Frequently Asked Questions


I have decided to repeat a course to raise my grade. What happens to my first grade?

Students may repeat a course twice for a maximum of three attempts. The grade of the most recent attempt (up to the third attempt) is the grade of record and is the only grade used in the GPA calculation.

Can I take BCHM 4000 or ENVB 4000 Instead of BIOL 4000?

If you are in an Honours program in Biology (with or without a stream) and require or wish to do an honours thesis, you must take BIOL 4000. If you are a Biochemistry major you must take BCHM 4000 and if you are an Environmental Biology major you must take ENVB 4000. It is possible for Biology students in BIOL 4000 to pursue a research project in the general areas of biochemistry or environmental biology, as long as the supervisor is a member of the Biology Department or the Biology Graduate Program, and the project is approved by the BIOL 4000 course director.

I am blocked from enrolling in a course, but I have the prerequisites as advanced standing (transfer credits).

Email biology@yorku.ca providing your name and student number, the courses you want to enrol in (include the catalogue numbers and the list of labs that fit your schedule for lab courses) and the prerequisites you have as transfer credit. Ideally, send this email ~ 1 week before your enrolment window. We will check the prerequisites, open an enrolment window, then contact you by email. Please give us a few days to respond.

I would like to enroll in BIOL/BCHM 3140 and/or BIOL/BCHM 4290.

First try to enrol directly. If you are blocked from enrolling, email biology@yorku.ca and provide your name, student number, and the preferred section with catalogue number. Enrolment in these courses may be prioritized to students who require it for their program. Prerequisites are enforced.

Can I take SC/NATS courses for credit towards my degree?

NATS courses are designed for non-science students. They do not count towards the BSc General Education requirement nor towards the BSc science breadth requirement. However, some NATS courses may be used as science electives, but not all. For example, Biology majors cannot take Biology-related Natural Sciences (NATS) courses for credit. In addition, some NATS courses cannot be taken for credit if other science courses (such as first year physics or first year chemistry) have already been completed. If you decide to take a NATS course, please read the course description carefully – it will include information about course credit exclusions and “no credit retained” situations.

Can I take CHEM 2050 4.00 towards my Biology or Biochemistry degree?

CHEM 2050 4.00 is an introductory biochemistry course designed for Chemistry students who did not take BIOL 1000 3.00 and BIOL 1001 3.00. CHEM 2050 4.00 is a course credit exclusion for BIOL/BCHM 2020 3.00, which means that students cannot take both courses for credit. Only BIOL/BCHM 2020 3.00 will count towards the Biology/Biochemistry 2000-level core and towards BIOL/BCHM credit totals

Does Organic Chemistry (CHEM 2020 3.00/2021 3.00) count towards my BIOL credit totals?

No. CHEM 2020/2021 can contribute towards your total overall credits and total SC credits. It can also be used (in most programs) to fulfill part of the 2000-level core. However, it is not a Biology course, and does not count towards your BIOL credits.

What second year courses can I take if I haven’t successfully completed CHEM 1000 and CHEM 1001?

Students who are missing CHEM 1000 and/or CHEM 1001 (but who have completed BIOL 1000/1001) can take the following second year BIOL courses:

Course Code Course Title
BIOL 2010 4.0 Plant Biology
BIOL 2030 4.0 Animals
BIOL 2040 3.0 Genetics
BIOL 2050 4.0 Ecology (Note: BIOL 2060 is a co-requisite)
BIOL 2060 3.0 Statistics for Biologists

BIOL 2020, 2021, 2070 and CHEM 2020/2021 require CHEM 1000 and 1001 as prerequisites.

Can I take a non-Biology statistics course towards my 2000-level Biology core requirements

BIOL 2060 is the only statistics course that will count towards your total BIOL credits and satisfy one of the 2000-level Biology core requirements. Other courses (such as the course credit exclusions for BIOL 2060 – e.g. MATH 2560, PSYC 2021, etc) will not be included in your total BIOL credits, and cannot be used towards the Biology 2000-level core.

In most cases you can use a non-Biology statistics course as a prerequisite for a course that requires BIOL 2060 (e.g. BIOL 2050, 4085) – check with the course director.

If you complete two statistics courses that are course credit exclusions, you will lose credit for the first one.

I am having problems enrolling.

Below are some common issues. Please review them first, then if you need additional help send an email to biology@yorku.ca outlining your problem and providing your name, student # and the course/lab you are trying to get into.

