petition a course?

When students ask about petitioning a course, they don't always understand what a petition is, and usually mean to petition to drop a course after the drop deadline. Unfortunately, students usually ask to do this because they did not do very well in the course in question and don't want the decreased gpa, but this is unlikely to succeed because a successful petition of this sort will require that the student has adequate justification for not being able to drop the course before the drop deadline. If, however, you do have grounds to petition, there is help available on how to prepare your petition.

In some special situations, students can petition to remove earlier course attempts from their transcripts if they have reasonable grounds for doing so. For instance, a student contemplating entry into medical school may ask that an earlier failure be stricken from their transcript so as to improve their chances at gaining admission at a competitive school, since their transcript may not compare well with other applicants' transcripts even if the final gpa is the same (the gpa calculation ignores earlier grades in a repeated course but those still appear on the transcript). Normally, only students with a reasonably good chance at entry would be considered, especially after they've demonstrated, by retaking the failed course with a good grade, that the earlier grade does not reflect their true ability in a course.

How can I petition a grade?

This is a question often asked, but there is actually no petition mechanism by which to change a grade. Grades on lab reports are determined by Teaching Assistants, but all grades are the responsibility of the Course Director, and only final grades are reviewed at the end of the course by the department and later by the FSc Committee on Examinations and Academic Standards.

Students should keep in mind what constitutes fair marking. You are entitled to an opportunity to reasonably challenge the marking on any grade item. Normally, term grade items are returned to students, with feedback, in a timely manner, and it is assumed that there has been ample opportunity for students to have their term grades reviewed during the course itself, if warranted, by the Teaching Assistant for lab marks, or by the Course Director for all other marks. If this is not the case, if grade items were not returned or returned overly late, if adequate feedback has not been provided, if an opportunity to rectify a marking discrepancy has not been provided or if a rectification has been unreasonably denied, students should contact the Undergraduate Program Director with their concerns. However, Course Directors and Teaching Assistants have the right to not be continually harassed for better grades, or to suffer pleas for special consideration.

Students have the right to see their final exams and determine that the marking was appropriate, usually by appointment with the Course Director. If there is a dispute over the marking, students can file a formal Grade Reappraisal request within three weeks of the publication of final grades.

How do I prepare a petition?

Be clear on what a petition is and what it is not. Depending on the nature of the request, one or more forms must be completed as instructed and submitted to the appropriate office, along with supporting documentation (such as an Attending Physician's Statement) and a letter formally stating the request and detailing the nature of the circumstances that led to the request. For many requests, for instance for a late withdrawal from a course, the Course Director (or someone designated by the Chair of the appropriate department) must complete a Course Performance Summary, which must be appended to the Petition. A single petition may be formulated for decisions concerning several courses at a time, so Course Performance Summaries for each affected course will be required.

Details on the petition process, and how to proceed are given by the Registrar's Office website, where the appropriate forms can be identified and downloaded. After submission, the FSc Petitions Committee will consider your request, along with all other requests from other students, as they are filed, on a case-by-case basis. The Committee meets frequently throughout the year, but you can expect some delay before your petition is considered, especially in the summer months. Further delays may occur if the petition is incomplete or if the Committee requires more information from you or from a Course Director. When a decision is taken, you will be notified of the decision by mail, along with instructions on how to proceed, as appropriate to your case.

Advice on preparing your petition is available from the Science Academic Services.

The Petitions Committee is made up of people who were once students themselves and who have direct or indirect experience of a great variety of circumstances that students face, and so can empathize. Some decisions are easy and straightforward, for example in Deferred Standing cases citing verifiable medical grounds. Sometimes, however, decisions are more difficult and require balancing the effect of a negative decision with the need to uphold academic integrity and fairness to other students. Decisions to deny a petition are easy if the petition is poorly prepared.

In preparing a petition, it is important to substantiate, as much as is possible, any special circumstances that you cite, with supporting documentation. Your explanatory letter should display professionalism: it should be typed, in proper English, its tone should be serious and the case should be stated clearly and concisely. The point is to impress the Petitions Committee with a compelling case, and any distraction from this cannot help. You only get one chance at each request, as an appeal of a petition decision can only be made on limited grounds and you cannot simply restate your case.

Any student found to misrepresent circumstances or to present falsified, fabricated or untrue documentation (including information in a Petition document) is guilty of Academic Dishonesty as per Senate Policy on Academic Honesty paragraph 2.1.8, the penalty for which can range up to expulsion from the University with transcript notation.

