Faculty Primer

Updated 2023/24

Welcome to the UBC community! Here you will find a list of curated resources, workshops and people that can help with your teaching responsibilities over the next couple of years. While this resource aims to summarize central offerings, ask your home faculty/department/unit about additional teaching and learning supports available.


Designing and Teaching Courses

For information related to programs, courses, services and academic policies, visit the UBC Academic Calendar website for the Vancouver campus.

Within the UBC Course Schedule, each course activity (e.g. lecture, lab, tutorial) will show a “Mode of Delivery” to describe how it will be delivered.

The syllabus is an important document/contract that provides information on the course structure, communications, assessments, learning objectives and policies/support. It’ is a student’s first introduction to a course where you can set expectations for a respectful and inclusive classroom climate.

  • According to the UBC Vancouver Senate policy, “course instructors must provide the syllabus including the grading scheme, within the first week of class unless the syllabus will be created in consultation with the student(s) at the beginning of a course section, in which case, the syllabus must be finalized prior to the last date by which students are permitted to drop the course without receiving a “W” on their transcript.”.
  • There are designated pieces of information that must be present in a syllabus. To assist faculty in preparing a syllabus that fits the guidelines and contains all the necessary information, the UBC Vancouver Senate has prepared a syllabus template.
  • You can read the guidelines for syllabi here: Content and Distribution of Course Syllabi Policy (the full policy is here: UBC Senate Syllabus policy (PDF)).
  • You may reach out to colleagues in your department to access previous versions of the syllabus for the course(s) you are teaching.
  • Consider advice for creating an inclusive syllabus (PDF), a learner-centered syllabus, and a syllabus that supports student learning and wellbeing (PDF).

Teaching and promoting academic integrity as well as responding to academic misconduct allegations are all part of UBC’s culture of academic integrity. Below are useful websites and resources to support how you teach, discuss and engage.

It is generally the case that if you suspect a student of having committed misconduct, you should share your concerns with the student using the processes described in the web pages above. One point to note is that you may not impose a penalty beyond the scope of the assessment in question.

Utilize these UBC resources to help students who might need additional support. If you are concerned about a particular student, you can also speak with the faculty advisor in your department for additional support and guidance.

  • Green Folder for Supporting Students in Distress (PDF): A concise and helpful way to assess the urgency and type of students’ concerns and direct them to proper support. It is recommended to be familiar with this tool before the need arises in order to refer to it while working with a student.
  • Early Alert: A system where faculty and staff can quickly identify their concerns about students. It is recommended to submit early alerts for even minor concerns because if multiple instructors submit minor concerns about a student, the Early Alert staff can reach out to the student.
  • UBC Centre for Accessibility: Facilitates disability-related accommodations and helps remove accessibility barriers in all aspects of students’ university life. Students register at the Centre by providing documentation and discussing their needs with an Accessibility Advisor in a confidential setting. Students will then provide a letter to their instructor that outlines applicable academic accommodations. Instructors are also welcome to reach out to the Centre for guidance and support in working with students requiring accommodation.
  • Responding to Collective Tragedies and Hateful Incidents: Guidelines for instructors to respond to incidents of identity-based discrimination and violence.

UBC has several campus-wide policies and regulations for faculty, staff and students. Review the following resources and policies that relate strongly to teaching and learning:

There is also a policy and procedures related to non-academic misconduct–these are situations in which a student’s behaviour is problematic, but the behaviour is not related to academic dishonesty.

You will likely work with or manage undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants (TAs). The TAs are part of the CUPE 2278 union, which supports bargaining, grievances, and lobbying between TAs and UBC. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you work with TAs.

Please note:

  • In most departments, a full-time TA position is 192 hours per term. An anticipated workload form is required to be filled out and signed by both the TA and supervisor. If you are teaching a multi-section course with a coordinator, someone else might be responsible for filling out this form.
  • TAs cannot work overtime.
  • Daily TA duties cannot exceed 8 continuous hours without consent. If this is required, consult your department for how this is typically handled.
  • A full-time TA position includes 8 hours of vacation per term and 12 hours of paid sick leave per term. Vacation time will be included in the anticipated workload form.

UBC has shifted from “Student Evaluations of Teaching” to “Student Experience of Instruction.” Students are asked to provide feedback near the end of the term on their course experience and the quality of learning. Students access the survey in their Canvas shell and receive reminder emails. You can monitor the survey completion rate on Canvas and will receive results within a few weeks of the end of term, only once your course grades have been submitted.


Examination and grading

The following items offer logistical information and a few suggestions about administering midterm exams.

  • Whether midterm exams can be scheduled during or outside of class time varies across faculties. Check with the head of your department/program to learn about the practice in your unit.
  • It is increasingly common for faculties and departments to gather information regarding midterm scheduling to limit student conflicts. Check with your department administrators to see if you are required to add your midterm date/ time to this schedule.
  • If scheduling a midterm outside class time, include the date and time within the syllabus course schedule, so students can plan ahead. Check that no other major midterms are happening on that same date/time or offer students alternate options. Work with your departmental colleagues and administrators when booking a midterm outside of class time. Additionally, if you administer a two-hour midterm outside of class time, you should cancel two hours of lecture time to balance this out.
  • Midterms or other exams cannot take place within the last two weeks of the term. However, according to the Senate Policy (PDF) and current practice on term and examination scheduling, it is acceptable to have regularly scheduled quizzes and assignments due during these two weeks.

