Graduate Courses in Biology

10. GRADUATE COURSES 

10.1. Overview. Graduate courses are an essential part of the program of graduate studies for the MSc degree in the Department of Biology. Apart from providing a formal means for students to increase their biological knowledge, courses should test and improve students' skills at scientific reporting—both written and spoken—and should stimulate the research interests of both students and instructors.

The experience of the instructor in presenting course material and leading well-focused discussion is generally crucial. It is suggested, therefore, that some formal seminars or lectures be given by the instructor(s) in each course. The guidelines listed below reflect the structure of many current courses in the Department. Instructors wishing to teach a course involving major deviations from these guidelines should discuss these with the Graduate Coordinator.

10.2. Course Outline. A written outline of the course should be given to the students at the beginning of the course and should contain a marking scheme, a list of weekly topics to be covered, a statement of deadlines (due dates) for all assignments, and a statement of the penalty for failing to meet a deadline.

10.3. Weekly Meetings. All graduate courses are expected to involve regular weekly meetings totaling approximately three hours/week.

10.4. Level of Instruction. Graduate courses should be presented primarily at the level of the current research literature in the field. Students lacking the necessary background to cope with such a course should be given preparatory reading or coursework.

10.5. Structure and Evaluation. The structural organization and the method of evaluation of students must be discussed and determined at the beginning of the course. At least 50% of the final mark for a course should be based on written work submitted by the students. All written material (i.e., research papers, exams) should be returned with a written evaluation.

10.6. Formal Critiques by Instructor. If student seminars or "participation" are graded, a written critique should be provided by the instructor and should cover content, style, approach, delivery, etc. In order to improve the effectiveness of future presentations, this critique should be made before the student's next presentation.

10.7. Deadlines and Grade Reporting. Grades for graduate courses will be submitted at the end of the term in which each course is given. Students who have not completed the course requirements when grades are submitted will be assigned an incomplete (IN) and a mark based on the work to date. That mark will be submitted as the student's grade for the course at the end of the next term (4 months after course completion) if no further marks are received. Thus extensions will not be granted for more than one term. If a deadline extension is granted for an assignment, this should be communicated to the student in writing (usually by email).

10.8. Number of Instructors. Whenever possible, two instructors (or more) should be involved in each graduate course. This provides students with a diversity of opinion and expertise and helps ensure objectivity of evaluation.

10.9.  Biol-897.  Biol-897 is a seminar course for MSc students that should normally be completed by the end of the sixth term of study.  If it is not completed within this time-frame then MSc over-time students must complete it in the seventh term.  All PhD transfers from the MSc program must complete the course by the end of the first term after the transfer occurs. 

Biol-897 may also double for the required MSc Seminar with the proviso that it is within one-term of the MSc defense.

10.10. Open courses Biol-951* - Biol-960* - Advanced Studies in …..

This option is available to provide instruction in particular areas in which there is no regular course available. Students may take each numbered course only once but double numbering in different disciplines allows a student to take a maximum of two Advanced Studies courses in their area of interest. Faculty members wishing to offer one of these modules must present a brief outline and rationale to the Graduate Studies Committee at least two weeks before the beginning of term in which the course will be offered. Modules should conform to one of the following two formats - only in exceptional circumstances will alternative formats be considered:

  • Seminar format. Requires a minimum of three enrolled students and at least two faculty. A written outline of topics will be given to students at the first or second meeting. Regular meetings will be held for lectures or seminars. There will be a final written examination.
  • Reading format. To be offered where less than three registered students are enrolled. Reading matter will be distinct from students' theses topics and will be the basis for a review-style report or a group of essays. The report or essays will be marked by at least two faculty members and there should also be an oral examination.

 

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