How do I take a course at another university and have it count toward my York degree?

Students sometimes want to take courses at another institution because the equivalent York courses are not available or full, or because they don't fit their schedules. Other students take summer courses at a university closer to home, for convenience. To be able to apply a course taken elsewhere toward your York degree, you need a Letter of Permission, in which the department offering the York course signifies to the Registrar that the course you want is indeed equivalent, and you must achieve a minimum grade of "C" in that course for the credit to be granted.

Start by identifying the course(s) you want to take at the other university. Choose them as to fit closest with York's offerings. Get a complete Course Description for each, from the offering department, from the Course Director, or from the university's website. This will include a brief description of the topics covered but must also include or indicate the course duration (one term or two), whether or not there is a laboratory component (as appropriate) and the number of lecture, laboratory and tutorial hours (per week or in total).

Next, fill out a Letter of Permission form from the Registrar's Office website. Bring the completed form and the Course Description(s) to the Chemistry Undergraduate Assistant (124 CB), who will obtain an approval signature from the appropriate York professor. Then you forward this form and the fee to Registrars Office (Bennett Centre for Student Services).

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I need help with ...
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I need help with a particular course

There are a number of ways to get help in particular courses.

  • Tutorials: Some courses include tutorial sessions, which are opportunities to learn how to tackle problems and perhaps to review appropriate lecture material. Attending these is a good idea if you have trouble applying lecture concepts and theory to problem-solving.
  • Help from the Course Instructors: Course Directors and Instructors will help students one-on-one in their offices during posted office hours (usually made known early in the course) and may, if they choose, also answer e-mail queries if this is practicable. Some have Moodle, Listserv and/or textbook-linked web resources set up as well, which they will publicize. Take advantage of what is available before throwing your arms up in the air.
  • Help from Teaching Assistants: Teaching Assistants supervise labs and mark lab reports, and are the resource people for difficulties in understanding the lab material and dealing with lab assignments and reports. Talk to your T.A. during their posted office hours.
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  • Help Room: Students in CHEM 1000 and 1001 can get help from Professors, on a regular basis. Consult the First-year Office (102 LSB) for details and a schedule. Very useful.
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  • Peer-led Study Groups: Bethune College runs the popular PASS program, which provides peer-assisted study sessions and mock testing in the key first-year science subjects as well as in CHEM 2020 and 2021.
  • Tutoring: Tutoring, whether one-on-one or in small groups, can help find the gaps in your coursework knowledge or your problem-solving skills, or can impose a work schedule for students who procrastinate or who lack motivation and personal discipline. Many upper-year and graduate students offer one-time or regular tutoring for an hourly fee (usually much less than commercially available tutoring services). The Student Ombuds Service (SOS) has a registry of tutors. The Chemistry department, your professors and your T.A.s may also be able to help you find a tutor.
I need help with personal problems and issues

There are many resources available free of charge to York Students to assist with personal problems or family-related issues, whether or not they interfere with coursework.

  • The Counselling and Development Centre (CDC) offers professional counselling and therapy in one-on-one sessions, as well as groups discussing a range of issues such as anger management, anxiety, eating disorders, shyness and more.
  • The Peer Support Centre is a student-run service for students, offering peer counselling, referrals and resources for all kinds of issues facing students.
  • The Health Education & Promotion section of the Student Community & Leadership Development office has advice on safe sex, alcohol abuse, date rape, drug abuse, club drugs, smoking cessation, body image, eating disorders, stress management and healthy eating.
  • The Centre for Aboriginal Student Services office offers academic & personal counselling, advocacy and referrals for aboriginal students.
  • There are a great many religious organizations and clubs on campus, offering pastoral services, spiritual guidance and fellowship. Get connected through YUConnect.
  • The Counselling & Disability Services provides information, support, services and advocacy for students with mobility, hearing, visual disabilities, and invisible disabilities. Students in the program who need it get assistance in writing tests and exams.
  • The Mental Health Disability Services provides students with psychiatric disabilities with academic, social and financial supports.
I need help with course selection

Students needing special help in choosing courses or plotting an academic plan can always get help through an advising session. In addition, the on-line Progress Monitor can help you keep track of your progress.

I need help with managing schoolwork and being effective

Sometimes the skills and work habits you picked up in high school aren't serving you as well at university. Maybe your high-school notes were gems but aren't workable anymore, and could be refined with sophisticated techniques. Perhaps you have trouble juggling readings, essays, assignments, tests and lab reports in a full course load with personal, employment or family responsibilities? Is the exam schedule too much for you? Do you suffer from panic attacks during tests and exams, and the outcomes are never what they should be?

