The Syllabus

Once your course outline has been finished, your readings selected, and your class activities scheduled, you can prepare a written version of your plans for your students.

Even more important than a one-page syllabus for a lab or discussion section, a complete course syllabus serves as an invitation to students interested in your course. It usually provides the first impression they will have both of you and your course, and serves as a legal contract between you and your students, communicating the structure of the course and its operating procedures. A carefully constructed syllabus creates fewer opportunities for miscommunication and charges of capricious grading. A well-prepared syllabus indicates that you take teaching seriously and presents a positive image to your students, your department, and your supervisor.

All University syllabi should include the following elements:

The Center for Teaching and Learning has compiled some helpful articles on syllabus construction at the following website:

After you have completed a draft of your syllabus, you should review it with your supervisor and/or faculty advisor. Is your course consistent with departmental needs? Do you have enough material to challenge students and sustain their interest? Is your syllabus flexible--if it is necessary to make changes in the middle of the term, do you have room to make those changes? Are the major themes of the course easily identifiable? Ask colleagues to provide suggestions on how you can improve your syllabus.