Academic Policies and Procedures

 

Attendance

Success in law studies requires that students devote themselves full time to their studies.

The Faculty advises all students to avoid outside employment unless absolutely necessary.

No credit is allowed for work done in absentia.

Leave of absence is not permitted except in unusual circumstances.

Students in good standing who are permitted to withdraw can rejoin the Faculty of Law subject to the regulations in force at the time they apply to re-enter.

Failure to attend classes, seminars, appointments or examinations without demonstrated good causes constitutes a ground for exclusion from the Faculty

The right to sit for examinations or to submit work for evaluation is conditional upon regular class attendance and participation in required exercises.

An instructor, with the approval of the Associate Dean (Academic), may refuse to evaluate all or part of a student's work where attendance has not been regular.

Evaluation and Grading Policy

Final grades are based on some combination of written examinations, mid-term tests, essays, group assignments, presentations, and class participation. In upper-year courses, a final examination may count for more than 75% of a student's final grade only if the student (i) has been given the option of a final examination worth 75% or less, and (ii) has declined that option.

First-year courses (with the exception of Legal Ethics and Professionalism, and Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy) run the full academic year, with mid-term examinations held in December worth at least 20% and not more than 30% of the student’s final grade in the course. The Faculty uses a system of blind marking, and students are issued exam numbers each term. These numbers are the only identification used by students on examination papers. They also may be used for other methods of evaluation.

No more than 75% of a student's final grade in a course may be assessed on the basis of group work. This rule does not apply to a research paper undertaken as a joint Individual Research project for which a group of students has received approval. "Group work" means an assignment submitted by two or more students for which there is a single overall evaluation with one common mark allotted to all students in the group.

A student who has an unexcused absence from an examination, or an unexcused failure to submit an assignment or complete a course component, will receive an F for the examination, assignment, or course component.

Grading Rules

The Faculty of Law uses the following grade designations:

GradesGrade MeaningsNumeric Values
A+ Excellent 90-100
A Excellent 85-89
A- Excellent 80-84
B+ Good 77-79
B Good 73-76
B- Good 70-72
C+ Competent 67-69
C Competent 63-66
C- Competent 60-62
D Marginal Pass 50-59
F Fail 0-49
PAS Pass  
FAI Fail  
AUD Audit  
WDN Withdrawn  
INC Work is Incomplete  

Students receive only a letter grade for each subject.  The numeric values are used for letter grade calculation only.

The "PAS" and "FAI" designations are used only in courses identified specifically as being graded on a pass/fail basis. This pass/fail designation is used also for grades obtained on exchanges. A grade of "FAI" is treated the same as an "F" grade.

In any course not identified specifically as being graded on a pass/fail basis, no components of any student's grade in the course can be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

The class average in an upper-year course of 25 or fewer students must be between 74.0 – 79.0.  The class average in an upper-year course of more than 25 students and in all first-year courses must be between 74.0 – 76.0.  Grades in the “F” range will be excluded from the calculation of class averages.  These grading rules do not apply to independent research projects, supplemental writing credits or to the courses in which students participate in external advocacy competitions.

For the purposes of calculating class averages and the overall average of individual students, including the determination of Honors standing, final letter grades for each student are assigned the following fixed numeric values:

GradesFixed Numeric Value
A+ 92
A 87
A- 82
B+ 78
B 75
B- 71
C+ 68
C 65
C- 61
D 58
F 45

Individual grades assigned by instructors remain provisional until they are approved at a Faculty of Law Grades Meeting. The grades assigned by instructors must comply with the applicable class average requirements and must be submitted, together with electronic evidence demonstrating such compliance, in the form stipulated by the Assistant Dean, Student Services. However, after grades have been assigned, the Faculty has the discretion, at a Faculty of Law Grades Meeting, to waive the class average requirements.  If an instructor wishes to seek an exemption from the class average requirements, he or she must apply to the Faculty at a grades meeting, indicating the reasons for the application and providing the alternative grades he or she wishes to assign.

