Academic Policies


Deadlines for papers and other written assignments should ordinarily coincide with class meeting times. Papers may also be submitted to the English Department office, 215 University Hall, as long as you have cleared this with your professor ahead of time. You should enter your name, the professor’s name, the date and time, etc. in the assignment log on the front desk, then hand your paper to the staff member working behind the desk. He or she will place the paper in the professor’s mailbox. Papers must be submitted to the English Department office no later than 4 p.m. on the due date.

Return of student work

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. Among other provisions, it requires faculty members to treat student grades as confidential information. This means that instructors must return all graded work directly to you, in person, electronically, or in the mail. You cannot ask a friend or a classmate to pick up a graded assignment for you.

During the academic quarter, faculty members normally return essays and examinations during class or office hours. End-of-term assignments can be returned electronically or via regular mail. If you would like a final paper mailed to you, please submit a stamped, self-addressed envelope at the same time that you submit your paper. Be sure to include sufficient postage! You can also retrieve end-of-term work by visiting the professor’s office hours during the following quarter.

WCAS Reading Period

WCAS sets aside a period immediately preceding final exams for review and consolidation of material learned over the course of the quarter. No student may be required to hand in any work during Reading Period, nor may any examinations be given. If you find that the due date for a required assignment falls during Reading Period, you should bring this to your professor’s attention immediately. If your professor does not change the due date, please bring the problem to the attention of the Chair of the English Department.

Additional information on the WCAS Reading Period is available here.


Instructors may schedule examinations either 1) during regular class meetings or 2) at the date and time listed in each quarter’s Class Schedule, available from the Office of the Registrar. Examinations may not be scheduled during the Reading Period.

Before registering for a class, it is your responsibility to make sure that you will be available to take the final examination at the regularly scheduled time. If you become unable, for sufficient reason, to take the final exam at the regularly scheduled time, you should petition for an incomplete in the course (see below). If you inadvertently miss a final exam, contact the instructor immediately.

Inability to Complete Course Work

If you find yourself unable to complete the work in a given course, you can drop the course through Caesar at any point through the sixth Friday of each quarter, with no signature or permission number needed. If you discover after that deadline that you cannot complete the work for a given course due to circumstances beyond your control, you should follow the procedure for petitioning for an incomplete. Take the completed petition, along with any supporting documentation, to your professor for his or her signature, then to the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1908 Sheridan Road.  

You are strongly advised to petition for an incomplete as soon as you know that you’ll be unable to complete your coursework. In general, the range of options available to students experiencing difficulties narrows as the quarter proceeds.

Accommodations for Disabilities

Students requiring accommodations for disabilities should register with AccessibleNU. Once you are registered, you may request that AccessibleNU send a letter to your professors informing them of the specific accommodations for which you are eligible. You are also strongly encouraged to meet with your professors during the first two weeks of the quarter to discuss the details of implementing your accommodations. All discussions will remain confidential.

Academic Integrity

In accordance with WCAS policy on Academic Integrity, the English Department refers all cases of suspected academic dishonesty to the Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity and Advising. A student who suspects that another student has violated academic integrity standards should contact the same Assistant Dean. All conversations will be held in strictest confidence, and the Assistant Dean will not proceed unless the student making the report gives his or her consent.

If you are concerned about inadvertently committing plagiarism, whether because you are unsure of proper citation practices or for some other reason, please consult with your instructor or TA.

Grade Appeals

A student who is dissatisfied with his or her grade in a given course is strongly encouraged to discuss the situation with the course instructor. If you cannot resolve the situation with the professor, your next steps should be to contact the English Department Chair, followed by the WCAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Note, however, that neither the English Department nor the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs has the power to change a grade assigned by an instructor unless that grade was determined in a prejudicial or capricious manner.

Confidentiality of Student Records

Parents and other interested parties sometimes contact faculty members to discuss a student’s progress in a particular course or in the English major as a whole. In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), faculty members cannot discuss your educational records with anyone outside the university without your written consent. Within Northwestern University, student records are open to university officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information contained in the records.

Consult the FERPA site for more information, including a consent form for the release of your educational records.

Questions about any of these policies? Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.