Syllabus (2): THE RULES


la règle du jeu / renoir


I. Aims and objectives
II. Expectations
III. Responsibilities
IV. Grading criteria
V. UBC Academic Integrity & avoiding plagiarism
VI. Academic concession: late work, extensions, and rescheduling missed tests or examinations
VII.Quick links to UBC rules, policies, and procedures



There is a lot of information here below. That is because it is intended to be as comprehensive as possible, in the interest of helping you. There are also links to selected parts of UBC’s rules and regulations (carefully gleaned for pertinence) and to further information sources of and associated with the University: all in all, there is a lot to read. (There may also be Easter Eggs.)

The “search” button and the standard “find” / “spotlight” functionality may be helpful.

You are reminded that students are expected to be cognisant with University rules and regulations: this is part of the contractual agreement every student enters into with the University when they register. The same goes for any course and programme.

“tl;dr” is not a defence, nor an excuse, nor generally acceptable at the university level. This is a good and positive thing because of…


You are responsible intelligent adults. I (O’Brien) expect you to read, think, act, and communicate accordingly. You should expect me and everyone else you deal with at the University to do so too: this gives parity and mutuality to our academic work and intellectual relations and interactions.

UBC’s motto, tuum est—“it is yours”—is a reminder of what a university is and what universities have been for their long history: a unified scholarly community, with scholars of various sorts—from first-year undergraduate students to senior professors and librarians and archivists—united in the adventure of scholarship. You are as much a part of that as anyone else, with the same obligations of good scholarly citizenship. We all reap the benefits: individually and immediately, and as a larger entity over a longer time.

See further: the Golden Rule (via the Wikipedia) and the University’s policy on academic freedom:


See also:

It/we also hope to provide you with, as a bonus,

  • a love for learning
  • some enjoyment and pleasure
  • an awareness of the potential of language and literature to open up other worlds to you, and to provide an infinite resource of comfort and consolation: through “geeking out” with French words, turns of phrase, seeing how the languge is constructed … leading you to different ways of thinking about the world, seeing it from a different perspective.
  • = useful life skills, whatever life you choose to lead and wherever life takes you after this course, especially listening and understanding

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What you should expect from this course:

  • an interactive format, that may include some short lectures (= live performance explanation, commentary, and analysis leading up to asking questions so as to open up full discussion)
  • discussion, work in groups and individually, intensive writing in a workshop style
  • listening, working on comprehension
  • the adventures of knowledge and cosmopolitanism: not to understand everything, to become more comfortable about not understanding (or indeed knowing completely, mastering, or exercising control over every tiny detail), and to embrace that sense of “being confused” as a crucial part of open-minded curiosity, intellectual stimulus, and learning
  • reading, in the full sense:
    —reading, rereading, thinking while reading, making notes, rerereading, etc.
  • writing and pronunciation, every week:
    —most of this will be short; in a variety of forms; intended to be non-traumatic but intensive
  • to learn:
    —through a combination of lectures, discussion with peers, collaborative work, and your own independent initiative
  • to learn to enjoy and maybe even love learning
    —(especially via linguistic geekery)
    —for this is what “education” is
    —and a major step towards becoming, in the longer term, “educated” and a philologist and/or philosopher
  • to have—it is seriously and strongly hoped—some fun

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(In proper 18th-century social-contract style.)

You will be expected to:

