University Key Terms and Language

A | BC | D | E F | GH | I J K L M N | O P Q | R | S | T | U | VW | XYZ


Academic discipline: refers to any sanction imposed by the University for acts judged to be intellectually dishonest, including such things as cheating on exams, plagiarism, falsifying laboratory results, etc.

Academic excellence: normally a minimum A- average, equivalent to or greater than a 3.67 GPA.

Academic proficiency: normally a B- average, equivalent to or greater than a 2.67 GPA.

Academic sanction: the penalty imposed by the University for intellectual dishonesty. Penalties may include a warning, reassessment of the work, failure on the particular assignment or in the course, etc.

Academic year: the academic year at UNBC runs from September 1 until August 31 the following year.

Admit: students are admitted to the University and assigned a permanent student number effective on the date of their admission. See enrol and registration.

Advanced standing: In cases in which course challenge is not possible or transfer credit was unable to be granted, the Dean or Program Chair, upon review of the student’s background, may grant the student permission to undertake advanced coursework without the normal prerequisites. Such advanced standing will not reduce the number of credits that the student must accumulate to obtain a UNBC degree.

Aegrotat standing: Aegrotat (AEG) allows a student credit for a course even though the course requirements have not been completed due to medical or other difficulties. This standing is awarded only if the course instructor and the Dean agree that the student has demonstrated the capacity to deal with the course material satisfactorily.

Alumni: Students who have graduated from a school, college, or university.

Ancillary course: a course in a program other than the home or primary program in which the student is majoring or minoring which has sufficient substantive content in common with the primary discipline to count as an equivalent course in that major or minor.

Annual GPA: calculated on the basis of grade point averages for credit hours completed during the awards year, May 1 to April 31.

Appeal: the act or process of requesting the review of a decision by an official of the University. Students may appeal decisions on transfer credit, grades, tests, assignments, final grades, questions of process, disciplinary action, etc. All appeals should first be made to the person responsible for the initial decision.

Arts: studies in two fundamental areas of human knowledge: humanities and social sciences: are called Arts.

Assistant and Associate Professors: see Professor.

Asynchronous Learning: Courses that enable students access to the same course material at different times.

Award: an award may be a fellowship, scholarship, bursary, prize, or other monetary or non-monetary recognition assigned to a student.

Award Units: calculated by multiplying the credit hours completed during the specified term by the grade points received for those hours.

Audit: an official category by which a student is allowed to register in a credit course and attend lectures but may not be required to write the final examination and does not receive a grade or credit.

- top -


BA, BComm, BEd, BSc, MA, MSc, MEd, MSW, PhD: the most common abbreviations for degrees. In turn, they are: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Social Work, and Doctor of Philosophy.

Bachelor's degree: Also called an undergraduate degree, this credential generally requires four years of study, longer if the student studies at a part-time pace.

BC Student Assistance Program: is the official agency in the province which is responsible for supplying loans and bursaries to students. Loans and bursaries are dependent upon need and require a student to maintain full-time status (nine credit hours or more).

Board of Governors: the chief policy-making body of a Canadian university is usually known as the Board of Governors, with members appointed by government, elected
from faculty, staff and student groups.

Breadth requirement: In addition to a bachelor degree's major requirements and elective credit requirements, UNBC degrees also require that students gain some breadth of knowledge outside of their chosen discipline. Between their degree and elective requirements, students must take a course from each of the Arts & Humanities, Physical Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Some Majors have incorporated academic breadth into their requirements, and no extra coursework is needed to complete Breadth.

Bursary: Financial aid given to students in order to further their studies. Bursaries are often needs-based.

- top -


Calendar: is the University’s official publication, issued annually, which describes admission requirements, grading and academic regulations, program requirements and course descriptions.

Certificate: This credential generally requires one year of study. Certificates can often "ladder" into further education, such as diplomas or degrees.

CGPA, cumulative grade point average: expresses performance as a numerical average for all UNBC courses for all semesters completed. The CGPA is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned to date by the total number of credit hours undertaken to date. (Letter grades of P or W are not assigned a numerical value and are not used in calculating the grade point average.)

