Official Policies

Find information about Ethical Conduct, Psychology Department Grading Policy, and Faculty of Arts Grading Guidelines here.

Ethical Conduct

The consequences for unethical conduct are more severe than you may think: you may fail the assignment or test, you may fail the course, you may be expelled from University, and unable to attend any other post-secondary institution in the future. Think about the long-term implications of that outcome in your life. If you ever have any questions about what sources to use or how to cite them, please see your Instructor or Teaching Fellow before handing in your assignment.

Psychology Department’s Official Statement on Academic Misconduct

Cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic misconduct are very serious concerns of the University, and the Department of Psychology has taken steps to alleviate them. In the first place, the Department has implemented software that can reliably detect cheating on multiple-choice exams by analyzing the patterns of students’ responses. In addition, the Department subscribes to TurnItIn — a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism. All materials (term papers, lab reports, etc.) that students submit for grading will be compared to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s own proprietary databases. The results of these comparisons are compiled into customized “Originality Reports” containing several, sensitive measures of originality that flag instances of plagiarism; instructors receive copies of these reports for every student in their classes.

During exams, the instructor and invigilators reserve the right to move students in their seating arrangement with no explanation provided.

In all cases of suspected academic misconduct, the parties involved will be pursued to the fullest extent dictated by the guidelines of the University.  Strong evidence of cheating or plagiarism may result in a zero credit for the work in question.  According to the University Act (section 61), the President of UBC has the right to impose harsher penalties including (but not limited to) a failing grade for the course, suspension from the University, cancellation of scholarships, or a notation added to a student’s transcript. For details on pertinent University policies and procedures, please see Chapter 5 in the UBC Calendar (

Why is Academic Misconduct Treated So Harshly?

Some people don’t feel like cheating on a test or taking a sentence or two from someone else’s paper without citing it is a big deal. Here’s a bit of insight into why we care so much. In the academic community—a community of which you are now a part—we deal in ideas. That’s our currency, our way of advancing knowledge. By representing others’ ideas in an honest way, we are (1) respecting the rules of this academic community, and (2) showcasing how our own novel ideas are distinct from but relate to their ideas. APA style gives us a formal way to indicate where our ideas end and where others’ begin. Welcome to the academic community. You are expected to act honestly and ethically, just like the rest of us.

Participating in the Academic Community Ethically

What can you do to ensure you are acting ethically? First, recognize that all graded work in this course, unless otherwise specified, is to be original work done independently by individuals. Groupwork is to be original work created collaboratively by the group.

VISIT LEARNING COMMONS’ GUIDE TO ACADEMIC INTEGRITY   UBC offers an online guide to preventing unintentional plagiarism and organizing your writing. Visit

USE THE LIBRARY’S RESOURCES, including any of the indexes and databases listed under Indexes and Databases, Subject Resources, OneSearch or Metasearch on the Library’s website at  (Not sure which index to use?  Click HELP on the library homepage at or try Subject Resources.) When instructed to do so, you may use search engines (e.g., Google, Bing) or GoogleScholar to find articles for assignments in this course.

BE CAREFUL AND CRITICAL OF WHAT YOU READ AND CHOOSE TO CITE. Reference all material using APA style; if you cannot find a proper reference, question whether that source is appropriate to use. Do not copy and paste text from other sources, even in a draft, as you might unintentionally misrepresent those words as your own in a later draft (which would still qualify as plagiarism).

Psychology Department Grading Policies

To meet department policy, the typical student demonstrating adequate performance on learning appraisals will earn around 66-70% in this course. Read on for details provided by the department.

In order to reduce grade inflation and maintain equity across multiple course sections, all psychology courses are required to comply with departmental norms regarding grade distributions.  According to departmental norms, the mean grade in a 300-level class is 70 for a good class, 68 for an average class, and 66 for a weak class, with a standard deviation of 13).  The corresponding figures for 100- and 200-level Psychology courses are 67, 65, and 63, with a standard deviation of 14. Scaling may be used in order to comply with these norms; grades may be scaled up or down as necessary by the professor or department. Grades are not official until they appear on a student’s academic record. You will receive both a percent and a letter grade for this course. At UBC, they convert according to the following key:

A+          90-100%               C+           64-67%

A             85-89%                 C             60-63%

A-           80-84%                 C-            55-59%

B+           76-79%                 D             50-54%

B             72-75%                 F              0-49%

B-            68-71%

Faculty of Arts Guidelines for Grading Criteria

You are earning a degree at a highly reputable post-secondary institution. Therefore, criteria for success are high. The Faculty of Arts offers the following guidelines (also available on this website) that broadly characterize the kind of work that is generally associated with the main grade ranges. These characteristics help to put the Psychology Department Grading Policies into context. Note that adequate performance is in the C range, which is the typical class average.

A RANGE: EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE.   Strong evidence of original thinking; good organization in written work; capacity to analyze (i.e., break ideas down) and to synthesize (i.e., bring different ideas together in a coherent way); superior grasp of subject matter with sound critical evaluations; evidence of extensive knowledge base.

B RANGE: COMPETENT PERFORMANCE.   Evidence of grasp of subject matter; some evidence of critical capacity and analytic ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with the literature.

D-C RANGE: ADEQUATE PERFORMANCE.   Understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems in the material; acceptable but uninspired work; not seriously faulty but lacking style and vigour.

F RANGE: INADEQUATE PERFORMANCE.   Little or no evidence of understanding of the subject matter; weakness in critical and analytical skills; limited or irrelevant use of the literature.

Consider these characteristics when making choices about the quality of work you submit in all learning appraisals, in this and any other course.