Frequently Asked Questions - Undergraduates

Have a question that's not on this list?  Contact our undergraduate administrator, Jenny Conroy, or our undergraduate chair, Victoria Lamont.

Planning Your Degree

How do I change my Academic Plan?

What is the difference between a Minor and a Specialization? Should I do a Minor or Specialization?

A minor is a group of eight courses from a discipline other than your major. A specialization is a group of four courses within your major that concentrate in a certain area. If you want to customize your degree to gain strengths in certain areas within English, you should consider a specialization. If you have a strong interest in a discipline outside of English, you should consider adding a Minor.

How do I know what requirements I need?

All UW plan requirements are explained in the Academic Calendar for the academic year you were admitted to your plan. Each year, the calendar is updated, so you will need to find the calendar that applies to you: On the Calendar home page, follow the link to archived Calendars and choose the correct calendar. For example, if you were admitted in spring 2022, then you should follow the 2021-22 Calendar. If you are not sure which Calendar you should be following, ask your academic advisor.

Can I count courses towards more than one requirement?

Generally, you can double-count courses towards two different requirements, but you can’t triple-count. For example, two of your English courses can be double-counted to meet the Humanities Breadth requirement, but you can’t count those same courses towards a third requirement (such as a Specialization). You can also double count an ENGL Major requirement towards an ENGL Specialization. ENGL courses that are cross-listed with other Departments can also be double-counted towards English requirements and Arts Breadth or Minor requirements. For example, ENGL 362 is cross-listed with THPERF, so it can count towards both a Literature and Fine Arts Breadth requirement. ENGL 403 is cross-listed with DAC and can count towards an ENGL requirement and the DAC Minor.

You can’t double-count one ENGL course for two ENGL Major requirements. For example, you can count ENGL 485 towards the Romantic to Modern requirement OR the Special Topics requirement, but not both.

What can I do to plan ahead for future semesters?

Check This Year’s Courses to see what is offered for the upcoming academic year. Try to complete required courses first, so that you don’t get stuck unable to meet a requirement in your last term. Have a few plan B courses in mind in case you are unable to get into your first choice of courses.

What steps should I take to graduate?

You should have a degree audit done by your academic advisor to make sure you are on track for completing your degree requirements. Early in your 4B term, you should apply to graduate.

Which calendar plan do I follow? Does it matter?

Each year the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar is updated and any changes to plans will be reflected. The calendar plan you follow may be different than the plan was the year before. Therefore, the courses you choose may be different than someone who is following the same degree but a different year. Please see the Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements page to find out which calendar you should be following.

You can change to a later plan by submitting a plan modification form to the Undergraduate Office (HH 251) or to your Undergraduate Advisor.

How do I find my year plan on the Academic Calendar?

If you are not following the most recent calendar, you will need to select yours from the List of Undergraduate Studies Archived Calendars. Please see the step by step instructions below.

  1. Click the "List of Calendars" link on the top of the left hand menu.
  2. Choose the year of the calendar you are looking for.
  3. Click on the "Faculty of Arts" link in the left hand menu.
  4. Click the "Arts Academic Plans" link in the centre menu.
  5. Click the "English Language and Literature" link in the centre menu.
  6. Click the link for the degree plan you are following (e.g. Honours English - Literature and Rhetoric.
  7. Optional - you can click on the link in the upper right hand corner if you want a clean printable version.

I am thinking of dropping a course this term. Is this a bad idea?

Sometimes dropping a course is the best choice, especially if you are falling behind and don’t think you can catch up. But there are a few factors that you should keep in mind: will dropping affect your status as a full-time student (you need to be in at least three courses to be considered full-time). Are you on OSAP? Has the WD deadline passed? Reach out to your Academic Advisor for guidance.

I was thinking of taking a term off. Is this allowed?

You can take up to three consecutive inactive terms without losing your status as a UW student. If you are a co-op student or are on OSAP, you should check with your Advisor/Student Awards & Financial Aid to see if this will affect your eligibility. You don’t need to fill our any paperwork or receive special permission, but, if you are inactive for more than three consecutive terms, you will have to reapply for admission to resume your studies. To take a term off, you simply just don’t enroll in courses for that term.

Choosing and Taking Courses

What's the difference between course selection and course enrollment?

