Skip To Content

Athabasca University

11. Glossary

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Academic misconduct. Intellectual dishonesty includes such offences as plagiarism, cheating, and falsification of records. Refer to Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeals Regulations.

Academic probation. The imposition of specific requirements, tasks, or conditions that an individual student must meet or fulfill within a stipulated time to avoid being suspended from further study at Athabasca University.

Academic year. The academic year at AU runs from September 1 to August 31.

Active students. Students who are currently registered in an AU course or have completed an AU course within the last 12 months. The 12-month period is based on the most recent course contract end date, course completion date, or the date of withdrawal from an AU course. Students who complete courses with a Letter of Permission from AU also retain their active status.

Admission. As an open university, AU admits students 16 years of age or older. Students under 16 years of age may be admitted with special consideration by petitioning Coordinator, Enrolment Services. See Admissions.

Advisors. Academic advisors can assist you in areas ranging from clarifying your undergraduate program requirements to helping choose the next course for your program of studies. We also provide information about university regulations and procedures, and assist with the interpretation of your transfer credit evaluation. Contact an advisor.

Appeal. Requesting a review of a decision made by an official of AU. Students may appeal decisions on transfer credit, marks, tests, assignments, final grades, questions of process, disciplinary action, etc. All appeals must be made to the person responsible for overseeing the initial decision. Review the Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal Regulations.

Applied Studies. There are two groups in the Applied Studies area of study: Business and Administrative Studies and Applied Studies.

Applied Studies include courses in Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Educational Psychology, Health Studies, Indigenous Studies, Nursing, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Business and Administrative Studies include courses in the disciplines of Accounting, Administration, Applied Studies, Communications, Computers and Management Information Systems, e-Commerce, Economics, Finance, Governance, Health Administration, Human Resources Management, Industrial Relations, Legal Studies, Management Science, Marketing,
Organizational Behaviour, and Taxation.

Area of study. AU’s division of courses into groups of related subjects. The four areas are:

  • Humanities
  • Social Science
  • Science
  • Applied Studies

The requirement for ‘Arts’ in some degree regulations refers to Humanities and Social Science area of study. The requirement for ‘Sciences’ includes all science courses. The requirement for ‘Applied Studies’ includes courses in administrative studies, nursing courses and a wide range of professionally-oriented courses. The area designation for each course is shown in each course syllabus. Search for a course by its area of study.

Arts. Courses in the Arts can be found in the humanities and social science areas of study.

Assessment/Evaluation. The assessment and evaluation of previous post-secondary education for possible transfer credit toward an AU program.

Asynchronous Communication. See Communication.

Audio component. Some courses are supplemented by audio components (CDs and/or online audio), some of which are required listening, others are optional. Overseas students are asked to contact the AU Library before registering in a course that has an audio component.

Audit. A student may register in a course without intending to obtain credit. This course will appear on the student’s transcript but will not have a grade associated with it. Audit students are not allowed to write midterms or finals, and the student may or may not have assignments given. They receive the same tutor support as a credit course.

AU approved invigilator. An individual or institution authorized by an AU representative in the Examination Services Unit to supervise an AU undergraduate course examination.

Awards/scholarships. Refer to website.


Bachelor degree. An undergraduate academic degree awarded to someone who successfully completed a undergraduate program of study that generally lasted three or four years. Also called baccalaureate.

Block transfer. Students who are granted admission to a post-diploma program, for example, may be granted a block of transfer credit based on a completed credential. In these cases, the student’s transcript is reviewed and transfer credit is awarded as a block of credit rather than on a course-by-course basis. See Block Transfer Credit.

Business and Administrative Studies courses. A group of courses within the Applied Studies area: Accounting, Administration, Applied Studies, Communications, Computers and Management Information Systems, e-Commerce, Economics, Finance, Governance, Health Administration, Human Resources Management, Industrial Relations, Legal Studies, Management Science, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, and Taxation.


Calendar. This is the document containing the University’s regulations. The online Calendar is the official Calendar. In the event of any discrepancies between the program websites and the online Calendar, the online Calendar will be binding.
US = catalogue
UK = prospectus

Challenge for credit process. A university process whereby students have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or skills that would normally be found in a university level course. Refer to Challenge for Credit.

Changing programs. You may change from one undergraduate program to another by logging in to myAU.

Classroom setting: Courses offered in a classroom setting are taught simultaneously to a group of students. The courses take place in an actual classroom at a collaborating institution. See also Grouped Study Courses.