Learning better, faster and with confidence are skills that you may like to have. There are many resources available free of charge to York Students to assist with being a better student.

  • General Student Skills: Bethune College's Student Ombuds Service (SOS) offers Critical Skills Workshops as well as tons of useful information, including a registry of available tutors.
  • Learning Skills: The Counselling and Development Centre runs the Learning Skills Program, which offers workshops and on-line resources on such subjects as reading skills, note-taking, time management, exam preparation, stress management, relaxation and memory. A great resource.
  • Learning Disabilities: The Learning Disabilities Program (LDP) assists students with diagnosed learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder with educational services and special programs. If needed, students in the program get extra time to write tests and exams.
  • For First-Year Students: The Student Orientation section of the Student Community & Leadership Development office offers the First Year Experience Series of free sessions throughout the academic year, geared toward life as a first-year student and its pitfalls, and transition to an effective and fulfilling undergraduate career. A great resource.
  • For International Students: York International offers a number of services and programs intended to address the special problems faced by students from outside Canada.
  • Language Skills: The Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics offers English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for students experiencing language difficulties, one of which (ESL 1000 9.0) qualifies for General Education credit. In addition, the ESL Open Learning Centre offers numerous learning materials, training opportunities, workshops, tutoring and social events.
  • Technical Writing and Effective Study in the Sciences: Bethune College's Writing Centre offers a course in Technical Writing available for SC credit for your degree (SC/BC 3030 3.0), as well as one-on-one and small group instruction on making sense of assignment instructions, writing a thesis statement, constructing an argument for a critical essay or report, planning and organizing the structure of an essay or scientific report, draft-writing and proofreading, active reading skills, effective note-taking and reviewing of notes, effective exam revision strategies, and more.
I need help with career advice
  • The Career Centre has as its mission giving advice on career choices and opportunities, for students in any discipline, as well as providing on-line resources, techniques in job searching, techniques on résumé writing and mock employer interviews. They also organize employer recruitment sessions.
  • The Faculty of Science website presents extensive career options and resources for Science students (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc.).
  • Bethune College's Critical Skills Workshops includes a series of career-related workshops aimed specifically at BSc graduates, medical school and graduate school.
  • The American Chemical Society has some very useful on-line career-related materials: Careers in Brief examines various career areas within the chemical sciences, including interviews with chemists working in different areas and information on educational requirements, employment outlook, salaries, and the needed skills. The ACS also runs career workshops at its annual regional and national meetings, and maintains a full-featured Career Services website oriented to job seekers, to post and find jobs and land them, to get help, to see typical salaries, and much more.
  • The Chemical Institute of Canada offers many career resources for job seekers, including employer lists, job registries, networking opportunities, immigration information, and a salary survey. Also available in French.
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What is Aegrotat Standing?

A student having Aegrotat Standing is one who is too ill to complete a course and, most often, is accorded for those courses where only coursework (assignments, essays/reports, presentations, etc.) remains to be completed and there is no final examination to be written. In such cases, the letter grade is replaced by 'AEG' on the transcript. For courses where the final exam is outstanding, ill students are usually accorded Deferred Standing instead.

What is a cognate course?

A cognate course is one required by a degree program from outside the discipline, such as PHYS, MATH, BCHM or BIOL courses required by Chemistry degrees. These may or may not be pre-requisite courses.

What is a Course Credit Exclusion?

Course Credit Exclusions (previously called Degree Credit Exclusions) arise in several situations.

  • Sometimes course numbers are changed and Course Credit Exclusions are specified to prevent students taking the same course twice under different course numbers.
  • Sometimes courses are offered under two different course rubrics to enable students to take the course for credit of one kind while other students can take the same course for credit of another kind, which is useful since many programs specify a certain number credits of a particular kind. For instance, CHEM 3071 is cross-listed to BIOL 3071 to enable students to take the course for Biology credit, even though it is offered by the Department of Chemistry. Cross-listings are only established when courses overlap two or more disciplines.
  • Sometimes different courses, offered by different departments, are so similar in content and depth as to be essentially equivalent, even if the focus is slightly different and the targeted audience is different. In such cases, it would be unfair to enable students to take a course offered by one department and an equivalent course offered by a different department. Since this would mean unfairly gaining academic credit twice for taking essentially the same course twice, pairs of such courses are considered mutually exclusive in terms of academic credit and are Course Credit Exclusions of each other. An example of this situation are courses in Statistics, offered by many departments, ranging from Social Science to Mathematics to Psychology to Biology.
  • If you have transferred from another university, you may have been awarded Transfer Credits and Course Credit Exclusions for certain identified York courses when your academic record at your previous university included courses that are essentially equivalent to the identified York courses. This is to prevent you from taking the York equivalents, since this would amount to unfairly gaining academic credit twice for taking essentially the same course twice. Course Credit Exclusions of this sort can be used to satisfy requirements for York degrees, just as if you had taken them at York, except that the marks you earned at your previous university do not count into the calculation of your York GPA.
What is a Deferred Standing Agreement?

