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Queen's University

Centre for Teaching and Learning

Developing a Course Syllabus

The development of a course syllabus is an integral part of an instructor's overall pedagogy because the syllabus is provides students with a comprehensive overview of the course's aims and objectives, learning outcomes, and assessment strategies. In many ways, the course syllabus functions as text itself for each course. Because of this, much care must be taken in developing a syllabus that communicates all aspects of a course to students. Below is a list of strategies that has been adapted from Davis' text Tools for Teaching (1993).   

Provide Basic Course Information

Course information should include: current year, semester, course title and number, and meeting time and location. The instructor should list her/his name, office address, and a map for offices that are difficult to locate. Also include an office telephone number, the instructor’s email address, website URL, fax number, and office hours. Outline guidelines for how students should book appointments during office hours. List the contact information for all teaching assistants (T.A.s) for the course.

Describe Course Prerequisites

List all required knowledge, skills, and experiences that students should have prior to taking the course. Provide students with specific strategies for how they might prepare for the course if they do not have the required knowledge.

Describe the Course's Purpose

Provide an overview of the aims of the course (often from the Course Calendar).  

State Learning Goals & Objectives

List course objectives. List specific skills or knowledge that students will acquire with successful completion of the course.

Explain the Course’s Rationale

Provide students with an overview of why you structured the course in the manner what you did, for example, using a particular sequence of an arrangement by theme.

Describe the Course’s Format

Outline the various activities that students will be engaged in throughout the course. For example: fieldwork, research projects, lectures, field trips, and so on. Outlines required versus recommended activities and state how required activities will be assessed.

Outline the Course’s Schedule

The schedule should include the sequence of topics, readings, assignments, holidays, guest speakers, and so on. Ensure that examination dates are firmly fixed to provide students with sufficient time to prepare for them. Provide students with updated schedules when changes are made. Often a table is helpful, see example below.

Date Topic Readings Assignments


 Texts & Materials

Clearly outline all required readings and texts. If possible, link readings to themes being examined in the course, especially if readings are assigned out of sequence from a text book. Indicate whether texts can be purchased from local bookstores and whether texts will be placed on reserve at the library.

Additional Materials

Identify materials needed beyond texts, such as lab equipment, safety equipment, art supplies, calculators, computers, drafting materials, and so on.


Explain evaluation methods and the manner in which grades will be assigned. Give students a breakdown of how much each assignment will be weighted at the start of the course. For example, if students are able to drop their lowest mark, clearly indicate this.


Clearly describe all assignments that are required for the course. Include the expected length of each, with corresponding deadlines. Also include dates for quizzes and exams. Where possible, outline the format of each assignment (term paper, research essay, take home examination, and so on.

Other Course Requirements

Cleary list whether students are expected to participate in online forums or study groups.

Discuss Course Policies

State course policies regarding attendance, late submissions, make-up tests, extra credit, extensions, illnesses, copyright, and so on. The instructor may also outline expectations for student behaviour and student responsibilities with respect to learning.

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity provides the foundation for the “freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas” fundamental to the educational environment at Queen’s University. As a member of the Center for Academic Integrity, Queen’s subscribes to the definition of academic integrity as a “commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values” honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility” (Faculty of Arts and Science,

The Academic Integrity Policy ( developed by Queen’s University outlines the behaviors that constitute academic dishonesty and the processes for addressing academic offences. You must be familiar with the policies of the university, graduate studies, programs and courses, School of Nursing calendar, the Student’s handbook and information posted on SONIT. If you have any questions or concerns about what constitutes appropriate academic behavior or appropriate research and citation methods, please seek out additional information on academic integrity from your professor or other institutional resources (see

Definition of Plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined as presenting another’s idea’s or phrasing as one’s own without proper acknowledgement. Examples include: copying and pasting internet, printed source, or other resources without proper acknowledgement; copying from another student; using direct quotes or large sections of paraphrased material in an assignment without appropriate acknowledgement; submitting the same piece of work in more than one course without permission of the professor(s); using another researcher’s data without proper acknowledgement , or specifically allowed by the instructor and the author; submission for publication of articles published elsewhere except where clearly indicated to be a republication (

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Clearly state that students with physical and learning disabilities must contact the instructor in order for accommodations/modifications for course expectations to be made (where necessary).


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