Communication. Asynchronous communication describes communication that does not occur simultaneously. Email, for example, is asynchronous. Synchronous communication is live. It describes communication that occurs simultaneously; for example, chatrooms, teleconference, and videoconference.

Computer requirements. Many AU courses require students to have access to certain computer hardware and software. AU’s standard computing platform is a computer running Microsoft Windows with MS Office. The minimum requirements for students using a Mac or PC are access to a web browser, email, and the software capability to submit assignments as Word documents. Some courses support other hardware and software platforms and may have more specific requirements noted in the online syllabus. PCs are the primary equipment supported by AU’s Help Desk. Only limited assistance for other hardware and software platforms is offered. AU courses that use eTextbooks may have specific technical requirements. See the eText Initiative website for updated information. See the AU IT website for current requirements.

Students are responsible for all computer communication charges in the form of long distance telephone charges, subscription to an Internet node, or any other communications service requirement.

Concentration. A designated study focus within a three-year program, such as the Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology concentration.

Convocation. The annual ceremony held in Athabasca, Alberta on the second Friday and Saturday in June where graduates participate in the conferral of degrees.

Corequisite. A course that must be taken concurrently with another course.

Counsellors. Counsellors can help students clarify their educational and career goals, decide on a program of study, develop sound study and personal management skills, identify and overcome barriers to learning. Website.

Courier Services. Because postal and courier times vary, students must request their examination well in advance of the requested write date. If enough time is not allowed, AU cannot guarantee that the student's examination will arrive before the requested write date.

Course completion date. The course contract end date or the date that a student completes the course if this is earlier than the end date. If a student withdraws from the course, the course completion date is the date of withdrawal.

Course composite grade. The final grade for a course expressed as a percentage. The course composite grade reflects a student's understanding of the course materials. The course composite grade is often a weighted average of the student's marks for quizzes, assignments, tests, and examinations.

Course contract end date (Grouped Study). The last day students have to complete their course. A course contract end date is either the date of the final exam, or if there is no final exam, the date of the last scheduled course meeting.

Course contract end date (Individualized Study). Usually the last day of the month at the end of the course contract period. This is:

  • the last day for students to complete and submit all required course work associated with an individualized study course, or;
  • the date the final grade is assigned to the course (when all coursework is marked and a final grade is assigned earlier than the course contract end date).

Course contract period (Grouped Study). The time that students are actively registered in a grouped study course. The course begins on the course contract start date (the first scheduled course meeting) and runs until the contract end date (the last scheduled course meeting).

Course contract period (Individualized Study).The time that students are actively registered in an individualized study course. The course begins on the course contract start date (usually the first day of a month) and runs until the contract end date. The contract period can be lengthened by applying for course extensions in an individualized study course only.

Course contract start date (Grouped Study). The date students officially start a grouped study course, which is the first scheduled course meeting.

Course contract start date (Individualized Study). The date students officially start an individualized study course, usually the first day of the first month of the course contract period.

Course Coordinator. The University faculty member responsible for the course.

Course delivery methods. Audio component; Digital Reading Room; grouped study; home lab; independent lab; individualized study; individualized study online (course list); lab component only; online-enhanced; supervised lab; video component.

Course extension. A request to purchase additional time and access to AU resources in order to complete a course.

Course load. A student may be actively registered in one to six courses at a time. To ensure that students don’t overburden themselves, AU will limit course load to a maximum of six courses. Students with full-time jobs or those new to distance learning should start by taking one course.

Course syllabus. A description of a course, which may include learning outcomes, evaluation breakdowns, and learning resources. Check the online course syllabi.

Course work. All required activities (assignments, clinical or practicum placements, quizzes, papers, examinations, etc.) that are submitted for marking towards the final grade. Once a student has submitted course work through one of the acceptable method(s) outlined in their learning resources and/or by their Tutor or Instructor, and the course work is received, the course work will be deemed to have been submitted for marking.

Credentials. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates awarded on successful completion of a program. Credential regulations specify the requirements that you must meet in order to be awarded a credential, such as the total credits required, the minimum credits that must be completed at the senior level, and the minimum credits that must be completed at AU (residency requirements).

Credit. The value assigned to a course. Normally, AU courses are either three-credit (one semester) or six-credit (two semesters) which corresponds to conventional universities. Some courses in the Bachelor of Nursing degree carry a practicum component with a weight of four and nine credits.

