Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does HIST 1XX-3 mean?

2. The class I want is full!  What can I do?

3. How do I choose which course to take?

4. I am working on a Second Degree or Post-Baccalaureate Diploma – how do I register?

5. Where are your course outlines?

6. What are your advising hours? Do I need to make an appointment?

7. Minor or Extended Minor – what is the difference?

8. What is the difference between a double major and a joint major?

9. WQB?

10. How do the Distance Education courses work?

11. An emergency has come up and I can’t finish my work on time, what can I do?

12. How do I drop my courses?

13. What about retaking a course I did poorly in before?

14. I’m in trouble and I think I am going to be on academic probation or required to withdraw – what can I do?

15. I want to be a teacher!

What does HIST 1XX-3 mean?

You may have transfer credit on your transcript that appears as HIST 1XX, 2XX, 3XX or 4XX.  These courses have been given “unassigned” credit and are recognized as university level but are not given a specific number only because they are not identical to a course we offer.  History courses with unassigned credit may be counted towards all History credentials (major, minor, extended minor, joint major or honours).
Please be aware that while you might be granted unassigned 300 or 400 level credit, those courses might be worth only 3 units rather than SFU History’s 4 units for upper division.  This is because we may only grant as many units as the school offering the course.

The class I want is full!  What can I do?

If the class has tutorials, look for tutorials that are offered outside of “peak” times.  The most popular tutorials are those offered right before or right after lecture so tutorials offered at 8:30am or after 3:30pm are more likely to have space available in the class or on the waitlist.  If you can get in to a tutorial you will automatically be added to the lecture.

Waitlist where possible.  History uses small waiting lists for almost all its courses.  If you get on to the waiting list you have a reasonable chance though not a guarantee of getting into the class.Waitlists work automatically and fill available spaces in a section in order from the list.

Some things to keep in mind are:

  • You are waitlisted for the specific section you choose – if your class has tutorials then you will be on the waitlist the FOR THAT TUTORIAL.  If space is available in another tutorial you will not automatically be added to it.  Choose your tutorials wisely. The only rank that matters is your rank on the tutorial waiting list for example:
    - Billy is ranked 4th for the lecture and 3rd for his chosen tutorial
    - Susie is ranked 14th for the lecture and 1st for her chosen tutorial.
    If one person drops Susie’s tutorial she is automatically added to the lecture and tutorial.  Billy needs three people to drop his tutorial for him to get into the class, even if more than 4 people drop the class from other tutorials.
  • You may only waitlist for a maximum of 8 units (2 courses)
  • If you have a course or exam time conflict with another course you are registered in the waiting list will skip over you and add the next student who does not have a time conflict.
  • Waiting lists expire 5 school days into the semester. If you were not automatically added to the class before this happens you are not registered in the class and should look for other options.

If you are on the waiting list at the start of classes ATTEND THE CLASS unless you are planning to drop it.  Professors occasionally allow extra students to add a class if there is physical space, if they are adding students to a section they personally teach (TA’s cannot overload their classes), and if they feel additional students would not have a negative impact on the kind of teaching they want to do.  You will likely be asked to wait until the second week of classes and the expiration of the waiting lists.
See the professor after class or during their office hours to see if they might be adding additional students to the class.   Be polite, explain yourself clearly and express why you are interested in the class (saying that it fits your schedule and you need it for breadth isn’t a strong argument)

How do I choose which course to take?

The History program at SFU gives you many options and that can make course selection a little challenging.  For your lower level courses it is a good idea to select a variety of courses and look ahead to the third and fourth year course options as some of those have specific course prerequisites.  Majors must keep in mind that their upper division courses must be divided among the four groups and that will inform some of your planning.

Except for the group requirements for majors, History course selection is wide open and students have the chance to choose the courses that they find most interesting.

NOTE: if you are considering the PDP program to become a teacher consult their requirements as soon as possible, and check them on a regular basis in case they change.  PDP has specific requirements, some of which can only be met with lower division courses. Check the requirements here.

I am working on a Second Degree or Post-Baccalaureate Diploma – how do I register?

As the computer goes blind to prerequisites completed during previous degrees, students pursuing one of these post-graduate programs do have trouble registering.  Select a list of courses that interest you and contact the advisor of the relevant department before your registration date.  You may be cleared to register into those courses based on your previously completed work.

Where are your course outlines?

History course outlines can be found here. If the outline is not linked it means that we have not yet received it from the instructor.

