The Academic System

The academic system in Canada and at the University of Guelph may be very different from the system in your home country. Understanding the differences and meeting the expectations of the new academic system is crucial to your success as a student as the University of Guelph.  However, there are many people and resources on campus that are here to help you succeed.

Course Structure

Semesters at the UofGuelph are only 12 weeks long and you may find that you get a lot of assignments and even tests in the first few weeks. Many students find that it is easy to get behind on the work if they do not keep on top of things and manage their study time well.

There are three main components of a course at the University of Guelph. Courses are composed of one, two or all three of these components.  Lecture is the part of the course where the professor teaches to a group of students. Laboratory work usually involves a type of experiment or practice exercises – it can be part of a science course, computer course or even language course. Seminars are small group discussions that are a part of many courses, particularly in the arts.

Lectures, Laboratories and Seminars are all important aspects of the course and you should attend them on a regular basis if you want to be academically successful. It is generally expected that you will participate in class (ask questions, contribute answers, and make comments). In fact, some classes count participation as part of your mark. Do not be afraid to ask questions in class, or to visit your professor at their office to ask for help if you have questions or are struggling with the course. If you are away from class for an extended period of time due to illness or another reason, it is highly recommended that you speak to your course professor(s) and your Program Counsellor.

Course Outline

A course outline (called a syllabus in some countries) is provided for each course - some professors will give you a paper copy of the course outline during the first class, while many professors post the course outline on CourseLink, an online program where course material is available on the Internet.  It is very important to read and follow the course outlines for all of your courses. This document outlines the general course content, the books or other materials you must buy, the readings that will be due for each class, the assignments, labs or other work you are expected to complete and when they are due, and when exams and other tests are scheduled. It also lists how the course is going to be evaluated (what assignments, essays, laboratory work, exam you must complete and their percentage value of your final mark).  

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph defines academic misconduct as ‘offences against the academic integrity of the learning environment.’ Some examples of this are: copying another person’s work without proper acknowledgement (plagiarism), copying another person’s answers to examination questions, having another person write your exam, destroying academic materials, or submitting the same piece of work for two different courses without permission of the course instructors. Penalties for Academic Misconduct at the University of Guelph can be quite severe and can result in being given a failing mark for a course or even expulsion (removal from the University). Ignorance of these regulations is no excuse; so please take time to make yourself familiar with what is considered Academic Misconduct


You must attend exams on the dates outlined in the Final Examination Schedule.  The date and time of your exams can be seen on WebAdvisor.

It is your responsibility to make sure that there are no conflicts between your exams (having two exams at the exact same time). If there is a conflict, you must either drop one of the conflicting courses, or ask one of the course instructors if it is possible to write the exam at another time (it is up to the professor whether they are willing to grant this). 

There are no re-writes or re-sits at the University of Guelph! You must complete your exam at the scheduled time and you will not have another opportunity to write your exam. If you miss your exam (except for extenuating circumstances such as serious medical or personal issues) or get a bad grade on the exam, you cannot take the exam again.

Many graduate level courses do not have formal final exams – check with your academic department.

Program Counsellors

Every faculty at the University of Guelph has a designated Program Counsellor(s) to assist students with questions related to academic regulations or requirements. As an exchange student you may require a Program Counsellor to help with course selection and signatures for courses that require departmental approval, or if you experience medical or other personal difficulties that affect your academic progress or ability to complete assignments or exams.  Program Counsellors can also refer students to other appropriate on-campus services for help.  If you are not sure who the Program Counsellor is or of you need to see them, you can ask your Education Abroad Advisor.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

As a member of the University of Guelph community, you are assured certain rights and in turn, you hold certain responsibilities. It is important that you understand what those rights and responsibilities are. In fact, it is your responsibility to ensure you know the regulations of the University. A publication titled ‘Student Rights and Responsibilities: University of Guelph’, is distributed to all students at the beginning of the semester and is available on the Academic Calendars.