  • be courteous, respectful, and tolerant of others:
    —generally behave in a decent civil adult human way
    —know and act in accordance with University and other applicable rules (ex. the law); and be familiar with principles of justice and fairness, and their application to everyday life
    —before speaking or acting, consider the consequences and think of your fellow students (and their possible reactions and sensitivities)
    —think, similarly, of other fellow human beings such as faculty, student TAs, and staff: remember that your instructor is a person too
  • bear in mind that your instructor has limits:
    —An instructor can only do for one student what they can also do for every other student in the class/course; and they cannot do something for one student that they could not also do for every other student (ex. individual tutoring). This may mean making decisions that go against a student’s individual self-interest, when acting in the interests of the greater good.
    Please note that an instructor’s office hours are NOT for individual tutoring or catching up on missed classes. For catching up with missed classes, we would recommend working with peer colleagues from your class, with the FHIS Learning Centre (free) or, if you need more time and attention, with the FHIS tutors (not free).
    —There are some times when your instructor will not be accessible and available. Instructors (and coordinators, and other faculty) are not customer-service-bots. They will be unable to read and answer emails while doing other work that requires concentration: ex. while teaching you, preparing your classes, and marking your work.
    —Instructors are humans and need to rest (evenings, nights, weekends, public holidays, midterm break, and whenever the university is closed), the better to work with you. Respecting your instructor as a human is therefore also in your own interests.
  • work and be attentive:
    —attend class in an active, attentive manner
    switch off cellphones in class, and other devices at certain times, when asked to do so in the interests of an attentive working environment for the common good (= for you, your fellow students, and your instructor).
    Reasons why: Anne Curzan, “Why I’m Asking You Not to Use Laptops.” Lingua Franca: Language and Writing in Academe. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2014-08-25).
    Exception: if you need to use a laptop, or if you are using one to help another student, for Accessibility reasons
    Individual instructors’ policies on the use of electronic devices in the classroom will vary. (O’Brien policy: you may record my class—audio only—for educational purposes, and not for sharing outside this class or for sale.)
    think and ask questions
    —be interactive:
    participate and contribute, this contributes to part of your final grade (ex. quizzes in FREN 102)
    —prepare for class:
    have the requisite texts, and if asked to do so beforehand, sometimes to have read (and sometimes also reread) them in advance
    —complete the required assignments
    —do so without cheating or other low, disreputable, underhand, unethical, or illegal means
    —do so in a timely manner:
    late work will not be accepted; except in exceptional cases—ex. COVID-19—and for students who have applied for and been granted a concession by Academic Advising: see Late work, extensions, and making up for missed work (further down).
  • communicate (and be communicable):
    —check your email (the account you have on record with UBC) frequently, and check this site regularly
    —keep your email contact information up to date with UBC IT;
    this is also one of your obligations as a UBC student, as per Student Declaration and Responsibility
    Ex. 1: Debrett’s on email etiquette and on the conventions of written correspondence.
    Remember that email is closer in form to the traditional letter than it is to the text message: be that personal, professional, academic, or in any other area of communicative interactivity.
    Ex. 2: the Emily Post Institute: Email etiquette Dos & Don’ts and Further advice on email and texting
    —communicate in a timely fashion
    with your instructor (or the coordinator, if appropriate) if you are absent, ill, suffer a mishap, and/or—especially—if this will impact on the due handing in of work or sitting of examinations
    —exercise consideration and common sense:
    bear in mind that your instructor and the coordinator will not be reading or able to respond to emails received while they are teaching; nor immediately before it starts because they will be doing pre-class preparation, walking to class, and setting up; and not while conducting quizzes, tests, and examinations.
    (otherwise your email will go into a general inbox and be read later; it may even land and malinger in spam)
  • one final responsibility: you will be expected to try very hard to have a generally positive and sunny outlook, and to be of a cheerful disposition

Your instructor promises to

  • attend their own classes
  • be courteous, respectful, and tolerant of others
    —(as above, the same rules for all of us)
    —be fair and just and humane, to all students
    —apply principles of justice and fairness:
    An instructor can only do for one student what they can also do for every other student in the class/course; and not do something for one student that they could not also do for every other student. This may mean making decisions that go against a student’s individual self-interest, when acting in the interests of the greater good.
  • be attentive:
    —be open to questions and requests for further explanations
    —be patient, non-judgmental, encouraging, kind, and sympathetic
  • work:
    —in class: to participate and be prepared
    —comment on, mark, grade, and return your work in a timely manner (usually around 1-2 weeks after that work’s submission; times may vary depending on your instructor’s other work, about which your instructor should keep you informed as necessary)
    —mark justly and fairly, in the same way for all students
    —include useful and constructive comments as needed
    —hold weekly office hours (usually one hour per course)
    —make time to go through corrected work with students, in office hours or by appointment
  • communicate with you:
    —in a timely fashion on any matters pertaining to the course:
    for example, composition topics will be emailed between one and two weeks before their due date
    —read email regularly in regular working hours:
    Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (except when incompatible with work, ex. while preparing classes, teaching, and marking)
    —respond to your emails as soon as possible; usually within a couple of days (but if you email between Friday evening and Sunday evening or on public holidays: then on Monday or the next working day), sooner depending on the urgency of the matter
  • try very hard to have a generally positive and sunny outlook, and to be of a cheerful disposition


There are “Golden Rule / good behaviour” rules that apply to all UBC employees. If you are a teaching assistant, research assistant, or other student worker, this includes you. WorkSafeBC also applies to UBC employees, and indeed to all workers in all workplaces throughout British Columbia, so it’s worth knowing about, for everyone:

UBC information on preventing bullying and harrassment
UBC Respectful Environment Statement
→ other pertinent UBC policy documents and links to WorkSafeBC resources

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zéro de conduite / vigo


A note on marking (for everyone, students and instructors alike). Marking scales should be used fully: not “relative to perfection,” nor “in comparison with a native Francophone,” nor “hazing à la française”; but also not “being nice to encourage you and because you work so hard and you’re such a decent, pleasant, intelligent human being.”

