Classes, exams and research


Course delivery


The majority of Dalhousie courses this fall will be delivered online
, with only select exceptions, to ensure your health and well-being.

  • In-person, on-campus instruction this fall will only be offered in programs where it is required to fulfill industry or field-specific accreditation requirements: Medicine, Dentistry, select Health professions, and the Veterinary Technology program in the Faculty of Agriculture. Students in these programs should contact their Faculty's Associate Dean Academic for clarification on specific courses and can expect to receive more details directly from your Faculty.
  • In all other cases, courses will be delivered online. This includes other accredited programs in Engineering, Architecture, Planning, and Management that are moving forward with online delivery formats and developing innovative ways to meet their respective learning experiences, designed activities and group interactions.

Our plans for Winter 2020 are focused on a mix of online and in-person instruction, in which a significant majority of courses will continue to be delivered online but some courses with particular accreditation requirements or significant experiential learning components will be delivered in person or in a hybrid or blended format. Learn more.

For detailed course delivery information, please first check your Faculty's website (linked below) and consult specific course statuses on the Academic Timetable, which will be continuously updated as more information becomes available.

How will online courses work and what improvements are being made to the online experience?

This fall will be a different experience for many of us. What’s not changing is the high-quality academic experience you expect from Dalhousie, delivered by our outstanding faculty and instructors. We are working to ensure that when you return to on-campus, in-person learning, you won’t have missed a step.

As with in-person learning, every online class will be different, based on the subject matter and individual teaching style of the instructor. But all courses will be delivered based on common principles for online learning:

•    Accessible and Inclusive: Courses will be universally accessible, meaning that all students, including those living with disabilities or in different regions of the world, will have equitable access to course content, learning activities and assessments. We are also exploring ways to address any socio-cultural and economic consequences of online instruction for students in keeping with Dalhousie's equity, diversity and inclusion priorities.

•    Flexible: Most courses will be primarily “asynchronous” (pre-recorded content) so that students can watch or listen at their own pace and on their own time. “Synchronous” (live) course components may be included as well, but professors will work to ensure that students in different time zones are not disadvantaged.

•    Interactive: Courses will be designed to encourage students' interaction and engagement with each other and with the instructor. Interaction may be synchronous (live) and/or asynchronous (through discussion boards or other means).

•    Clear communication: Instructors understand the special importance of clear communication in an online environment. Most courses will begin with an orientation/welcome module that will introduce the course and its components. Courses will also include weekly announcements and a weekly calendar.

•    Instructor presence: In most courses, instructors, tutorial leaders and teaching assistants will be available asynchronously via email and synchronously via online office hours. Students are encouraged to bring their questions and concerns about the course to the instructor, and to attend online office hours for additional support on the assigned content. 

•    Supportive: Students will continue to have access to support and student resources in the transition to online learning. Course-specific supports will be provided by the instructors and teaching assistants. Students will also be supported in their research needs through the Dal Libraries (library@dal.ca) and with any technical concerns through the Helpdesk (support@dal.ca).  

We are also providing additional training and resources to support professors and instructors in honing their online teaching capabilities and learning new ways to bring their curriculum to life, in a virtual environment.

Where can I find information about individual courses?

Information about individual courses will be available in the coming weeks through the Academic Timetable. You can also expect to hear details about your courses from your Faculty or your department/instructors/supervisors in the near future.

How do I get textbooks/course materials from the Bookstore?

Information about ordering textbooks and coursepacks can be found on the Dal Bookstore's website. The Bookstore is also offering online order pickup and textbook delivery to residence students.

Who do I contact about academic accommodations in relation to remote learning?

If there are aspects of the remote temporary teaching design, and/or remote temporary teaching environment, that result in barriers to your inclusion, please contact the Student Accessibility Centre to explore possible accommodations.  

•          Halifax: access@dal.ca
•          Truro: ssdalac@dal.ca

My course has a lab component, how will I complete it?

Our academic team is currently working with the Information Technology Services (ITS) team at Dalhousie to ensure virtual labs are at the highest standard. Specific information about how labs will run will be communicated by your course instructor or lab supervisor. 

What is the status of International Learning Experiences (ILE) for this year?


International Learning Experiences (ILE) such as student exchanges, study abroad, international field courses, co-ops, and international research continue to be impacted by COVID-19.

