Not all the words in the following
glossary are found in the Calendar.
They are, however, used commonly
throughout Athabasca University.

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


Academic misconduct. Intellectual dishonesty, including such offences as plagiarism, cheating, and falsification of records.

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 Athabasca University runs from September 1 until August 31 the
following year.

Active students. An Athabasca University student who continues to take courses and who does not allow his or her enrolment to lapse is considered an "active student."

Administrative Studies. Administrative Studies comprise courses in accounting, administration, communication, finance, industrial relations, legal studies, management science, organizational behaviour, public administration, and taxation.

Admit. Students are admitted to AU and assigned a permanent student number effective the date of their admission. See "Enrol" and "Registration."

Appeal. The act or process of requesting the review of a decision made by an official of Athabasca University. Students may appeal decisions on transfer credits, grades, tests, assignments, final grades, questions of process, disciplinary action, etc. All appeals must first be made to the person responsible for overseeing the initial decision. See Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal Regulations.

Applied Studies (area of study). There are two groups of Applied Studies courses under the Applied Studies area of study; Business and Administrative Studies and Applied Studies. These groups comprise courses that apply knowledge and skills to a particular professional area such as accounting and administrative studies, or criminal justice and nursing for example.

Area of study refers to the University's division of its courses into groups of related subjects. Arts is divided into Humanities and Social Sciences. Science includes all science courses. Applied Studies includes the area of administrative studies, nursing, and a wide range of professionally oriented courses. The area designation for each course is shown in each course description. Search for a course by its area of study.

Arts. Studies in two fundamental areas of human knowledge—Humanities and Social Sciences—are called Arts.

Assessment. Assessment of previous post-secondary education for possible transfer credit toward an Athabasca University program.

Asynchronous communication: see Communication.

Audio component: Some of our courses are supplemented by audio components (audiocassettes), some of which are required listening to complete the course (and are included in the course package) while others are not required to complete the course but enrich the course content.

Audit refers to registration in a credit course without the intention of obtaining credit. Audit students receive the same tutorial support as credit students.


Bachelor's degree is a first university degree in a field, for example, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Administration. Also called an undergraduate degree.


US = catalogue;
UK = prospectus

Call Centre facilitator. AU's School of Business courses use a Call Centre facilitator who answers course-related questions. Subject-related questions are forwarded to the course tutor.

Challenge for credit optionallows
students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, and intellectual and other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course. Refer to the Challenge for Credit section in the online Calendar.

Classroom setting. Courses offered in a classroom setting are delivered simultaneously to a group of students (with or without the aid of video- or audio-conferencing) who may react with the instructor. The courses may take place in an actual classroom at an Athabasca University Learning Centre, at a collaborating institution, or online (e-ClassŪ).

Asynchronous communication describes communication that does not occur simultaneously, for example, computer conferences and e-mail.
Synchronous communication is "live." It describes communication that occurs simultaneously, for example, in chatrooms, by teleconference,
and videoconference.

Computer requirements are suggested minimum requirements to complete the course. Please refer to specifications online.

Concentration. A designated program of study within a program discipline, such as the Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology concentration or the Bachelor of Administration, Organization concentration.

Contract date is the last day that students have to complete their individualized-study course. Contract dates are always the last day of the month (or the date you finish the course, if earlier). All of your course work, including assignments, quizzes and examinations, must be completed before the contract date.

Contract period is the time a student is actively registered in a course. It begins on the start date (usually the first day of a month) and runs until the contract date.

When you register in a three-credit course, you are given six months (approximately 26 weeks) in which to complete the course. When you register in a six-credit course, you are given 12 months (52 weeks) in which to complete the course. Time extensions are available in individualized-study courses only.

If you are a Canadian student receiving student loans (either federal or provincial), you must complete your three-credit courses in four months and your six-credit courses in eight months.

Convocation. Convocation refers to the formal ceremony held yearly at Athabasca University, usually on the second Friday and Saturday of June, in Athabasca, Alberta. Athabasca University also has a graduation in absentia ceremony on the first Saturday in December.

Corequisite is a course that is required to be taken concurrently with another course.

Course completion date is the contract date or the date that you complete the course if earlier than the contract date. If you withdraw from the course, the course completion date is the date of withdrawal. Course composite grade is the final grade for the course expressed as a percentage. The course composite grade reflects the degree of understanding students have shown for the course materials. The course composite grade is often a weighted average of the marks assigned to quizzes, assignments, tests, examinations, etc.

