First-Year Standards and Expectations


The prerequisite for ENGL 115, 125, and 135 is a “C” in ENGL 12 or ENGL 067, or a score of Level 4 on the essay part and at least 50% on the objective part of the Language Proficiency Index exam.

First-Year Standards and Expectations

a) In order to clarify exactly what will be expected of students in first-year English, the English Department has developed the following set of policies and practices:

  • English 115 and 117 focus on writing and composition, whereas English 125, 127, and 135 are devoted to the study of writing and literature; students in all five courses write academic essays to fulfill the requirements of each course.
  • Assigned readings in any of English 115, 117, 125, 127, or 135 will not exceed the equivalent of 3 book-length texts.  
  • Readings in English 115 and 117 mainly comprise prose nonfiction.  Readings in English 125, 127, and 135 may comprise any mix of prose nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama.  Each of English 125, 127, and 135 must cover a minimum of two genres.
  • The literature studied will include some contemporary and Canadian content.
  • Assignments will comprise approximately 4000-5000 words in total.  A research assignment (min. 1500 words) is required and must demand the use of at least three secondary sources.
  • To ensure that students who pass first-year English courses satisfy a minimum standard of literacy, the following criteria have been established:
    • All first-year English courses will require either one in-class essay and a supervised final exam or two exams (one during the term and one during the exam period), both including an essay;
    • Final exams in first-year English courses will be at least two hours long;
    • Under normal circumstances, a student who cannot write an in-class essay or exam at standards of literacy will not pass the course, regardless of the grades received on take-home or other course assignments.
  • Students should be familiar with institutional policies regarding plagiarism.  Please refer to the Vancouver Island University Calendar regarding penalties for academic misconduct.
  • In keeping with our commitment to critical thinking and respect for diversity, members of the English Department will teach and communicate in a way that recognizes the power of language to both foster inclusiveness and exclude others, the latter sometimes unconsciously. We will teach and communicate in a way that avoids bias regarding race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and disability, and we will support students to do likewise in their assignments and in-class discussions.

b)  INTR 100, 101, 103, and 106, which result in an exemption from either ENGL 115 or 125, will also adhere to these first-year standards.

c) ENGL 117 and 127 are equivalent to ENGL 115 and 125, and as such, meet both the standards of the DER and the Educational Aims for First-Year English. However, because they also require specialized pedagogy and knowledge, the English Department will ensure that faculty assigned these courses have been vetted for either ENGL 221 or 332.

  • The literature studied will focus on works by Indigenous authors.
  • Pedagogy and expectations will recognize differences between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing, while preparing students for university assignments.