A petition is a formal request for an exception to deadlines, degree requirements, promotional requirements, and other rules and regulations. This is meant to be used if there were unavoidable factors leading up to extenuating circumstances. Were you sick? Did you have a family emergency? Did you experience a traumatic event? Was there some other unavoidable circumstance that affected your academics? If you said yes to any of these questions you may qualify for a petition.
This section will outline (1) types of petitions, (2) how to file a petition, (3) How the petition process works and (4) the petition appeal process. If you are looking at filing a petition, it is recommended to:
- Read the start of each section on each petition type to determine which type of petition you need (ie. TWP, FEP or SCP)
- Read the full section on your petition type
- Read the Providing Documentation section
- File your petition
Types of Petitions
There are three types of petitions, as a student it is important to understand the differences between these petitions so you can file the appropriate one. The following section outlines each of the three types of petitions.
1. Term Work Petitions (TWP)
TWPs can be used to get accommodation for any deliverable or assessment apart from the final exam that is a part of the student’s coursework for non-medical reasons. This includes but is not limited to midterms, quizzes, labs, homework assignments and projects.
When to Apply:
Potential Reasons to use TWP:
- It is highly recommended to apply as soon as possible. In certain cases, this might allow you to even get a decision before your deadline so you can work accordingly.
- If applying before the deadline is not possible, you can file a petition up to seven days after the date of the affected or missed term work.
- In the case of assessments like quizzes and midterms, it is generally recommended to file a petition before the assessment date, and not writing the assessment.
Approval Process of TWP
- Mental health crises
- Non-medical or personal emergencies
- Family emergencies
- Co-curricular activities
- Unforeseen academic scheduling conflict
- Significant student commitment to a UofT or recognized athletic association
Potential Outcomes of TWP:
- Your academic advisor usually decides on the validity of the TWP, however the Professor of the course for which the TWP is filed decides what the accommodation looks like (ie. if you get an extension, the assignment is omitted from your final grade etc.)
- You are granted one “free” TWP per semester where you do not need to submit documentation so long as the assessment is worth less than 15% and/or your request is for no longer than three days in a row.
Things to Consider if you are Considering Filing a TWP:
- A deadline extension for TWP applicant
- An adjusted test or quiz writing date for TWP applicant
- Forgiveness for missed assignment
- Very rarely, Professors may estimate an assigned mark for an assignment or test
- Depending on the circumstances, you may want to ask your professor for accommodations directely by emailing them, rather than going through the TWP process. This can often save you the hassle of a lot of paperwork. If that does not work out you can still file a TWP, as long as you file the TWP within the 7 days following the assignment deadline
- If you are requesting an extension or change in quiz/test date, how may your the new deadline/date conflict with future commitments both those that are academic and non-academic in nature
- Can you provide proper documentation? Note that you are granted one “free” TWP per semester where you do not need to submit documentation so long as the assessment is worth less than 15% and/or your request is for no longer than three days in a row.
2. Final Exam Petitions (FEP)
This type of petition can be used to get accommodations for final examinations, as the name suggests.
When to Apply:
Potential Reasons to use FEP:
- It is highly recommended to apply as soon as possible. If possible this should be before the time that the exam is scheduled. The UAC, which makes decisions on petitions, does take the timelines of the petitio into account sometimes.
- If applying before the deadline is not possible, you can file a petition up to seven days after your last final exam.
- You also have the right to apply for a petition if you have written an exam under duress. This means that you wrote the exam in unpreventable circumstances that significantly negatively impacted your performance. An example of this would be writing an exam while so ill that you were unable to sit the entire duration of the exam.
Potential Outcomes of FEP:
- Non-medical or personal emergencies
- Family emergencies such as illness or death of close family member
For courses in the engineering faculty only, the default outcome is an assessed mark. An assessed mark is calculated by the following formula:
Assessed Final Exam Mark = Your closely Supervised Term Work Mark ➗ Class Average Closely Supervised Term Work Mark ✖ Class Average Final Exam Mark
Closely supervised term work is generally considered to be work such as quizzes, midterms and in-class assessments, however this is at the judgment of the Professor. What is considered supervised/unsupervised work should be decided by the professor before the date of the exam.
- You may also be offered a deferred exam. This means that you will be asked to write an exam at a later date. This outcome could occur for other reasons, but most commonly occurs if:
- Receiving an assessed mark would result in a failing course mark or probation
- You have not completed enough closely supervised work to reasonably determine an assessed mark
For further details on deferred exams see this link.
3. Special Consideration Petitions (SCPs)
This type of petition is used to get an exemption to an academic regulation.
When to Apply:
Reasons you may want to use an SCP:
- Apply as soon as possible.
- It is recommended you speak to your academic advisor before filing a SCP.
Potential Extenuating Circumstances allowing for an SCP:
- You would like to drop a course(s) after the drop deadline without penalty due to unforeseen circumstances such as serious physical, mental illness or a traumatic event.
- You believe you merit probation relief (ie. be taken off of probation) due to circumstances such as a clerical error when you were put on probation or because there was an accessibility related condition affecting you throughout the term that put you on probation.
- Due to special circumstances you would benefit from taking more than nine years to complete your degree (violating the nine-year-rule in section VI of UofT Engineering’s Academic Regulations policy).
- You would benefit from an exception to any other academic regulation, due to extenuating circumstances.
- Other possible extenuating circumstances not mentionned above.
Additional Notes on Late Withdrawals:
- Medical (including mental health issues)
- Clerical error
- Family emergencies such as illness or death of close family member
There are two main types of late withdrawals:
Additional Notes on Probation Relief:
- Late Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty (WDR). This is shown on your transcript if you choose to withdraw after the drop-deadline and are able to demonstrate in an SCP that there were extenuating circumstances that lead to your late withdrawal.
