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FAQs - Courses

Units are a measurement system used to indicate the weight of a course. Most courses are worth 3 units (0.5 full-course equivalent). Most programs require 120 units for completion, and this works out to 20 full-course equivalents. A four-year program is based on taking 30 units (5 full-course equivalents) per year. Typically, students can choose to take fewer courses per year, and extend the length of time it takes to complete their program. Please contact a program advisor for more information.

A half-course equivalent normally runs over one semester (e.g., Fall or Winter), and is worth 3 units. These are sometimes also referred to as half-courses. Most of the courses you take in your degree will be half-course equivalents, and will be designated as (H) in the timetable and calendar descriptions. A degree program will typically be composed of 40 half-course equivalents.

A full-course equivalent normally runs over two semesters (e.g., Fall and Winter). These are sometimes referred to as full courses.  Full-course equivalents are designated (F) in the timetable and calendar description, and are worth 6 units.  A degree program will typically be composed of 20 full-course equivalents.

It is very important to check the timetable to confirm how many units your course is weighted.

At the University of Calgary, first year classes are numbered in the 200s and are labelled junior courses. Students in the Faculty of Science are allowed a total of 48 units (8 full-course equivalents) of junior credit in their degree programs. Students in combined degree programs are permitted 54 units (9 full-course equivalents) of junior-level courses.

Students may take a maximum of 18 units (3 full-course equivalents) per term in the Fall/Winter and 12 units (2 full-course equivalents) per term in the Spring/Summer. However, we usually recommend that students do not take more than 15 units per semester in the Fall/Winter terms, and not more than 6 units in the Spring/Summer terms. For many first-year students, it may make sense to start out with 9-12 units per semester in the Fall/Winter terms as you adjust to the university course structure and time commitment.

Students may elect to take up to 18 units (3 full-course equivalents) in a term, but should note that a sixth course can significantly increase term workload and may adversely affect a student’s overall academic performance.

Yes. A maximum of 60 units (10 full-course equivalents) taken at other institutions may be accepted for transfer credit towards a 120-unit degree at the University of Calgary. You must apply for a Letter of Permission in order to do so. See more information about how to apply for a Letter of Permission below.

In essence, an option can be just about any course that piques your interest. As long as the course is not restricted and you meet all prerequisites, you are welcome to take it as an option. Option courses can be used in many different ways; they can be used towards a minor, or as a great way to explore different academic and personal interests.

If you are looking for junior (200 level) options, you can refer to this list of option courses. For senior level options, you can build off of 200 level prerequisite introductory courses, or look at this list of senior level courses (300 and up) that do not have prerequisites. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and course offerings and requirements are subject to change. You can also speak to your science program advisor for further guidance.

You may also wish to use the Schedule Builder to help you select an option course that fits well into your schedule with your required courses.

If you are a new student you may want to use the services of the New Student Registration Program, which are available during the May-August registration period. In this program, student peers help new students register in classes. There is also a detailed Course Registration Guide for step-by-step instructions and FAQs. While our Science Program Advisors can assist with many registration issues, they cannot assist with the registration process itself.

There could be many reasons you are unable to register in a course. Visit this page to review common error issues.

No. A grade of “D” or “D+” is not a sufficient prerequisite for courses in the Faculty of Science. A course must be completed with a grade of “C-“or better in order to serve as a prerequisite for further courses unless otherwise specified in the University Calendar.

Students are not usually permitted to register in a course for which they lack a prerequisite. If there is an exceptional reason to take a course without a pre-requisite, please consult with a Program Coordinator, Student Advisor to initially determine if this is feasible.

Yes. Most programs have option course requirements that allow you to take courses that interest you. Often, taking courses outside of your home faculty is required to give you a breadth of skills and knowledge throughout your degree program. Please note: you may not take more than 36 units (6 full-course equivalents) of a field that is outside of your major field.

Typically, registration is closed and students are not permitted to register when a course is full. As students change their registration, you may find that space opens up in the course, and you will then be able to register. If you are unable to get into the course, you may need to take it in a later semester. This may impact your progression through your program and you should consult with a program advisor to discuss the impact. 

