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Athabasca University


3.6.5 Individualized Study/Online Courses

Individualized study is the most common method of teaching and learning at Athabasca University.

At AU, courses begin the first day of each month provided you register by the 10th day of the previous month. You will have six months to complete zero-, one-, three-, or four-credit courses and 12 months to complete six-credit courses.

Course fees include all learning resources needed for the course. See Learning Resources below for more information.

You may be required to purchase additional items such as stationery, binders, calculators, etc. Most courses have required computer components (refer to Computer Requirements in the Glossary).

Online Courses Maximum Course Load

Students may be actively registered in one to six courses at a time. To ensure that you do not overburden yourself, AU limits your course load to a maximum of six active registrations. If you have a full-time job or are new to distance learning, we suggest you start with one course. Pre-Registration – Individualized Study

You may pre-register in an individualized study course up to five months before the course start date. Pre-registration guarantees you that tutorial support will be available for a specific start date. When you pre-register, you will be paying the fee that is effective the date your course begins. Should you alter your pre-registration, you will be charged a fee.

You will receive your learning resources shortly after your pre-registration. Tutorial support will not begin until your official course start date. Your tutor introductory letter will arrive approximately one week before your course start date. Registration Process – Individualized Study

Once you are admitted to AU and you have received your student ID number, you may register in courses. When you have selected a course, ensure that it is available by viewing the online course syllabus and the Course Availability List. Also ensure that you have the required prerequisites.

Log in to myAU to complete and submit the Undergraduate Course Registration Form along with the appropriate payment. If you are an inactive student, you will still have access to myAU. Follow the instructions to reactive your status. Confirmation of course registration by e-Letter will be available within 48 hours of the course registration in your myAU portal (use your student ID number to log in).

The request for a learning resources package will be sent as soon as your course registration is processed. A tutor will also be assigned after you register in a course; however, the tutor’s support will not be in effect until the course contract start date. Registration Deadlines

AU’s individualized study courses begin the first day of the month, and are offered year-round. You can register online via the online registration system. You must request and pay for courses by the 10th day of the month prior to the requested course start date. For example, if you wish to start your course on November 1, you must register for the course by requesting and paying for it by no later than October 10.

For students without access to the online registration system, the Office of the Registrar will process paper course registration requests and payments that are received by the 10th day of the month before your requested start dates.

Remember to consider postal, courier, and processing times when a particular start date is desired. Students living overseas are generally assigned course start dates one month later that students living in North America. Overseas Students' Course Start Dates

Course start dates for students living overseas (those living outside Canada and the continental United States) depend on the arrival of the course package. To reduce postal delays, AU will courier your course package but you must provide a street address (not a Post Office box address) and telephone number. Overseas students are required to register for their courses two months prior to the intended course contract start dates. Course Contract Period/Dates

Each individualized study course has a specific course contract start date and end date. You will have six months to complete a zero-, one-, three-, or four-credit course, and 12 months to complete a six-credit course. Your course contract end date is the last day of your individualized study course. Course contract end dates fall on the last day of a month.

Course extensions are available, if required. See Course-Related Regulations for more information.

You are considered actively registered in your course until you have completed the course, the course contract date expires, or you withdraw. Your learning resources package will be sent as soon as your registration or pre-registration request is processed, however, tutor support, submission of coursework, and the writing of examinations cannot begin until the official course contract start date. See Early Access to Courses below. Early Access to Courses

Early access to individualized study courses in the Moodle learning management system varies based on individual course design. Prior to the course contract start date, student access may not be provided to some assignments and will not be provided to quizzes or exams. (Note: In some courses, early access is not provided at all.) Students cannot submit assignments and quizzes, nor write exams until their course contract period commences. Tutorial and faculty access will not be provided until the course contract period begins. Studying Courses While Residing Outside Canada

All students studying outside of Canada must comply with the regulations governing the normal course contract period. Extensions beyond the normal course contract period in individualized study courses are available to all students. Refer to Course Extensions – Individualized Study below. Learning Resources

The payment of course registration fees entitles you to receive most of your individualized study course learning resources. Learning resources include, but are not limited to, textbooks, student manuals, study guides, tutorial assistance where provided, access to online materials and other instructional materials required to complete the course for the period of active registration. Additional lab fees may be required for some Faculty of Science courses. You may be required to pay for additional small items such as binders, calculators, home lab materials, and so on.

Some AU courses introduce students to a more specialized course in the same field. These courses often reference the same textbook. Please retain the textbook from the previous course as a duplicate textbook will not be shipped.

Your course package will include various learning resources that are identified in the online course syllabus. In some courses, the learning resources are available entirely online. In others, the resources may be a combination of offline materials such as a textbook(s), CDs, and/or DVDs, and the balance of course materials is accessed online. And in others, the entire learning resources package is print-based and is mailed or couriered.

Your course materials will arrive before your official start date. If for some reason the materials don’t arrive on time, contact Materials Management at AU as soon as possible (1.780.675.6366). Shipping/Receiving Your Print Learning Resources

In many courses, the learning resources are available either online or in print, or a combination of both formats. If a course has print learning resources, they will be sent shortly after your course registration has been processed.

