General Considerations

Four Functions of a Syllabus

You need to write your syllabus carefully because it fulfills the following four important functions:

  • a contract between you and the students
  • a reference document which the students will scan
  • an example of the planning and organization you expect of yourself (and them)
  • a first contact between you and students whose nature can help create a safe, affirming, and exciting classroom environment by communicating
    • tone (open, warm, optimistic rather than suspicious, defensive, sarcastic)
    • focus (on what this class can do for the student, on what the student can learn)
    • passion (for your subject, for the student)  


Coordination with Department and University

  • for a multi-section course, ask your department to identify the course elements to be standardized
  • for General Education courses, include the pertinent catalog copy relating to course purpose
  • for all courses, check on departmental policy about issues like attendance, attire, lateness, homework, grading criteria, etc.

Content List

A thorough syllabus should contain the following items:

  • Information about you, the course, and the course texts
  • Goals and objectives
  • Means of assessment and grades
  • Expectations for student work
  • Class rules
  • Daily schedule of assignments

More information on creating a syllabus is available on pdf.