In the case of a class with fewer than six students, an instructor who has submitted non-compliant grades is not required to submit at the same time an alternative set of compliant grades.

Passing and Failing

A student must obtain a minimum overall weighted average of C- to pass the year. A student who does not obtain the required minimum overall weighted average does not pass the year and is not entitled to write a supplemental examination.

A student who obtains more than one F in a year is not entitled to write a supplemental examination and fails the year.

A first-year student who fails a course, and who is not entitled to write a supplemental examination or who does not pass the supplemental examination, fails the year.

A first-year student who fails the year must withdraw from the Faculty of Law, unless the Faculty determines otherwise. An upper-year student who fails the year, but who has not previously failed in law school may repeat the failed year. A student who fails any two years in law school must withdraw from the Faculty of Law.

The Faculty will review the grades in all courses taken by a failing student. This review will include re-reading of all the student's examination papers to verify the accuracy of the marking process.

In appropriate circumstances, the Faculty may pass a student who would otherwise fail.

Supplemental Examinations

A student who has failed a course may be entitled to write a supplemental form of evaluation to obtain credit for the course if the student meets the requirements set out below. Normally, a supplemental will take the form of an examination; however, it is within the instructor's discretion to select another comparable form of supplemental evaluation if the nature of the course requires it.

A student who receives an F in only one course, and whose overall weighted average for the year (excluding the F) is C or higher, is entitled to write a supplemental examination in the failed course if the F was not, in whole or in part, received because of either the commission of an academic offence, or the student’s lack of regular attendance or participation in required exercises.

A student who is entitled to write a supplemental examination but does not do so will receive an F for the examination and the course.

A student must obtain a minimum of C on a supplemental examination to pass and thereby obtain credit for the course. If the student obtains a C or better on a supplemental examination, the original failed grade remains on the transcript, but with a notation that the course has been “passed by supplemental.”

Supplemental examinations and special examinations (i.e., examinations given for medical or compassionate reasons) will generally be scheduled in June of each academic year.

Satisfying Program Requirements

An upper-year student who fails one of the two upper-year compulsory courses, but either is not entitled to write a supplemental examination or does not pass the supplemental examination, must repeat the course. An upper-year student who has not previously passed three core-group courses previously, who fails one of the core-group courses, but either is not entitled to write a supplemental examination or does not pass the supplemental examination, must repeat the course or take a different core-group course. An upper-year student who fails any other course (including a core-group course where the student has passed three core-group courses previously), but either is not entitled to write a supplemental examination or does not pass the supplemental examination, may either retake the failed course or take a different course or courses in order to make up sufficient course credits to complete the year.

A failed course for which a student receives no credit does not fulfill any Law program requirements and, more specifically, does not qualify as a course taken in satisfaction of upper-year compulsory course or core-group requirements.

A student who has completed three academic years, but is required to retake a course or to take another course or courses to make up missed credits, may do so in a fourth year.

Except as provided in these regulations, a student who passes the year may not repeat courses already taken in that year.

Prerequisites

A student may not take a course for which there is a prerequisite if the grade obtained in the prerequisite was an F and the student did not obtain a grade of C or better on a supplemental examination in the course.

Examinations

Examinations, where applicable, are held at the end of term. They are graded anonymously.

Although first-year courses run the full year, part of the evaluation in them is based on examinations in December. These examinations are intended to give first-year students experience in analyzing facts, identifying legal issues, and solving problems through the reasoned and critical application of legal principles.

The onus is on the student when choosing courses to ensure that there are no examination conflicts, including (if the dates and times are known) those in courses given outside the Faculty of Law.

Permission to reschedule an examination may only be given in very exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Academic). Students must not schedule holidays or employment in conflict with examinations. A rescheduled examination will not be granted for these reasons.

Non-attendance at an examination results in the student receiving no credit for the examination requirement.

