Course Syllabus Definition

This resource describes the purpose of a course syllabus, recommends elements to include, and provides a suggested template. It is based partly on the work of O’Brien, Mills and Cohen (2008) who recommend a learning-centered approach to composing a course syllabus. We recommend you review the information which follows and choose elements of the template suitable to your course.

Note: This resource reflects the syllabus requirements as outlined in the Evaluation of Student Work, Course Syllabus section of the University Calendar. Required sections are marked with an asterisk (*). Become familiar with university policies and regulations relating to the provision of course information and to making changes to a course syllabus after it has been distributed to students. Your school, faculty, or department may have a unit-wide required or suggested syllabus template for your use.


A course syllabus is:

[a] concise outline of a course of study. But it is also the students’ introduction to the course, the subject matter and you. In addition to providing a schedule of class assignments, reading and activities, it should give students insight into and appreciation for the material. In a sense, then, it is not only the road map for the terms’ foray into knowledge but also a travelogue to pique students’ interest in the expedition.

(Nilson, 2010, p. 33)
Resource created by Allyson M. & Jane C.