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Academic Dictionary


Words you might encounter at Queen’s

Academic Appeal:

If there have been circumstances beyond a student’s control that has negatively affected academic performance, a student can bring forward an appeal. Learn more about appeals from the Office of the University Ombudsperson or the specific Faculty office.

Academic Term:

A portion of the academic year when the university holds classes. Queen’s has three academic terms within a calendar year.

  • Winter Term: January-April
  • Summer Term: May-August (session lengths vary)
  • Fall Term: September-December

See your Faculty Academic Calendar for specific dates


An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. There are a lot of acronyms that are used on the Queen’s campus. Here are some of the most popular:

  • QUIC: Queen’s University International Centre
  • JDUC: John Deutsch University Centre
  • SASS: Student Academic Success Services
  • SEO: Student Experience Office
  • AMS: Alma Mater Society
  • ARC: Athletics and Recreation Centre
  • KGH: Kingston General Hospital
  • ITS: Information Technology Services

Your faculty and department may also use their own acronyms. If you’re not sure what they mean, ask!


The grounds and buildings of the university. Queen’s has two main campuses in Kingston: Main Campus and West Campus (location of the Faculty of Education and the School of English).


A graduation ceremony where degrees and diplomas are granted. Find more information about Queen’s convocation here.


A degree is earned after completing the requirements of a program. A major is the focus on a disciplinary area of study during the completion of a degree. For example, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies means that “Bachelor of Arts” is the degree, while “Cultural Studies” is the major.

Department/ Discipline:

An academic department is a division or unit within a Faculty that focuses on a particular academic discipline, or a field of study or knowledge. Ex. the Department of History is focused on the discipline of history.

English as an Additional Language (EAL):

Students with “English as an additional language,” means students who learned to speak English after their first language or are multilingual. Queen’s has switched to using the term, “English as an Additional Language,” or “EAL,” instead of ESL. The reason for this is to acknowledge that some students speak more than two languages. Visit SASS’s EAL page for EAL support.


A word that can mean two different things:

  • A group of university departments in a subject area. For example, Faculty of Arts & Science, Faculty of Engineering, etc.
  • The teaching body of the university. For example, a professor or instructor is a member of the faculty.

Lecture/ Seminar/ Tutorial/ Lab:

The different kinds of classroom structures at Queen’s. Lectures are classroom-based instruction where the focus is on the presentation of information. Tutorials and labs supplement lectures and allow for discussion and interaction. Seminars are also classroom-based instruction, usually in upper-year classes for smaller groups, and are also about engagement.


An acronym for the Student On-Line University System. SOLUS is the Queen’s electronic registration system where you can register for courses, see your daily class schedule, and check your fee account, among other things. It is accessible through If you need help registering for courses, book an appointment with an advisor in your faculty.


An official document prepared by the Office of the University Registrar that contains a student’s educational record. See more information about Queen’s transcripts here.



Words you may encounter in your courses

Academic Integrity:

The practice of honest and responsible scholarship within the Canadian academic context. Violations can have serious consequences for an academic. Read about the possible violations on the Queen’s Academic Integrity website. Complete SASS’s Academic Integrity module to learn more about this important subject.


An academic assignment might ask for students to demonstrate various skills, like analyze or evaluate. Read through some Common Assignment Terminology and gain understanding of what an essay or project is asking for. Additionally, always clarify assignment expectations with the instructor. To get an idea of how much time the various steps of an assignment should take, use SASS’s Assignment Planner.

Citation, Citation Styles, and Citation Managers: Academic writing depends on the ability to properly give credit to the ideas of other scholars through citation. Citation styles “are a set of rules or standards established by a specific society, association or publisher for documenting various sources of information” (Queen’s University Library –learn more about Citing Sources here). Citation managers help collect, organize, cite and share references. Explore the Library’s overview of Citation Managers.

Office Hours:

Most professors set aside a few hours a week to meet with students who have questions. Office hours are usually indicated on the syllabus and are great opportunities to discuss challenges, clarify information, ask questions, get feedback, and get to know the professor.


The name of Queen’s learning management system. It is used to deliver online academic courses or to supplement face-to-face instruction. To understand all of its functionalities, read about OnQ support here.


A course that must be completed before being able to take a course at the next level. It is important to ensure that a student has the prerequisites for a course before registering. Check in with an Academic Advisor or Department administrator for support.


A habit of delaying that often causes stress at university because of the self-motivated nature of studying at Queen’s. Access some resources about Motivation and Procrastination on the SASS website. Book a Learning Strategies Advising 1:1 appointment where an advisor can help with improving academic motivation.

Syllabus/ Course Outline:

A document received at the beginning of a course that communicates the content and expectations of the course. It usually sets out the contact information for the instructor, the learning outcomes of course, the schedule of readings and assignments, the course policies, and more. The syllabus is a guide for the course, so it is important to understand all of its expectations.

Teaching Assistant (TA):

These are individuals, usually graduate students, who help professors mark assignments and may run tutorials or labs. Tutorials are less formal than lectures and allow students to ask questions about material taught in the lectures. Some courses may have a scheduled tutorial every week, but other courses may not have any at all. TAs also hold office hours.

Textbook/ Course Pack:

Courses may require the purchasing of textbooks or course packs to supplement the content of the course. These are books on the study of a particular subject. Learn more about buying textbooks here.

Thesis Statement:

The central argument of an academic essay. Usually stated in an essay’s introductory section to inform the reader of the argument that is to follow in the body of the essay. Learn more about Developing a Thesis Statement from SASS.