Syllabus Design

There are several components to a syllabus and inclusions that should be considered. Review these below as well as the right side links to course-level learning outcomes, points in the semester to consider, and incorporating technology in your course.

Incorporating the following components in a syllabus will ensure that the instructor and student are on the same page and have the same expectations to meet the learning objectives of the course. 

  • Basic Information
  • Course Description
  • Learning outcomes/goals/objectives
  • Materials
  • Requirements: exams, quizzes, assignments
  • Policies: grading procedures, attendance, participation, etc
  • Schedule: tentative calendar of topics and readings, exam dates, last day to drop date
  • Resources: tips for success, glossaries, links, academic support services, etc
  • Statement on accommodation
  • Evaluation of student performance (grading criteria, etc.) 
  • Rights: students' and instructors'
  • Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • UC Berkeley Honor Code (link is external)
  • Disclaimer

For more details and ideas to consider about each syllabus component, review the Components of a Course Syllabus guide.

Important Inclusions

Each section below includes language that can be incorporated in a syllabus based on:

Academic Integrity

You are a member of an academic community at one of the world’s leading research universities. Universities like Berkeley create knowledge that has a lasting impact in the world of ideas and on the lives of others; such knowledge can come from an undergraduate paper as well as the lab of an internationally known professor.  One of the most important values of an academic community is the balance between the free flow of ideas and the respect for the intellectual property of others. Researchers don't use one another's research without permission; scholars and students always use proper citations in papers; professors may not circulate or publish student papers without the writer's permission; and students may not circulate or post materials (handouts, exams, syllabi--any class materials) from their classes without the written permission of the instructor.

Any test, paper or report submitted by you and that bears your name is presumed to be your own original work that has not previously been submitted for credit in another course unless you obtain prior written approval to do so from your instructor. In all of your assignments, including your homework or drafts of papers, you may use words or ideas written by other individuals in publications, web sites, or other sources, but only with proper attribution. If you are not clear about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or examination, be sure to seek clarification from your instructor or GSI beforehand. Finally, you should keep in mind that as a member of the campus community, you are expected to demonstrate integrity in all of your academic endeavors and will be evaluated on your own merits. The consequences of cheating and academic dishonesty—including a formal discipline file, possible loss of future internship, scholarship, or employment opportunities, and denial of admission to graduate school—are simply not worth it.

[the instructor may wish to include specific consequences for cheating with regard to grades and/ or reporting to Student Affairs.]

Additional material for syllabi, exams, and homework assignments

Here are some examples of materials that could be inserted into a course syllabus to speak to the issue of academic integrity. Since different classes have different requirements regarding working together on exams and homework assignments, the exact wording would need to be tailored accordingly.

Collaboration and Independence: Reviewing lecture and reading materials and studying for exams can be enjoyable and enriching things to do together with one’s fellow students. We recommend this. However, homework assignments should be completed independently and materials turned in as homework should be the result of one’s own independent work. Some assignments, namely the preparation for the debate arguments, are meant to be done together in a group.

Cheating: Anyone caught cheating on a quiz or exam will receive a failing grade and will also be reported to the University Office of Student Conduct. In order to guarantee that you are not suspected of cheating, please keep your eyes on your own materials and do not converse with others during the quizzes and exams.

Plagiarism/Self-plagiarism: You must be original in composing the writing assignments in this class. To copy text or ideas from another source (including your own previously, or concurrently, submitted course work) without appropriate reference is plagiarism and will result in a failing grade for your assignment and usually further disciplinary action. For additional information on plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and how to avoid it, see, for example:http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/citations.html#Plagiarismhttp://gsi.berkeley.edu/teachingguide/misconduct/prevent-plag.html

Academic Integrity and Ethics: Cheating on exams and plagiarism are examples of violations in the realm of ethics and integrity. Honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior are of great importance in all facets of life. They are so important that it is generally assumed that one has learned and internalized these qualities at an early age. As a result, these issues rarely get explicitly addressed by the time one gets to be a university student. However, it cannot be overstated just how important honesty is to the academic enterprise. 

Turnitin: UC Berkeley's honor code states "As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others." As a tool to promote academic integrity in this course, written work submitted via bCourses may be checked for originality using Turnitin. Turnitin compares student work to a database of books, journal articles, websites, and other student papers. This creates an opportunity for students to improve their academic writing skills, by ensuring that other sources have been properly cited and attributed. For more information about Turnitin at UC Berkeley, visit http://ets.berkeley.edu/academic-integrity.

Policy on Academic Dishonesty/ Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct

Resources on promoting Academic Integrity

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

Please see me as soon as possible if you need particular accommodations, and we will work out the necessary arrangements.

Teaching students with Disabilities

Scheduling Conflicts

Please notify me in writing by the second week of the term about any known or potential extracurricular conflicts (such as religious observances, graduate or medical school interviews, or team activities). I will try my best to help you with making accommodations, but cannot promise them in all cases. In the event there is no mutually-workable solution, you may be dropped from the class.

Guidelines Concerning Conflicts with Academic Requirements - As instructors, take special care to note that "The pedagogical needs of the class are the key criteria when deciding whether a proposed accommodation is appropriate. Faculty must clearly articulate the specific pedagogical reasons that prevent accepting a proposed accommodation. Absent such a reason, the presumption should be that accommodations are to be made."

Accommodation of Religious Creed

Course-Level Learning Outcomes

As subject matter experts in their field, faculty know almost intuitively what the most important things are that students must master. In order to develop learning goals, faculty should answer the question, “What do I want my students to know or be able to do by the end of this course?"

An Accessible Syllabus

While important to take the necessary steps to design an accessible course, the syllabus itself should not be overlooked as an accessible document. A project out of Tulane University curated and created an entire site devoted to the Accessible Syllabus, because accessible classroom resources promote student engagement and agency.

Classroom Technology 

Using instructional technology in the classroom includes everything from the whiteboard or chalkboard to audience response systems to video projection to rearranging the furniture to promote student engagement.

Points in the Semester to Consider

When you are designing your syllabus, there are important things to keep in mind about particular parts of the semester.  Review the information on this link to help you create flexibility into your syllabus to account for different needs throughout the year.

 

Textbook Affordability and Accessibility 

There is a shared concern about reducing the high cost of course materials and ensuring those materials are accessible by students.