A Deferred Standing Agreement is an agreement between a student and a Course Director that accords a student Deferred Standing. This allows a student to write a deferred final examination in a prompt manner, when the student misses the final exam (there is no equivalent formal mechanism for tests or other termwork items), and avoids the delay of a formal Petition for Deferred Standing. Usually, the deferred exam is scheduled within the regular examination period so that the grade is submitted along with those of the other students and there is no delay in its appearance on the transcript. There is a Deferred Standing Agreement form for both student and Course Director to complete and sign, and the student must submit the form to the Registrar's Office within one week following the regularly scheduled examination or the last day to submit termwork. For the Course Director to enter into such an agreement, the student must satisfy the Course Director that the student's absence from the regularly scheduled exam is valid (and so would produce valid verfiable documentation justifying the absence), and both the student and the Course Director must agree on a date, time and location for the deferred exam. Sometimes, departments organize a group session for students in all courses to write deferred examinations through these Agreements. The Course Director has no obligation to either accept the validity of the supplied documentation, nor to even agree to schedule a deferred exam. In that case, the student can only write a deferred exam after petitioning for Deferred Standing, again within one week following the regularly scheduled examination or the last day to submit termwork, but the expectation is that a student who misses a final exam will attempt to secure a Deferred Standing Agreement. If a student elects to petition without first securing a Deferred Standing Agreement, some explanation may be expected in the petition documents.

What is a Degree Checklist?

A Degree Checklist is an authoritative document that specifies the requirements for your degree program, which you can use to assess your progress and which will be used to determine if you are eligible to graduate. The degree checklist refers to the requirements in place when you entered a program, and these may differ from current requirements. Degree checklists are available from the office of Science Academic Services.

You can also assess your progress using the on-line Graduation Check tool.

What is a Letter of Permission?

A Letter of Permission is a document that allows you to take a course at another university for credit toward your York degree.

What is a petition?

A petition is a request to be exempted from an academic regulation, to be given special consideration with respect to a regulation owing to circumstances beyond your control. Virtually any regulation can be the subject of a petition but, frequently, these concern Deferred Standing on medical grounds, dropping a course after the drop deadline or taking a course a third time. Details of the petition process, the time limits and what can be petitioned are given on the Registrar's Office website. Be mindful of how to prepare a petition. Petitions are examined and ruled upon by a committee in each Faculty, and there is a prescribed appeals procedure.

What is a reasonable extension for an assignment/lab report or a reasonable delay for rescheduling a test/exam?

In reaching a fair accommodation for you, because of unplanned events or conflicting religious obligations, the Course Director, Lab Coordinator or T.A. needs to assess the length of time during which you were affected, that is the length of time during which you were prevented from completing your assignment or lab report, or from preparing for your test or exam. The amount of time during which you were affected should be the same as the amount of time made available to you as an extension on an assignment or lab report, in rescheduling a test or in rescheduling an exam as part of a Deferred Standing Agreement. Thus, if a doctor's professional opinion is that you were medically unfit for one day, you should get one day to compensate and be able to hand in the assignment/lab report or to write the test/exam the next day. Similarly, a one-day religious obligation gets a one-day accommodation. Any more would be unfair to the other students. Rescheduling or deadline extensions must be without consideration of any other academic obligations you have, since all students are assumed to have multiple academic obligations throughout the academic term and during examination periods and it would be unfair to give you extra time because of those other obligations. On the other hand, the scheduling of a deferred examination should not place you in a conflict situation with respect to other exams.

What is reasonable justification for an absence?