The following items offer logistical information about final exams in your courses.

  • According to the UBC Vancouver Senate Policy on the Use of the Formal Examination Periods (PDF), first and second-year courses should have formal final exams, “unless the relevant dean and head, for sound academic reasons, grants an exemption.”
  • The final exam schedule is arranged centrally and announced sometime in the second month of the term. Your department administrator will reach out to you early in the term to solicit requests for specific final exam scheduling, which can sometimes be accommodated with sufficient reason.
  • Final exams must be kept for one calendar year after the exam date. After that, they can be shredded.
  • A student can apply for an out-of-time final or Standing Deferred (SD) under the Academic Concession Policy, which states that there are three grounds for academic concession in three circumstances: (1) conflicting responsibilities, (2) medical grounds, and (3) compassionate grounds. Students apply for SD through their faculty advising office, who may contact you to provide an interim account of student academic performance or to provide additional information that may be helpful for the SD request to be assessed. If a student contacts you about having missed their final exam after the fact, for any reason, you can refer them to their faculty advising office to go through the SD application process. Note that you do not have to enter the deferred standing into the system. It will appear automatically after the standing is approved and entered by advising.
  • If a student does not write the final exam, you should indicate this in the “Standing” column of the grad submission form. A “DNW” will appear next to their grade.

UBC uses a percentage scale (100%) and equivalent letter grades for grading purposes. Grading schemes must be provided in the syllabus as written guidelines to students about how their final grade is calculated (according to the UBC Vancouver Syllabus Policy). At the end of the course, you will be responsible for calculating and submitting a percentage grade for each student. Check with your department about grading policies and norms.

Grades are submitted via the Faculty Service Centre (FSC); check with your department administrators or course coordinators for additional information about when to submit grades. Normally, grades should be submitted 7 business days after your final exam date, or after 5 days if your exam is on the last 2 days of the exam period. However, some departments and programs may ask you to submit grades before that so they can be reviewed internally before final submission. Grades are not released to students until after the end of the final exam period.


Indigenous Engagement

UBC launched an updated Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) in 2020, which provides a framework for units and the institution to support Indigenous people’s human rights and advance meaningful reconciliation, guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action (PDF), the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ 231 Calls for Justice, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Units and programs at UBC are engaging with the ISP and developing their own plans and actions, and multiple ISP implementation tools and resources available to support this work.

As UBC Community members, we are all responsible for advancing the institution’s commitments to Indigenous human rights, truth and meaningful reconciliation.

At UBC, many events and large meetings begin with a land acknowledgement as one way to continually remind ourselves and each other that our activities take place on unceded Indigenous territory, and our responsibilities on these Indigenous lands. Consider including a land acknowledgement in your syllabus and/or in class at the beginning of the term.

  • Use native-land.ca to locate Indigenous nations and regions around the world. This website is useful for finding out where you are located if you are not on campus, so that you can appropriately and accurately acknowledge the land on which you are situated.
  • Land acknowledgements should be expressed as meaningful and personal statements as opposed to rote statements with standardized language. To help you craft your own personal land acknowledgement, you can take the Indigenous Learning Pathways: Land Acknowledgements at UBC asynchronous course created by the CTLT Indigenous Initiatives team & Orientations & Onboarding program in Central HR.
  • To learn more about respectful use of language relating to Indigenous topics at UBC, please refer to the UBC Indigenous Peoples' Language Guidelines (PDF).


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

A framework for Strategic Equity and Anti-Racism (StEAR) has been developed, to guide the implementation of multiple equity and anti-racism plans and recommendations at the institution, including:

The Positive Space campaign is a campus-wide initiative intended to raise awareness and visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans and queer students, staff, faculty, alumni and allies at UBC.

  • Take the new Positive Space: Foundations course to learn about topics such as amatonormativity, how to respond if you make mistakes such as misgendering and how you can engage in respectful interactions related to names, pronouns and inclusive language.


Technology and UBC systems

Your Campus-Wide Login (CWL) provides access to UBC’s online systems such as Canvas, Workday, and the Faculty Service Centre (FSC), where instructors access class lists (with student photos to help learn names) and submit grades.

UBC hosts many learning technologies (LT) to support teaching and learning. Staff in the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology and the Learning Technology Hub can provide training and support, and your faculty/department/unit may also have specific staff who support LT.

  • Browse through the LT tools available at UBC including Camtasia, Piazza, Qualtrics, and many more.
  • Register for LT workshops with the CTLT and the Learning Technology Hub
  • For support with LT in your teaching, email the LT Hub or visit the LT Hub website.