Course selection is when you get the chance to choose your courses for a later term. This means you don't have to wait until open enrollment starts, and you still have the option of changing your mind once enrollment opens. The scheduling system will try to create conflict free schedules depending on what students choose during course selection.

Course enrollment is when you can change your selection choices or enroll in courses if you haven't already. You will need to check that courses don't clash with one another and some courses may already be full.

How do I find out what ENGL courses are offered next term?

The page This Year’s Courses lists all courses scheduled for the upcoming academic year. This list is subject to change, but is a great tool for planning ahead.

How do course codes work? Is a 400-level always the hardest?

100-level courses are usually taken by first-year students, or students from Majors other than English. 200-level courses are introductory-level courses. 300-400 level courses are taught at an advanced level. The majority of 300-400 level courses have a pre-requisite of 2A. It is not necessary to wait until your fourth year to take 400-level courses and 400 level courses are not necessarily harder than 300-level.

How often will courses be available?

It depends. Core requirements like ENGL 200A-C, ENGL 251, ENGL 292, ENGL 309A/C are taught most terms. So are courses that are in very high demand, like ENGL 108P. More specialized courses are taught less often—sometimes one a year, sometimes once every two years or less, depending on available resources and student demand. If a course is offered that interests you greatly, you should take it when it is offered, because you might not have a second chance. If you are wondering about when a certain course will be offered, or just want to express interest in a course, contact Jenny Conroy.

When am I allowed to ask for a course override? How do I request one?

Any student can request a course override when a course they want to enroll in is full or they don’t meet the pre-requisites. To request an override, add your name to the Course Waiting List. Spots in high-demand courses will be offered on a first come, first-served basis. In most cases, course caps will not be overridden, so you will only be offered a spot when and if a spot becomes open and if you are next in the waitlist queue. Requests to override pre-requisites will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I want to enroll in a course but Quest tells me it's full. What do I do?

If the course is ENGL 109 or ENGL 210F, I'm sorry to tell you that we cannot override the course limit for these courses. You can add yourself to the waitlist queue by adding your name to the Course Waiting List. If you require this course for an ELPE recovery, please check with your advisor which other courses may fulfill the requirement.

If the course ends with "R", you can sign up to the waiting list by filling out the form on the Renison University College website.

If the course location is listed as STJ, please contact the instructor directly.

For main campus (UW) or online courses, please use the Course Waiting List.

If you have further questions regarding a full course, please contact Jenny Conroy.

I want to enrol in a course but Quest tells me I don't meet the reserve requirements. What can I do?

The reserves are monitored regularly and if seats in courses are not taken by students who fulfill the reserve requirement, we are able to offer the spots to students who do not meet the requirements. Please add yourself to our Course Waiting List and if we are able to override the reserve for you, you will be contacted by email.

I want to enrol in a course but Quest tells me I don't meet the pre-requisite requirements. What can I do?

In most cases we are unable to override pre-requisite requirements. The requirements are there to ensure you have the knowledge necessary for the course. Please contact Jenny Conroy in the Undergraduate Office for further information.


Quest says my academic standing is “Conditional.” What does this mean?

“Conditional” standing means that your GPA has fallen below the minimum threshold for your plan and you have to raise it. After three consecutive terms of conditional standing, you may be required to move to a different plan or, in rare cases, withdraw from the University. You are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with your Advisor to discuss possible next steps for success. This can mean a lighter course load, counselling, coaching from the Student Success Office, or even taking some time off.

What is the difference between a Petition and a Grievance. Who can file a petition or Grievance?

Petition: Students who experience setbacks such as a physical or mental illness that prevents them from succeeding in their courses can petition for an exception to academic regulations. To find out more about filing a petition, contact Victoria Lamont.

Grievance: When a student feels that they have been treated unfairly by an instructor, they may have grounds to file a Grievance. First, the student must take timely steps to resolve the problem directly with the instructor. If they are unable to resolve the problem, the next step is to contact Victoria Lamont about the possibility of filing a grievance.

Who do I reach out to for help?

For academic related questions, contact Jenny Conroy or Victoria Lamont. Jenny handles degree audits, scheduling, course overrides, and questions about degree requirements. Victoria also handles degree audits and questions about requirements, in addition to questions related to petitions and grievances.