When you enroll in a course, you implicitly agree to earn academic credit fairly. It is in the University's interest that its students feel that they are treated fairly and that they know that they are rewarded according to their efforts alone. The University's reputation and integrity depend on the academic integrity of its courses, and it is the Course Director's responsibility to enforce academic integrity. The academic integrity of a course demands that no student have an unfair advantage over others. Assignment deadlines, lab sessions, tests and exams are scheduled for all students registered in a course, and any accommodation made for one student must fairly be accorded every student. On the other hand, academic integrity also demands that no one student be unfairly disadvantaged with respect to other students by events beyond their control.

In fairness to other students, only unplanned but verifiably documented events and circumstances - events out of your personal control, events that cannot reasonably have been avoided - are considered reasonable justification for an absence at a lab session, a test or final exam, or for a late assignment. Such events may include (but are not limited to) personal illness preventing you from attending school (or preparing for an exam, in cases of chronic or prolonged illness), family emergencies (severe illness or death befalling a member of your immediate family), a traffic accident preventing you from reaching school, incarceration. Examples of events that do not qualify because they are planned, frivolous or avoidable, or because they can be rescheduled, include weddings, showers or other gatherings of the sort, appointments with doctors, dentists, veterinarians or other health professionals, driver's examinations or job interviews. Religious holidays and religious obligations are exceptions and given special consideration.

Some planned events are unavoidable, such as jury duty or some surgeries, as they cannot reasonably be rescheduled or missed. Other events, such as medical school interviews may be unreasonably difficult to reschedule. Every case is considered individually. In such cases, see the Course Director, lab T.A. or lab coordinator to arrange to hand in assignments or lab reports early or to perform lab experiments in an earlier session. In order to accomodate a planned event, some Course Directors let students with conflicting obligations write tests just before the scheduled time so as to avoid putting the academic integrity of the course at risk.

What is an elective course?

An elective course is one selected from a more or less broad set of choices. For instance, all Chemistry and Biochemistry degrees specify fewer than 120 credits' worth of courses, yet you must accumulate 120 credits to graduate. Subject to any restrictions that are pointed out in the Program Requirements, the choice is yours on the remaining, unspecified credits. Restrictions mostly arise because of the need to meet certain Faculty requirements, which specify a minimum number of Science credits outside the major (24), a minimum number of 3000- or 4000-level credits (18 in the 90-credit degree or 42 in 120-credit degrees), and a minimum number of General Education overall (12). There is a Table under Compare Degree Requirements that indicates the number of elective credits available for each degree. Some electives are to be chosen from a restricted list, as in the Pharmaceutical & Biological Chemistry stream. More frequently, electives are restricted to a particular year level and/or to a particular science. For instance, the Specialized Honours Biochemistry program requires you to take 9 credits of CHEM, BCHM or BIOL courses at 3000 or 4000 levels along with 6 specified 3000-level courses and 3 specified 4000-level courses, while the Specialized Honours Chemistry program requires at least 18 credits in CHEM-only courses at those levels, 10 or more of which must be at the 4000 level, along with only 4 specified 3000-level courses and only one specified 4000-level course.

What is an Honours waiver?

An Honours Waiver allows a student whose gpa has dropped below the required minimum to remain in an Honours program on the condition that the gpa will rise to at least meet the minimum before graduation. Waivers are issued by the Undergraduate Program Director or the Chair of the department, who will be looking for evidence that the required rise in gpa will indeed occur, for instance because of an atypically bad grade in a course that will be repeated when a better grade will suffice to raise the gpa above the minimum. However, the issuance of an Honours waiver for a student is not a guarantee that the student will be able to graduate with an Honours degree as the responsibility for reaching the required minimum gpa remains with the student.

What is Deferred Standing?

A student may be accorded Deferred Standing if sickness or misfortune prevents the writing of a final exam at the regularly scheduled time, and thereby completing the course.

What is fair marking?

Fairness in marking is making sure that all students in a course receive essentially the same grade for essentially the same work or the same result, whether or not that grade seems too low or too generous. Fairness with respect to other students is more important than accuracy in marking, although all Course Directors also strive for accuracy. So, while you may strongly believe that you deserve a higher grade for a given answer, it is more important that all students be given the same grade for the same answer, no matter how correct or incorrect, since the aggregate grades can always be adjusted later if they are unusually low or high. Indeed, adjusting your grade alone -- or only the grades of those students who complain -- will probably be unfair to all other students. To achieve this where partial marks are possible, the same marker should be marking the same question on a test for all students.

