Winter 2020 term at the Faculty of Engineering

Faculty guidelines for the Winter 2020 term

Guidelines for final assessments

  1. Our key priority is health and mental health of our students. We recognize that students are under stress, so many will not be able to perform as they otherwise would.
  2. Flexibility must be shown by professors regarding attendance and late submission of work in view of the special measures put in place by the University due to the crisis.
  3. At the undergraduate level, professors should hold final assessments, unless authorized by the chair and associate chair not to do so. In the case of disagreement, the final adjudicator would be the Dean or his delegate.
  4. At the graduate level, exams are not necessary if a professor has gathered enough other evidence that students have mastered the learning objectives of the course.
  5. When administering exams as the final assessment, a professor will typically require students to do the exam online synchronously with all others at the time allocated by the faculty for exams that would otherwise have been held on campus. The professor should be prepared to allow more time than normal, so as to accommodate students who would normally write exams in Access Services or who have technical difficulties.
  6. A 24-hour take-home exam, should not take more than 3h to complete, and should be due at the ending time of the faculty-schedule for the exam in that course.
  7. Where multiple professors are teaching separate sections of a given course, they must arrange to use the same methods of evaluation. English and French sections of the same course should use the same methods where possible.
  8. For undergraduate courses, professors must send a statement of how they will conduct their final assessment to their chair, associate chair and . They should also update their syllabus (if needed) to reflect changes they have made, including regarding how grades will be calculated. Updated syllabi should be sent to their chair and associate chair.
  9. Professors must communicate their intentions to students as soon as possible. If changes to the syllabus are made, the syllabus must be re-posted to students.
  10. Since students are expected to have a large number of valid reasons for requesting exam deferral (including sickness, travel to their home country, poor internet access, excess stress, and so on), the Faculty will not unreasonably withhold such deferrals.
  11. Professors will submit a regular alphanumeric final grade. Students will be given the option, after receiving their grade, of having Satisfactory / Not Satisfactory appear on their transcript instead of an alphanumeric grade.
  12. Professors are encouraged to adopt approaches which minimize the risk of cheating.
  13. Given the exceptional circumstances affecting final exams, these guidelines will also be applied for deferral exams written in April 2020.

Frequently asked questions for final assessments (FAQ)


  • Satisfactory (S)
  • Not satisfactory (NS)

Question 1: What does Satisfactory (S) / Not satisfactory (NS) actually mean? In other words, how will it affect my GPA? How will a letter grade be converted to an S or NS.

If you choose the final grade S/NS:

  • This grade will not count in the calculation of your CGPA.
  • The letter grade will be converted to an S if the letter grade is a passing grade for the student in the program (this varies by program, so for example graduate courses have a higher passing grade than undergraduate courses). Otherwise the letter grade will be converted to an NS. Therefore, the decision to convert a grade to S/NS will have no impact on the need to repeat courses.
  • A course marked NS will need to be repeated in the same manner as a failure.
  • The decision to opt out of the alphanumeric grade is final and irreversible once requested.

For more details, consult the Grading System.

Question 2: S/NS. Does it apply to students from other faculties taking our courses? Does it apply to our students when they are taking courses in other faculties?

  • If you are registered to a course offered by another Faculty (i.e., MAT, CHM, PHY, ECO, HIS, PHI, ENG), the exceptional academic measures taken by the other Faculty will be applied. For more information, we invite you to contact the other Faculty.
  • All students (regardless of their home Faculty) registered in a course offered by the Faculty of Engineering, will have the option of choosing the final grade S/NS (Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory), and will be able to do so after the final alphanumerical grades are officially posted online on May 12, 2020, and no later than May 14, 2020.
  • A procedure on how to submit the S/NS final grade request is currently under review, and will be communicated soon.

Question 3: Will students from Carleton in joint grad programs be able to apply for S/NS ?

  • It is up to Carleton what happens to Carleton University students.
  • uOttawa graduate students register to a uOttawa course code when they take a Carleton course.
  • These courses are treated the same as any other Faculty of Engineering course. Therefore uOttawa students will be able to opt for S / NS for these courses.

Question 4: What if a student on probation gets an 'S', will they be allowed to exit probation?

Automatic exiting of probation is based on GPA, so choosing S/NS in all courses will delay exiting probation as no updated GPA can be calculated. Students can make appeals in specific situations to the undergraduate office. The probation period will exclude the Winter 2020 term if this benefits the student.

Question 5: How will students request the conversion of a letter grade to S/NS if they want.

  • Students will have the option to request the conversion of a letter grade to S/NS after the final alphanumerical grades are officially posted online on May 12, 2020, and no later than May 14, 2020.
  • A procedure on how to submit the S/NS final grade request is currently under review, and will soon be communicated.

Question 6: What if a student cannot print an exam that is designed to be filled out with spaces for answers such as drawings or calculations?

The problem may be that the student does not possess a printer, or it runs out of ink, or fails. The problem could happen during the exam, but even if anticipated, many stores are not open, or the student may be in a remote location without access to such a store.