  • You may be trying to enroll in a lab section that is full or that has not been opened yet. Please try to enroll in another lab section. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee space in the lab of your choice. Enrolments occur on a first come first served basis for most courses.
  • Remaining spaces may be reserved for students in a particular program. In this case, you must wait until the course opens to all other students. The undergrad office can tell you when that will happen.
  • For high-demand courses, we typically de-enroll students who lack the necessary prerequisites. While this is happening, enrollments in the course may be locked. Try again in a few hours or the next day.

If a prerequisite check is up and you lack the prerequisites you cannot enrol. If you have the prerequisites by transfer credit, please email biology@yorku.ca with all of the required information.

I have transfer credits (Advanced Standing) and am not sure how that affects my program.

If you have transferred from another university or college, you probably have been granted transfer credit for some of your courses. Normally you receive information about your transfer credit at the time of advising so first refer back to your original advising documentation. If you have outstanding questions please feel free to book an advising appointment. Be sure to bring copies of your transfer credit information and advising documents when you come.

Some points that Biology transfer students should be aware of:

  • If you have been given BIOL credits at the 1000 level, but NOT a course credit exclusion for BIOL 1000/1001, you will have to take BIOL 1000/1001.
  • If you have been given BIOL credits at the 2000 level, but without course credit exclusions, you will be required to complete the entire second year core. For example, If you have credit for BIOL 2XXX 3.0 it means you have 3 BIOL credits at the second year level that will count towards your major credit totals but is not equivalent to any York course.
  • Transfer credit for a course in statistics may not be used as part of the second year core, nor as a Biology credit, if course credit exclusion for BIOL 2060 3.0 has not been granted (for example you may receive MATH credit rather than BIOL).
  • We suggest you make an advising appointment at least a year before graduation to ensure that all degree requirements are met.
  • Courses at different institutions vary in terms of content, breadth and depth. You may have a course credit exclusion for a York course but still be missing some background, and/or may have completed a course elsewhere that overlaps with one or more York courses but not to a great enough extent to warrant a course credit exclusion.
  • If you feel a course was not properly assessed, you may request a re-assessment. Contact the transfer credit office (Registrar, Bennett Centre) for the form and procedure.

Do I need to do an Honours Thesis? Is the BIOL 3100 prerequisite required?

BIOL 3100 is ALWAYS a prerequisite for BIOL 4000 and ENVB 4000. Please consult your degree requirements to determine whether the thesis is required for your degree. You can obtain the degree checklist from Science Academic Services (354 LB).

Program BIOL 4000 (Honors Thesis) BIOL 3100
B.Sc. (Bachelor) No – Not Eligible N/A
Specialized Honours (Biology) Yes (3.0/8.0 credits) Yes
Specialized Honours (Biotechnology) Yes (3.0/8.0 credits) Yes
Specialized Honours (Biomedical Science) Yes (3.0/8.0 credits) Yes
Honours Major (Biology) Optional Yes, if you plan to take BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0
Honours Major (Biology) with a Minor Optional Yes, if you plan to take BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0
Honours Major (Biomedical Sciences) Optional Yes, if you plan to take BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0
Double Major Optional Yes, if you plan to take BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0
Biology Minor No N/A

I am confused about General Education requirements.

General Education requirements are part of the 1000-level requirements for a BSc degree. All BSc students must complete a minimum of 15 science GE credits and 12 non-science GE credits (in at least 2 different subject areas).

Note: not all non-science courses are acceptable as non-science GE courses. For example, courses that focus on proficiency in a language are NOT considered eligible as General Education.

A list of approved courses that will satisfy the General Education requirement is available in the UG handbook, from Science Academic Services, and online. Please contact Science Academic Services if you need more information.

I am not sure how to select my courses for next year?

Group advising sessions for first and second year students are held each spring, in late February or March. Make sure you attend one of these sessions. Times and places are posted on the list serve, this website and are available from the UG office. Slides from previous group advising sessions are posted on the website under advising, together with a variety of other advising information. Please review the advising section of the website for answers to your questions. Degree requirements are found in the handbook and in checklist form from Science Academic Services.

When you’re choosing your courses, keep your program requirements in mind, and look ahead to future years in your program. A long-term view is helpful so that you can complete prerequisites in time to allow you to take your preferred upper-year courses.

BIOL 1000 3.0, BIOL 1001 3.0, CHEM 1000 3.0, and CHEM 10013.0 are important prerequisites in most Biology programs. Failure to complete key prerequisite courses may result in delays in completing a degree program.

