Petition for exception to academic regulations

Science Petitions and Instructions for Students

Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) indicates that a petition “is a request by a student seeking exception to, or relief from, normal faculty or University rules and regulations”. Examples of petitions include adding or dropping a course after the deadline, altering a WF grade to a WD for a late drop, changing course load enrolment and reconsideration of an end of term academic decision. Petitions and grievances are further defined in the Undergraduate Calendar.

The Science Petitions Committee includes 9 members (1 non-voting) with faculty and staff representation from the Science Undergraduate Office, all Science departments and the Registrar’s Office. The committee is chaired by a Science professor. Normally, the committee meets every two weeks and results are sent out within a week of the meeting, thus most decisions are received within three weeks of submitting a petition.

All petition communications—including requests for clarification or further information as well as decisions—are sent to students via their email address, therefore regular monitoring of this account is important at all times and is a student's responsibility.

Steps to submit a Petition

  1. Discuss the petition process with an academic advisor, including relevant timelines and desired outcome.
  2. Fill out the Petition for Exception to Academic Regulations (Form 70A) online (sign-in required) according to instructions given on form.
  3. Gather all relevant supporting documents (see examples on form) that support the petition.
  4. Upload any documentation and submit the petition form. Questions can be directed to

Possible outcomes

Students should not make assumptions about the outcome of a petition, and in some cases, students may be asked whether they will accept the committee's decision after the deliberation. An example can be whether to accept a CR/NCR grade outcome, which is standard practice, for an entire term. Students should consider:

  • The undergraduate calendar definitions of these grades
  • The 50% rule requirement, which applies to all active students
  • University of Waterloo has no control of how other institutions view CR/NCR grades:
    • Students are encouraged to review admission policies for prospective programs
    • The Centre for Career Development (CCD) has further education career advisors who are important resources for students planning to apply to professional and graduate schools
  • CR grades:
    • May be helpful, if the grade would have otherwise reduced the GPA or average calculation
    • May be harmful, if the course is required for admission (a prerequisite) or admission average calculations are limited to the most recent courses/years (numerous CRs in a recent term, may increase scrutiny on earlier academic years)
  • NCR grades:
    • May be viewed negatively and may count as zero in admission average calculations

Additional information

Students should prepare their petition in a manner that clearly conveys their circumstances and timeline of events.  The committee makes its decision based on a student's: 1) petition narrative, 2) past petition record, 3) academic record, and 4) supporting documentation (if any). Students should not assume the committee members will know all aspects of a story or set of circumstances. If there are important facts, they should be included and supported by documentation whenever possible.

Finally, students should note the following:

  • Petitions allow students to progress through their academic studies by seeking exception to, or relief from, normal Faculty or University rules and regulations.  The academic record at graduation reflects a completed period of study that is no longer subject to change. Therefore, petitions are not considered after a degree is awarded.
  • Typically, petitions should be presented within six months after the end of the term in which the event(s) took place that led to submitting the petition.  When an academic term immediately follows the term in which students seek exemption form regulations, immediate action by students may be necessary to minimize delays in their academic progression. The committee recognizes that it may take time to gather appropriate documentation or recognize the effect of significant events on a particular term, so petitions for prior terms will be reviewed by the committee.
  • Significant, extenuating circumstances normally affect all courses in a given term. Decisions normally apply to all courses unless students can demonstrate that they only affected one/select course(s).
  • Students should not use a petition to challenge a grade in a course, as described in Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances)
  • Students on a study permit should meet with an Immigration Consultant before leaving Canada, if they plan to petition a term withdrawal, receive a ‘required to withdraw’ decision, or to discuss potential impacts of petition decisions on their Post-Graduate Work Permit.
  • Medical documentation will be reviewed by a clinical records evaluator

Updated February, 2023.