Chair or Head: at most universities heads an academic department. UNBC, however, in accordance with its plan to maximize a multi-disciplinary approach, instead has Program Chairs. Chairs are the academic and administrative leaders of particular programs. The Chair of History, for example, leads and reviews the courses being offered in History, and represents the History faculty.

Chancellor: is the honorary head of a University, and confers all degrees at Convocation.

Concentration: is a designated program of study within a discipline or within a multi-disciplinary field of knowledge.

Cooperative education: Often referred to as "Co-op," Cooperative Education involves students engaging in semester-long work terms during programs. These work terms can add time spent on completing a degree, but completing enough Co-op work terms earns Co-op distinction on the graduating student's degree.

Course challenge: allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, and intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course, usually by writing an exam.

Convocation ceremony: is an event attended by members of  the Convocation and is usually the formal ceremony at which degrees are conferred. At Convocation, the University recognizes academic achievement, and confers degrees and other academic awards. UNBC’s first Convocation ceremony was held in May 1992 for the official installation of the President and Chancellor, and in May 1994, the second Convocation ceremony saw the graduation of UNBC’s first (QuickStart) students.

Co-requisite: is a course which is required to be taken concurrently with another course.

Credential: is a degree, diploma, or certificate awarded on successful completion of a program.

Credit hour: Usually corresponds with the amount of "contact hours" in class, per week. Most UNBC courses are three credit hours each. Tuition is also charged on a per-credit-hour basis.

- top -


Dean: heads a College, and working in co-operation with the Provost and academic staff, develops the programs and courses within that Faculty. Chairs report to a Dean.

Diploma: This credential generally requires two years of study. Diplomas can often "ladder" into further education, such as a degree.

Directed study or directed readings: usually describes a course which does not have a prescribed curriculum. In consultation with the instructor, the student chooses a specific topic and then undertakes an in-depth study of this topic. All directed study courses must be approved by the instructor before registration.

Discipline: refers to courses in a specific area; for example, English in arts, Biology in the sciences, or Marketing in Business Administration.

Dissertation or thesis: is a substantial piece of work written as part of the requirements for a postgraduate degree (see BA, BEd, ....).

Distance learning: usually involves learning by correspondence, telephone, interactive video and occasional weekend or week-long visits to campus.

Doctoral degree: The most common type being a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), this credential is the highest level of academic degree, generally attempted after the completion of a graduate degree.

Double major: A student pursuing a double major is attempting to complete two majors' degree requirements while at school. Sometimes, this requires taking more courses than needed to complete one major, extending the duration of study, however there are numerous double majors that can be completed within a typical, four-year timeline.

Drop period: the period each semester during which courses may be dropped without academic penalty.

- top -


Elective: A course that is not listed as "required" for a major or minor, but is taken to meet the credit hour requirement for a particular credential.

Enrol: a student is enrolled in a degree program. The enrolment date determines the degree regulations that a student follows to be eligible to graduate. See admit and registration.

Enrolment limits: when the number of qualified applicants exceeds, in the judgment of the University, the number of students who can be accommodated, the University reserves the right to select the quota from among the qualified applicants. Some academic programs within the University also have enrolment limits.

Exchange program: the University has a number of reciprocal agreements with other universities that allow students from UNBC to study there, or permit students from
these universities to study at UNBC.

- top -


Faculty: The teaching staff of the university.

Fees: are all charges levied by the University in consideration of academic and related services or products.

Fellowship: an award usually available only to graduate students, awarded on the basis of high academic achievement (academic excellence or academic proficiency) toward which secondary criteria may be applied.

Financial assistance: is a monetary supplement to help offset normal expenses a student may encounter. Financial assistance varies with need.

Foreign national: is a person who does not hold Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status as defined by Employment and Immigration Canada. International students are required to pay higher fees and may face enrolment restrictions in certain programs.

Full time studies: At UNBC, full time studies consists of taking at least nine credit hours per semester.

- top -


Grade: the final grade for the course expressed as a percentage value.

Grade points: a way of numerically expressing a student’s academic performance. Numerical values are assigned to each possible grade.

GGPA, graduation grade point average: In order to graduate a student must have a minimum GGPA average of 2.0.

