Advising and Academic Policies

Director of Undergraduate Studies

The Director of Undergraduate Studies oversees course scheduling, answers inquiries about academic policy, and serves as the departmental academic advisor for current and prospective students in the Program of Liberal Studies. Students should consult the Director during the registration period in order to schedule their PLS courses.

Academic Policies

General Policies

Students and faculty of the Program of Liberal Studies agree to the following guidelines out of respect for each other and the process of discussion-based education.

  • Regular attendance
    Unexcused absences will affect grades
  • Promptness
  • Care in preparation for class
  • Respect for the rights of others in the classroom

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Because PLS majors make a commitment to the curriculum as a whole, the Program of Liberal Studies does not allow automatic exemptions.

However, particular adjustments can be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the student’s situation.

Full-year foreign language programs, typically taken in the sophomore year, require the greatest adjustment and preparation. Current offerings of first year University Seminars are specifically intended to provide a substitute for Seminars I-II.

While all of the Great Books Seminars must be taken, we do allow students to forgo one or two of the tutorials. Exemption requests to accommodate second majors, concentrations, and double majors will be granted on a case-by case basis only after review by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

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Honesty Code

The University has a general Honor Code, which governs the campus. Students are asked to familiarize themselves with the latest and revised version of the Honor Code for specifics and official policies.

Although outright plagiarism needs little discussion, the special character of PLS may create some ambiguous circumstances,

Group Study

For example, group study is common and encouraged in PLS. But what are its limits?

As a general rule, group studying for examinations should not defeat the purposes of the exam.. Examples of such violations would be the following:

  1. Group division of labor on take-home examinations such that the purpose of the examination is defeated.
  2. Sharing questions asked in oral examinations with students who have not yet been examined.
  3. Using other students’ information to construct required reports on lectures or concerts you have been asked to attend as part of the class.

Writing Assignments

Writing assignments can also present special problems. Whereas it may be obvious that you would need to cite your sources in a research paper, what about a reflective essay or a sample of poetic writing? What are the rules on internet sources?

As a safe rule, assume that if the ideas are not your own, you need to make this clear to the reader in some way. Even if you are not directly copying or quoting another work, if the ideas are substantially derived from another person’s work, make certain you give some acknowledgment of the source. In no case should you make use of an author’s words or ideas without quotation marks and citation. Accessed web sites should also be clearly referenced.

Seek Advice

Do not hesitate to ask the instructor if you are unclear on ways to handle a questionable issue, and discuss with him or her any issues pertaining to citation on which you are unclear.

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Second Majors and Minors

Students within the Program have enough elective room (ten electives over the three years) to pursue concentrations in other programs, such as Medieval Studies, the Hesburgh Program in Public Service, and the Science, Technology and Values Program. Program students are sometimes involved in the Arts and Letters Honors Program.

Many are able to complete second majors in such fields as philosophy, theology, languages, English, premedical studies, computer applications, and mathematics. With judicious use of your electives you can combine the PLS major with many additional programs. Our assumption, however, is that PLS is your primary major. We encourage students to use their electives wisely and to begin early to complete these external programs so as to avoid undue conflicts with internal requirements.

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International and Off-Campus Study

A large number of PLS students participate in at least one of the foreign language studies programs abroad. These include sophomore year foreign language programs (e.g. Angers, Innsbruck) and junior year programs.

The Notre Dame London Program is attended by quite a few PLS students in the spring of the junior year. Great Books Seminar IV is regularly offered in London. Program students have also attended off-campus programs in the U.S., such as the Hesburgh Program in Public Service in Washington.

Participation in junior year programs creates issues in requirement fulfillment that must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Participation in programs not officially affiliated with Notre Dame require leave-of-absence (LOA) permission from the Arts and Letters Dean’s office and applications for these must be approved beforehand by the Program Undergraduate Advisor.

The Arts and Letters College only issues such LOA permissions on a highly competitive basis, and they must be applied for at fixed times in the year (April, October).

Students attending foreign or off-campus programs will typically have some makeup work to do. Those interested in sophomore year programs can often prepare for them by taking the PLS University Seminar, if it coincides with Great Books Seminar I or II. Those going abroad during the spring semester should consider taking the Seminar II or a PLS University Seminar that coincides with Seminar II.

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