Bringing It All Together

What Exactly is a Syllabus?

A syllabus is regularly described as a…

  • Contract
  • Permanent record
  • Roadmap
  • Communication device
  • Learning aid

A syllabus a requisite document for teaching in that it serves to outline the basic elements of a course including what topics will be covered, a weekly schedule, and a list of tests, assignments, and their associated weightings. However, a syllabus has the power to do more than that, it can articulate connections between learning outcomes, assessments, content, and pedagogical practice – that is, the way in which the course is constructively aligned – in guiding students through their learning. We consider the syllabus here due to the way in which this document serves as a communication piece of both the practical details and the overall alignment of your course.

The development of a course syllabus is an integral part of an instructor's overall pedagogy and an opportunity to share your excitement and passion about teaching and learning. Your 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.

Different institutions have different standards and resources to guide syllabus development. Some institutions communicate particular standards they expect all syllabi of the institution to contain; some institutions also provide templates for assisting their educators to develop such standardized documents. It would therefore be advantageous for you to check with your institution for such standards and resources. However, in absence of institution-specific assistance or in compliment to what your institution can provide you, this syllabus checklist document offers a list of the common elements considered essential in putting together a syllabus.


Use the Course Syllabus Checklist opens in new window to ensure you create a thorough syllabus