Essential Information for Undergraduate Students


Year designations
Selecting your courses
500-Level Courses
Course evaluations
Credits per term/year
Important Dates


All students in the Faculties of Arts and of Science, including new students, will be registering through Minerva on the web. For instructions on how and when to register, new and returning students should consult the SOUSA website for information related to registration.

Additional information can also be found on:
Student Information: Newly Admitted Undergraduate Students.

Students in the first year of a 97-120 credit Bachelor Degree will complete a Freshman year, designated U0. All other students (96 credits or fewer to complete your degree) will begin with the U1 year. The middle year(s) will be U2 and during the graduating year, you will be a U3 student.

U designations
97-120 Credits
96 or Fewer Credits
Course Level
First Year of Program
First Year of Program
Middle Year(s)
Middle Year(s)
300 or 400
Graduating Year
Graduating Year
300, 400 or 500

Although you must fulfill the first year program requirements, there is still room for you to vary your course selection. Don't limit yourself to a specific area. Keep your options open; you may discover that you are not as keen on a particular area as you had previously thought. You may even discover an area of study you had never previously considered.

There are a limited number of courses you may take outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science. For a list of these courses as well as the procedure for registering for these courses, consult the Restricted Courses Outside the Faculty Science or McGill's Bachelor of Arts & Sciences - Course Requirements websites.

As a first year U1 Biology student you are required to select your courses from those listed as "required" courses in this handbook. The first digit of the course number denotes the course level. Hence, most of the courses you choose in your first year should be at the 200 level, with the exception of language courses, where your proficiency in a particular level will be determined by a placement test administered by the department offering the course.

If you are studying in English for the first time and are unsure of your ability to cope, you should consider taking a maximum of only four courses (12 credits) per term and possibly include a course in "English as a Second Language" from the McGill Writing Centre.

500-Level Courses
Be sure to consider available 500-level courses in U3. These courses are intended for undergraduate and graduate students. They offer a chance to study a specialized topic in an interactive way with a small number of interested students and professor(s). Undergraduates often do very well in these courses and see them as a highlight of their undergraduate experience.


All Biology courses are evaluated annually by students. These evaluations are conducted on the on-line system, Mercury, and  are available to students on Minerva. These evaluations are very important to the professors and may also assist you in selecting courses.


  • 15 credits per term is the normal course load
  • 12 credits per term to maintain visa status, loans, bursaries, full-time status (for loans and bursaries, check with the loan granting organization for specifics)
  • 27 credits per year (over the fall and winter terms)is the minimum for university scholarships
  • 30 credits per year (over the fall and winter terms) are required to maintain Canada scholarships and to qualify for admission to some medical schools.

You must not choose courses which cover material similar to that which you have already taken at the university level and for which you have been given credit. If you do, these courses will be flagged for no credit. If you are unsure, check with the Student Affairs Office in Dawson Hall before registering for the course(s) in question.

See the following website for deadlines and other details.

Formal final examinations are held during the examination period following the term in which the course is given. Fall-term final examinations are scheduled in December and winter-term as well as full-year final examinations are scheduled in April. Examinations scheduled in December for full-year courses are treated as mid-term examinations, although they may be listed on the final examination schedule for fall-term courses. See the Calendar for dates of the examination periods.

Warning: DO NOT make any travel arrangements to leave Montreal prior to the scheduled end of any examination period.

Examination Conflicts:
A conflict is deemed to exist when a student has two examinations which are scheduled to be written simultaneously, or, for example, when a student has an exam on the morning, afternoon and evening of the same day. Such conflicts must be reported to the Exam Office:

Students with Disabilities:
Students who need special arrangements for writing a final examination please contact the Office for Student with Disabilities, Brown Student Services Building, Suite 3100, (514) 398-6009.

For information: or e-mail:

Unsatisfactory grades - D, for J
If your final grade in a course required for your program is a D, F or J, you may have three options, subject to faculty regulations and deadlines:
1) repeat the course
2) write a supplemental examination
3) substitute the course with another course

Repeating the course or taking the supplemental will not erase the original grade; both will appear on your transcript and both will be calculated into the CGPA. However, credits towards your degree will only be given once. Sometimes it may be possible for you to select another complementary course in place of the course with the unsatisfactory grade. Maybe you should consider changing your program so that this course is no longer required. Discuss your options with an advisor. A grade of "D" (conditional pass) in an elective course is acceptable. However, a pre-requisite or program course must be passed with a grade of "C" or better.

For information about supplemental exams, see:

A tutor may be able to help you if you are having problems with a particular course. The Tutorial Service Office is located in the Brown Student Services Building, 3600 McTavish Street, Suite 4200.
For information: or e-mail:

With Faculty approval, it is possible to spend some time at another university and transfer the credits back to the McGill degree.  You may Study Away either as an independent Visiting Student or as an Exchange Student at one of the list of exchange partners with whom McGill has an exchange agreement.

For details of eligibility and procedures, see:

Students interested in taking a course at another Quebec University should do an inter-university transfer online through CREPUQ at:

Over 250 courses are given at McGill in the summer.  If you would like to enrich your program, take a basic science course during the summer, or take one of Biology's field courses, consult the Summer Studies Calendar on line
or email their offices at:

For Further information on registration procedures, program selection, course change, course/university withdrawal, faculty transfer and exact date of events, see the general McGill Calendar.

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