Grading Scale

The grading scale for the course is as follows:

95 to 100: A

90 to 94.99: A(-)

87 to 89.99: B(+)

83 to 86.99: B

80 to 82.99: B(-)

77 to 79.99: C(+)

73 to 77.99: C

70 to 72.99: C(-)

60 to 69.99: D

Below 60:

Note that the A line is drawn a bit higher in this course than in many other courses.

Late Work and Do Overs

It is our general policy to not accept work that is handed in late and to not offer a "do over" on assignments (e.g., you really need to improve your grades so you want to redo an assignment; you overslept and failed to upload that assignment that was due at 5PM).

That said, when issues involving personal health, family emergencies, or other unexpected circumstances emerge, the appropriate (and best) thing we can do given the situation is make an exception to this policy.

And so, if personal circumstances emerge that impact your ability to complete coursework, the best thing to do is to let Professor Etienne and/or Professor Ransler know as soon as possible, so that we can find the most appropriate solution possible.

Extra Credit

Unfortunately, we do not offer any assignment or other opportunities for extra credit in this course.

Rounding Grades

Unfortunately, we are not able to round any grades up, or down, in this course.


Each assignment will have a specific rubric, as outlined in either this syllabus or the assignment's details. However, the general "rubric" for grading the various components of assignments would be:

A is for “Absolutely met the expectations for the assignment.” An excellent assignment would be well-structured, coherent, carefully written/presented (that means spelling and grammar count) and persuasive, supported by evidence, analyses and additional materials that make use of data and appropriate tools of the trade encountered in the readings and during class discussions.

B is for “Better work is within reach.” A good assignment would be relatively well-structured, mostly coherent, pretty carefully written (that means spelling and grammar count) and for-the-most-part persuasive, largely supported by pretty decent evidence, analyses and materials that make largely competent use of data and generally appropriate tools of the trade encountered in the readings and during class discussions.

C is for “Could use real improvement.” An assignment that could use real improvement is one that was not so well-structured, not very coherent, not carefully written (that means spelling and grammar count) and unpersuasive. The argument set forth in the assignment would be only loosely supported by suspect evidence, analyses, and/or materials that make less-than-competent use of data and inappropriate tools of the trade encountered in the readings and during class discussions.

D is for “Did not meet the basic expectations for the assignment.” An assignment that does not meet the basic expectations for the assignment is just that, an assignment that does not meet even the basic expectations for the assignment.

F is for “Failed to turn in or even respond to the assignment.” Do nothing, or turn in something that does not seem to even be responding to the expectations for the assignment and you will fail the assignment. This is also the highest grade that could be earned from an assignment within which seemingly willful plagiarism has occurred.


Plagiarism suffers from a number of complicated and at times conflicting definitions. According to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (2009), plagiarism would be broadly defined as, to “take [the work or idea of someone else] and pass it off as one’s own.” The Honor Committee at the University of Virginia has created a pamphlet designed to clarify the issue of plagiarism. That pamphlet can be found here — Understanding Plagiarism and Paraphrasing: A University of Virginia Honor Committee Supplement.

This course will operate under a “warning shot” policy, as far as plagiarism is concerned. At the first sight of something that looks to us like plagiarism, on any single assignment, we will make it known that we think what has been turned in involves plagiarism of some kind. You will have a single chance to re-write, or re-present that assignment such that the issue(s) can be resolved. If you disagree with our assessment of plagiarism, resolution will be delegated to the Honor Committee. And, as instructed by this Committee, we will grade the most recent version of the assignment according to our concern that plagiarism occurred.