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Designing a course syllabus

Syllabus Structure

Note: when it comes to syllabus design, there is lot of variation between the disciplines and departments. Work form an existing model: ask a colleague if you can view 1 or 2 of their course syllabi.  Most undergraduate syllabi include the following sections:

  • Teaching Staff
  • Contact Details, Office Address
  • Office Hours
  • Course Description: broad "course goals", course outline or overview
  • Student Learning Outcomes: specific, measurable or indicative statements that specify to students what they will learn
  • Timetable: days, dates, times
  • Teaching Modes: eg. face-to-face classes, labs, sections, online discussions, podcasts, video-conferencing.  If using a course management system like GauchoSpace, how will it be used?
  • Instructional methods and strategies: lecturing, discussion, pairwork, groupwork, collaborative learning, active learning strategies, individual research and writing
  • Essential Reading: where to access, purchase, approx. cost
  • Additional Readings: reserve/eRes in library, course readings booklet
  • Other Resources: eg. i<clickers, websites, URLs, video clips, other materials and media
  • Teaching and Course Evaluation 
  • Academic Integrity: your values and expectations, the process when plagiarism is suspected, links to University policy on academci integrity
  • Student Services: links to various student services on campus
  • Schedule of Classes: your plan for the quarter with dates, readings, topics & questions, activities, session learning outcomes, assessment deadlines
  • Assessment Requirements: brief description, weightings, due dates.
  • Assessment Policies: your values and expectations, policy on late submissions
  • Grade Descriptors (if used).  What do the grade levels A, B, C etc, represent?

Graduate Course Syllabi: Considerations

A grad student focus: As with all syllabus design and instructional decisions, put yourself in the shoes of your students and ask yourself what your students already know, what they want to know, and what they need to know about the course content.  It might be helpful to elaborate on the nature and processes of each weekly class (expectations, interactions, groupwork, for example).  Be clear about assessment requirements and weightings. 

What is negotiable?  Can your grad students negotiate aspects of the course and some of the assessment requirements? What is not negotiable?

Your teaching values:   Include a statement of your pedagogical values. eg: Timeliness? Respect? Multiple perspectives encouraged? Responsiveness? Dialog? Autonomy? others?....

What is really important to you as an instructor, especially at the graduate level?  How can you model in your syllabus and T/L processes, some of  those espoused values? 

We can all learn: Another challenge for you as an instructor, when (re)designing a syllabus is to ask yourself: "What do I want to learn?" and "How will we all go about that?"

consultation contacts

George Michaelsexecutive director2130 Kerr Hall
lisa berrysenior instructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
mindy colininstructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
Mary Lou Ramos database and ESCI administrator1130 Kerr Hall
TBD ESCI assistant1124 Kerr Hall


Laurel Shaddixoffice manager 1130 Kerr Hall
faxfax: 805-893-5915