2 McMaster’s Course Policies

The Course Outline

The course outline is a guide for you and your students regarding the teaching and learning activities that will happen during the term. A thorough course outline can reduce confusion amongst students and give you a touchstone for conversations about late assignments, grading, and other issues that might arise with your students. Some Faculties have their own requirements for course outlines. We recommend checking with the program chair or other members of the teaching team to see if there are pre-existing templates or samples upon which you could base the outline for your course.


As per the Undergraduate Course Management Policies found on the University Secretariat website, it is required that the every course outline include predefined statements on the following:

Academic Integrity

Academic Accommodations of Students with Disabilities

Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work (see MSAF)

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous or Spiritual Observances (see RISO)

Online Elements

Extreme Circumstances


All these statements can be found in the course management policies document. While you are required to use the statements as they are written, we encourage you to also add your own statements that reflect your philosophy and practice of teaching related to accessibility and accommodations, missed work and other relevant course policies.


This policy also outlines requirements for due dates, including restrictions on when assignments are due and tests are scheduled, and when feedback must be provided in the semester. Likewise, it notes maximum allowable values for course assessments and how to communicate grades to students.

Accessibility and Accommodation

The Academic Accommodations of Students with Disabilities policy outlines the roles and responsibilities for instructors and students regarding requests for academic accommodations in courses at McMaster. At the start of term, you will be required to login to review accommodation letters outlining the requirements to make assessments accessible to students in your course registered through Student Accessibility Services (SAS). At any point in the term, additional students may register and upload new letters, so it is important to check the site regularly for any new or updated letters. Any questions you may have about accommodation requests can be directed to the SAS staff members named in the accommodation letter. You can find more information about resources for teaching accessibly in the section Accessibility and Accommodations below. To learn more about topics in equity, the Equity and Inclusion Office offers training on many topics that all McMaster employees are eligible to take.


McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

The McMaster Student Absence Form or MSAF is a self-reporting tool that students can use if they experience a medical or personal circumstance that require them to be absent from classes or causes them to miss scheduled due dates or test times for which the weighting towards the final grade is less than 25%. It does not require students to produce documentation unless the assessment is worth more than 25%, in which case, they must visit the Faculty office for discussion of accommodations.


In each of your teaching experiences, it is important to consider how you will be able to accommodate students who have utilized the MSAF for any assessment valued at less than 25%. You may want to offer an extension for a due date, an alternative testing time or a supplementary assignment. These suggestions should take into consideration the intended learning outcomes for the missed work, students’ workload, as well as other course policies in the Undergraduate Course Management Policy.

Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

The Policy on Accommodations for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances describes the process students can follow to be accommodated for religious, indigenous and spiritual observances. Students are required to contact the faculty office in order to initiate this process. The faculty office manages student requirements and students are responsible to contact the instructor to make arrangements for missed work.


The Equity and Inclusion Office maintains a multicultural/multifaith calendar you may find helpful when planning dates and times for assignment submissions, tests/exams or other assessments.

Academic Integrity

The Academic Integrity Policy defines academic dishonesty and gives a number of examples of offenses that you may encounter in teaching. It also outlines the responsibilities of the instructor(s), student(s) and others that may be involved in addressing an academic dishonesty offence. The Office of Academic Integrity maintains a record of reported offences that you should consult if you have determined that an offence has been committed. In the case that it is a student’s first offence, you have the discretion to determine the scope of the penalty and to report the offence to the Associate Dean’s Office as well as the Office of Academic Integrity. If it is the student’s second offence, it must be reported to both offices and will be referred for adjudication which may or may not require a hearing. Please see the policy for more details.


We recommend that you review the policy and work with others on your teaching team (instructors, TAs, Instructional Assistants, Lab Managers, etc.) to establish parameters for collecting evidence and reporting on academic dishonesty offences. It can be helpful to make sure that you are confident proceeding with a decision and that you or others responsible for grading gather any required evidence before responding to an offence. While academic dishonesty cannot be entirely eliminated, there are some teaching and assessment strategies you can employ to discourage certain kinds of academic dishonesty. Please see the Office of Academic Integrity site on Preventing Academic Dishonesty for suggestions on how to design assessments that prevent academic dishonesty offences.


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The New Instructor Handbook by The MacPherson Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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