In the context of lab reports, it is sufficient that all students in a particular lab group have their lab reports marked the same way by the same Teaching Assistant, since the grades of any one group can later be adjusted to bring them in line with those of other groups.

What is pass/fail grading?

Pass/fail grading is exactly as the name suggests: the grade in the course in this grading system will be a pass or a fail, with no numerical or letter grade, and therefore does not enter into the calculation of the gpa. Full details are provided on Registrar's Office website, but the highlights are as follows:

Only certain elective courses are eligible to be taken under this grading system, there is a maximum number of credits that can be graded as pass/fail and, when eligible, the pass/fail option must be chosen early in the course. Students opting for a pass/fail grade must be in good standing with at least 24 credits already passed. There is a form to submit. Students having opted for a pass/fail grade can later revert to the letter grade system up until the drop deadline.

What is the difference between a prerequisite and a corequisite?

Courses frequently specify pre- and/or corequisite courses. A prerequisite course is one that must be successfully completed before the course specifying the prerequisite. For instance, CHEM 2020 6.0 and CHEM 2020 3.0 specifies CHEM 1000 and CHEM 1001 as prerequisites. A corequisite course is one that can be taken at the same time as the course specifying the corequisite. A course specified as pre- or corequisite is one that can be taken before or at the same time as the specifying course, with no requirement for successful completion. For instance, CHEM 3000 specifies CHEM 2011 as pre- or corequisite, and specifies CHEM 2021, 2030 and 2080 as prerequisites, meaning that one can take CHEM 2011 before or at the same time as CHEM 3000, but CHEM 2021, 2030 and 2080 must be successfully completed beforehand.

What is the difference between a restricted elective and an unrestricted elective?

A restricted elective is a choice of courses with one or more limitations imposed. For instance, you may be asked to take '9 credits of 4000-level CHEM courses' — you have a choice among courses to take, but within the limitation. Similarly, the General Education requirement offers choice among possible courses to take but the choices must be eligible for General Education credit.

An unrestricted elective is a completely free choice, of any course offered by the university in any field by any department in any Faculty.

What is an exam conflict and how is it handled?

An exam conflict is deemed to exist when you have three or more exams scheduled within a period of 24 hours.

The Registrar's Office arranges the exam schedule so as to minimize conflicts while respecting Course Directors' wishes with regard to the durations and types of exams, assigning rooms according to class sizes and availability, and respecting known Religious Holy Days. The Registrar's Office knows which few students have exam conflicts and is responsible for scheduling alternate examination dates for them and will notify the students and departments concerned of alternate exam dates. The Registrar's Office usually sets aside a room on every day of the examination period for alternate exams, in which students from several courses may write at the same time, and arranges for invigilation and delivery of the exam paper. The Course Director must provide a copy of the alternate exam paper (which must be substantially similar to the regularly scheduled exam in terms of length, degree of difficulty and material coverage, yet different enough so as not to jeopardize the academic integrity of the course) three days before the alternate exam date, along with any special instructions to the student and/or to the invigilator, and any special delivery instructions. The Course Director may attend the start of the exam to convey instructions and ensure a smooth exam, and may return at the end of the exam to collect the paper.

These alternate exam rooms can also be used for students writing a deferred exam by virtue of a Deferred Standing Agreement or for students accorded a Religious Accommodation, so long as such exams are written within the examination period. If not, the Course Director is responsible for arranging for a suitable location and for invigilation at an agreeable time outside the examination period.

What is verifiable documentation of the justification of an absence?

A verifiable document is one that can be verified as to authenticity or detail. This may be a legible doctor's note (bearing the doctor's name, contact details and the date) that clearly states that you were medically unfit to attend school at the time in question or that you would be confined to bed rest for a stated period, or a police report of your arrest or of a traffic accident, or a death certificate (for someone in your immediate family). In case a formal document is not available or not available in a timely manner, this can instead be a letter from a parent, a pastor, a counselor or other professional familiar with your situation, stating why you were unexpectedly absent and for how long. The letter must include the name of the signer, their relationship to you, and details on how they can be contacted for clarification and verification purposes. What is not sufficient is a doctor's statement that you were merely seen or examined (for a complaint), since this does not state that you were unfit.

Any student found to misrepresent circumstances or to present falsified, fabricated or untrue documentation (including information pertinent to a Deferred Standing Agreement, a Petition or an Exam Accommodation form) is guilty of Academic Dishonesty as per Senate Policy on Academic Honesty paragraph 2.1.8, the penalty for which can range up to expulsion from the University with transcript notation.

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