It is human nature to vary, and so some classes/sections—and indeed whole courses, from year to year—will vary, naturally, in their mean, median, mode, and range; but classes tend to produce a standard normal or binomial curve, and a mean somewhere between 67 and 78%. As in all UBC courses, grades may be adjusted/calibrated (including specific assignments: ex. if a test is too hard/easy), but there is no obligation to “curve the grades” (= grade to a bell curve with a predetermined average). (Instructors should apply common sense, and if in doubt consult the coordinator.)

For compositions / written work with an individual, subjective, creative component:

half of the points = language (“le fond”) :

  • the required length
  • the correctness of your French grammar and spelling
  • the use and variety of sentence structures and vocabulary learned in this course

half of the points = content (“la forme”) :

  • the use and variety of sentence structures and vocabulary, used experimentally, ex. complex sentences… even if it isn’t completely correct
  • organisation, structure, sense, style, content-material, creativity, and interest

A note on marking, for students who have just finished secondary/high school or who are from another faculty. In a university undergraduate Arts course—in the qualitative and questioning, critical and creative, literate humanities—work in the “A” range (80% and above) goes beyond learning objectives. These are expected, and satisfying expectation should translate to a good final grade: that is, in the “B” range. A B+ (76-79%) is a really good result.

A- and A are for excellent work, and an A+ (90% and above) is outstanding (and exceptional, and therefore rare). That “extra” going above and beyond learning objective expectations expresses the French élégance et esprit: ideas, style, wit, delight in language, feeling, creativity, interest, experimentation (even if it fails), a joy to read (laughter, tears, breath-taking). Even in a beginners’ language class, there will be opportunities for such brilliance and assignments that ask you to think, feel, imagine, and innovate. So:
Be brave! Be bold! Be beautiful!
Be witty! Be wild! Be wise!

This next part won’t necessarily be relevant for the specifics of all courses, but it may be useful for your other courses and it’s part of my general “Rules” statement. I’m leaving it in here, just in case.

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Academic Integrity

The academic enterprise is founded on honesty, civility, and integrity. As members of this enterprise, all students are expected to know, understand, and follow the codes of conduct regarding academic integrity. At the most basic level, this means submitting only original work done by you and acknowledging all sources of information or ideas and attributing them to others as required. This also means you should not cheat, copy, or mislead others about what is your work. Violations of academic integrity (i.e., misconduct) lead to the breakdown of the academic enterprise, and therefore serious consequences arise and harsh sanctions are imposed. For example, incidences of plagiarism or cheating may result in a mark of zero on the assignment or exam and more serious consequences may apply if the matter is referred to the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. Careful records are kept in order to monitor and prevent recurrences.

A more detailed description of academic integrity, including the University’s policies and procedures, may be found in the Academic Calendar.

(That is an example of quotation: visibly differentiated and distinct from what I’m writing in this parenthetical paragraph here, as that text above is someone else’s words that I’m quoting as direct speech.)

UBC Vancouver Senate, A Guide for Curriculum Submissions for UBC Vancouver. Version 12.2. Last updated 3 October 2017. “Appendix H: Course Syllabus Template and Example”: 60. Retrieved from on 2 September 2018.

(That is an example of attribution: attributing the quotation at the top of this section, giving due credit to its source, so that anyone else—like you—can go and check that it was indeed they who said what I claim that they said: remembering that curiosity, scepticism, and questioning everything are key to a university higher education, to our work as adventurers in scholarship, and to knowledge itself.)

Plagiarism is taken very seriously at UBC. It is also often difficult or unclear what exactly it is. That can, in turn, aggravate fear of committing plagiarism (including accidentally) and of its consequences. If you are ever unsure, please ask your instructor, who will be able to help.

Plagiarism robs you of what you think and what you can learn. Avoid it. Please be reminded that your education includes academic integrity. Unattributed use of someone’s else work (book, journal article, newspaper clip, online material, etc) and other demonstrated incidences of plagiarism will result in penalties ranging from an F course grade to expulsion from the university when the incident is reported to the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline.

This is a part of your formal relationship with the University. See further:

Guidance on avoiding plagiarism:

Proper citation and quotation is of course permitted, actively encouraged, and a vital part of academic work and indeed any intellectual engagement (especially in fields involving culture and literature). It is a different thing from plagiarism. It is often difficult to figure out the difference between, for example, citation and plagiarism; and learning about this is a useful part of university education. Fear of committing plagiarism can be paralysing and affect your work, limiting its (and your) creative and critical potential. Fortunately, you do not need to suffer and struggle alone: your instructor is a knowledgeable person who will be able to offer expert guidance.
If in doubt, if you’re ever not sure, please talk to your instructor before handing in your work. We are here to help.