After reviewing all of the information under the advising section, if you still have questions visit Science Academic Services (for general questions), email biology@yorku.ca (for Biology-related questions) or make an appointment to speak with a Biology advisor.

I am interested in changing my major to Biology

Please review the minimal requirements for entering Biology before requesting for a program change. Requests for a change of major to Biology must be submitted online on the Program Change website. The requirements for entering Biology can be found on our Change of Major page.

I would like to know the GPA requirements for my program.

To graduate in a Bachelor program requires a minimum overall grade point average of 4.00 (C). If you have passed 90 credits but your GPA is below 4.00, you may attempt to raise your average by taking up to 12 additional credits, to a maximum of 102 credits. You may then be blocked from further enrolment.

To graduate in an Honours Major program in Biology requires a minimum cumulative credit-weighted grade point average of 5.00 (C+) over all biology courses completed, and a minimum cumulative credit-weighted grade point average of 5.00 (C+) over all courses completed.

To declare, proceed and graduate in a Specialized Honours program (i.e., Biology, Biomedical Science, and Biotechnology) requires a minimum cumulative credit-weighted grade point average of 6.00 (B) over all biology courses completed and a minimum cumulative credit-weighted grade point average of 5.00 (C+) over all courses completed.

The minimum 5.00 (C+) biology grade point average is not required where biology is the minor in an Honours Major/Minor program. Only the minimum 5.00 (C+) overall grade point average is required in that case.

What if I don’t meet the GPA requirements for my program?

Students who were admitted into an Honours program in Biology, but do not meet the GPA requirements, will be moved into the Bachelor Program in Biology.

If you have not yet completed ~75 credits, we generally recommend that you work on raising your average.

If you have completed ~75 credits, please make an appointment for advising, and we can assess your individual situation and discuss the options available to you.

I think I am ready to graduate.

You should review your degree checklist from Science Academic Services to ensure that you will have satisfied all of the requirements for your degree program. If you have Transfer Credits or any other unusual circumstances, you may wish to book an advising appointment to discuss your eligibility for graduation.

You must apply online by the specified deadlines in order to graduate. Please consult the Convocation website for details.

I need to prepare a petition.

Information on petitions and preparing petition package(s) are available on the Petition section of the Registrar’s Office website. This website should be your primary source of information.

If you want to discuss whether your concern requires a petition, please speak to an advisor in Science Academic Services in 352 Lumber Building.

I am experiencing personal problems that are affecting my school work.

It can be very difficult to deal with personal problems while going to school. York University has many support resources available, and we encourage students to take advantage of them. Remember, these services are designed for you, to help you cope and succeed with life while at university. Most of these services are confidential, and provide a safe environment for you to discuss your situation.

The Counselling and Disability Services offers a range of services including personal counselling, group development workshops, learning skills training, and support for learning disabilities and psychiatric disabilities.

There are also many other support services on campus, such as those offered by Bethune College if you are a science student.

Additional resources may be found in Toronto at 211 Toronto.

I have a test scheduled on a religious holiday.

If you have a conflict with a midterm because of a religious commitment, contact your course director as soon as possible to discuss alternative arrangements.

If you cannot write a final exam scheduled by the Registrar’s Office for religious reasons, download and complete the Examination Accommodation form (from the Registrar’s website) and contact your course director at least three weeks before the examination period begins to arrange an alternative date for your final exam.

Please see York’s Religious Accommodation Guidelines for more information.

I want a reappraisal of my work and want to know what academic grounds are (e.g. when my lab manual says that to ask a lab coordinator for a reappraisal of a lab assignment, academic grounds are required).

Requests for reappraisal of assignments or tests usually must include academic grounds. Academic grounds are logical reasons for reappraisal that are directly related to the assignment/subject matter, specifically addressing the items that a student feels were not graded correctly. Academic grounds can be evaluated in terms of accuracy and relevance – they do not appeal to emotion or involve claims that cannot be assessed objectively.

Common reasons for reappraisal rationale that are NOT considered to be valid academic grounds:

  • “I deserve more marks because I worked really hard and never missed a class.”
  • “My mark does not reflect the amount of time, effort, understanding and knowledge of the material covered in the course.”
  • “I got As and A+s in all my other courses.”
  • “I’m really close to the letter grade cut-off.”
  • “The majority of the other students ended up with a high grade and I am at least 2 letter grades below them.”
  • “The TA marked too hard.”
  • “I wasn’t feeling well and this interfered with my academic performance.” *

* Graders can only assess the work before them. Course Directors cannot guess at how you might perform under better circumstances and assign a grade based on that guess. However, in some cases, extenuating circumstances may be appropriate grounds for submitting a petition to drop a course after the drop deadline. Please consult the documentation regarding undergraduate petitions for more information; please consult the Registrar’s Office Academic Petitions website.

