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Undergraduate Grading Criteria

Information for Students, 2013-2014

Term Work
First-Year Course Assignments
Senior Course Assignments
Final Examinations
Final Grade
Office Hours
Requests for Academic Relief and Complaints
Letters of Recommendation
Counselling Hours

The Department is aware that students may need part-time work to meet their expenses. Such employment is, however, often the cause of either failure in courses or significant under-performance. Students are therefore urged to take on only as much outside work as is absolutely necessary, so as to be able to derive the maximum benefit from their studies.

Term Work

The instructor for each section of each undergraduate English course will provide an explanation of the nature of the term work to students in printed form within the first three weeks of the term. This regulation does not preclude the administration of surprise assignments and quizzes, as long as the total number, approximate frequency, and value of such assignments are specified in the course outline.

First-Year Course Assignments

In English 1020E, English 1027F/G, and 1028F/G essays and written assignments will be worth 45% of the final grade; a class test and a tutorial grade for sections with tutorials will be worth 10% each; and the final examination will be 35%.  With permission of the instructor, a student may rewrite one essay in the first term to improve a mark.  The rewritten version must be submitted to the instructor no later than two weeks after the original essay has been returned by the instructor; the maximum mark a rewritten essay may receive is 65% (C).

Senior Course Assignments

In each of the senior essay courses, no more than 7,000 words of written work (excluding formal tests) will be required of each student.  There will be no more than one formal test in any particular essay course (excluding the final examination) without a proportionate reduction in the amount of written work.

In all senior English courses with final examinations, the relative weight of term work and final examination will be such that the final examination counts for no less than 35% of the final grade, and no more than 50% of the final grade.  Well in advance of the final examination, students will be informed of the way in which their final grades will be determined, and of the weight of the final examination.

If students wish to submit the same material in two different courses, they must obtain permission in advance from both instructors.  If the student does not obtain such permission, the result will be a zero for the material which is submitted the second time.

Students are fully responsible for submission of essays.  Students should also keep backup copies.  Essays not submitted in class should be deposited in one of the essay boxes outside the English Department General Office, University College, Room 173.
Instructors will not accept assignments submitted by e-mail unless specifically arranged. 



Assignments will normally be returned to the student within three weeks of their submission.

In all senior English courses, students should have topics in hand for all major assignments by October 24, 2013 for first-term half-courses, and Feb. 25, 2014 for both full courses and second-term half-courses.  If topics have not been given, students should raise the issue with the Chair of Undergraduate Studies.

Students will be informed of their term grades when their final assignments are returned.

Final Examinations

There will be a final written examination in each English course (optional in 4000-level seminars).  The examination may take a variety of forms.

Students will be informed in writing, well in advance, of the format of the final examination.

In courses with more than one section, the final examination may be common to all sections, but instructors have the option of setting individual examinations.

In courses not having final examinations, excessive absenteeism may be considered just cause for failure in the course.  In all other courses, attendance regulations will be applied as specified in the university calendar.  Please note that students who are repeatedly absent from classes may be refused permission to write the final examination.  (See 2013 U.W.O. Calendar, p. 35.)


Special examinations are normally written at the University or an Affiliated College no later than 30 days after the end of the examination period involved.  (See also the 2013 U.W.O. Calendar, p. 34.)  Arrangements for Special Examinations must be made BEFORE the beginning of the final examination period.

Final Grade


 AVERAGE 50% OR ABOVE, EVEN THOUGH ONE OF THE TWO IS A FAILURE, SHALL RECEIVE A DEFAULT GRADE OF 48%.  Please note: The Department of English does not release final grades.  All undergraduate grade reports will be available online from the office of the registrar.

Office Hours

Each instructor must post office hours (three hours per week) on the relevant office door.  Students may see their instructors at other times by appointment.

Students who wish specific information about the nature and policies of a course in which they are or will be enrolled are encouraged to consult with the course chair.

Requests for Academic Relief and Complaints

(See 2013 U.W.O. Calendar, p. 18.)

Students seeking academic accommodation on medical grounds for any missed tests, exams, participation components and/or assignments worth (either alone or in combination) 10% or more of their final grade must apply to the Academic Counselling office of their home Faculty and provide documentation. Academic accommodation cannot be granted by the instructor or department.

Documentation shall be submitted, as soon as possible, to the Office of the Dean of the student’s Faculty of registration, together with a request for relief specifying the nature of the accommodation being requested.  The necessary form and further information regarding this policy can be found at the Student Services website:

The full policy is  set out here:

Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to MentalHealth@Western: for a complete list of options about how to obtain help.

Complaint: If students have a complaint concerning a course in which they are enrolled, they must discuss the matter with the instructor of the course (in a course with teaching assistants, students must discuss the matter first with the teaching assistant, then with the professor in charge of the course). If students are not satisfied, they should take the complaint to the Chair of Undergraduate Studies, UC 183 [or 182].

Requests for exemption: Students who make a request for exemption from a University regulation must address the request, in writing, to the Office of the Dean of Art and Humanities, UC Room 112G.

Requests for a change in grade:  Students may request academic relief with respect to grades on essays, tests, or final examinations. 

Unless there is a procedural irregularity, relief cannot be adjudicated for other matters such as participation grades.