Cross-listed course. An AU course that is listed under two or more disciplines. The Calendar course description and the online syllabus will indicate whether a course is cross-listed. You cannot receive credit for both courses.


DegreeWorks. DegreeWorks is a web-based, academic advising and degree audit solution that works with Banner, AU’s student information system. DegreeWorks automatically retrieves the student’s academic record from Banner and organizes it into an educational plan on the web, easily identifying program requirements, which courses have been completed and which courses students still need in order to complete their degrees, diplomas or certificates.

Digital Reading Room. The Digital Reading Room (DRR) is an electronic version of a library reserve system, or a virtual reading room. The material accessed is either required course readings or it supplements the course, and is of use for further study and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Refer to the library’s Digital Reference Centre. Tips on searching the journal databases and help with researching, writing, and citing (referencing) can be found in the Library Help Centre.

Directed study. A 400-level course that does not have a prescribed curriculum. In consultation with the course professor, you will choose a specific topic and then undertake an in-depth study. The course professor must approve all directed study courses before registration can occur.

Discipline. The specific subject area for a course. For example: Psychology, English, and Women’s and Gender Studies, are all disciplines at AU.


Early access to courses (individualized study). Some courses offered in the Moodle learning management system allow early access by the student the day after their course registration is processed. Access is not allowed for quizzes, tutor or faculty support, and students are not allowed to submit assignments until the course contract start date.

Electives. A list of courses or disciplines that students choose from in order to fulfill program requirements.

e-letters. The method by which AU primarily corresponds with students. e-Letters are available through the myAU portal and are stored for six months.

English Language Proficiency. The minimum level of written and oral communication skills needed to undertake courses offered by Athabasca University.

Enrol. AU students may enrol in a degree, diploma, or university certificate program. The regulations in effect at the time of your initial enrolment are the regulations that govern your program.

eTextbook (electronic textbook). The digital version of a textbook, which may include other educational features such as highlighting, note taking, automatic search, and the automatic export of citations. In some cases, eTexts may also provide access to additional learning resources such as workbooks, problem sets, tutorials, videos, simulations, and interactive software. Online access is provided for the length of the course; students can also print or download it. Students may also purchase a copy from the publisher or a third-party vendor.

Evaluation. A review of a student’s non-AU post-secondary studies to determine if any credit can be transferred towards the AU program.

Examination rebooking fee. A fee is levied when a student rebooks a scheduled examination at AU Edmonton, AU Calgary, or AU Athabasca.

Examinations. Digital devices are not allowed in an examination room. Exceptions are made only for courses where the use of a calculator, for example, is pre-approved and is required by the student to complete the examination. See also Invigilator. Review Examinations.

Exemption. AU may award a block transfer of credit to holders of an approved diploma or degree. Within the previous diploma or degree, you may have course equivalents to AU courses required within your current program. These courses would be awarded an exemption. In order to fulfill the program requirements, you will be required to replace these courses with courses of the same (or higher) level in the same area of study or discipline.

Expulsion. Required withdrawal of a student from AU for an indefinite period of time. Review the Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal regulations.

Extension. Lengthening the time allowed to complete an individualized study course by two months is called an extension. Three extensions are allowed and a fee is charged for each extension.

Extra to degree. Successfully completed course that is not included in a student's AU program requirements and is not included in the calculation of the GPA.


Final grade. See Grade.

Financial aid agencies. Financial assistance is available to students from the students’ local agencies. Students may be eligible for loans, grants, bursaries, or scholarships. See also Students Finance Board.

Full-time student. Full-time students are enrolled in a minimum of 60 per cent of a full course load. At the undergraduate level a full course load is defined as 3.75 credits per month at AU. The minimum requirement for full-time status is 2 credits per month.

At the graduate level, a full course load is defined as 1 credit per month at AU. The minimum requirement for full-time status is .75 credits per month. To maintain full-time status at the undergraduate and graduate levels, students must complete the minimum 60 per cent course load requirements. At the doctoral level, students must maintain an active status in their program to qualify for full-time status.

For more detailed information on funded and non-funded students, visit the AU Student Financial Aid Information page.


Grade. The final grade that is achieved in your completed course. Marks are applied to your assignments, essays, and examinations. Undergraduate Grading Policy.

