Appeals Procedures

Appeals Relating to Courses:

Should a student feel that he or she must appeal an evaluation from an instructor, the following procedures will be followed:

  1. If a student is dissatisfied with judgments rendered by the instructor, the student should try to resolve the differences with the instructor. The student must consult with the instructor in this way before he or she launches a formal appeal.
  2. If, after such discussions, the student is still not satisfied, he or she can appeal part or all of the course.
  3. The student can inform the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies at any time during the course, or up to six weeks after the final marks are submitted, that he or she intends to appeal one or more assignments, but normally the Committee will wait until the course is over and the instructor has submitted all marks before acting on the appeal, and it will consider the appeal in the context of the entire course.
  4. Once the Chair begins to act on the appeal, the instructor will be notified that the appeal is in process. The Committee on Graduate Studies will consult with both the student and the instructor before it reaches a decision. The student will be informed of the decision in writing within six weeks of receipt of the written appeal and complete documentation.
  5. The Chair can, at the student's request, act on the appeal before the end of the course, but the student should understand that normally the instructor will be notified at that time of the appeal.
  6. The proceedings of the appeal hearing are confidential.
  7. Specific circumstances pertaining to individual courses may make it necessary for these procedures to be modified at the discretion of the Committee on Graduate Studies or its Chair.

Appeals Relating to Qualifying Examinations:

Preamble: As indicated in Section 11 of the SGPS Graduate Regulations, all students have the right to appeal an academic ruling in their program, so long as the appeal is directed toward a procedural matter and not on an academic outcome. The examiners’ adjudication of the student’s intellectual performance is not open to appeal, unless that adjudication can be directly traced to bias or unfairness.  Students wishing to appeal the assessment of a qualifying exam, whether written or oral, should first remind themselves of the objectives, standards, and regulations regarding qualifying exams, as posted on the department’s website (Section X, “The Qualifying Exams,” A student considering or launching an appeal may bring a representative from GES, the GTA Union, or SOGS to any meeting convened in the process outlined below.

As per SGPS Appeals Procedures, an appeal must be filed within four weeks of the issuance of the mark or ruling.  In the event that the second sitting of an exam is being appealed, material from the first sitting of that exam cannot be considered.

  1. Prior to launching an appeal on the adjudication of a qualifying exam, the student shall meet with the chair of the examining committee for a review of the student’s performance in the exam, be it written or oral.  Should the student be unsatisfied with the review provided, s/he should then discuss the matter with the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate).
  2. Should the student remain unconvinced that proper procedures were followed during the examination or in the determination of its grade, s/he may then launch an appeal of the decision.  That appeal must be based on one or more of the following grounds:
    • medical or compassionate circumstances arising during the examination;
    • extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control arising during the examination;
    • bias by one or more examiners against the student;
    • inaccuracy of one or more examiners in regard to the student’s reading list;
    • discrepancy from the procedures as outlined in the regulations.
  3. Within four weeks of the examination in question, the student shall write a letter to the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate) outlining the terms of the complaint and the restitution being sought (such as a raising of the grade or the nullifying of the exam results).  In the event that the Chair of Graduate Studies is named in the appeal letter, the matter will be referred to the Department Chair or, if the Chair has been named as well, to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.  Under no circumstances shall the original decision maker(s) whose decision or ruling is under appeal hear an appeal of that decision or ruling at the program level.
  4. Upon receiving the letter of appeal, the Chair (or designate) shall interview each of the examiners and/or the chair of the oral regarding the claims made in the letter about improper procedures in the conduct of the examination. The interviews will be conducted separately, and in confidence.
  5. At the earliest convenience, the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate) shall convene a meeting of the Committee on Graduate Studies to consider the soundness of the appeal and its proposed restitution.  Any member who has been named in the appeal will be recused from this meeting. Upon hearing this evidence and rendering a decision, the Committee shall task the Chair with writing an explanatory letter to the Appealer, explaining this decision.  Normally, this letter should be written within two weeks of the receipt of the appeal.

Specific circumstances pertaining to individual exams may make it necessary for these procedures to be modified at the discretion of the Committee on Graduate Studies or its Chair.