Reappraisals are not automatically granted. Courses usually have guidelines and policies (including time limits) for reappraisal requests during the term, and formal grade reappraisals to a department (after release of final grades) must follow the University Reappraisal Policies. Many reappraisal requests are denied because students do not provide suitable academic grounds or follow the posted guidelines.

Students should be aware that where reappraisal requests are granted, the grade may be raised, lowered or confirmed.

I missed my lab/midterm/final.

As a general rule if you miss something because of illness, see a doctor on the day that you are ill and have the doctor complete a physician’s statement (part of the petitions package).

If you miss a lab, you should first review the course outline and lab policies in the manual or on the course website to determine the course-specific policies in place. If you do not find any information, contact your laboratory coordinator as soon as possible and have documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note). The lab coordinator may allow you to make up the missed lab, if there is available space in another lab. (Some labs, particularly those extending across more than one week, cannot be made up.)

If you miss a midterm, refer to the course outline and website for course policies, and contact your course director as soon as possible, again, obtaining documentation.

If you miss your final exam, you will need to request deferred standing. Please consult the Deferred Standing (Final Exams and Assignment) website. Your professor may decide to grant or decline your request for a deferred exam. If your request is declined, you may submit a petition to write a deferred exam. (Please note that some professors routinely expect all students who miss a final exam to petition for permission to write a deferred exam.)

Please note that it is your responsibility to make arrangements with the course director to complete the course and to submit the Deferred Standing Agreement form to the Biology Department by the specified deadline (usually within a week of missing the final exam).

If you have been granted a deferred exam, check with your professor to find out the date, time and location of the exam.

I would like to take a course at another university.

Please download the “Letter of Permission” form from the Registrar’s Office website. This form includes the regulations for submission.

What counts towards Science credits?
  • All courses that begin with SC, such as SC/BIOL, SC/CHEM, SC/NATS, etc.
  • All courses from LE/ESSE and LE/CSE
  • Some KINE/PSYC courses: as a general rule if the course description does not say it does NOT count towards science credit, then it is OK and will count as science.
  • Some GEOG courses – as specified in the GEOG undergraduate supplementary calendar (please consult the Geography website/office/handbook)

What courses count towards science breadth?

1. What Courses can count toward Science Breadth Requirements?

Science degree programs require completion of a specified number of credits in science disciplines outside the major. For Biology and Environmental Biology programs, courses that count towards science breadth include the following:

SC/CHEM –excluding SC/CHEM 1500, 1509 and SC/CHEM courses cross-listed to BCHM or BIOL.

LE/EECS – all courses

LE/ESSE – all courses

SC/MATH –excluding SC/MATH 1510, 1520, 1532, 1581

SC/PHYS –excluding SC/PHYS 1510

SC/STS – all courses

HH/PSYC and HH/KINE –excluding courses that are identified as being non-science in the course description (has something like the following in the course description: “Note this course does not count for science credit”)

SC/GEOG –excludes courses listed as AP/GEOG or GL/GEOG (must have SC prefix).

Excluded science subjects that do NOT count towards science breadth for biology and environmental biology programs: SC/NATS, SC/BIOL, SC/BCHM, SC/BPHS, SC/ENVB

{please note in the Biology UG handbook, Biophysics is stated to count as Science Breadth – this is a transcription error}

2. Why is SC/BIOL 4000 not in the Biomedical Science list of Biology options?

SC/BIOL 4000 3.0 and 8.0 count towards the Biomedical Science Biology credits. It is an error that it is not included in the current list. It has always counted as Biomed credit and will continue to count towards Biomed major credit totals.

3. Courses at Glendon College

Glendon College has begun to offer courses in a Bilingual program that begin with GL/BIOL. At this time these Glendon courses will NOT count towards major credit for the BSc Biology, Biochemistry and Environmental Biology programs in the Faculty of Science at Keele Campus. Ensure you enrol in SC/BIOL not GL/BIOL courses.

Will MATH 1510 6.0 and MATH 1520 3.0 count towards the science breadth requirement?
No.