What are your advising hours? Do I need to make an appointment?

Monday: Virtual appointments only
Tuesday through Friday drop-in from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and by appointment in the afternoon.

Advising appointments can be booked directly through Advisor Link or by contacting the Undergraduate Advisor at

Minor or Extended Minor in History – what is the difference?

Both of these credentials, which differ only in the amount of lower division credit required can be attached to any other majors, minors, honours etc. 

What is the difference between a double major and a joint major?

All programs can be combined into double majors, which require the completion of the major requirements of two disciplines (note: degree requirements such as WQB are completed as if you had a single major) but there are a few joint major programs that have reduced requirements for each major.

History Joint Major Options:

  • Humanities
  • World Literature
  • Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

These programs require the same lower division requirements, but only 24 upper division History units, including at least 12 units at 400 level and meeting the group requirements.

For information on the French/History/Political Science joint major contact the French Department. Note: Only History courses with sufficient French content (France, Quebec or other colonial) will be considered for the History component of this program.


Check this link for more information on the WQB requirements:

If you have transfer credit that you think should have a WQB designation, you can find more information here:

How do the Distance Education courses work?

Distance Education courses operate much as any other SFU courses but there is no in-class instruction component.  Note: there is always at least one exam that must be written either at SFU or by special arrangement if you are away from the Vancouver area.

The courses run over the course of a regular semester and they vary in terms of their offerings – some are web based, others are not.  Students have the academic support of a tutor marker who is available to answer questions and mark assignments and exams.

History now offers four Distance Education courses – HIST 277, HIST 304, HIST 338 and HIST 339.  The upper division courses are extremely popular and students from other disciplines who lack sufficient prerequisites will only be considered for admission once the regular release to registration has been completed.  Contact the History Advisor for more information.

An emergency has come up and I can’t finish my work on time, what can I do?

If you are unable to continue in a course due to circumstances beyond your control (illness, family difficulties, job transfer out of town) you can apply for a Withdrawal with Extenuating Circumstances.  This allows you to withdraw from your courses after the regular drop deadlines without academic penalty.  You can find more information on the Student Services website.

Before pursuing this, speak to your professor and advisor to see if there are any other options for you such as extending a deadline or rescheduling an exam.  If you have already invested a lot of time, energy and money into a course we want you to have a chance to complete it if that makes sense for you under the circumstances.

How do I drop my courses?

Courses can be dropped online until the end of the fifth week of classes in a semester. After week 3 this will show on your transcript as a WD which has no effect on your grade point average (students with extenuating circumstances can apply to have this noted instead).  Check here for information on whether or not you can expect to get a tuition refund for your course drop:

After the end of week 5 you may only drop a course if you have circumstances beyond your control (see above).  Be aware that this deadline comes before the results of most midterms so you it is unlikely that you will be able to withdraw from a course after receiving a poor midterm grade.

What about retaking a course I did poorly in before?

Students may retake any course once to a maximum of five duplications.  If you duplicate more than five courses only the first five will be counted.  In order to count as a duplication the course must be identical to the one taken previously (HIST 101 must be retaken as HIST 101).  You cannot improve your gpa by retaking a course at SFU that you took at another institution.

Only the higher of the two attempts will be calculated into your grade point average and credit for the course will only be given once, even if a student passes both attempts.

Courses that have been renumbered might count as duplications – see the advisor before you register.
Permission may be requested to retake a course for a third time but it is very rarely granted – contact the advisor to discuss this.
Permission is very rarely granted for more than five duplications – contact an advisor at Arts Central to discuss this. 

I’m in trouble and I think I am going to be on academic probation or required to withdraw – what can I do?

There is good news on this front.  Students in academic difficulty now have more support to get back on track!
If you feel that you are going to be in academic difficulty do not hesitate to get in touch with the Student Success program as they are your best chance to stay at SFU or get back in if you were required to withdraw.  New programs exist to work with and support you towards completing your degree.

I want to be a teacher!

Many, many History students plan to become an elementary or high school teacher once they complete their degree.  It is a very competitive process and it is vital that you meet each and every requirement that the teacher education programs lay out.   Because the requirements are very specific and sometimes change, all questions about this program should be directed to these offices.

Here is a link to SFU’s requirements

Here is a link to UBC’s requirements

Note: UBC’s program is larger and while many students prefer to opt for SFU’s very highly rated program there are limited seats available and it can make sense to apply for both.