Undergraduate Studies Committee Policy
Purpose of Policy
The purpose of the Undergraduate Studies Committee policy is to formalize the guidelines under which this Committee evaluates and considers submissions for the development of undergraduate initiatives and curriculum.
Responsibility: Provost & Vice President Academic
Approval Dates: Senate – May 2013 (USC – March 2013; UAPC – April 2013)
Senate – May 2003 (USC – November 2002)
Senate – September 1994 (ADC – March 1994; Faculty Board – April 1994; Senate – May 1994)
(Updates to definitions – October 2017, January 2021)
Undergraduate Studies Committee Policy (download PDF)
Scope of This Policy
The Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC), under the direction of the Provost & Vice President Academic, is a standing committee of Senate that reports directly to Senate. It is the responsibility of USC to make recommendations to Senate on undergraduate curriculum-related issues and to make recommendations to the Academic Planning & Policy Committee (AP&P) on proposals for new academic initiatives.
All changes to existing undergraduate curriculum, including new courses, modifications to existing courses, and revisions to degree or diploma requirements or regulations, require USC approval. Subsequently, USC reports to Senate on curriculum items that either require approval of Senate or are presented for information purposes.
In considering curriculum proposals, USC references and adheres to the following policies:
- Course Syllabus Policy
- Course Numbering Policy
- University Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UUDLEs)
- Institutional Program Quality Assurance Policy
The Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC) acts under the authority of Senate and is responsible for the review and approval of undergraduate academic curriculum, including modifications to existing programs, and makes recommendations to the Academic Planning & Policy Committee (AP&P) on the degree requirements and curriculum of proposed new academic programs.
In evaluating curriculum proposals USC takes into consideration:
- That Trent University is committed to offering a range and sequence of undergraduate courses and programs in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, professional and interdisciplinary fields to ensure a liberal education rooted in a strong institutional commitment to undergraduate teaching
- The academic standards of university-level courses and regulations
- Department requirements and the planning of undergraduate degrees
- Expected learning outcomes and how they are supported by program structure and curriculum
Major Modifications are modifications that significantly alter a program’s requirements, intended learning outcomes, or human or other resources associated with the program, with respect to those in place at the time the program was originally approved or as changed following the last cyclical review. Major modifications are substantial, usually creating significant new choice or experience for students, but are not so considerable as to constitute a new program. Major modifications to programs are reported to AP&P and subsequently to the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance (Quality Council).
Minor Modifications are modifications to a program that are less substantial than major modifications, notably curricular changes such as the introduction and deletion of courses, minor changes to degree requirements, etc. Minor modifications are not reported to the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance.
A Specialization consists of a prescribed set of at least 4.0 credits providing a particular focus within a student’s major. To earn a Specialization, students must complete the requirements of both the Specialization and the major. A Specialization may only be completed as part of an Honours or General degree.
An Option consists of a prescribed set of at least 4.0 credits with a particular thematic focus outside a student’s major. To earn an Option, students must complete the requirements of both the Option and their major. An Option may only be completed as part of an Honours or General degree.
An Emphasis consists of a group of courses with a particular focus and is available as a complement to regular degree programs. The current use of the term “Emphasis” has been discontinued. All Emphasis programs are to be deleted or converted to Options by June 2019.
A Minor is equivalent to a joint-major General degree (at least 5.0 credits) for students earning Honours degrees. A Minor is not normally offered in a subject area in which a major does not exist. Students who have fulfilled the requirements for a single-major or joint-major Honours degree may graduate with a Minor in a different subject.
An Undergraduate Certificate is a prescribed set of a minimum of two and a half (2.5) full credit equivalents to a maximum of four and a half (4.5) full credit equivalents. This credential will be organized around clear learning objectives. Certificates may be used to “bridge” into undergraduate degree programs, may be used for professional upgrading, or may be complementary to degree studies. Specific admission requirements may apply. Some certificates may not be available to students enrolled in or graduates of programs with substantial overlap in subject matter.
A Postgraduate Certificate is a prescribed set of a minimum of four (4.0) full credit equivalents to a maximum of nine (9.0) full credit equivalents. This credential is available to students who hold an undergraduate degree from any accredited university*. Some certificates may not be available to graduates of programs with substantial overlap in subject matter. Transfer credit to a maximum of 1.0 assigned credit may be awarded towards a postgraduate certificate. The courses for transfer credit may be from Trent or another accredited university. Minimum grades may be required to receive transfer credit.
*A postgraduate certificate may also be open to graduates of specific college programs as approved by the appropriate department/program. In these cases, available transfer credit and minimum entrance grades will vary.
Course Regularization is the process by which a new course is permanently added to the curriculum offerings of a department or program. Trial courses must be regularized if they are to be offered after a period of two academic years.
