THE RULES (2015 version)

It’s that time of year again.

Main version: @ FREN 101.

Open to any and all colleagues for academic use; with apologies to philosophical and political-theorist colleagues for gross oversimplifications and for clomping all over their delicate and beautiful fields in this present practical application.

One happy day I’ll be able to skip all this verbiage and just do this:



In the meantime, back in the harsh light of reality… 


LAST UPDATED: November 2015

la règle du jeu / renoir

THE RULES is a supplement to your syllabus, providing further details and resources. It should be read and used in conjunction with your syllabus and as an extension to it.


I. Aims and objectives
II. Expectations
III. Responsibilities
IV. Grading criteria
V. Plagiarism
VI. Late work
VII. Extensions and making up for missed work
VIII. Tests and examinations
IX. 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.

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 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–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).


See also: specifics for this course, in the syllabus.

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

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What you should expect from this course:

  • an interactive format, that will 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
  • reading, in the full sense:
    —reading, rereading, thinking while reading, making notes, rerereading, etc.
  • writing, 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, 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:

  • attend class:
    regular attendance is expected of all students
    —unexcused absences and late arrivals will drastically affect your final grade
    —attendance is one of your obligations as a UBC student: UBC Policies and Regulations > Attendance
  • be courteous, respectful, and tolerant of others:
    —generally behave in a decent civil adult human way
    —know and act in accordance with University, Faculty, and other applicable rules; 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 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.
    —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), 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 electronic devices in class 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 > Blogs > Lingua Franca, 2014-08-25).
    Individual instructors’ policies on the use of electronic devices in the classroom will vary.
    think and ask questions
    —be interactive:
    participate and contribute, this contributes to part of your final grade (ex. FREN 101, some quizzes)
    —prepare for class:
    have the requisite texts, and have read (and in most cases 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 be penalized, and will not be accepted at all once it is a week late; individual instructors’ policies may be stricter still. Late work covered by medical or other acceptable official certification is another matter and discussed further in VII. Extensions and making up for missed work (further down).
  • communicate (and be communicable):
    —check your email 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
    example 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.
    example 2: the Emily Post Institute:
    Email etiquette Dos & Don’ts
    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 usual 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 within 24 hours (48 hours if you email between Friday evening and Sunday evening), 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
  • These are the course co-ordinator’s email policies: in multi-section courses such as FREN 101 & 102, email policies may vary from instructor to instructor. Please check with your instructor.


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


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

10 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

10 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:
    → stick your neck out: be brave! be bold! be beautiful!
  • organization, structure, sense, style, content-material, creativity, and interest:
    → let your hair down: 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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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:

Proper citation is of course permitted, actively encouraged, and a vital part of academic work and indeed any intellectual engagement. It is a different beast from plagiarism. Do consult University policies further on this point; if in doubt, contact your professor and discuss with them directly. Here is O’Brien’s full definition, for practical purposes, of what is not plagiarism.

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Late work WILL BE penalized. Work will not be accepted at all once it is a week late.

Policies on late work will vary from instructor to instructor. Please consult your instructor to check what their policy is. It may vary from the very liberal (= work accepted up to a week late) to the strict (=no late work accepted at all).

Here are O’Brien’s policies for homework compositions (and essays, papers, projects, and other longer independent work), midway between the extremes:

  • 20% will be deducted from your mark for that item of work per day (or part thereof) of lateness
  • no late work will be accepted, corrected, and marked once three days (72 hours) have passed after the deadline
  • so:
    -20% if work is submitted up to 1 day (24 hours) after the deadline has passed:
    so if for example the original mark for a piece of work were to be 80%, the penalized mark would be 60%
    -40% if it is submitted up to 2 days late
    -60% if it is submitted up to 3 days late
    -100% if it is submitted 3 days or more than 3 days late:
    so the penalized mark for any work submitted 3 days after the deadline would be an automatic 0%.
  • ex. if work is due on a Monday at 6 p.m., no work will be accepted after Thursday at 6 p.m.
  • ex. if work is due on a Friday at 6 p.m., no work will be accepted after Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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  • students may not do extra work for extra credit; nor may the percentage of marks allotted to any portion of the course be changed
  • some kinds of work of an interactive live kind cannot be redone if they have been missed (quizzes, labs); they may be replaced by an equivalent substitute assignment, to be discussed with the coordinator
  • extensions and alternate / make-up versions (ex. tests, on which see section VIII below) are subject to negotiation; they are not guaranteed or to be taken for granted; their scheduling is also subject to negotiation, to fit with both the student’s and the coordinator’s work
  • extensions are ONLY possible if asked for and approved in advance, in writing (email the course coordinator), and with supporting documentation (following University guidelines on what counts). The course coordinator usually liaises with Arts Academic Advising (or other Academic Advising office, if you are in a different Faculty); you will also need to see Academic Advising youself: this is a good thing because it saves you the time and trouble of seeing every prof for every course…
  • extensions must be discussed in advance, when possible: except for exceptional circumstances such as accidents, of course!

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les quatre cents coups / truffaut


On tests  (if applicable, ex. this is the case for FREN 101 & 102), midterm (if applicable), and final examinations:

  • in certain circumstances (medically-certified illness, etc.) a make-up version can be arranged: this will be a different test or exam from the one sat by the rest of the class
  • ONLY by arrangement and in consultation with your instructor
  • AND/OR in consultation with other third parties, in other circumstances, as appropriate: ex. performances, sports competitions, job interviews, etc.
  • and ONLY with supporting documentation that you have taken to Academic Advising, and once your instructor has received confirmation from Academic Advising that you had good reason for your absence; ditto for other third parties, in other circumstances, as appropriate

What counts as an acceptable reason for missing and rescheduling a test, midterm, or final exam?

  • accident or illness (see Academic Advising)
  • a continuing medical condition (see Access & Diversity)
  • a conflict with religious observance
  • university business: representing UBC in an artistic performance or a sporting or games competition, debate, Model United Nations, etc.; training, community service, a placement, or a practicum that is an integral part of a UBC course
  • personal calamity, bereavement, urgently taking care of a family member, and other human emergencies
  • some other situations may also count: don’t hesitate to contact the coordinator, if in doubt just ask!

Supporting documentation: what counts?

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 nearly 3,000 words’ worth of pernicketiness. 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” …

The other regular seasonal update.

The other regular seasonal update.

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