Course delivery methods include
audio component
Digital Reading Room
grouped study
home lab
individualized study
individualized study

lab component only
supervised lab
video component

Course start date is normally the first day of a month, the date students officially start a course.

Credentials are degrees, diplomas or
certificates awarded on successful
completion of a program. Not all
admission categories lead to credentials.

Credential regulations specify the requirements students must meet in
order to be awarded degrees or university certificates, 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 Athabasca University.

Credit (one) is defined as the equivalent of one hour of instruction per week for a 15-week semester. It is assumed that for every credit hour, the student will spend at least an additional hour per week in homework/preparation. Athabasca University credits reflect an amount of study time equal to that spent at a conventional university in formal classroom sessions.

Normally, Athabasca University courses are either three-credit (one semester) or six-credit (two semesters), which corresponds to three- and six-semester hours of credit at conventional universities. Some courses in the Bachelor of Nursing degree carry a practicum component with a credit weight of four.

Cross-listed course: A current Athabasca University 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. Students cannot receive credit in one cross-listed course if the other course has been completed.


Digital Reading Room (Digital Reference Centre) is the gateway to Athabasca University Library resources and services. It was developed with the distance learner in mind. It brings a variety of resources relevant to the research and study needs of Athabasca University students, faculty and staff together in one place. It can be used for quick look up of specific information as well as for extensive research. See the library's Digital Reference Centre.

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

Discipline refers to courses in a specific subject area, for example, English in Humanities, biology in the Sciences, or accounting in Administrative Studies.


e-Class® is a grouped-study, electronically delivered course usually taken for credit towards the Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Management, and other programs at Athabasca University. The courses are offered by the School of Business and are usually 13 weeks in length. Print material is augmented by online group discussion. e-Class® course availability is subject to a minimum number of registrations.

Electives. Courses from a specified list of courses that students must choose from to fulfill their program requirements.

Enrol. Students enrol in a degree or
university certificate program. The degree regulations that are in effect at the time of your initial enrolment are the regulations that govern your program.

Exemption. Holders of an approved diploma or degree may be awarded a block amount of credit. Within the diploma or degree, students may have equivalent courses that are required within their current program. This course would be awarded an “exemption” and students would replace exemptions with courses of the same or higher level, in the same area of study or discipline, to fulfill the program requirement.

Extension. The process of lengthening the time allowed for the completion of an individualized-study credit course by two months is called an extension. A fee is charged for this service.


Financial aid agencies. Financial assistance is available to part-time and full-time students from the students' local agencies. Full-time students may be eligible for loans, grants, bursaries, or scholarships. Part-time students may be eligible for bursaries, loans, or grants. The amount of loan or bursary varies according to need.

Full-time student. For taxation or Alberta Students Finance purposes, for example, a full-time student is one who is actively registered in a minimum of two credits per month. Students must complete nine credits over four months to be considered full time.


Grouped-study courses normally begin in September and January (although at some locations there may be spring and summer sessions) and generally last 13 weeks (three-credit course) or 26 weeks (six-credit course). Grouped-study courses involve a number of students studying on the same schedule with a common instructor. The courses are dependent upon a minimum number of registrations.

Grouped labs are supervised science labs taken at specific locations and times. Supervised labs involve a substantial amount of work. Exercises may include techniques and equipment and sample-handling relevant to the course discipline. Science lab information.


Home labs: Home labs are compulsory components of some of our science courses. Home labs are learning activities, such as demonstrations, observations, simulations, and experiments that students do in or near their own homes rather than in university laboratories.

These labs usually require a lab kit that students obtain in their course materials package or borrow from Athabasca University Library. Many 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 you contact the lab coordinator regarding the availability of home lab kits in your particular situation.

Please check the specific course syllabus for details.

Home study: Refer to Individualized study.

Humanities: An area of university studies that normally includes English, French, history, and philosophy.



Inactive students. An Athabasca University student is considered "inactive" if he or she does not register in a course:

1. within 12 months of the last course contract date or date of withdrawal; or

2. within 12 months of the most recent admissions entry term; or

3. on a Letter of Permission within 12 months of either of the above dates.

