Grading Standards and Principles

Grading Standards and Principles

The final grade awarded in a course shall be determined on the basis of the goals and requirements established for that course. Grading standards are established appropriate to the level of the course, as indicated by its course number, rather than to the level of the student.

Written Work

An A paper is written with verve and clarity. It displays a curiosity, a control of knowledge beyond what was covered in class, an original insight or an extrapolation beyond class work. The student will demonstrate an ability to develop an independent and well-organized line of argument. 

A B paper presents a valid case competently or shows a good understanding of the topic but lacks either the independence or organization of an A paper.

A C paper is the record of a valiant struggle to make a case or to keep up with material and skills demanded by the topic. It is frustrated by confused prose or organization, or by lacunae in the argument.

A D paper is incompetently expressed, organized, or conceived, with only a limited or intermittent grasp of the topic or awareness of the skills and principles of analysis.

An F paper is devoid of grammar, logic, and critical method, and may have only a nodding acquaintance with the topic assigned.

Seminar Participation

The A student will have prepared well-thought-out approaches to the topic in advance of the class, and is prepared to engage in a probing and coherent discussion on the topic. She/He will participate regularly and eagerly, with an ear for the contributions of others and an eye on the parameters imposed by the topic.

The B student will have prepared the topic and will contribute regularly but without the insightful relevance that characterizes the A student's responses.

The C student will participate infrequently and/or display only a general knowledge of the material, frequently losing focus on the topic.

The D student will infrequently demonstrate knowledge of the topic assigned and will rarely extend the discussion. She/He will pass because of regular attendance and an occasional valid contribution.

The F student will rarely attend or will attend irregularly with rare contributions, and/or show little or no grasp of the course material.


Unless otherwise indicated by a course instructor, the following guidelines apply to all assignments given in the department:

First year courses 

Late assignments will receive a grade of zero unless accompanied by appropriate documentation

Second, third, and fourth year courses

The penalty for a late assignment is a grade deduction of 5% per day, beginning the day following the assignment's due date.

The weekend counts as one day.

The assignment will not be accepted if it is more than two weeks late.

If an assignment extension is granted, for an appropriate reason agreed to by the instructor, and the student does not submit the assignment on the extension due date, the same 5%-per-day late penalty will apply.

Marking Schemes

Each course has its marking scheme declared for the year in the fall. Students are not assigned extra work for bonus marks. In some cases a student may volunteer for extra work, either for no credit or by advance arrangement for credit in lieu of some formal assignment in a course. No bonus marks are given to anyone outside the marking plan announced for the course.

System of Numerical Grades

The following scheme is used for final grades submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

Letter Grade — Numerical Grades

A —  80 - 100

B —  70 - 79

C —  60 - 69

D —  50 - 59

F —  0 - 49

IN (Incomplete) —  This is a temporary grade assigned to a student who because of exceptional circumstances, for reasons satisfactory to the Department, has been unable to complete some part of the term work in a course in time to have it graded by the instructor for inclusion in the final mark. This grade must be accompanied by a numerical grade and will automatically lapse eight weeks after the last day of the examination period, and the numerical grade will stand, unless both are replaced earlier by the instructor.

IP (In progress)  — This grade can be used only in fourth-year thesis courses. If the IP has not been lifted within twelve months of the initial registration in the course, the student must re-register and pay the appropriate course fee.


Students are entitled to inspect their final examination papers. Questions regarding final grades should first be discussed with the instructor. In the event of a disagreement between a student and an instructor, representations should be made first to the Department Chair and then, if necessary, to the university committee on Petitions and Appeals.