Important terms

Learning the academic jargon


The terms “class” and “course” are often used interchangeably.


Course Description

Course descriptions, found in the Course and Program Catalogue, give you information about a particular course, such as the course name, number, credit units (c.u.) and the term(s) in which it is offered.

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Course Reference Number (CRN)

The Course Reference Number (CRN) is a unique 5 digit number assigned to each class section for the purpose of registration. You will need to know the corresponding CRN for each course section (e.g. lecture, lab, tutorial, and seminar) in which you wish to register. You can register more quickly by entering these numbers directly into PAWS instead of searching for each section during your registration session.


Credit Unit (c.u.)

A value assigned to a course which indicates its relative weight within the student program. Credit units define the amount of university-level credit to be awarded for successful completion of a course or, in the case of transfer credit, of study elsewhere. A frequent criterion used in judging credit units is the expected student effort in the course or hours of instruction. Normally, courses that span one term have a weight of three (3) credit units (e.g., SOC 111.3) while courses that take two terms to complete have a weight of six (6) credit units (e.g., ENG 110.6).


Cumulative Weighted Average (CWA)

Your cumulative weighted average or CWA, calculated as a percentage, is a general indicator of your academic performance. A CWA is based on two factors: the grade you receive in a course, and the number of credit units the course is worth.

To calculate your CWA:

Multiply your mark in each course by the number of credit units the course is worth. This will give you the “weighted mark” for the course.

Add the weighted marks for all of your courses together. Add the total number of credit units taken.

Divide the total weighted marks by the total number of credit units you have attempted.


Step 1 – Convert all final grades to weighted marks

65% in ENG 110.6 => (65 / 100) * (6 c.u.) = 390

82% in LIT 100.6 => (82 / 100) * (6 c.u.) = 492

59 % in BIOL 120.3 => (59/100) * (3 c.u.) = 177

Step 2 – Find the average

(Total weighted marks/Total credit units) = (390+492+177) / (6+6+3) = (1059 / 15) = 70.6%




Students are able to do one or two terms abroad at an institution that has an exchange agreement with the U of S, allowing students to pay tuition to the U of S while attending the partner university. An exchange is a fantastic way for students to study their degree program at another university.


Full-Time Student

At the University of Saskatchewan, an undergraduate student is considered full-time if they are registered in 9 or more credit units per term during regular session (September to April). Students can use this eligibility calculator to determine if their spring and summer registration meets the criteria to be considered full-time.

Students with a permanent disability who are approved for a reduced course load will be considered full-time students when taking 6 credit units per term.

Please note that the definition of full-time can vary depending on the institution and government agency you are involved with. When dealing with issues such as student loans or visas, make sure to check directly with the applicable agency or institution to determine how many credit units must be taken for them to consider a student full-time.


Independent Studies

Independent Studies courses are designed to give students the flexibility to take USask courses regardless of where they live. Students receive a course guide outlining required assignments and readings. These courses may use audio or videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and online resources. When registering, class section numbers beginning with X are Independent Studies classes. Internships allow students to gain valuable work experience while pursuing their degree. An internship is a period of extended and intensive field study experience. Internships are done through specific departments and can be arranged by that department. They are not always for USask credit, but they will show up on a student’s transcript.

For more information, please visit the Off-Campus and Online webpage. 


Junior Level Courses

Courses numbered in the range of 100 to 199. These courses are usually general introduction courses, or courses that introduce core subject material and serve as prerequisites to senior-level courses in that subject.



A lab accompanies lecture and/or tutorial time to allow for more practical/hands-on work. In a biology class, for example, a scientific experiment may be performed, whereas in a drama class, set and prop construction may be the purpose of the lab. Labs must be attended as well! See diagram on p. 10 under the entry for “Course Description” to learn how to tell if a class has a lab or not.



A lecture refers to class time which is structured by a professor according to course content. Lectures are 50 minutes for Monday-Wednesday-Friday (MWF) courses, and 1 hour and 20 minutes for Tuesday-Thursday (TR) classes. Please note this is not true of the spring/summer sessions.