Independent labs. You may register in the laboratory component of certain science courses without taking the remaining instructional component, provided you meet strict prerequisite requirements and have professor approval before registering in the lab. Each lab is worth one credit. Should you decide to take the instructional portion of the Athabasca University course, the additional credit earned for lab module will not be recognized, thereby maintaining the designation of the 3- or 6-credit course.

Students attending other institutions must receive approval in writing from their home institution indicating it will grant credit. Students using an independent lab course to update laboratory skills (e.g., teachers, instructors), must provide evidence of having previously taken an equivalent science course. Science lab information.

Individualized study describes the most common print-based method of course instruction at Athabasca University. The course comprises a learning resources package that may include textbooks, workbooks, audio and videotapes, computing resources, project kits, study guides, and manuals. Students set their own schedule within the time allowed to complete a course. A computer is not required to complete an individualized study course. When a computer is required to complete the course, the method of delivery is referred to "Individualized study online" (see below).

Individualized study online courses require students to have access to a computer to complete the course. The amount of online interaction is course-specific. In undergraduate nursing courses, for example, students receive a letter outlining how to access their course online. One or more textbooks may accompany the letter. The balance of course interaction is conducted online with the student logging in at the start of each session. Students are responsible for their own ISP connection.

Intellectual honesty. The acknowledgement of the scholarly contributions of others. Failure to do so is academic misconduct.

Invigilator. An individual authorized by AU to oversee the writing of an exam by an AU student.

International students are those students who do not hold Canadian citizenship.


Junior courses (designated by a course number in the 200s) are usually introductory or survey courses and are equivalent to first-year courses at most universities.


Lab-component only courses. Students may take the laboratory component of certain science courses without taking the remaining instructional component. There are, however, strict prerequisite requirements and professor approval is required before registration can occur. Each lab-component-only course is worth one credit. For current lab information, contact the Centre for Science.

Laboratory science courses are courses that contain a substantial amount of work including exercises, techniques, and equipment 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.

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

Letter of Permission is a document
permitting a credential student to take one or more courses at another post- secondary institution to be used for credit toward an Athabasca University degree or university certificate.

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


Major. A designated program of study within a program discipline such as the Bachelor of Arts, Anthroplogy major or the Bachelor of Science, Human Science major.

No area of study indicates the designated course cannot be used to fulfill an area of study requirement in a program. The course can, 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-credit courses do not fulfill any requirement toward a credential.

Not-to-take will be awarded when
equivalent knowledge of a particular course has been identified within a student's assessment. Athabasca University awards the credit and uses
the course, if it is required, to fulfill
the requirement.

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


Online-enhanced is an optional component meaning the course uses the Internet to augment course material.

Open admission means admission to the University and registration in courses (except where a prerequisite is needed) is not based on prior academic achievement. A student must be 16 years of age, unless specifically exempt from the age requirement.

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


Paced study courses: Refer to Grouped study courses.

Paced lab students are required to attend an on-site lab component with a group of students at set times.

Parchment. Document issued by Athabasca University that communicates the nature of the degree and date of conferral. This document is signed and sealed by University officials.

Part-time students are those with less than a 60 percent course load with Athabasca University or those who complete less than two credits per month, for example.

Plagiarism is the wilful act of presenting another person's work as one's own without the proper academic acknowledgement and recognition.

PLAR. Refer to Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition.

Practicum courses (usually in the Applied Studies area) require a substantial amount of supervised, discipline-related time in actual work settings.

Precluded courses describe courses currently (or formerly) offered at Athabasca University where the curriculum overlaps the course being described to the extent that students would be duplicating course work if they completed both courses. Students cannot receive credit for both the course being described and the course listed. Precluded courses are usually the result of a course revision, course renumbering or cross-listing.

Preparatory courses are 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 Athabasca University. The Challenge for Credit Policy does not apply to preparatory, 100-level courses.

Preparatory/alternative courses are courses a professor may suggest a student register in if the student is experiencing difficulties in a more senior-level course. Preparatory/
alternative courses are not necessarily prerequisite courses but rather provide the student with a more solid subject-matter foundation before he or she advances to the more senior-level course.