If a student is unable to write an exam due to an unforseen circumstance, the Assistant Dean (Student Services) in the Student Services Office must be contacted prior to the start of an exam.

Special arrangements for final exams cannot be made directly with the instructor.

If a student wishes to seek special consideration on medical, compassionate, or other grounds, relevant documentation must be submitted in advance to the Student Services Office (Room 241). Submissions after the event will be considered only in compelling and unusual circumstances at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Academic).

Students are not permitted to leave the examination room during the last ten minutes of an exam. This policy was adopted to avoid the noise caused when students are packing up to leave, disrupting the concentration of those still remaining.

Final examination papers are not returned to students and are retained by the Faculty for a period of one year.

After course grades have been released, examinations will not be re-graded except under special circumstances as specified by the University. An instructor cannot unilaterally alter a final grade.

Exam Numbers

The Faculty of Law at Western evaluates students on an objective basis through the use of anonymous marking. Towards the end of September students are issued a four-digit exam number which is to be used as the only form of identification on all examinations.

Professors may request that certain course assignments also be submitted identified only by exam number.

Students are issued a new exam number in January for all second term examinations.

The list of student names and corresponding exam numbers is kept in confidence in the Student Services Office. Professors do not have access to this list.

Financial Responsibility

Please refer to the Registrar's web site for current information regarding Fees and Financial Responsibility.

Grade Reports and Transcripts

Unofficial grade reports may be obtained from Student Centre. This is usually sufficient for job applications.

A transcript is an official copy of a student's permanent academic record at Western, duly certified by the Registrar and bearing the embossed seal of the University.

A transcript is privileged information and is available only upon the written request and payment of a fee ($12 for each copy) by the student.

Transcript order forms are available in the Registrar's Office (Western Student Services Building) or directly from the Registrar's website.

Honors

A student who achieves an average of at least "B" on a full year's work as defined by the program, and who is in the top 10% of the class, is named to the Dean's Honor List.

Students who attend another law school as part of the exchange program are considered for the Dean's Honor List on the basis of the term undertaken at the University of Western Ontario and not the term at the school where the student attended on exchange.

Students in any year who attend another law school on a letter of permission from Western, and students in any year who attend the Faculty of Law on a letter of permission from another law school, are not considered for the Dean's Honor List in that year.

Only the grades earned in courses taken at the Faculty of Law in a particular year (provided those courses total at least 14 credit hours) are used to calculate a student's standing for an overall achievement award in that year.

A student who is on the Dean's Honor List for at least two of the three years at the Faculty of Law and who obtains a cumulative average of at least "B" over the three years shall graduate With Distinction.

The winner of awards or prizes for the highest marks in a particular subject will be determined without regard to whether the student has received other prizes or awards.

Instructor / Course Evaluations

Honest and serious participation by students in this process is greatly appreciated by the Administration of the Law School. The course evaluation process is outlined below for your information. The Dean and Associate Dean carefully consider the results in making decisions about:

  • promotion and tenure
  • how and when courses will be offered
  • which professors will teach which courses
  • the size of classes assigned to professors
  • which courses will be offered or not offered each year (ie, cycling courses)

Evaluations are conducted twice during the academic year, once near the end of each term.

Once the evaluation schedule has been prepared by the Student Services Coordinator, the Legal Society President assigns Legal Society members to conduct each evaluation. Evaluation materials are picked up from and returned to the Student Services Office.

At the end of each evaluation period, the Student Services Coordinator delivers the completed forms to Institutional Planning and Budgeting.

The results are available in June. One copy of the computer results is given to the Dean. The instructor receives a copy of the computer results for each course he/she teaches as well as any questionnaires with comments. The instructor is the only person to read the comments.

Previous Instructor and Course Evaluations are available. [Western ID required]

Leaves of Absence

A student must obtain written permission from the Associate Dean (Academic) before beginning any leave of absence.