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All late work WILL be accepted, up to the day of the final exam. Some instructors might accept late work for a few days after (this depends on their work). There is no need for you to apologise or ask your instructor for extensions or apply to Academic Advising for a formal concession: this is a humanitarian universal amnesty. I hope that it helps.

Also, assignments and their means of submission are adaptable: please do ask your instructor or the coordinator, we can figure something out that works for your individual circumstances. We can be flexible.

The perception of time, and being in time, and perhaps time itself have changed. There is, if you will, no more “late work” as there is no such thing as “late,” in this new fluid condition.

Extensions or make-up alternative versions are often possible, in certain—but not all—situations. From Arts Academic Advising: Academic Concession:

If you experience unanticipated events or circumstances that interfere with your ability to accomplish your academic coursework, you may be eligible for academic concession.

If you are already registered with the Centre for Accessibility and your concession is related to your registered medical condition or disability, contact your Accessibility Advisor.

If you need immediate emotional, mental, or physical support, find a UBC health and wellness resource to help you.

The most appropriate type of academic concession (deferred standing, in-term-concession, late withdrawal etc.) will be determined by your unique situation and the academic requirements for your course.

You may be eligible for an in-term concession if you meet the following criteria:

  • You missed a graded requirement in a course
  • The course is still in progress
  • You have been attending regularly and are up-to-date in the course
  • Your studies were impacted for a short time
  • You have grounds for academic concession




Attendance in FREN 101 and 102 is required. Missing classes is penalised. This is in your syllabus. Sometimes you may need to miss a class, though. For FREN 101 and 102, here is what you should do next:

  • Missing one class hour without notification:
    • no questions asked
    • no penalties



First, CHECK if you are eligible for a concession: if one or more of the conditions listed below unexpectedly hinders your ability to complete an assignment or participate in classes or an examination:

These grounds for concession are quite detailed and include a range of examples of unanticipated events and circumstances. They are part of UBC’s policy (September 2019) on Academic Concession. Further reading: UBC exam policies and accommodations, UBC policy on academic concession, and Arts Academic Advising: Academic Concession


  • Some kinds of work of an interactive live kind (= most of our course’s regular work, in-class activities) cannot be redone if they have been missed.
  • Please note that an instructor’s office hours are NOT for individual tutoring or catching up on missed classes. For catching up with missed classes, we would recommend working with peer colleagues from your class, with the FHIS Learning Centre (free) or, if you need more time and attention, with the FHIS tutors (not free).


  • The scheduling of new due dates is subject to fitting with the student’s, their instructor’s, and the coordinator’s work.
    • Work outside class (project, savoir-vivre portfolio): an extension and a new due date are usually possible, AFTER you have successfully applied for and been granted academic concession.
    • On tests and exams: as it will be a different one from the one sat by the rest of the class, the coordinator requires academic concession to have been approved AND, after that’s been communicated, a working week to produce an alternative version.
  • Students may not do extra work for extra credit; nor may the percentage of marks allotted to any portion of the course be changed. (So, for example, you cannot miss all the tests and ask to move the test-mark-portion of the final grade to the final exam.)

You can apply for academic concession if one or more of the conditions listed below unexpectedly hinders your ability to complete an assignment or participate in classes or an examination:

These grounds for concession are quite detailed and include a range of examples of unanticipated events and circumstances. They are part of UBC’s policy (September 2019) on Academic Concession. Further reading: UBC exam policies and accommodations, UBC policy on academic concession, and Arts Academic Advising: Academic Concession.

Otherwise, if an academic concession has not been granted:

  • No make-up tests or exams. A missed test or exam will result in a zero grade for it.
  • Late work (group project, individual savoir-vivre portfolio) will receive a zero grade. 

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les quatre cents coups / truffaut

These rights, rules, and responsibilities are in addition to, not instead of, all policies and guidelines as supplied by the University, Faculty of Arts, and Department of FHIS. Some rules may change along the way; this should always be for good reason and be done in a reasonable way.

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Congratulations: you made it to the end of over 4,000 words’ worth of pernicketiness.

It could all have been simpler… yet so very much worse…
imageSource: Ask the Past

There is one very last thing, last but not least, the one rule that rules them all and in the darkness binds them. Remember that your instructor(s) love you. We love everything and everyone that’s part of the great scholarly adventure that is university, and that includes teaching and includes you. We are here because we are curious and constantly marvelling; we find students wonderful and we care about you, about your intellectual development and about you as fellow human beings.
Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 6.41.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-28 at 6.43.02 PM
Jane E. Dmochowski, “10 Things This Instructor Loves” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2015-08-19): click here to read on, including full details of these “10 Things” …