The first stage of the process is a discussion with the tutorial assistant (if applicable), and then with the instructor of the course; the appeal must be made within three weeks of the date on which the assignment was returned to the class.

A request for relief at the departmental level must be made in writing; forms are available from the English Undergraduate Studies Office, University College 182.  A request cannot be lodged without grounds, which may include questions of fairness or appropriateness of general grading practices.

The Chair of Undergraduate Studies will contact the instructor in order to ensure that a full discussion of the matter has taken place at the level of the instructor and the student.  In the case of a final examination, the student is entitled to go over the examination with the instructor.  For an assignment or test, the student must discuss the material in some detail with the instructor.  The absence of a response from the instructor within two weeks during the fall and winter terms will be taken as agreement that jurisdiction in the matter has moved to the departmental level. During the summer term, if the instructor is unavailable, the request will normally be suspended as long as necessary.  (This does not contravene the Senate deadlines given below; the grievance must be filed within the appropriate time limit.)  If an instructor is unavailable for an extended period of time the request for relief will proceed.

Once the department has taken jurisdiction in a request for relief, it cannot return to the instructor.  The Chair of Undergraduate Studies will consider the grounds given, and may arrange to have the assignment or examination re-read confidentially by another instructor who taught the course during the current year or in recent years, but who is not the student’s instructor.  For assignments, the student must submit the original work, but should also submit a clean copy for the second reader.  The instructor should provide the original assignment.

If the grade assigned by the second reader differs from that given by the student's instructor, the Chair of Undergraduate Studies will discuss the grade with both readers.  A grade on which any two of these three people (the instructor, the second reader and the Chair of Undergraduate Studies) agree will become the final grade for the assignment.

Deadlines for requests for academic relief against a final grade in a course are as follows: January marks: January 31st; April/May marks: June 30th; Intersession marks: July 31st; Summer Evening marks: August 31st; Summer Day marks: September 15th; Spring/Summer Distance Studies courses: October 15th.

A request for a change in grade will have one of three results: the grade may stand, or be raised, or be lowered. If students wish to proceed in their request for academic relief beyond this point, they should apply in writing to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University College, Room 112G.


(See 2013 U.W.O. Calendar, pp. 19-21.)
Plagiarism (the unacknowledged use of another person's work) is one of the most serious academic offences, since it involves fraud and misrepresentation.  In plagiarizing, one is in effect claiming another person's words or ideas or data as one's own work, and thus misrepresenting material subject to academic evaluation.  It is necessary, therefore, that plagiarism carry appropriate penalties.  These are within the discretion of the Chair of Undergraduate Studies, but may include failure of a course or a grade of zero on an assignment, without the privilege of resubmitting it.


Students must acknowledge each printed or electronic  source (including study guides such as Cole’s Notes and Internet materials) by author, title, date and place of publication, and page number if:  (a) they quote from it directly;   (b) they paraphrase its ideas;  (c) they are conscious of any influence its ideas may have had on their own work.  Every source (including websites) that students have consulted (whether they refer to it directly or not) must be included in a bibliography (Works Cited).  Some instructors may require that students provide copies of material downloaded from the Internet.

It is not always possible to identify the sources of inspiration of one's own ideas with total accuracy. A reasonable and conscientious effort is all that is required.  However, it is entirely the student's responsibility to be aware of the nature of plagiarism.  If students have any questions about plagiarism, they should ask their instructor.  If students have any doubts about the documentation of their own essays, they should see the instructor before the essays are due.  Information about correct forms of documentation may be found in the MLA HANDBOOK For Writers of Research Papers (New York: Modern Language Association, 2009), available in the Reference section at Weldon (LB 2369.M57).

Students found to have submitted the work of another person as their own work will automatically fail the course.  Any students who know their own work has been used improperly have a responsibility to inform the Department of that fact; otherwise they will be considered collaborators.

Since honest students (by far the majority) are potentially affected by the actions of the dishonest few, some may choose to bring instances of plagiarism or other forms of cheating confidentially to the attention of the Chair of Undergraduate Studies.

If written work will be assigned in the course and plagiarism-checking software might be used, the following statement to this effect must be included in the course outline:

“All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and (”

Letters of Recommendation

It is the student's responsibility to submit all of the following to each instructor who is asked to write a letter of recommendation:
i)  a recommendation form and/or a sheet of instructions for referees (when these are provided);
ii)  an up-to-date academic record of all university courses and grades;
iii)  an addressed envelope (stamped for Lakehead University, Laurentian University, and all out-of-province universities).

In addition, students should communicate to referees any additional information that might enhance their candidacy.  Please allow sufficient lead-time to meet deadlines (a minimum of two weeks is recommended).  Graduating students intending to apply for O.G.S. [Ontario Graduate Scholarships] support are urged to consult with the Chair of Undergraduate Studies in mid-September.


The following is a statement on prerequisites which has been mandated by the UWO Senate:

“Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.”

Counselling Hours

Please make an appointment by contacting Teresa MacDonald ( 519-661-2111, ext. 85796.

Department of English and Writing Studies,
Undergraduate Studies
University College 182/183

  • Prof. J. Emberley, Undergraduate Chair
  • Ms.Teresa MacDonald, Undergraduate Assistant

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