Leaves of absence are normally granted only to allow a student to complete another educational program elsewhere, or for pressing personal or medical reasons, and are usually limited to one academic year.

A student who takes a leave without obtaining the Associate Dean's written permission forfeits the privilege of enrolling for subsequent terms.

Professional Responsibility

Success in law school requires that students devote their full time to their work at the school.

The Faculty advises all students to avoid outside employment unless absolutely necessary. No credit is allowed for work done in absentia.

Students in good standing who are permitted to withdraw can rejoin the Faculty of Law subject to the regulations in force at the time they apply to re-enter.

Failure to attend classes, seminars, appointments or examinations without good cause constitutes a ground for exclusion from the Faculty.

The right to sit for examinations or to submit work for evaluation is conditional upon regular class attendance and participation in required exercises.

An instructor, with the approval of the Associate Dean (Academic), may refuse to evaluate all or part of a student's work where attendance has not been regular.

Scholastic Offences

Scholastic offences include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Plagiarism, which may be defined as "The act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his/her writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one's own mind." Excerpted from H.C. Black, Black's Law Dictionary, West Publishing Co., 1979, 5th ed., p. 1035. This concept applies with equal force to all assignments including laboratory reports, diagrams, and computer projects.
  2. Cheating on an examination or falsifying material subject to academic evaluation.
  3. Submitting false or fraudulent assignments or credentials; or falsifying records, transcripts or other academic documents.
  4. Submitting a false medical or other such certificate under false pretences.
  5. Improperly obtaining, through theft, bribery, collusion or otherwise, an examination paper prior to the date and time for writing such an examination.
  6. Impersonating a candidate or availing oneself of the results of such impersonation. Impersonating a candidate at an examination is also an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
  7. Intentionally interfering in any way with any person's scholastic work.
  8. Submitting for credit in any course or program of study, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the University or elsewhere.
  9. Misappropriation or defacement of university property.
  10. Aiding or abetting any such offence.

Penalties

A student guilty of a scholastic offence may be subject to the imposition of one or more penalties, of which those listed below shall be exemplary:

  1. Reprimand.
  2. Requirement that the student repeat and resubmit the assignment.
  3. Refusal of a passing grade in the assignment.
  4. Refusal of a passing grade in the course in which the offence was committed.
  5. Refusal of a passing grade in the year.
  6. Suspension from the University for up to, but not more than, three academic years or for a portion of one academic year including the academic session in which the student is currently registered.
  7. Expulsion from the University.

A student who impersonates a candidate during an examination or avails himself or herself of the results of such impersonation, will be liable to criminal prosecution in addition to receiving academic penalties.

Scholastic offences will normally be dealt with in the first instance by the instructor. The instructor may, however, refer such cases to the Dean. The Dean will maintain a record of all such cases referred to the Dean's Office.

The entries on the transcript indicating suspension, readmission and expulsion will be considered permanent entries and will appear on the student's record, including transcripts.

Sanctions for Academic and Other Offences

Registration in the University and the right of free access to the library, residences, specialized equipment or other University facilities implies a commitment on the part of a student to use such facilities in accordance with established rules. A student not fulfilling these obligations becomes liable to the imposition of academic sanctions.

In instances of non-payment of prescribed fees or fines and/or bills, or of delinquency in the return or replacement of University property on loan, the University shall seal the academic record and no information will be released. In addition, the University shall:

  1. Not issue a Grade Report.
  2. Not issue a Permit to Register.
  3. Not issue a transcript or degree diploma.
  4. Not permit admission or readmission.
  5. Not permit further registration.

Students will be notified by registered mail of any overdue account before the record is sealed, except when outstanding tuition fees and/or University loans are involved, in which case notification by registered mail will occur prior to deregistration. Upon notification, students may appeal any action to be taken by the University to the Department(s) involved.

The above prohibitions shall be in force until such time as indebtedness to the University, including payment of the fee for removal of the seal, has been cleared to the satisfaction of the University.