Graduate studies. Advanced studies beyond the undergraduate level leading to an award of post-baccalaureate certificate, diploma, master’s, or doctoral degree. Generally requires an undergraduate degree for admission. AU provides innovative, Internet-based graduate programs that reach students around the world. View the Graduate Program Calendar.

Graduation. Completion of all requirements of a program of study verified by the Office of the Registrar and approved by General Faculties Council.

Grouped lab. Supervised science labs that are taken at specific locations and times. Supervised labs involve a substantial amount of work. Science lab information.

Grouped study courses. AU’s term for courses that are offered in a classroom setting (usually at a collaborating institution), or courses where students study in a group in a web-based online environment with common deadlines for completion of course activities.


Helpdesk. AU’s Helpdesk attendants will help students solve most problems relating to their computing resources. Student's may contact AU’s Helpdesk by submitting the online form, or by phone: 1.800.788.9041, extension 6405 (toll free from anywhere in Canada or the United States) or direct at 1.780.675.6405.

Home labs. Home labs are compulsory components of some of AU's science courses. Home labs are learning activities, such as demonstrations, observations, simulations, and experiments, which students do in or near their own homes rather than in a university laboratory.

These labs usually require a lab kit that students order online from the relevant course syllabus. Some home lab activities require some materials that most students have in their homes or materials can be purchased locally without great cost. The kits may contain materials that are hazardous in some way (especially for young children and pets) and as such, they must be handled and stored appropriately.

Students who are in correctional institutions may have some difficulty taking certain courses with home labs (e.g., some kits contain sharp objects that may not be allowed). Also, be aware that certain home lab kits cannot cross international borders (e.g., some contain seeds that may not be allowed in, others contain electronic equipment that required duty payments). Therefore, before registering, it is recommended that students contact the lab coordinator regarding the availability of home lab kits in each particular situation. Check the course syllabus for details.

Humanities Studies. An area of university studies that includes Art History, Communication Studies, English, French, German, Heritage Resources Management, History, Humanities, Indigenous Studies, Information Systems, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Spanish, and Women’s and Gender Studies.


ID Number. A seven-digit identification number is assigned to each student. Students must refer to their student ID number whenever they contact AU.

Inactive students. Students who have not registered in an AU course within 12 months of the last course contract end date or date of withdrawal, or within 12 months of the most recent admissions entry term, or on a Letter of Permission within 12 months of either of the above dates. To become active or reinstated, follow the instructions at myAU.

Independent labs. AU has developed a framework that allows students to access the laboratory component of certain science courses without taking the remaining instructional component, provided they meet strict prerequisite requirements and have professor approval before registering in the course. Each lab is worth one credit. Should a student decide to take the remaining instructional portion of the course, the additional credit earned for laboratory modules is recognized.

Independent labs are supervised by AU lab instructors and professors and are only offered at specific locations at specific times. Most labs run between two to eight days. Students have up to two months to complete a lab from the date of registration. No extensions are allowed in independent labs unless specifically authorized by the course professor. Independent labs are not available for challenge. If a student is enrolled at another institution, the student should receive approval in writing by their home institution to ensure that it will grant credit for the lab. If the student is using this course to update laboratory skills (e.g., you are a teacher or instructor), the student must provide evidence of having previously taken an equivalent science course or have the equivalent theoretical requirements. When the student attends the lab, they are responsible for making their own arrangements and payments for transportation, accommodation, and food.

Science lab information.

Individualized study. AU’s main method of course instruction. Individualized study is centered around a learning resources package that may include textbooks or eTextbooks, workbooks, lab kits, study guides, online resources, and manuals. Students will set their own schedule within the time allowed to complete the course. For information on course start dates and registration deadlines, refer to the registration section.

Individualized study online. Many AU courses are offered almost entirely online using intuitive learning management software (Moodle) designed to enhance the student’s learning experience. Students will interact with their tutor or learning facilitator and other students, participate in forums for online discussions between instructors and other students, and access the library, digital reading rooms, and other research resources. Students must have access to specific computer hardware and software components. Students are responsible for their own Internet connections and costs, and email access. For information on course start dates and registration deadlines, refer to the registration section.

Intellectual honesty. The acknowledgment of scholarly contributions of others by citing references, attributing quotations, etc. Failure to do so is academic misconduct.

Invigilation Centre. An establishment—authorized by Examination Services Unit—that supervises an undergraduate course examination being written by an AU student.

Invigilator. An individual—authorized by an AU representative in Examination Services Unit—who supervises an undergraduate course examination for an AU student.