Shipping Within North America

Students living in Canada will receive their print learning resources through Canada Post. Students who live in the U.S. or Mexico will receive their print learning resources by courier. Please allow two weeks or longer to receive the material.

Shipping Overseas

Various methods are used to ship print course materials overseas. AU’s Materials Management department determines the most efficient and appropriate method. If you live overseas, please allow up to one month to receive your course materials.

Overseas Students’ Course Start Dates

Materials Management Your Tutor

After you register in an individualized study course, an e-Letter containing your tutor’s name, address, email address, phone number, and tutor hours will be posted in your student myAU portal approximately ten days before your course contract start date. The default method of student information delivery is e-Letter. (Print letters are still available by filling out the Print Letter Request form and paying the associated fee.) If you have not received your tutor letter one week before your course start date, or if you have misplaced your letter, contact Learning Services Tutorial as soon as possible.

Your tutor will assist you throughout your course either by phone or email. Tutors offer subject-matter assistance, engage in scholarly discussion, mark assignments, provide feedback, and help prepare you for your examinations. Never feel reluctant to contact your tutor. He or she is your main link with AU.

You may contact your tutor on the course start date, but not before. You may phone your tutor toll-free from anywhere in Canada or the US during established tutor hours, or you can leave a voicemail or email message at any time.

Most of the AU Faculty of Business and Faculty of Science and Technology courses provide access to a Student Success Centre and academic experts. Before your course starts, you will receive a letter with the centre’s toll-free telephone number.

Because of vacation time, normally during the summer months, your tutor may not be available for up to ten business days. In case of absences of longer than 10 business days, other arrangements will be made for you.

Learning Services Tutorial Course Extensions – Individualized Study

If you are unable to complete your individualized study course during the course contract period, you may apply for and purchase up to three, two-month extensions at Athabasca University. Course extensions apply to individualized study courses only. You may not extend a grouped study course.

A course extension must be requested and purchased online (via your myAU portal using your student ID number to log in) a minimum of one month before your course contract end date. Requests for second and third extensions must be received a minimum of one month before the expiry of the previous extension.

The extension begins on the first day of the month following your course contract end date. If you fail to complete your course and you do not apply for an extension by the required deadline, you will receive a grade of F (Failure) for the course. If you wish to obtain credit for the course, you may re-register and pay a fee. Both the original registration and the re-registration will appear on your transcript.

Students receiving financial assistance may be restricted by shorter time limits. Course Withdrawal – Individualized Study

You may withdraw from an individualized study course at any time within the course contract period. In order to meet specific academic record and refund criteria, you must adhere to the following timelines. You cannot withdraw from a course after your course contract end date, once the final examination is deemed to have been written (or if all course work is deemed to have been submitted for marking, for courses that do not have a final exam requirement), or during disciplinary proceedings.

Withdrawal procedures do not apply to courses being challenged for credit.

a. Impact of Course Withdrawal on Academic Record

Withdrawal timeframes have an impact on your academic record. If you withdraw:

  1. prior to and up to 30 days after the course contract start date: The course will not appear on your transcript.
  2. after 30 days and on or before the course contract end date: Your transcript will indicate a “W” (Withdrawal) and credit will not be awarded for the course.
  3. after the course contract end date: You cannot withdraw after the course contract end date. If no course work has been completed, a grade of “F” (Failure) will be assigned and recorded on the transcript.

Nursing students: Please consult the Undergraduate Course Withdrawal and Refund Policy – Individualized Study for academic impact of a withdrawal from a nursing clinical and for the process that must be followed.

b. Procedure

Withdrawal requests should be submitted online via the myAU portal and are subject to the Undergraduate Course Withdrawal Policy and Procedures – Individualized Study.

c. Refunds and Returns

Students are responsible for the cost of returning any learning resources to Athabasca University. For more information on refunds and returns, refer to Refunds: Individualized Study Course Tuition. Re-Registration – Individualized Study

At Athabasca University, students are permitted one registration and one re-registration in each individualized study course. You may re-register in an undergraduate course provided you are eligible to register in the current revision of the course and that you have not previously re-registered in the course.

In order to carry forward any completed coursework and examination results, you must first obtain written approval from the course professor/course coordinator. To carry the results forward, you must re-register in the course within one year from the course contract end date of your original registration.

a. Procedure
  1. You must re-register in the current revision of the course. Contact AU and determine whether the current revision of the course has changed since your original registration. If the current revision has changed from your original registration, you will be required to pay the learning resources fee.
  2. Complete the undergraduate course registration process using one of the following methods:
    • online (also available via print PDF)
    • complete and submit the Undergraduate Course Registration Form. Fax: 1.780.675.6174 or mail.
    • c. in person at the Athabasca, Edmonton, or Calgary offices.


Information effective Sept. 1, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2017.

Updated June 28 2016 by laurab

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