Religious Holidays

When scheduling unavoidably conflicts with religious holidays, which make it impossible for the student to satisfy the scheduled academic requirements, no student will be penalized for absence because of religious reasons, and alternative means will be sought for satisfying the academic requirements.

If a suitable arrangement cannot be worked out between the student and instructor, they should consult the Associate Dean (Academic). It is the responsibility of such students to inform themselves concerning the work done in classes from which they are absent and to take appropriate action.

A student who is unable to write an examination on a Sabbath or Holy Day shall notify the Student Services Office in writing as early as possible, but not later than November 15th for December examinations and March 1st for April examinations.

In the case of term tests, the student must notify the instructor in writing within 48 hours of the announcement of the term test. The instructor in the case of term tests or the Student Services Office in the case of December and April examinations will make special arrangements for the test or exam to be written at another time.

Students seeking accommodations under this policy must give the appropriate notice before the specified deadlines. If such notice is provided, the Faculty is required to accommodate these requests.

For purposes of this policy, the University has approved a list of recognized religious holidays.

This list is updated annually and is available at the Equity Office.

Academic Appeals

This document sets out the information relevant to student appeals in the Faculty of Law. Students considering an appeal should review this information carefully before proceeding.

A student may appeal to the Dean requesting an exemption from a regulation, a change in a final standing in a course or program, or a change in a particular mark or grade. An appeal may be based on medical, compassionate, or extenuating circumstances or on grounds of bias, inaccuracy, or unfairness.

All appeals must be in writing and state the relief requested and the grounds relied upon. The appeal must fully set out the evidence supporting the appeal and include any appropriate documentation. An appeal must be filed within six weeks of the date that the student is informed of the matter that is the subject of the appeal. Nevertheless, it is in the student's interest to act promptly and initiate the appeal as expeditiously as possible.

Although a course instructor has no power to change a final grade in a course, a student wishing to appeal a particular mark must first consult informally with the relevant instructor (unless it is impossible to do so). A mark appeal to the Dean should describe the consultation with the instructor and the result thereof.

After receipt of a written appeal, the Dean may refer the matter for advice to such other person(s) as he or she deems appropriate. The Dean, or any advisory person(s) to whom the appeal has been referred, may elect to conduct a hearing in which case the student appealing will be informed and given the opportunity to appear.

In due course, the Dean will inform the student in writing of his or her decision. A student who is still dissatisfied may appeal the Dean's decision to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA).

Appeal Procedure

In the case of a request for relief relating to a specific course, a resolution of the problem should first be attempted through informal consultation with the instructor.

Any resolution must be approved by the Dean in writing. If the student remains dissatisfied, or if the instructor cannot or will not be available within a reasonable time period, a written request for relief may then be submitted to the Dean.

The written request need not be lengthy, but should clearly indicate detailed reasons for the request and include all supporting documentation. The request must, at minimum, state (1) the precise ground of appeal; (2) the evidence that proves the claimed ground; and (3) the relief requested. The onus is on the student to prove the ground of appeal and the supporting evidence on the balance of probabilities.

Although it is the Dean's prerogative to seek advice from any source and in any fashion that he or she sees fit, it has been customary in the Faculty of Law to have a Student Appeals Committee to advise the Dean on appeals. Accordingly, the Dean may, from time to time, appoint a Student Appeals Committee composed of faculty and students.

The Dean may decide an appeal on receipt or refer it for advice to the Student Appeals Committee. When an appeal is referred to the Committee, the Chair of the Committee may recommend to the Dean that the appeal be dismissed summarily because it does not raise a valid ground of appeal or does not provide evidence capable of proving the alleged ground. If the appeal raises a prima facie case, the Chair will designate a faculty member of the Committee to consider the matter and prepare a recommendation to the Dean. The Committee member considering the appeal may, in his or her discretion, invite further submissions from the appellant, investigate the matter, gather evidence, and/or hold an oral hearing.

