Introduction to UBC classes

Overview

Most UBC undergraduate courses amount to 3 hours of class time per week. This does not include the number of hours you may spend on assignments, projects, tutorials, or lab work outside of lectures.

In most faculties, 100-level courses are primarily for first-year students, 200-level courses for second-year students, and so on. 500- and 600-level courses are considered graduate-level and are only available to undergraduates with the permission of the department and Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Some courses require prerequisites which are courses you must have completed before enrolling in a specific course or program.

Similarly, corequisites are courses you are required to enrol in at the same time as another course or program, or complete beforehand.

Course formats

At UBC, courses are offered in various formats. Before registering for a course, it is important to check your course to learn how the course is being delivered. Read about course modes of delivery at UBC.

Lectures

Most courses are offered as lectures. Lectures are 50 to 80 minutes each and may consist of 30 to 200 students. When you are unsure of how the class or course component (e.g., lab, seminar) works, you can ask your professor through email or during office hours.

Distance Learning courses

Distance Learning courses are a high-quality online option for students who prefer learning asynchronously or want scheduling flexibility. A small selection of courses are offered entirely online and span over 30 different subject areas. There may be a limit on the number of Distance Learning courses you can take each term.

Browse course information

Tutorials

Tutorials are generally held weekly. They are commonly taken with lecture courses, providing an opportunity for smaller group discussions or learning. If a course has a tutorial section, you must register for the tutorial in addition to the lecture. In some cases, grades are given for attendance and active participation.

Labs

Many science, math, and engineering courses have a laboratory (lab) component. Labs involve practical projects done in small groups under the direction of a Teaching Assistant (TA). You must pass the lab in order to pass the course. If a course has a lab section, you must register for the lab in addition to the lecture.

Seminars

Seminar courses are smaller, less formal classes than lectures. They encourage discussions and sometimes involve presentations. Students are graded on presentations and participation.

Student evaluation

On the first day of class, your instructor will present a course outline or syllabus that you will follow throughout the term. It will provide important details on class readings, exams, assignments, due dates, and grading criteria.

In university, you are expected to take charge of your own learning and success, so be sure to contact your professor for the syllabus if you missed the first lecture. You will also be responsible for any course material you may miss during the term.

There are 3 main methods of student evaluation at UBC:

  • Class participation
  • Assignments
  • Exams

Class participation

In many courses, you will be expected to discuss your opinions, ideas, and perspectives related to the coursework, readings, and assignments. You may also be graded on your participation.

The goals of class participation are to develop academic skills of critical thinking, connecting and creating ideas, and defending perspectives or arguments. Memorizing lecture notes and course materials is important but are often not sufficient for the best results.

Assignments

Instructors may assign term papers, essays, problem sets, or other assignments like group projects, oral presentations, or lab projects. Read your syllabus at the start of the term for assignments and grading.

Exams

Most courses have 2 major exams: midterms and final exams. Your courses may have one midterm halfway through the term or several midterms throughout one term.

Exams will test your knowledge using varying formats, such as short or long answers, essay questions, true or false, and multiple choice.

Final exams

Final exams happen at the end of each term during exam periods in December and April. Review important term dates to check when the exam period is for the current term.

Exam schedules are posted to your Student Services Centre (SSC) under Exams, or in the Exam Schedule tool in mid-October (Term 1) and mid-February (Term 2).

You must be available to take your exams during the entire exam period. It is essential to not make arrangements for end-of-term travel until you see your exam schedule.

Exam clashes and hardships

When your exam schedule is released, check that you don’t have any exam clashes or hardships.

Missing an exam

If you need to miss an exam, or have missed an exam due to a legitimate reason, check whether you may be eligible for an academic concession.

Instructors

Most undergraduate classes are taught by professors. Some courses will have Teaching Assistants (TAs). Be sure to speak to your professor or TA if:

  • You cannot submit your assignment on time.

  • You don’t understand a concept that was covered in class.

  • You're feeling overwhelmed by your course load due to circumstances outside of the course.

  • You need more information about an essay, project, or other assignment.

Office hours

Most instructors hold office hours which are times you can drop by to discuss course materials, assignments, questions, and other concerns. You can also schedule one-on-one appointments with professors and TAs. Consult your course syllabus for specific instructions.

Conduct

Student-faculty relationships may be different at university than they are in secondary school or in other countries, in the following ways:

  • Relationships are informal and you may hear students call some instructors by their first name.
  • Students may respectfully challenge and question their instructors in class or in office hours.
  • It’s considered inappropriate for instructors to date their students.

Plagiarism and citation

Plagiarism is the act of submitting the intellectual property of another person as your own. It is one of the most serious of academic offences. Penalties for plagiarism may range from a failing grade in a course to suspension from UBC. Learn how to avoid plagiarism.

Plagiarism may include:

  • Copying all or a part of another person’s work and presenting it as your own
  • Purchasing a written paper from someone or a website and presenting it as your own
  • Re-submitting your work from one course to fulfill a requirement in another course

Citation

Intellectual property includes ideas, arguments, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or results of research. When you use excerpts from someone else’s work in your essay, paper, or presentation, you must acknowledge the original author in a footnote or another accepted manner of citation. The UBC Library can help you with proper citation. If you do not properly cite your work, it may be considered as plagiarism.

University Regulations

It is your responsibility to be aware of University regulations. Check out the complete listing of academic regulations that apply to every student at UBC.

Academic resources