GPA, grade point average: is a method of expressing the student’s performance as a numerical value. Each letter grade is assigned a numerical equivalent, which is then multiplied by the credit hour value assigned to the course to produce the
grade point.

Graduate student: is one who has already achieved a Bachelor’s degree and is now studying for a Master’s or doctoral degree.

Graduate studies: academic studies which are taken after a student has completed an undergraduate degree.

Graduation regulations: specific requirements students must meet in order to be awarded a degree or university certificate, such as the total credits required, the minimum credits that must be completed at the upper division level, and the minimum credits that must be completed at UNBC.

- top -


Harassment: aggressive or threatening behaviour which would be considered by a reasonable person to create an environment that is not conducive to work or study.

- top -


Intellectual dishonesty: examples are plagiarism, cheating or helping others to cheat on exams, submitting essays prepared by others, falsification of lab results, impersonating another student at an exam and the misrepresentation of information on, and the falsification of, academic records.

- top -


Joint major: A path of study or program that combines courses from two disciplines of study in such a way that less courses are taken for each major separately while still completing enough courses to earn a combined major from each discipline.

- top -


- top -


Laboratory: Smaller, more individual course component.

Lecture: Classroom-based instruction. May be the largest type of class.

Letter of Permission: is a document permitting a student to take one or more courses at another post-secondary institution to be used for credit toward a UNBC degree.

Level: each course is assigned a level, indicated by the first digit of its course number: lower division (100 and 200) or upper division (300 or 400).

Lower division course: usually introductory or survey courses, offered at UNBC at the 100 and 200 level. Most programs require 60 credit hours of lower division course as part of the graduation requirements.

- top -


Major: A subject or field of study chosen by students to represent their principal interest (see Minors).

Marks: are percentage values given to individual quizzes, assignments, tests, exams, etc. that reflect the degree of understanding that the student has shown for the course materials.

Master’s degree: Also called a graduate degree, this credential is generally taken after a student completes an undergraduate degree.

Medal: the award is an academic medal, awarded on the basis of academic achievement (academic excellence or academic proficiency), toward which secondary criteria may be applied.

Minimum standing: for the purpose of awards eligibility, minimum standing (“passing grades”) shall be considered equivalent to satisfactory academic standing.

Minor: A secondary academic interest or discipline chosen by students during their undergraduate studies. Minors have their own set of required courses, and result in less electives taken by a student.

Multi-disciplinary: Universities typically divide knowledge into specific subject areas, or disciplines (History, Physics, etc.). UNBC wishes to promote, so far as possible, the interconnectedness of ideas, and thus has adopted a multidisciplinary approach, in which the insights from various disciplines can be introduced into particular programs.

- top -




Part time studies: At UNBC, part time studies consists of taking no more than 8 credit hours per semester.

Plagiarism: The willful act of presenting another person’s work as one’s own without the proper academic acknowledgement and recognition.

Post-baccalaureate: is achieved by a student who already has a Bachelor’s degree and then takes further study, but not at the Master’s level.

Postgraduate study: is at the Master’s or doctorate level.

Practicum course: is a course with a substantial amount of supervised, discipline-related time in actual work settings.

Precluded course: This is a currently or formerly offered UNBC course whose curriculum overlaps the course being described to the extent that students would be duplicating coursework if they completed both courses. Thus students cannot receive credit for both the course being described and the courses listed in this section. Precluded courses are usually the result of a course revision, course renumbering, or cross-listing of courses.

Pre-registration: the act or process of registering for a course with a start date in the future is called pre-registration. Preregistration is considered a registration, and if a student decides to change his or her pre-registration, they must inform the Registrar’s Office in writing.

Prerequisite course: A course that must be completed before taking another course. Prerequisite courses can be high school courses or university-level courses.

President and Vice-Chancellor: is the chief executive officer of a university.

Prize: the award’s value may be non-monetary, such as a book or other gift-in-kind, or if monetary, its value is normally less than $250.

Professor: In university, teachers are usually known as professors.

Program: is the basic academic unit and is comprised of a coherent set of courses in a particular area of study.

Program Chair: see Chair.

Program requirements: programs of study require a student to take specific courses or to take courses from specified areas of study or disciplines, or to take courses at a specific level of study. These are program requirements and form part of the regulations for each program.

