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Undergraduate Advising FAQ
What if I am interested in more than one area of study?
In the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, students can customize their degree as much or as little as they like. The minimum requirement for a BA is one major or two minors; beyond that, the possibilities are endless! If you’re interested in more than one area of study, you might want to consider:
- Adding a minor or extended minor
- Completing a double major. A double major means completing the major requirements of two disciplines, usually 32 upper division units in each subject. All programs can be combined into double majors.
- Completing a joint major. A joint major has reduced requirements for each major, usually 24 upper division units in each subject. Only select programs can be done as joint majors.
What if I want to pursue an Honours Political Science degree?
Students looking to hone their research skills and gain advanced knowledge in a subject area should consider completing an Honours Degree in political science. The main additional task for an Honours degree is an independent research project supervised by a continuing faculty member. The Honours essay is more substantial than a course paper, requiring students to make an original contribution to a research field.
Note: This program is available to students with a CGPA of 3.0 and a UDGPA of 3.33. Those interested should apply in their third year, or after reaching 75 units.
What is WQB?
Students admitted to an undergraduate degree at SFU as of Fall 2006 must complete a minimum of 36 units of courses designated as Writing, Quantitative, or Breadth, with a grade of C- or better to receive WQB credit. Students can also have their transfer credit evaluated for WQB designation by submitting a WQB evaluation form.
Which program requirements govern my academic career?
There are two sets of requirements that affect your program requirements at SFU.
For your degree, the SFU Calendar in effect when you took your first course at SFU regulates your degree. So, if you started your Bachelor of Arts in Fall 2017, the Fall 2017 Calendar lists the requirements for your BA degree.
For your plan (major or minor), the SFU Calendar in effect when you declared your plan regulates that plan. So, if you declare your political science major in Spring 2019, the Spring 2019 calendar lists the requirements for your major.
Who can I talk to about applying to political science graduate school?
It is recommended that you discuss your options with the Undergraduate Advisor, who can assist you with planning, as well as understanding career paths associated with graduate studies in political science.
Course adds, drops, retakes and waitlists
How do I choose which course to take?
SFU's Department of Political Science program gives you many options, which can make course selection a little challenging. To guide your course selection, we have created five learning tracks:
- Diplomacy, Defense & Development
- Diversity & Migration
- Justice & Law
- Public Policy & Democratic Governance
- Research Methods & Analysis
These learning tracks can help structure your choices. Each track is designed to give you specialized knowledge in a subfield of political science. If you need help choosing courses, please contact the Undergraduate Advisor.
How can I find upper division elective courses?
Each term, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences publishes a list of upper division classes with minimal prerequisites. In addition, those classes that will fulfill Writing, Quantitative and Breadth (WQB) requirements are identified on the list.
What if there is a course or exam time conflict between two courses I would like to take?
For course time or exam conflicts, you will need the permission of the instructor who is teaching the course which is in conflict with another course. Please contact the Undergraduate Advisor for help in these situations.
How do I add a course, or swap a tutorial during week 1 of classes?
During week 1, all adds, drops, swaps, etc. are done by the student via goSFU. If you have trouble enrolling, get help with goSFU online.
How do I add a course, or swap a tutorial during week 2 of classes?
After the first week of class, students require departmental permission to enroll in or swap courses. This means that the instructor or TA needs to give permission to a student to join the class.
Note: Adds in week 2 are not possible for all courses. Any course adds in week 2 are handled on a first-come first-served basis. No students will be added to courses after the second week of the term.
How many units per term can I take?
A student may enroll in 18 units per term. Students wishing to complete more than 18 units must seek permission for a course overload from Arts Central (FASS Dean's Office).
How do I enroll in the Extra Essay (POL 496) or Directed Readings (POL 498) course?
To enroll in POL 496 or POL 498:
- Download the Course Application form.
- Fill out the top portion with your student information.
- Identify a topic for your course.
- Obtain your supervisor’s signature on the Course Application. *Both POL 496 and POL 498 require a faculty supervisor. This supervisor must be a continuing faculty member of the Department of Political Science.
- Bring the completed form to the Undergraduate Advisor for processing.
Note: It will take 1-2 business days to complete the approval process and enroll you into the course. Applications will not be accepted after the end of week 3 of each semester.
How do I drop my courses?
Courses can be dropped online until the end of week 5 of classes in a semester. After week 2, this will show on your transcript as a WD, which has no effect on your grade point average. After the end of week 5, you may only drop a course if you have circumstances beyond your control (see Academic Difficulty below).
Note: Be aware that this deadline comes before the results of most midterms, so it is unlikely that you will be able to withdraw from a course after receiving a poor midterm grade.
How many times can I take a class?
Students may retake any course once to a maximum of five repeats.
- To count as a course repeat, the course must be identical to the one taken previously. In some cases, courses in other departments will be considered as equivalent, e.g. POL 201 and IS 240. Courses that have been renumbered may also count as duplications. Check with the Undergraduate Advisor if you are unsure whether a course will count as a repeat.
- You cannot improve your GPA by retaking a course at SFU that you took at another institution.
- Normally, a course can only be taken twice. Permission may be requested to retake a course for a third time. Contact the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss this.
- 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.
The class I want is full! What can I do?
There are a number of steps that students can take if their chosen class is full:
- Join the waitlist where possible. If you get on the waitlist you have a reasonable chance (though not a guarantee) of getting into the class. Waitlists run multiple times daily and enroll students automatically in available spaces in order of waitlist position.
- Before classes start, you should continue to monitor your chosen courses; you will be enrolled automatically if a space opens up and you have no time conflicts.