Junior courses are usually introductory (200 level) and are equivalent to first-year courses at most universities.


Lab component only. See independent labs.

Laboratory science courses. Courses that contain a substantial amount of work including exercises, techniques, and sample-handling relevant to the course discipline. The lab portion of these courses is usually site-specific and supervised. For current lab information, contact the Centre for Science.

Late Examination Request. A request for an exam that has been received after the exam request deadline but before the student’s contract end date. In such cases the late examination request fee is applied. Undergraduate Exam Request and Completion Policy.

Learning Resources Fee $180. This fee covers the cost of mandatory course resources such as texts, etexts or other learning resources, as well as Athabasca University library services, learning management system support, and learning design and development. Learning resources fee.

Learning Resources Fee $130. This fee covers the cost of mandatory, Athabasca University-produced learning resources, library services, learning management system support, and learning design and development. Learning resources fee.

Letter of Certification. An official confirmation of information extracted from a student’s record that is not available on a transcript.

Letter of Permission. A document permitting an AU credential student to take one or more courses at another post-secondary institution for credit toward the student’s AU program. More information.

Levels. Describe preparatory (100), junior (200), or senior (300 or 400) level courses.

Lost Examination Reimbursement. When a written exam is deemed lost by AU, and the student is re-tested, the student may be issued a refund to compensate for additional costs they may incur. The reimbursement amount of the refund will not exceed the Lost Exam Reimbursement amount.


Major. A designated focus of study within a four-year program discipline such as the Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology Major; or the Bachelor of Science, Human Science Major.

Marks. Marks are applied to assignments, essays, and examinations. See also Grade.

Masters degree. AU provides innovative, flexible, and accessible Internet-based masters degrees.

Moodle. An acronym for AU’s learning management software; a tool for learning online. Moodle allows students to interact with their tutor and other students, participate in forums for online discussions between instructors and students, and access the library, digital reading rooms, and other research resources. Many AU courses are available in Moodle.

Multiple Examination Request. This is an exam request for a previously unwritten examination, which has been returned to the University by the AU approved invigilator. Students are assessed a multiple examination fee each time an exam is returned unwritten and is requested again. Refer also to Unwritten/Multiple Examinations.

myAU. Once logged in to myAU, students can register in courses and view personal information such as their AU Library account, their assignment marks, and their course grades. Students may also take care of administrative matters, such as booking examinations, submitting assignments, and applying for extensions. AU will also communicate directly with students through myAU. Sign in and check the Message Centre on the myAU home page for general information and for mail (e-letters).

No area of study indicates that a course cannot be used to fulfill an area of study requirement in a program. The course may, however, fulfill part of the overall degree requirements if it is appropriate to the program.

Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. Non-academic offences attempted or committed by students on University premises or during University-sponsored activities shall be grounds for disciplinary action by the University under the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.

Non-Business and Administrative Studies. These courses are any courses outside of the Business and Administrative Studies listing.

Not-to-take. Awarded when equivalent knowledge of a particular course has been identified within a student's assessment. NTT designations do not carry credit and will serve as a prerequisite if required.

Nursing transfer. This is a special program developed in cooperation with another university whereby students may complete courses through AU and use these courses to fulfill the requirements of a post-degree program elsewhere.


Online courses. See Individualized study online.

Online-enhanced. A course that provides access to learning resources through the Internet.

Online Labs: Online labs (virtual labs) are compulsory components of some of AU's science courses. They are series of interactive, inquiry-based science simulations and exercises. These labs are delivered via the Internet and are required to be completed by students on their own computers. Registered students will be allowed the access to these labs through the course webpage (Moodle course site), or through external links (individually provided for each specific course). Some online lab activities are interactive simulations of experiments that are typically conducted in a laboratory setting and other online lab activities are realistic simulations of systems in nature (virtual labs).

Open admission: Admission to the University and registration in courses (except where a prerequisite is needed) is not based on prior academic achievement. The only admission requirement is that a student must be 16 years of age or older unless specifically exempt from the age requirement. See Admissions for more information.

Open Educational Resources (OERs): Any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video, and animation.

Options. One or more courses chosen from any discipline to complete degree requirements. Students should be cognizant of the level and area of study requirements if either have not already been met.


Paced study online. AU’s paced study online courses are courses delivered primarily using the Internet, and within a specific four-month time frame.

Parchment. Document issued by AU that communicates the nature of the credential and date of its conferral. This document is signed and sealed by AU officials.