Canvas is the centrally supported Learning Management System (LMS) at UBC. For all credit courses listed in the UBC Course Schedule, a course shell will be automatically created prior to the beginning of the semester. If your course is not listed, then the Faculty/Department Instructional Support Staff can assist with manually creating it. Use the LMS to organize course content, create Zoom online office hour sessions, and offer online assignments and assessments.

  • For support with setting up and navigating a Canvas course, explore Canvas resources at the LT HUB.

UBC classrooms are equipped with different types of audio visual (AV) equipment to support the delivery of lectures. Some lecture theatres also offer equipment that can be used for hybrid modes of instruction, which can simultaneously stream and record the lecture for later use. If you have issues while teaching, there is an AV phone number close to the lectern or AV projection to call for immediate assistance within that building. You can also call 604-822-7956 for immediate assistance.

  • For support with recording and streaming in classrooms, learn about the equipment in various classrooms, how to use the equipment and schedule recordings, and more on the Learning Spaces website. UBC IT is committed to providing timely and effective support for UBC’s online and telecommunications services. Access the IT Service Centre Help Desk through self-service, web form, phone or walk-in.
  • Check out the UBC guidelines for in-class recordings, which include information on copyright and intellectual property, when consent for recording is required, and guidelines on sharing recordings.

UBC employees have free access to Microsoft 365 Office Applications that comply with privacy laws (see below). If using other tools, such as Google Docs, or cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox, ensure students can maintain their anonymity with a pseudonym if they prefer, and be sure not to input any identifying information for students.

UBC operates under the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which aims to protect the personal information of faculty, staff and students. When teaching, it is important to know how student privacy/work/information is protected, and that you receive student consent for aspects of coursework made to be public. Below are some resources and considerations.


Support for curricular and teaching practices

Below are some of the resources, programs and support units available to UBC instructors to enrich their teaching. Several faculties and departments have discipline-specific centres, resources and people that can support your teaching.

Support Units


  • New Faculty Orientation Guide: Resources to support your teaching (first day of class, assessment and feedback, pedagogical approaches) and better understand student experiences and challenges at UBC.
  • Inclusive Teaching @ UBC: Information about resources, professional development (PD) and funding opportunities for instructors to create more inclusive learning spaces for students.
  • Introduction to Teaching Online, a concise, self-paced online course about online teaching.


  • Teaching Development Program for New Faculty: A nine-month program to help new faculty build a foundation for their teaching careers by providing a network of support and PD opportunities focused on teaching practices.
  • CTLT Institute: Focuses on the fundamentals of teaching and learning for new and seasoned instructors and teaching assistants. The Winter, Spring, and Summer Institutes are a forum to collaborate, network, and engage in knowledge exchange.
  • Celebrate Learning Week: An annual week-long initiative in May that offers workshops and events to celebrate teaching and learning opportunities at UBC.
  • Faculty Instructional Skills Workshops: Workshop series designed to give new and experienced educators an opportunity to try new teaching approaches and sharpen their skills in a supportive atmosphere.

Check with your faculty/department/unit for internal funding opportunities to support curricular and pedagogical development and research within your courses.

  • SoTL Seed Program: Offers graduate research assistants, collegial collaborations, and complementary funding for teaching and learning projects.
  • SoTL Dissemination Fund: Open on a rolling basis. Faculty members can apply for up to $1,000 to support conference registrations and travel costs or for up to $2,000 for article processing charges or other fees related to publishing open access.
  • Students as Partners fund: Supports UBCV faculty and undergraduate students working together on undergraduate course re-design, with up to $7,100 per project.
  • Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF): Supports projects that advance UBC's strategic goals relating to transformative learning to enrich and improve student learning experiences. UBCV faculty, staff and students can apply for a multi-year Large TLEF Transformation Project grant, eligible for up to $250,000, or a Small TLEF Innovation Project grant of up to $50,000.
  • Open Educational Resources Fund (OER): Supports affordable and inclusive access to learning materials through two types of funds: OER Affordability Grants and OER Rapid Innovation Grants.
  • Each September, the CTLT and faculty support units host a series of drop-in sessions to help applicants develop their TLEF and OER project proposals.
  • Departments will often share additional funding and support opportunities as they come up.

UBC’s stated purpose is “Pursuing excellence in research, learning and engagement to foster global citizenship and advance a sustainable and just society across British Columbia, Canada and the world”. In 2019 UBC declared a Climate Emergency and committed to addressing climate change impacts, its past and current contributions to the problem, and embedding a climate justice lens into its actions.

The Sustainability Hub is a support unit on Campus that advances climate and sustainability solutions in academic endeavours, supporting faculty, students and staff to help fulfill the university’s commitments. One of the key goals is to expand climate and sustainability education across disciplines. Some of the supports for faculty that offer to help achieve this goal include:

Institution-wide plans and resources related to sustainability and climate action include:

Sign up to receive updates about upcoming workshops, speaker series, and consultation sessions about teaching and learning, Indigeneity/reconciliation, and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Check with your department administrators or colleagues for additional instructional resources and policies and inquiries about course/program components such as prerequisites, progression and resources (photocopying, instructional tools, demonstrations). Some faculties and departments have internal support for learning technologies, curriculum and pedagogy, IT and communities of practice.