- If you are still on the waiting list after the start of the semester, make sure to attend the class, as professors occasionally allow extra students to join. Also, see the professor after class or during their office hours and ask if they will be adding additional students to the class. Be polite and explain why you are interested in the course.
Help with waitlists:
- You may only waitlist for a maximum of 8 units (two courses).
- If the class has tutorials, look for tutorials that are offered outside of “peak” times. That means, look for tutorials that are not offered right before or right after the lecture. Also, tutorials offered at 8:30 a.m. or after 3:30 p.m. are more likely to have space available.
- You are waitlisted for the specific section you choose—if your class has tutorials, you will be on the waitlist for that specific tutorial. If space is available in another tutorial you will not automatically be added to it. Choose your tutorials wisely! You will be added to a class based on your position in your tutorial waitlist.
- If you have a course or exam time conflict with another course you have enrolled in, the waitlist will skip over you and add the next student who does not have a time conflict.
May I register for a course if I do not have the prerequisites?
Students may request a prerequisite waiver from the Undergraduate Advisor in person or via email. Please make sure to include your advising transcript and the course number you are requesting a waiver for.
Note: A prerequisite waiver does not guarantee a seat in the course.
I applied for admission to SFU as a political science major. Do I need to see an advisor?
Plan designations you made on your SFU application form are "intentions" only. You must declare a plan with the Department of Political Science after you have started your studies at SFU.
How do I declare a political science plan?
If you have met the declaration requirements for a political science plan, please email a pdf of your advising transcript (available via goSFU), sorted by "both", to the Undergraduate Advisor. Please be sure to include your SFU student number, full name and specify which plan you wish to declare. Additional information on programs and requirements can be found in the SFU Calendar.
May I use a course from another Department toward my requirements for my political science program?
Yes—substitutions for courses completed outside the Department of Political Science—with political science content—are permitted. Application for course substitution can be made by sending a course outline of the proposed course to the Undergraduate Chair.
How can I check on my progress towards graduation?
As soon as you have declared your major, you can view your progress towards your degree and identify any potential issues using the Academic Progress Report (APR) tool in goSFU. The Academic Progress Report (APR) is an interactive course mapping tool designed to help current undergraduate students understand their degree and program requirements, as well as provide a starting place for making informed decisions about their academic program.
How can I apply for graduation?
You should apply for graduation, through goSFU, during the term you are completing your last course. Be sure to check the date by which you need to apply, as there is a late fee if you apply past the deadline. In addition, your application to graduate will be cancelled if you do not pay your graduation application fee on time.
How can I check the status of my graduation application?
Students can check their graduation status by navigating to goSFU. From the Main Menu, choose Self Service > Graduation/Convocation > Grad Application Status.
Note: if you applied before the early deadline, we must wait for your grades to be inputted before your graduation status can be updated. Usually your status will be updated by the first week of the following term.
What does it mean if I received transfer credit labeled POL 1XX-3?
You may have transfer credit on your transcript that appears as POL 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. Political science courses with unassigned credit may be counted towards all political science credentials (major, minor, extended minor, joint major or honours). Make sure to check the transfer units received for each course, as they may not be equivalent units to courses at SFU.
What does it mean if I received transfer credit labeled GE 1XX?
GE is general education credit. The course did not map into a department at SFU, but you have nevertheless been given lower division credit towards your degree.
How many credits can I transfer?
Under a Bachelor of Arts, students can have a maximum of 60 transfer credits, including a maximum of 15 upper division credits. Refer to the SFU Calendar for further information regarding transfer credit.
How can I find out whether a course will transfer to SFU?
The BC Transfer Guide is an accurate source for evaluated coursework taken at BC institutions. Students who have completed courses at universities or colleges outside of BC can contact Admissions in Student Services to ask whether and how a course has been articulated at SFU. Students transferring courses to SFU should be prepared to submit the detailed course syllabus for each course they wish to transfer to SFU.
May I take a course at another institution if I am already registered or have completed courses at SFU?
Yes. If you want the credit to transfer back to SFU, you must apply for a Letter of Permission before taking the course. A Letter of Permission may take six to eight weeks to process. Many schools require that you have an approved Letter of Permission prior to allowing you to register at their school.
Academic difficulty and appeals
I am having academic difficulty. What should I do?
If you are having academic difficulty, you should contact the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss your situation.
- If you are on academic probation or required to withdraw, you should contact Back on Track, which will work with you and and offer you support you while you are completing your degree. 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. You can also visit the Student Learning Commons (SLC), which can assist you with issues such as academic writing, study strategies, etc.
- If you are unable to continue in a course due to circumstances beyond your control (illness, family difficulties or job transfer out of town), you can apply for a Withdrawal under Extenuating Circumstances. This allows you to withdraw from your courses after the regular drop deadlines without academic penalty—learn more 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 appeal a grade?
Before commencing an appeal, you should read the grade appeal policies and procedures. Please be aware that if you request a grade appeal, your coursework may receive the same grade, a lower grade or a higher grade after re-evaluation.
Briefly, the steps are:
- Discuss your concerns with the course instructor.
- If you feel that the grade was unfairly awarded, you may submit a Grade Appeal form to the Department Chair. You must submit all original marked assignments. Appeals must normally be filed within 60 days of grade release.
- If you feel the Department’s decision was inappropriate, you may submit an appeal in writing to the Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. The decision of the Dean is final, subject only to an appeal to Senate.
What if I feel I’ve been treated unfairly for any reason?
If you do not feel you have been treated fairly, you may seek assistance from the ombudsperson. The mandate of the Office of the Ombudsperson is to ensure that you are treated fairly, not just in terms of course grades, but in all aspects of your university experience. Please click here for further information on the Office of the Ombudsperson.