Part-time student. Those who are registered in less than 60 per cent of a full course load with AU. For taxation or Alberta Student Finance purposes, students who register in less than four, three-credit courses over six months are considered part-time. See also Full-time student.

Pilot course. AU’s term for a course that is being offered to test, measure and assess new educational technologies, methodologies, resources, and/or course delivery methods. A pilot course is a trial that is offered for a limited period of time and has a finite number of students registered.

Plagiarism. Presenting another person’s work as one’s own without the proper academic acknowledgment and recognition.

PLAR. See Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition below.

Post diploma. Students who have received a diploma from a recognized college, may be able to transfer credit to a post-diploma program at AU. Recognized diplomas may also be considered for some programs on a course-by-course basis. For a list of approved diplomas, review the Transfer Credit Database.

Practicum courses. A course based on the practical application of theory to field work or research. Usually in the Applied Studies area, these courses require a substantial amount of supervised, discipline-related time in actual work settings.

Precluded course. An AU course whose curriculum overlaps another course to the extent that students would be duplicating course work if they complete both courses. Precluded courses are usually the result of course revision, course renumbering, or cross-listing.

Students cannot receive credit for both courses.

Preparatory courses. Designated by a number in the 100s. These courses prepare students for university-level study in disciplines that require a high-school background. A maximum of six credits at the preparatory level may be applied to the completion of the BA or BGS degree at AU. Students may not challenge a preparatory 100-level course.

For students who are experiencing difficulty in a course, their professor may suggest registration in a preparatory course instead. Preparatory courses will provide students with a more solid subject-matter foundation before advancing to the more senior-level course.

Preregistration. Registering in a course up to five months in advance. Preregistration is considered a registration and guarantees a particular start date.

Prerequisites. The preliminary course requirement(s) which must be met or waived before a course can be taken. Prerequisites ensure that students have the required background to complete a course successfully. Prerequisites, if any, are listed in the course syllabus.

Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition (PLAR). PLAR provides opportunities for students to gain credit for non-formal, informal and experiential learning. A mentored process will assist you in preparing a portfolio for assessment. Refer to the Centre for Learning Accreditation.

Program. A program is any combination of courses with a set of coherent organizing principles and goals; for example, the Bachelor of Arts degree, a concentration or major, or a university diploma or certificate.

Programs, time to complete. Most of AU undergraduate programs are open-ended, meaning there is no time limit for completing a program. Some programs allow a maximum term to complete the degree requirements, and this is indicated in the degree regulations. Students should remain active in their program, or they will be required to re-enrol and pay a reactivation fee. Students who re-enrol in their program are required to follow the program requirements in effect at the time of their re-enrolment. See also Active students, Inactive students, and Stale-dated courses.

Q, R

Reading courses. Offered at the senior (usually 400) level. Usually involve a specialized field of study and professor approval.

Real time. Real time communication is synchronous. Discussion occurs online simultaneously by way of chatrooms, teleconference, and videoconference. See Communication.

Registration. The process of selecting and undertaking specific courses at AU.

Rejection of submitted work. Refusal of academic work that has been submitted to fulfill all or part of the course or program requirements; or an assignment grade of zero (0) to any academic work that has been submitted to fulfill all or part of the course or program requirements; or a grade of zero (0) as a course composite grade on a particular course.

Reprimand. Written notification to a student outlining the nature of his or her misconduct and the implications of further misconduct. A student who has received a reprimand is permitted to continue at AU.

Re-registration. If a student fails, or fails to complete a course, AU permits a student to re-register. Students are permitted one registration and one re-registration in each individualized study course.

Residency. The minimum number of AU credits that must be completed to fulfill a program’s requirements.


Science studies. This area of study normally comprises courses based on a knowledge of facts, phenomena, laws, and proximate cause. It includes courses in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Health Studies, Mathematics, Nutrition, Physics, Science, and Women’s and Gender Studies courses.

Science labs. Some science labs can be conducted from your own home. Others are supervised and taken in a group at a specific time and location. Science lab information.

Second undergraduate degree. Students who hold a recognized undergraduate degree and who wish to obtain an AU undergraduate degree in a different subject area, must apply under the second undergraduate degree regulations. See Second Undergraduate Degree Policy for more information.

Semesters. Time periods during which many grouped study courses are offered at other institutions. Fall semester courses typically run from September through December while winter courses run from January through April.