Yes. A four-year degree is based on students completing 30 units (5 full-courses) per year (15 units per semester). If you did 4 courses per semester instead of 5 each semester, it would likely take you longer to complete your degree program. Full-time status at the University of Calgary for undergraduate students is 9 units (1.5 full-course equivalents) per semester (Fall and Winter). In the Faculty of Science, you are not required to maintain full-time status.  

When building your schedule, you can use the Schedule Builder tool in your Student Services Centre to easily see your weekly schedule and in-class time commitments.

If you’re struggling in a course, you have many options and many services available to support you. The Student Success Centre offers various learning supports such as tutoring services, success seminars, and advisement by Academic Development Specialists ( You could also speak to your professor or teaching assistant to discuss the course material.

If you are worried you may fail a  course, you might consider dropping or withdrawing from the course (please see the question below for the difference between dropping and withdrawing from a course).  If you have questions about the impact of dropping or withdrawing from a course, you may wish to speak to an advisor.

Yes. Some University of Calgary courses are offered online. You can find these courses through the Class Search function in PeopleSoft using the Additional Search Criteria and selecting Web-Based Instruction under Mode of Instruction.

You must upgrade your high school math grade in order to meet the prerequisite requirements for the course you’re attempting to register in. The University of Calgary offers high school upgrading through our Continuing Education department. You may complete upgrading at any accredited institution (such as Chinook Learning Centre, Alberta Distance Learning Centre, etc.). Once you register in upgrading courses, you may want to send a confirmation of this registration to the Undergraduate Science Centre so we can put permission on your file to register in a subsequent semester for the university math course for which you are lacking the prerequisite.

Students also have the option of completing the Math Diagnostic Test to be used in lieu of the prerequisite course (70% or higher in Math 30-1 or Pure Math 30) for first year math courses.

Yes. Most science courses are not restricted to Faculty of Science students. In fact, your program may require you to take courses outside of your home faculty as part of a breadth requirement. As long as you meet the prerequisite requirements, and the course is not restricted, you are welcome to take any Faculty of Science course. You may want to speak to your home faculty to ensure this program will fit within your program and that you are meeting any registration requirements required of you.

Students wishing to take courses at other institutions must fill out a Request for a Letter of Permission form which can be submitted through the online Student Centre (under the “Academic” section). Letters of Permission will generally not be granted for students who are on probation, or for first-year students in their first term of study. It is important to note that attending another institution without a letter of permission is grounds for dismissal from the University of Calgary. It is also important to check with your faculty that the course will transfer as you intend. After a Letter of Permission has been approved, you may register in the course(s). Once you have completed the course, you must arrange for official transcripts to be sent to Enrolment Services at the University of Calgary so your transfer credit may be processed. When requesting a Letter of Permission online, you may indicate that you would like the transcripts to be sent electronically when you’ve completed the course (this is only available from institutions in Alberta). Faxed transcripts will not be accepted.

There is a $25.00 fee for processing a Letter of Permission request. If a student is only able to pay in cash, they may fill out a paper form at Enrolment Services.

It can take a long time for your final grades to be processed and your transcripts to be sent, so it is in your best interest to be aware of the other institution’s processing times.

Essentially, dropping a course does not show up on a student’s transcript, but withdrawing from a course will appear. Course drops made before the deadline do not show up on the student's record or fee assessment. After the deadline, students may withdraw from courses but a “W” will show up on their transcript and no refund will be given for the course. Both functions can normally be done through the online Student Centre.

Students may change their registration (i.e. add, drop, swap, or edit) any time before the term’s change of registration deadline (normally within the first two weeks of classes for Fall/Winter). Check the Calendar and/or timetable for the exact dates (Important Dates), particularly for Spring/Summer and Block Week courses.

Please note that students require consent to withdraw from the same course for a second time. Students must obtain approval from a program advisor. If approval is granted, the advisor will enter consent on the system, and the student can withdraw from the course via their Student Services Centre.