Teaching and Learning Resources

Designing a Course Syllabus

The primary purpose of a course syllabus is to communicate to students what the course is about, why the course is being taught, where it is going and what is required of students to successfully complete the course. A well-designed syllabus also organizes information, sets the tone for class interactions, and guides student learning. The course syllabus is also an opportunity to introduce students to your approach to teaching and learning. For example if you take a learner-centered approach the syllabus can be an important learning tool to emphasize the intentions, roles, attitudes and strategies that you will use to promote your students’ learning.
 Most institutions provide policy guidelines for faculty when designing a course syllabus - McMaster University Undergraduate Course Management Policies.

Related Resources
A course syllabus checklist

An excellent resource that lists questions to consider as you design your course syllabus

The Syllabus. A step-by-step guide for creating a syllabus, from San Francisco State University.

Barbara Gross Davis’ Tools for Teaching series outlines the elements to include in a course syllabus.

McKeachie, Wilber J., “Teaching Tips” Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2002. pgs. 24 & 25 have several pages with great tips on designing a course syllabus. There are a number of copies in the CLL Library in Mills Library, 504.