Elements of a Syllabus
As the first section that most students will read, the course information section of a college syllabus includes the basic quantitative information about the class. The main points listed in the course information section include course name, course number, credit hours, and any prerequisites if applicable. Addition information includes the location, times, days, and dates of the class.
The second section that students may refer to often is the instructor information section. Because students may need to contact the instructor throughout the semester, the instructor information section lists the full name, office location, phone number, and email address of the instructor as well as office hours during which students can stop by without an appointment. The instructor information section also lists contact information for any teaching assistants.
The course materials section of a syllabus lists the required textbooks, journal articles, webpages, and other materials for the class. Students should note the location of each item; for example, textbooks may be available at a campus bookstore or from the library course reserves, while articles may be available on the Internet or through a library database. For laboratory classes, the course materials section also lists other required materials such as a lab coat or art supplies. The course materials section may also list any recommended reading outside the scope of assignments.
The course description section of a college syllabus provides an overview of the class including the course goals or objectives. At a minimum, the course description section will repeat the description of the class from the course catalog. Most instructors, however, will include more detailed information describing the specific class outside the catalog description. Some instructors will also include a section on the goals or objectives of the course to help students better understand the purpose of the class.
The most important section of a syllabus is the course calendar sections. The course calendar outlines the due dates for readings, assignments, discussions, papers, presentations, tests, and all other coursework. Students will refer to the course calendar frequently through the semester. Some course calendars break down the class by week while other give more detailed information for each day. Note, however, that course calendars are not set in stone but may be modified according to specific class needs.
The final section of a college syllabus is the course policies section. Course policies include information on policies such as attendance, participation, missed assignments and exams, classroom management, safety, academic dishonesty and plagiarism, grading and assessment, and computer or cell phone use.
For an example of a syllabus for a college course, please download Sample Syllabus.