A Trial Course is not deemed to be a permanent addition to the department’s curriculum offerings. A Trial course may be offered at the 2000-, 3000- and 4000-levels, and should be given a course number in accordance with the Course Numbering Policy. A Trial course may be offered for a period of up to two academic years, after which time the course must be regularized to be offered again.
A Special Topic Course is offered to take advantage of a unique opportunity to cover material not dealt with in-depth in any of the department’s regularly-listed offerings. A Special Topic course may be offered for a period of up to two academic years and is not normally regularized.
Course Reserve List. Departments should place courses that have not been offered for two years or longer on the reserve list. Only courses that have been regularized and approved by Senate may be placed on the reserve list. Courses may be reactivated within five years from their placement on the reserve list by written notification to USC. After five years have elapsed, reserve list courses are permanently deleted from the curriculum. To be reintroduced, such courses must go through the regularization process.
Information Items require USC approval and are forwarded to Senate for information purposes.
Approval Items require USC and Senate approval.
Department is used to reference undergraduate departments, schools, undergraduate programs, and professional programs.
- Develops and approves curriculum at the departmental level; normally through a Department Curriculum Committee and/or Department Committee review/approval process
- Confirms that all curriculum proposals are fully supported by the department to which they belong through submission by department Chair to USC
- Ensures that all relevant information, including decanal, cognate department and/or library consultation, if applicable, is included with proposals
- May resubmit a proposal with revised or additional supporting documentation if dissatisfied with a decision of USC
Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC)
- Provides guidance to faculty and staff regarding the review and approval processes for introducing or revising curriculum
- Ensures proposed courses and programs are designed appropriately for university-level education
- Considers academic and resource factors as provided in submissions
- Advises and provides recommendations to Senate on curriculum changes
- Reports minor, non-substantive changes to Senate for information
- Recommends major, substantive changes to Senate for approval
- Advises and provides recommendations to AP&P on proposals for new academic initiatives
- Completes an annual report on major modifications to undergraduate programs for submission to the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance
- Approves departmental resources and staffing for new course offerings
- Approves and evaluates the impact of major modifications to programs
- Ensures approval procedures are established at the USC level in order to facilitate informed decisions
- Has final authority for the approval of undergraduate curriculum
- For some major modifications, expedited approval by the Quality Council may be required following Senate approval
General Application Procedures
For each USC submission there is an applicable USC form which outlines the information required for approval. Forms should be completed and submitted by email from the chair to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may be directed to Anna Lightfoot, Office of the Provost & VP Academic.
Steps in the Approval Process
- Curriculum proposal (program revisions, new courses, changes to courses)
- Consultation with other departments, dean and/or Library
- Approval of department’s curriculum committee
- Chair submits proposal to USC
- Approved by USC
Or, if proposal is not approved: USC provides feedback and advice; proposal may be revised and resubmitted for further consideration
- Item for Senate approval: Recommended to Senate for approval
Item for Senate information: Reported to Senate for information purposes
- Item for Senate approval approved by Senate
Implementation and Timing of Submissions
- The length of the approval process will vary depending on the individual proposal and the level of approval required
- Information items require approval by USC, but may be implemented prior to being reported to Senate
- Approval items require approval of both USC and Senate prior to implementation
- Major Modifications may require further approval before complete and full implementation is permitted
This process should demonstrate and include statements of consultation and may include the following:
- Identification of similar programs, courses, degree programs, options, specializations, or other offering at the University which may be affected or interested
- Specification of the nature and extent of the consultation and what, if any, cooperative arrangements have been explored and agreed upon with respect to staffing, appointments, course offerings, physical space
- Communication with other departments regarding overlap of content and/or possible cross-listing for new courses
- Decanal approval of courses for regularization
- Confirmation from a Liaison Librarian that library resources are sufficient to support a new course.
- Course Numbering – New course offerings require USC approval of a course number – see Course Numbering policy.
- Science Designation – If the department offers both a BA and a BSc and is designated as a discipline in the sciences, the course may be designated as a science credit. Submission should include the ‘Sc’ designation for science credits.
The following table identifies possible curriculum submissions, indicates whether they are for Senate information or approval, and which form to complete for submission. Required criteria are outlined on the application form.
Modifications to Program
For Senate Approval
(at the discretion of USC, minor modifications falling under this category may be considered For Senate Information)
Form: Modifications to Program
New Special Program
For Senate Approval
Form: New Special Program
For Senate Approval
Form: Course Regularization
For Senate Approval
Form: Course Split
For Senate Approval
|Form: Course Compression
Consultation with other departments may be required
New Trial or Special Topic Course
For Senate Information
New Trial Course
New Special Topic Course
Form: Trial or Special Topic Course
Minor Change to Existing Course
For Senate Information
Form: Minor Change to Existing Course