As the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff continues to be our highest priority, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all incoming and outgoing ILE for the winter term (January through April 2021), with some very specific exceptions. This decision was informed by Dalhousie’s International Travel Policy which restricts undergraduate student travel to international locations with a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory of level 3 or 4. Currently, there is a worldwide level 3 travel advisory.

Students may be able to defer their winter ILE to the summer or fall term — we encourage students to discuss their options with their department and the International Centre.

Students travelling to their home countries to complete a work-term or co-op will be granted an exception. International medical residents will also be granted an exception.

The Faculty Dean and Provost must approve all other exceptions to this decision.


Exams

Exams will be primarily online for the spring/summer and fall 2020 semesters. Your instructor will provide detailed information for distance exams, as circumstances will vary from course to course. For general information on remote learning and exams, please visit dal.ca/onlinelearning.

Research

The university continues to require researchers to work remotely, wherever possible.

All laboratories and other research spaces at Dalhousie were required to close as part of the general suspension of research activities imposed on March 24, 2020. After that date, a small number of essential research projects (like those focused on COVID-19) were granted exceptional approval to begin or continue.

On May 22, 2020, guidelines were issued to all Principal Investigators (PIs) by the Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation, regarding planning for the gradual Return to Research on Dalhousie's campuses. Any PI with strong reasons for resuming research activity at this time, who can do so in full compliance with provincial Public Health guidelines and university safety requirements, may apply to their Deans for permission to return to research on campus. 

Details of the Return to Research plan, and the three-step process for PIs to follow, are outlined here.

I'm a grad student who needs to use my lab space. How do I get access?

Graduate students who require access to labs to complete research must coordinate with their supervisor and the lab Principal Investigator to return to campus in line with safety protocols outlined in the May 22 memo from Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President Research and Innovation.

What arrangements are being made for grant-paid research staff?

Principal Investigators have been asked to consider how they will manage the employment of their research staff for the summer. All such decisions will be informed by the needs of labs and/or research projects, the source of grant funding, the nature of each employee’s work and the terms and conditions of individual employee contracts.

  • For advice relating to postdoctoral research fellows and postdoctoral scholars, please contact academic.staff.relations@dal.ca.

  • For advice relating to casual employees, grant paid research staff, or DPMG and/or NSGEU research staff, please contact grantpaid@dal.ca.

  • For advice relating to foreign workers, please contact Karin.mclay@dal.ca

What impact will COVID-19 have on my research funding?

Research sponsors, including the Tri-agencies, are well aware that the COVID-19 pandemic can affect funded research projects in a number of ways. They are actively assessing the issues and will be sharing further information. Please consult the CIHRNSERC, and SSHRC websites regularly for updates.

Am I able to travel for my research?

All University-funded travel is suspended until December 31, 2020 for cost-saving purposes.  

International travel by faculty, staff and students continues to be restricted until August 31. Global Affairs Canada continues to advise avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Foreign governments have implemented strict travel restrictions, there are few international travel options available, and movement restrictions can occur without warning. 

Researchers who wish to travel internationally using their research funds must request an exemption to this restriction in writing to their Dean. This request must explain why international travel is essential and include a robust risk assessment and safety plan. Exemptions must be approved by the Dean, the Provost and Vice-President Academic, and the Vice-President Research and Innovation.  

** Please note that Dalhousie’s travel health insurer, SSQ, will not cover any COVID-19 related expenses. Essential to any request for an exemption will be proof of alternate travel health insurance which covers COVID-19 expenses. Dalhousie will not cover any COVID-19 expenses related to international travel.**

I am concerned about meeting the terms of my contract (with industry, a foundation or government department). Who should I contact for assistance?

For those with industry contracts, contact Dal's Industry Liaison and Innovation (ILI) office for help in working with your partners.  

For those who have funding with other partners, such as foundations and government departments, and are concerned about meeting the terms of your agreement, please contact the Office of Research Services.

I have specific questions about animal research or research involving human participants. Who should I contact?

How can I get regular updates on research at Dalhousie?

Please monitor updates to this page, and consult the Research webpage at dal.ca/research. It is also the intention to continue producing the weekly Office of Research Services (ORS) Newsletter, which is normally issued on Mondays and will contain updates. 

Any additional questions can be sent to Jennifer Morawiecki, Chief of Staff for the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation (ovpri@dal.ca).