Network Services ID (NSID)

A Network Services ID (NSID) is a unique identifier issued to all members of the university community. NSIDs take the format of three letters from the student’s first three initials followed by three numbers (e.g., abc123). Students can use their NSID and password to access university computer and network services such as PAWS, email, computer labs and password protected sites.


Part-Time Student

At the University of Saskatchewan, an undergraduate student is considered part-time if they are registered in fewer than 9 credit units per term during regular session (September to April).


Personalized Access To Web Services (PAWS)

PAWS is a customizable web environment used by all members of the university community. It contains a variety of web-based tools and is the portal that students use to check their campus email, register for courses, view their grades or transcripts, access their financial information, access course content/Blackboard Learn, and much more. ICT Services offers training, online manuals, and video tutorials to help students become more familiar with using PAWS.



A prerequisite is a course or requirement that you must successfully complete before registering in a specific course. They are listed in the course descriptions found in the Course and Program Catalogue. Note that some university courses require high school prerequisites. Please read the course description carefully.



Quarters are condensed academic periods of study during the spring and summer session. Some courses are offered in a time-intensive format over a period of one month (instead of the regular four month term). Spring and summer terms are broken down as follows:

  • Quarter 1 – May
  • Quarter 2 – June
  • Quarter 3 – July
  • Quarter 4 – August


Regular Session

Pertains to the time period between September and April, and is made up of the fall term (Sept-Dec) and the winter term (Jan-Apr).



Differentiates between the different times that a course is offered, its location, and who it is taught by (ex: ENG 110.6 (03)). It is important to know what particular section of a course you are registered in because the same course can be taught by different professors, at different times, and in different locations. Generally, for 3 c.u. courses, odd-numbered sections are in fall term; even-numbered sections are in winter term.


Senior Level Courses

Courses identified with numbers in the range of 200 to 499. Senior level courses involve a more in-depth look at subject areas and commonly require junior level course prerequisites or a certain number of credit units completed at university.


Spring/Summer Session

Pertains to the time period between May and August, and is made up of the spring term (May-June) and the summer term (July-Aug).



Also referred to as a course outline, the syllabus is like a contract of sorts. It outlines the instructor’s expectations of students while also ensuring students are given the opportunity to meet those expectations. It will state required and recommended learning materials, a week-by-week schedule of topics, readings, assignments, and the like; grade-weights of coursework, due dates for assignments, midterm dates, the instructor’s late policy, the instructor’s contact information and office hours, and important College policies. Just as the syllabus is a way of communicating expectations, it also protects student rights in that there are rules about what types of changes are allowed to be made to the syllabus after the course starts and how these changes can and cannot be made. Students should inform themselves of their rights and responsibilities alike. Additionally, syllabus is also an important learning document and should be referred to regularly throughout the term.


Taught Abroad

Refers to a University of Saskatchewan course that is taught to U of S students in another country. These courses are typically 3 – 6 c.u. and last several weeks. The courses are organized by individual colleges and are often taught by U of S professors. Students register for these classes on PAWS and receive U of S credit for it.



Used to refer to academic periods of study:

  • Fall Term (T1) - September to December
  • Winter Term (T2) - January to April
  • Multi-Term (T1T2) – September to April
  • Spring and Summer Term 1 – May to June
  • Spring and Summer Term 2 – July to August
  • Spring and Summer Multi-Term – May to August


Term Abroad

Allows U of S students to take preselected U of S (or equivalent) courses abroad. This program is the duration of a full term and incorporates 15 credit units of U of S courses in another country. As the courses have been preapproved, the students are able to register for the courses through PAWS.



A tutorial is a weekly discussion-based session that can accompany lectures for certain courses. Tutorials can be led by the professor or a senior or graduate student, and are often used to clarify or further explore specific concepts taught in class. Tutorials must be attended as well! See the graphic on p.10 under the entry for “Course Description” to learn how to tell if a course has a tutorial or not.


Web Based Class

A course that is delivered primarily through the internet. They usually include a web interface where students can access course content, reading materials, and participate in online discussions or quizzes. When registering, class section numbers beginning with a W are online classes.