Understanding Terminology Used at UVic

I talk to a lot of prospective students, newly admitted students, and first-year students. Many have questions about all the words they run into at UVic, and I don’t blame them – there is a whole lot of jargon you’re going to run into in university. Through all this interaction, I have become convinced that not everyone knows what all these words mean, and that too many of us are afraid to just ask!

Luckily, UVic has read your mind, and has compiled a massive list of terminology used at UVic (and some other universities too). This handy list is available any time you need to look up something you don’t understand.

Somewhat unluckily, this is a MASSIVE list indeed, and it can be somewhat overwhelming to read, especially when some of the words are very similar to others. So to help all those who are afraid to ask, here is a comparison of some of those similar words which might be confusing. Remember, this mini-list isn’t complete, and if you ever run into a word you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask!

Associated section vs. section

Sometimes a course will have more than one section. They are usually labeled with the letter A (A01, A02, etc). When you see this, it means the same class is offered at multiple times. Maybe they are at different times during the day, or they might be on different days in the week. You need to pick one of the sections to be in. An associated section is often called a lab or tutorial, which is additional to the class. These are often labeled with the letter B (B01, B02, etc). You probably need to be registered in both a section and an associated section, if one is associated with the class.

If you find that you’re having trouble registering for a section, double check that there’s not a restriction attached – for example, registering for an associated section along with the section.

Credit unit vs. grade point:

A credit unit is the number of units you get for a course. Usually, you need 60 units to graduate. A course that takes about 4 months is usually worth 1.5 units, while a course that takes 8 months is worth 3 units. A grade point is a number assigned to a letter grade awarded to you. UVic operates on a 9-point system.

Department vs. faculty:

Your department is an academic unit; it’s what you’re studying (like linguistics, biochemistry, or computer science). A faculty hosts a number of related departments – UVic has 10 of them (business, education, engineering, fine arts, human and social development, humanities, law, graduate studies, science, and social sciences).

Graduate vs. undergraduate:

An undergraduate degree is usually one you get after you have finished high school – it’s the first degree you can get, and you will receive a bachelor’s degree at the end. A graduate degree is more advanced, and you can only get one after you have already received an undergraduate degree. You will receive a master’s degree or a doctoral degree at the end.

Lower level vs. upper level:

Lower level courses are numbered 100-299, and they are more of an introductory level. An upper level course is one numbered 300-499, and are often more advanced.

Prerequisite vs. corequisite:

A prerequisite course is one you have to take before you take another course. For example, you may need to take an introductory course before you can take a more advanced course. A corequisite course is one that you have to take prior to or at the same time as another course (they often complement each other).

Term vs. session:

A term is a unit of time related to your academics, and a session is made up of terms. In the winter session (September-April), there are two terms, and they are each 13 weeks.. In the summer session (May-August), a term can be anywhere from 3-13 weeks.

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