- Late WIthdrawal Without Documentation (LWD). This is what is automatically shown on your transcript if you choose to withdraw after the drop-deadline. Within UofT engineering, you are granted a certain number of LWDs depending on your year, the type of course, and your program of study. See the table below for details.
|First year TrackOne + Core8
|| You are allowed to LWD a maximum of and two half-credit courses over the entire year (both semesters)
|First year EngSci
||If you are transferring to a Core8 program the following semester, you are allowed to drop a maximum of three half-credit courses
|Year 2-4 EngSci + Core8
||You are allowed to LWD a maximum of two half-credit elective courses cumulatively over years 2-4. This applies to technical electives, CS/HSS electives and free electives taken at the University of Toronto.
In general a WDR looks better on your transcript than a LWD, as it indicates the withdrawal was due to circumstances outside of your control. However, these notations are likely poorly understood by those who are not involved in academic policy at UofT. In both cases either an LWD or a WDR will be shown on your transcript instead of a grade for the affected course(s), and your GPA will not be affected by that course.
- If you are requesting to drop a course(s) after the drop deadline, single-course withdrawals have a much higher burden than full-semester withdrawals since it is harder to prove your circumstances affected one course specifically more than all the others. If the last day of classes has not yet passed, consider a LWD or WDR instead.
- Probation relief is rarely requested on its own and is usually an alternate accommodation granted instead of a term WDR, when the performance in the term alone doesn’t show the impact of the condition.
When filing a petition you will be asked to provide documentation, this section should help you figure out what kind of documentation you need.
Exceptions to Providing Documentation
Once per spemester you many file a work term petition without documentation if:
- The assessment is worth less than 15%;
- You are requisition an exception/extension for no longer than 3 days in a row.
If you are using your exception for the semester you will declare so in the The Engineering Portal directly.
For Medical Reasons
For medical reasons or mental health crises you must file a verification of illness form. This must be completed by a medical professional who has/is treating you such as your family doctor, a surgeon, a clinical psychiatrist, a dentist etc.
Note: you qualify for one undocumented Term Work Petition (TWP) for medical reasons per semester for up to 3 days at a time. However, you may only use this for work worth 15% or less of the final course grade.
For Non-Medical Reasons
All documentation in the form of letters for non-medical reasons must include:
- The writer’s official letterhead
- The writer’s official stamp (if possible)
- Your name
- The writer’s relationship to the student
- The relevant circumstances or events, severity and how they interfered with the student’s capacity to attend to academic work (e.g. mild, moderate, serious, severe).
- That the writer has direct first-hand knowledge of the circumstances, rather than second-hand knowledge reported by the student.
- The student’s signature to indicate they gave the writer permission to share the information in the document with the Faculty and permission to allow the Faculty to verify the information with the writer.
Some examples of other types of documentation for non-medical reasons include:
- A police accident report in the case of a traffic accident
- A death certificate or funeral notice in the event of the death of a family member
If All Else Fails
If you cannot get documentation in time to meet the deadline for your petition (e.g. one week after an assignment deadline for a TWP petition), don’t panic. Follow the following steps:
- File the petition without documentation.
- Get documentation within the next month (you have 30 days to acquire documentation after getting your petition denied).
- If/when your petition is denied, appeal the decision. When you appeal the decision you can add the documentation. See First Level of Appeal on how to appeal the petition decision.
NOTE we recommend sending your advisor an email asking them to delay processing the petition if possible, especially in the case of FEP and SCP petitions which have longer deadlines
How to File a Petition
- Consult with your academic advisor beforehand if possible
- Prepare all the documentation if necessary/possible (see Providing Documentation)
- Go to The Engineering Portal
- Select the appropriate petition type
How Petitions are Processed
Your petition is reviewed by your academic advisor first, in more standard/clear-cut petitions, they will approve the petition. If their is ambiguity associated with your petition, or your academic advisor does not have authority in this particular circumstance, then your petition will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Assessment Committee (UAC). This committee meets five times per month on average and consists of both staff and students.
Appealing the decision of a Petition
First Level of Appeal
If you are unsatisfied with the result of your petition, you have the right to appeal it to the Academic Appeals Board (AAB).
If you are considering appealing your petition decision you should speak to your academic advisor before doing so. To file the appeal you must submit the form to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may provide additional documentation to support your petition request such as proof of illness or a family emergency at this stage. An appeal must be made within thirty days of the date of notification of the original petition decision from the Undergraduate Assessment Committee and accompanied by an Intention to Appeal form.
During the appeal process, you may be asked to sit before the AAB which will consist of two faculty members and at least one student member. You can expect to be notified of the decision regarding your appeal within approximately 30 days of submitting your appeal via the email you have listed in ACORN.
Second Level of Appeal
The Academic Appeals Committee (AAC) is the final petition appeal level within the University of Toronto. Your appeal will be seen by the AAC under either of the following circumstances:
- If you are unsatisfied with the decision regarding your appeal made by the AAB, you request an appeal. To do this you must submit the notice of appeal form and supporting documentation to email@example.com within 90 days of any decision made by the AAB.
- You did not submit any new documentation when appealing the UAC decision (decision on the original petition filing) to the AAB.
Unlike the AAB which is within the Faculty of Engineering, the AAC sees students from across all faculties at the University of Toronto. The AAC is chaired by someone with legal expertise, and it is strongly recommended that you seek legal assistance if you wish to make an appeal to the AAC. This committee meets infrequently, so it may extend months to almost a year before a decision is made regarding your appeal to the AAC.