The appellant may request in his or her initial submission to the Dean that a student member of the Committee also consider the matter and prepare a separate recommendation to the Dean.

In all cases, the Dean shall decide the appeal and communicate the decision to the student in writing.

Appeal Grounds

The grounds for a request for relief may be one or more of: medical or compassionate circumstances, extenuating circumstances beyond the appellant's control, bias, inaccuracy or unfairness. All grounds advanced in a request for relief must be supported by a clear and detailed explanation of the reasons for the request together with all supporting documentation.

In the case of medical, compassionate, or extenuating circumstances, the Dean may take into account whether the student took any steps to seek academic accommodation. Students who did not seek accommodation are encouraged to explain their reasons for not doing so.

Although a re-evaluation is a possible remedy that the Dean may grant for a successful appeal, the appeal process itself is not designed to re-evaluate the student's work. In the absence of a clear error that renders the original mark unreasonable, an appeal that is essentially an invitation to "second guess" the original evaluation will be dismissed. Accordingly, a student's mere dissatisfaction with a mark does not constitute a ground of appeal. Similarly, a claim that the grade does not reflect the student's knowledge of the material or the effort expended on the assignment or course is not a valid appeal ground.

A student's ignorance of Senate regulations and policies and particular program requirements and policies as set out in the University Calendar does not constitute grounds for a request for relief.

Deadlines for Requests for Relief

  1. Final Grades: The informal consultation with the instructor (see "Procedure" above) should be initiated as soon as possible after a final grade is posted. The written request for relief must be submitted to the Dean by the following dates:
    First Term Marks: March 1st 
    January Term Marks: April 1st 
    Winter Term Marks: June 30th
  2. Program eligibility and progression: A request for relief against a decision concerning program eligibility must be made to the Dean in writing by June 30th.
  3. Other requests for relief: Requests for relief regarding Scholastic Offences and other matters not related to the normal completion of a course during a regular academic session (including requests for relief against grades in a Special Examination, satisfaction of "Incomplete" requirements, etc.), must be made in writing within three weeks of a decision being issued.

Non-Law Appeals

In the case of requests for relief relating to:

(a) the grade on a piece of work or final standing in a course or a regulation relating to a specific course, the relevant Dean will be the Dean of the Faculty offering that course; and

(b) enrolment in a specific program, the relevant Dean will be the Dean of the Faculty offering that program. In the case of graduate students, the appropriate Dean in all cases is the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Further Appeals

The Deans' rulings in academic matters are final unless overturned or modified on appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA).

SRBA is the final body to which students may appeal certain rulings of Deans in academic matters, and its decisions are final.

A student may appeal the decision of the Dean to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA) if the decision falls within the jurisdiction of SRBA.

The deadline for an appeal to SRBA is six weeks after a decision has been issued by the Dean.

A Dean's decision that is appealed to SRBA remains in full force and effect unless overturned or modified by SRBA.

Western Medical Accommodation Policy (Medical Notes)

In May, 2008, The University of Western Ontario's Senate approved a new medical note policy, which affects all students. The following is an outline of that policy.

For more detailed information and forms, please visit Student Services at Western and for further policy information please read the Academic Appeals section of this page.

Documentation from Family Physicians and Walk-In Clinics

A Western Student Medical Certificate (SMC)* is required where a student is seeking academic accommodation.

This documentation should be obtained at the time of the initial consultation with the physician or walk-in clinic.

An SMC* can be downloaded under the Medical Documentation heading of the following website: https://studentservices.uwo.ca/secure/index.cfm.

Hard copies are available from the student’s home Faculty Academic Counselling Service.

Documentation from Student Health Services

Students obtaining documentation from Student Health Services should sign a “release of information.”

This form authorizes Student Health Services to provide information to the student’s home Faculty.

Release of information forms are available from, and can be arranged through, the student’s home Faculty Academic Counselling Service.