Unit value for course offerings is governed by Academic Senate Regulation (SR) 760, which states in part: “The value of a course in units shall be reckoned at the rate of one unit for three hours’ work per week per term on the part of a student, or the equivalent.” COCI defines “work” to include class contact time as well as time spent outside of class studying and doing research or homework. Thus, a three-unit course offered during fall or spring requires a minimum of nine hours of total work per week. (The work hours per week will be higher for six-, eight-, and ten-week term lengths.)
SR 760 does not specify a relationship between unit value and class contact hours, but contact hours do often correlate to unit value. COCI utilizes the following general model to promote consistency across campus: one unit usually corresponds to 15 lecture or seminar contact hours per term. Thus, a three-unit course would generally have 45 contact hours over the course of the term. Such a course might have a format of three hours of lecture per week for 14 weeks, plus three hours of review during Reading, Review, and Recitation (RRR) Week. The course would have nine hours of total work per week, three of which would be in-class lecture. Students would be expected to do six hours of additional out-of-class work.
Departments are responsible for submitting course proposals and syllabi that include a detailed description of how unit value is justified.
Lecture and Seminar Courses
According to the model, one unit corresponds to one hour of lecture or seminar per week per semester. Each hour of lecture or seminar is generally expected to require two additional hours of work (reading, writing, problem sets, other assignments, etc.). One additional unit is normally assigned for courses with required discussion sections, when section meetings are at least one hour per week for a total of 15 hours (or more) per term.
Laboratory Courses or their Equivalent
One unit is normally assigned for each three hours of laboratory or its equivalent (workshop, studio, fieldwork, independent study, etc.) per week per term.
If a course demands extensive reading, writing, or other academic work, it may justify an additional unit of credit, beyond what would be expected based on the contact hours model. Instructors should keep in mind that an additional unit represents, on average, 45 additional hours of work expected of a student during the semester, and the instructor must demonstrate in the syllabus how students will have to commit this additional time to the course (e.g., extra readings, extra assignments, or discussion sections).
Courses that are listed for variable units must specify how unit value will be assigned. Requirements should be clearly delineated for each unit value offered.