Project-based dissertation: in a Master program, this refers to a detailed, critical description of a practical project for implementing change within an organization where the student describes the rationale, practices, strengths, and weaknesses of a change and links the practice to a body of theory or research in a direct way.

- top -



Registration: is the process of selecting and undertaking specific courses at UNBC. See admit and enrol.

Required Course: A course that must be completed to complete a major or minor's degree requirements.

Residence License Agreement: the legal document that students are required to sign prior to moving into residence. The agreement is a formal document that stipulates the relationship between the University and the student living in residence.

Residency: specified courses from UNBC needed to obtain a credential make up the residency requirement. This is part of the graduation regulations.

Resident of Northern BC: a resident of northern British Columbia is so categorized by virtue of birth or continuous dwelling within the defined region for the four years immediately prior to admission at UNBC. The area comprising northern British Columbia is defined in the University of Northern British Columbia Act.

- top -


Sabbatical: also known as study leave or research leave, is normally of one year’s duration, and may be taken by academic staff to conduct an approved set of research activities. It was typically taken in the seventh year, and thus the name.

Satisfactory Academic Standing: normally a minimum C average, equivalent or greater than a 2.00 CGPA.

Scholarship: Financial aid given to a student, often based on high academic achievement.

Science: studies that normally encompass courses based on a knowledge of facts, phenomena, laws, and proximate cause are designated Science (e.g. biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, mathematics and physics).

Semester: Divisions of an academic year. Courses are taken over a semester. At UNBC, a semester is four months long.

Senate: is the ruling academic body of a BC university, responsible for decisions of an academic nature affecting the university.

Sessional staff: see Professor.

SGPA, semester grade point average: is computed by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours taken in the semester.

Student number: a ten-digit number is assigned to all students to help identify them. Students should have their student numbers available whenever they contact the University.

Supervisor: in an academic context a supervisor coaches and supports a student’s work in a senior, project-based course, or a graduate thesis/project.

Syllabus: A detailed guide or outline for a course provided by a professor. A syllabus generally includes information such as required texts and readings, a schedule of assignments and tests, and university rules and regulations.

Synchronous Learning: Courses that students participate in and learn at the same time.

- top -


Tenure: which can be gained by permanent academic staff, embodies the concept of academic freedom: it guarantees that the individual cannot be dismissed as a result of his or her superiors disagreeing with his/her academic ideas.

Thesis: see Dissertation. In a Master program, a thesis or project builds upon the knowledge and skills that the student has learned in his/her previous coursework. The thesis or project is normally completed as the last element of the student’s graduate program.

Timetable: the printed list of available courses distributed to all students eligible to register in a semester.

TOEFL: the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Transfer credit: credit granted for the successful completion of coursework at another accredited institution is transfer credit.

Transfer credit summary: is a specialized document issued by the Office of the Registrar which indicates courses that have been approved for transfer credit. The transfer credit summary is normally sent to students when the evaluation of their previous education is completed, when a student is notified of a final grade, and upon the student’s request.

Transcript: an official document prepared by the Office of the Registrar recording a student’s academic performance and bearing the University seal is called a transcript. Transcripts must be requested in writing and will not be released to anyone without the student’s permission.

Tuition: A fee or payment for instruction at UNBC.

Tutorial: Course meant to supplement certain lectures. These are generally smaller than lectures, and provide students even more opportunity to ask questions and discuss course concepts/readings.

- top -


Unspecified credit: transfer credit granted for courses without a direct UNBC equivalent but which clearly fall within a discipline and which may, therefore, be used to fulfill subject requirements for a degree in that discipline.

Undergraduate student: is a student enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree program.

University transfer programs: typically allow people with two years at a college to transfer directly into a university for two further years of study in the subject to gain a degree.

Upper division course: a course number in the 300s or 400s; assumes a background of university learning and often specifies one or more lower division courses as a prerequisite.

- top -


Vice-Chancellor: see President.

Visiting student: any person taking courses for transfer of credit to another post-secondary institution is a visiting student.

- top -


Withdrawal: is voluntary exit from a course, program or the University by a student and at the student’s request. For approved withdrawal, award of “W” on student’s transcript.

- top -