Preregistration is the act of registering for a course with a start date up to 6 months in the future. Preregistration is considered a registration and guarantees a particular start date. Prerequisites ensure that students have the required background to complete the course successfully. All prerequisites are expressed in terms of specific Athabasca University courses. Students who have fulfilled the prerequisite by completing an equivalent course at another post-secondary institution should complete the Prerequisite Waiver Declaration.

Prerequisites. Many senior-level courses require a knowledge of the material covered in junior or other senior courses. Prerequisites ensure that a student has the required background to successfully complete the course. Students who have fulfilled the prerequisite by completing an equivalent course at another post-secondary institution should complete the Prerequisite Waiver Declaration Form so their course registration can proceed without delay.

Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition (PLAR). Refer to Calendar Web site.

Professor approval. The term "Professor approval required" is usually associated with prerequisites. It applies when students do not have credit in one or more of the prerequisites for a given course. In such cases, the professor has the discretion to waive the prerequisite requirement, after a discussion with the student.

Program director is the academic member responsible for overseeing the specific degree, certificate, or diploma program.


Reading courses are offered at the senior (usually 400) level and involve a specialized field of study.

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 Athabasca University.

Residency. Specified courses or credits from Athabasca University may be required to obtain a credential. Residency requirements are part of a program's regulations.


Science. This area of study normally comprises courses based on a knowledge of facts, phenomena, laws, and proximate cause (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Nutrition, and Physics).

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.

Semesters are time periods during which many grouped-study courses are offered. Fall semester courses typically run from September through December while winter courses are usually offered from January through April.

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

Social Science. An area of university study that normally comprises anthropology, economics, geography, labour studies, political science, psychology, sociology, and women's studies courses.

Student Assessment Letter (SAL) is a specialized document issued by the Office of the Registrar that indicates the courses approved towards a student's degree or university certificate program and all remaining requirements. 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 students when the evaluation of their previous education is completed, when a student is notified of a final grade, or at the student's request. The SAL may also be obtained from the Learning Centres but not without a request.

Students Finance Board is the official agency in each province that is responsible for supplying loans and bursaries to students. Loans and bursaries are dependent upon need and require the student to maintain full-time status.

Student, full-time. For taxation or Alberta Students Finance purposes, for example, a full-time student is one who is actively registered in a minimum of two credits per month. Students must complete nine credits over four months to be considered full time.

Student, part-time. A part-time student is one who has less than a 60 percent course load with Athabasca University or is not completing more than nine credits over four months.

Supervised labs describe compulsory course learning activities in some of our 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, from two days to more than a week. The sessions are conducted in teaching laboratories in buildings owned or leased by Athabasca University.

Supervised labs usually involve field as well as lab work. Some supervised lab activities are held at various times throughout the year in Calgary, Edmonton, and, occasionally, in other localities within Alberta. Certain supervised labs are held only once per year in one location in Alberta.

Students are required to book their attendance at these sessions. Athabasca University retains the right to postpone or cancel scheduled lab sessions due to insufficient registrations. Costs for travel, accommodation, and food are the responsibility of the student.

Please check the specific course syllabus for details.

Supplemental exam. An additional exam written by a student to improve the grade received on the original exam.

Syncronous communication
See Communication.


Transcript. An official document issued by Athabasca University that communicates the courses completed and the final grades achieved in those courses. Transcripts are prepared by the Office of the Registrar, recording of students' academic performance and bear the University seal. A transcript is not released to anyone without the student's permission. A fee is charged for each transcript.

Transfer credit is credit granted for the successful completion of course work at another accredited institution.

Tutor. Most individualized-study students are assigned a tutor to assist students throughout the course.


Unclassified students. Students who are not enrolled in an Athabasca University degree, diploma, or certificate program.

Video component. Some Athabasca University courses include videotapes that are required viewing to complete the course. Other courses use videotapes to enrich the course content. Some courses have required viewing that is broadcast throughout Alberta on ACCESS, The Education Station. Students who are unable to view the television broadcasts in their area may borrow videotapes from Athabasca University Library.

Visiting students are enrolled at other higher learning institutions, and take courses for credit at Athabasca University. More than 6,000 visiting students a year take one or more courses at Athabasca University to complement their studies at their home institution.

Withdrawal. The voluntary exit from an Athabasca University course by a student. Students can withdraw from a course any time during the period of active study provided the final exam has not been deemed written. Withdrawal time frames are important!

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