Since a copy of the courses of study and the rules governing academics is made available during registration and later, every student who joins IISER Mohali for BS-MS should be aware of the following points. However, there is no harm in repetition.
The core program at IISER is multi-disciplinary. There will be courses in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology as well as some courses in Humanties and Social Sciences and few other inter-disciplinary courses as well during the first two years.
Scholarships and Attendance
The INSPIRE and KVPY scholarships are provided by the DST as an incentive to students to take up studies in science. This means that students are expected to put in a "best effort" to learn what the program puts before them. "Scientists are those who face problems head-on rather than run away from them". In particular, students who do not put in such an effort ("bunk" labs and classes) should expect to lose their scholarship.
Duration of Program
The course structure described in the courses of study booklet, is the norm. Students are permitted to drop courses during a particular semester and take them later; this way they volunatarily create a "backlog course". However, the complete course requirement of the core and each major must be met in order to graduate. They can take up to 3 years to complete the core programme and up to 7 years to complete the whole programme.
The graduation requirement is a CPI of 5.0 after completing all the requisite courses (core, core elective, major mandatory, major elective, open elective, seminar and project courses). Completing a course means obtaining a letter grade A,B,C,D,F in the course. (Note that a CPI of 4.0 must be maintained to stay in the programme.)
In particular, there is no "repeat" requirement attached to an F grade. However, a student who is on probation is often required to repeat courses in order to raise her/his CPI above the threshold of 4.0. Only a student with an F grade can repeat a course. While registering for a repeat course during a regular semester, a student should drop some other course of similar or greater credit weightage so that the total weightage does not exceed the prescribed weightage for the given semester. At most two courses can be registered for during the summer semester.
There is no concept of "promotion" from year to year in the BS-MS programme. Students who repeat courses or drop courses or drop semesters, will find themselves "behind" their batch in terms of the number of requisite credits obtained; such students have a "backlog" of courses to complete. Students are permitted to take up to 7 years to complete the 5-year program in order to complete "backlog" courses.
In order to assist such students in completing their program in time, summer courses are sometimes offered by faculty members during a specified 8 week period in summer. The offering of such courses is voluntary on the part of the faculty and enrollment by students in such courses is also voluntary on the part of the students. Moreover, only students with an F grade in a course may register for a summer course.
Registration for Electives and Projects
The course structure has a number of electives and a final-year project in two parts. Students must register for such courses by choosing an elective and providing their choice of possible project supervisors. However, such registration is subject to approval. The instructor of an elective course may ask a student to provide proof that they are capable of handling the course contents. This may include questions about courses they have already done. A faculty member may similarly ask searching questions of a student wishing to do a final-year project with her/him. Students may want to keep this in mind while acquiring F grades or dropping courses or semesters.
An Extreme Example
As an extreme example, suppose a to-be brilliant Mathematical Physicist joins the programme and gets A in all Math and Physics (non-lab) courses and an 'F' in all other courses. Let us calculate her CPI/SPI from semester to semester.
BIO101:F, BIO111:F, CHM101:F, CHM111:F, PHY101:A, PHY111:F, MTH101:A, IDC101:A, HSS101:F CPI=SPI= 80/19 = 4.2 (IDC101 is programming which is mathematical enough!) (Loses scholarship as CPI < 6.0.)
BIO102:F, BIO112:F, CHM102:F, CHM112:F, PHY102:A, PHY112:F, MTH102:A, IDC102:F, HSS102:F SPI= 60/19 = 3.2; CPI = 140/38 = 3.7 (Gets a warning and is put on probation.)
BIO201:F, BIO111:F, CHM201:F, CHM211:F, PHY201:A, PHY211:F, MTH201:A, IDC201:A, IDC211:F SPI= 80/18 = 4.4; CPI = 220/56 = 3.9 (IDC201 is Astronomy/Astrophysics which is math/physics enough!) (Gets a termination letter and (say!) is allowed to continue on probation.)
BIO202:F, BIO212:F, CHM202:F, CHM212:F, PHY202:A, PHY212:F, MTH202:A, IDC204:A, HSS202:F SPI= 80/19 = 4.2; CPI = 300/75 = 4.0 (IDC204 is Theory of Computation which is math enough!) (Survives in the program (only just!) and chooses Math Major)
MTH301:A, MTH302:A, MTH303:A, MTH304:A, PHY302: A, IDC351:A SPI= 210/21 = 10.0; CPI = 510/96 = 5.3
MTH305:A, MTH306:A, MTH307:A, MTH308:A, IDC402: A, IDC352:A SPI= 210/21 = 10.0; CPI = 720/117 = 6.2 (IDC402 is Non-linear dynamics which is math/phys enough!) (Scholarship is restored as CPI has crossed 6.0!)
MTH401:A, MTH402:A, MTH416:A, MTH411:A, PHY622:A, PHY301:A SPI= 250/25 = 10.0; CPI = 970/142 = 6.8
MTH406:A, MTH407:A, MTH408:A, MTH410:A, PHY635:A, SPI= 210/21 = 10.0; CPI = 1180/163 = 7.2
PRJ501:A, HSS302:F SPI= 160/20 = 8.0; CPI = 1340/183 = 7.3
PRJ502:A, HSS304:F SPI= 160/20 = 8.0; CPI = 1500/203 = 7.4
The student graduates with Mathematics Major and enough Physics courses as well! (Note that the student has a total of 27 F grades!)
Can it be done with Mathematics Courses only? In other words, all the PHY/IDC open electives to be replaced by MTH electives and get F in PHY theory core as well. In that case, the CPI = (1500-4310-2*10)/203 = 6.7 (since the IDC201 course is ``too much physics'') which is enough to graduate. However, she won't escape the core years with successive CPI's of 50/19 = 2.6, 80/38 = 2.1 110/56 = 2.0, 160/75 = 2.1!