Senior courses. Designated by a course number in the 300s or 400s, these courses assume a background of university learning and usually specify a junior course as a prerequisite.

Social Science studies. An area of university study that includes Anthropology, Communication Studies, Economics, Education, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Studies, Governance, Health Administration, Indigenous Studies, Labour Studies, Political Economy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Science, Sociology, Sociology/Anthropology, and Women’s and Gender Studies courses.

Stale dated courses: Some AU programs have a stale dating policy whereby a course or program will not be accepted for credit if older than the stale date noted for the program (regardless of the precedent setting articulation). For example, if an articulation for a program completed in 1999 is established, a student could not use that credential to an AU program in 2006 that had a five-year stale date rule.

Streaming video. Technology used to enhance the delivery of some AU courses is streaming videos. When a video or movie is "streamed" it is sent over the Internet to be viewed in real time by QuickTime, a free, multi-media software.

Student Assessment Letter (SAL). A document issued by the Office of the Registrar. It indicates the courses that have been approved towards a student's program and all remaining requirements they must complete. The SAL includes transfer credits, completed courses, courses in progress, courses being completed on letters of permission, and preregistered courses. The SAL is normally sent to the student when the evaluation of their previous education from other institutions is complete; when the student is notified of a final grade; or at their request.

Student awards/scholarships. Refer to website.

Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal Regulations. Academic offences are identified within the Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal Regulations.

Students Finance Board. The official agency in each province that is responsible for supplying government loans and bursaries to students. Loans and bursaries depend on need. Students are required to maintain full-time status.

Student, full-time. See Full-time student.

Student ID number. A seven-digit number assigned to each student. Always use your student ID number when you contact AU.

Student, part-time. See Part-time student.

Student Support Centre. Student Support Centre advisors provide administrative and technical support to Faculty of Business and Faculty of Science and Technology students.

Supervised labs. Compulsory learning activities in some of AU's science courses that take place in person at specified times and locations. These lab sessions concentrate a great deal of work in a short period of time—usually from two to eight days. The sessions are conducted in teaching laboratories in buildings owned or leased by AU. Science lab information.

Supplemental examination. An additional examination written by a student to improve the mark received on the original examination.

Syllabus. A short course overview that provides students and learning institutions of the course’s learning outcomes.

Synchronous communication. See Communication.


Télé-université du Québec (TELUQ). Some equivalent AU courses are offered in French by Télé-université. Joint bilingual programs of study at the undergraduate and graduate level are also available. For more information, refer to AU’s Collaborations website or Teluq.

Transcript. An official document issued by AU that conveys information related to the official student record.

Transfer credit. Credit granted for the successful completion of post-secondary level courses or programs completed at another recognized organization or institution.

Tutor. In most individualized study and online courses, students will be assigned a tutor or call centre advisor to help them throughout the course.


Unclassified (non-program/visiting) students. Students who are not enrolled in an AU degree, diploma, or certificate program. See Admission Classifications.

Undergraduate studies. Post-secondary studies leading to an award of a bachelor degree, diploma, or certificate.

Unwritten Examination. Occasionally, students are unable to write their examination on the date indicated on the Examination Request Form. If this happens, the student can reschedule the examination write date. Refer to Unwritten/Multiple Examinations.

Video/DVD component. In many AU courses students have the option of viewing videos online, or on DVD and/or videotapes provided in the course package. To ensure viewing components are compatible, overseas students are asked to contact AU Library before registering in a course that has a videotape/DVD component.

Virtual Helpdesk. The Virtual Helpdesk (VHD) provides computer science students technical assistance with their courses. The VHD is staffed by senior students and should not be confused with AU’s Computing Services Helpdesk.

Visiting students. Students taking courses at AU for transfer credit to other post-secondary institutions. Unclassified (Non-Program/Visiting) Students.

Withdrawal. The exit from an AU course. Withdrawal timeframes are important to monitor since the timing of a withdrawal may have bearing on what is recorded on the academic transcript.

Zero-credit course. Students in zero-credit courses receive the same tutorial support, have access to all services provided to AU students, but the courses won’t fulfill any requirement towards a credential. ENGL 143 and ENGL 149, are two examples of zero-credit courses. Zero-credit courses are assessed the same fee structure as three-credit courses minus the Students’ Union Fees and Alumni Fees. Other academic-related fees and regulations also apply to zero-credit courses.


Information effective Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.

Updated March 27 2018 by laurab

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.