Students should be permitted to submit answers written on blank paper (with the student’s name, student number and signature), even if the preferred format is to write/draw on the printed exam paper. Typed answers should be allowed too, except where diagrams or similar answers are required. Photos of such answers will be acceptable.

Question 7: What if a student starts an online exam and then does not submit it for various reasons (e.g. Internet failure)? Will they be failed or be able to get a deferral?

Since there are many real problems that can cause a student to not be able to upload exam answers, the professor should ask the student to file the official Covid-19 self-declaration form requesting a deferral and describing their problem. The academic offices have been asked to 'not unreasonably' deny deferrals. We are living in extraordinary times, so we can't expect perfect solutions to issues like this.

Question 8: What if a student has no scanner to submit an exam or question that has to be done on paper?

Although it might be easier to read and mark a scanned exam, a good set of photographs of each page will be acceptable too, as should typed answers for the vast majority of question types. Note that many professors will be creating exams where students can type answers, so this question only applies where handwritten answers (including drawings or calculations are needed)

Question 9: How will SASS Access Services students be accommodated?

Professors will be required to provide extra time and other accommodations for such students. Brightspace has a mechanism to allow different deadlines for specific students.

Question 10: Will all final exams be '24 hour take home exams'; these are mentioned in the guidelines?

No; it is up to professors, and they must get approval for their final evaluation approach and inform you. Some or many exams will be the normal length (e.g. 3h or shorter). In some cases, professors will have replaced the final exam with a different kind of final assessment.

Question 11: Can the exam schedule be delayed a little, or specific exams have their dates changed, to give students more time to prepare and because many professors are extending the due dates of end-of-semester reports as the guidelines suggest they should do?

University policy is to make no change to the final exam schedule. Otherwise, a change in one course may interfere with other courses. However, professors may decide to alter their syllabus to alter how much the final exam is worth, reduce the material covered by the exam, or even replace the final exam with a different kind of final assessment.

Changing an individual exam’s time might only be allowable if:

  1. all students and the professor agree to a new time
  2. students who might have been afraid to speak up are given the chance to object privately to the professor
  3. no student would as a result have a conflict with other exams, and;
  4. the Chair and Associate Chair agree.  

Question 12: I dropped a course when the deadline for dropping was extended to April, but now that the S/NS option is being introduced, I want to reinstate my registration; can this be done?


Ensure you indicate your student number, program and course code you want to reinstate in the email subject line.

Question 13: Can students have the option to obtain a final exam exemption?

Although some other faculties may be allowing students to exempt themselves from exams in certain circumstances, the Faculty of Engineering is a professional faculty, and we have to ensure that students enter professional practice, in both engineering and computer science, with the required knowledge. This is also required by the agencies that accredit us.

In most courses, professors have only been able to gather information about a subset of the course learning objectives through midterms and assignments that were completed prior to the crisis. Some professors are able to find alternative methods (i.e. not exams) to make final assessments of the remaining material, but most will need to use some form of exam, adapted to the present situation.

If a student is truly unable to perform due to technical issues, sickness or excess stress, the student may be able to request a deferral.

Students will be able to request that their final grade be marked as Satisfactory or Non-satisfactory, which will have no impact on the student’s GPA.

Question 14: Where can I find my exam schedule?

  • All winter 2020 final exams will be conducted online. We invite you to consult your personalized exam schedule via uoZone, or consult the Exams schedule webpage.
  • For all questions or guidelines regarding your final exam, we invite you to contact your professor by email.

Question 15: I have not yet received information by the professor on the procedures of my final exam. What should I do?

If a professor has not provided information on the procedure of your final exam, send an email directly to the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies of your academic unit.

Question 16: What are the criteria for the Dean’s Honour List for the winter 2020 term?

In order to obtain the Dean’s Honours List mention for the winter 2020 term, full-time students will have to obtain a minimum of nine (9) units with an alphanumerical grade for the winter 2020 term, and also satisfy the other requirements, such as a Term Grade Point Average (TGPA) of 8.5, at the end of the winter 2020 term.

For information about the Merit Scholarship, we invite you to contact the Financial Aid and Awards office.

Question 17: Deferred exams generally take place during the "deferred exam period", but if an exam is deferred again, it usually takes place at the same time as the final exam in the following year. What conditions will apply to deferred exams for winter 2020?

The exams will be online. Students will be able to consult the website of the Undergraduate Studies Office to find out the deferred exam schedule and the section of the course where they belong. They will receive a confirmation email with the course section. Students who take a deferred exam in April 2020 will also have the option of choosing S/NS after seeing their alphabetical grade for the course. In addition, if a student postpones their April 2020 exam, they can take it again either during the official deferred exam period from July 6 to 10, if the winter 2020 course is not scheduled in summer 2020; or during the 2020 summer course final exam, if the winter 2020 course is scheduled in summer 2020. A professor who teaches the course this year will receive the names of the students who will take the deferred exam, and will add them to the class list in Brightspace.

For all updates on the COVID-19 situation we invite you to consult the University’s COVID-19 webpage regularly, which also has a Frequently Asked Questions section.

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