Syllabus Design

Course Syllabi Are Useful For Students And Instructors

Design Syllabus

Course syllabi serve as a key resource to communicate your teaching practice in several ways:

  • Communicate course expectations and policies to your students.

  • Document changes in your teaching over time to help evaluate what is working well and what can be improved.

  • Compare and contrast teaching methods with colleagues in your discipline, or colleagues teaching courses similar in structure and format.

For many students, the syllabus is their first introduction to your course. What information is important for students to know in order to be successful in your course? Explore a non-exhaustive list of recommended information and template statements to include in your course syllabi. We encourage all instructors to adapt the template language and resources provided below to meet the needs, interests, and goals of your students and course context.

Communicate Course Expectations In Your Syllabus

Whether you’re designing a syllabus from scratch or revising an existing one, consider including the following information to make learning transparent.

  • Course Description - What can students expect to learn and do? What kinds of assessments can students expect to engage with in your class? How will your course help students to develop as learners, emerging scholars, or early-career professionals?

  • Course Learning Objectives - What skills, topics, or knowledge will students be expected to demonstrate after they’ve completed your course? List 3-6 course-level learning objectives that are student-centered, actionable, and measurable. For guidance on how to craft effective learning objectives, explore CTL’s Establish Course-level Learning Objectives.

  • Grading Policies - Will you accept late work? Will students have an opportunity to resubmit work to replace an existing score? For each grading policy, describe what is and is not permitted and explain the procedures students are expected to complete.

  • Course Assignments - For each assignment, provide a brief description detailing what students are expected to do, when students are expected to complete the assignment, how students are expected to submit their work, and why the assignment is useful for their learning or connected to other areas of the course.

Explore Example Syllabi Statements

Syllabi help set the tone for your courses and communicate your willingness to interact with and support students from all backgrounds, communities, and experiences. Explore a non-exhaustive list of example syllabi statements and select one or more to adapt for your own teaching goals and context.

Statement Templates

Statement in Support of Students with Disabilities

If you require course accommodations due to a physical, emotional, or learning disability, contact UC Berkeley's Disabled Students' Program (DSP). Notify the instructor and GSI through course email of the accommodations you would like to use. You must have a Letter of Accommodation on file with UC Berkeley to have accommodations made in the course.

UC Berkeley is committed to providing robust educational experiences for all learners. With this goal in mind, we have activated the ALLY tool for this course. You will now be able to download reading materials in a format that best fits your learning preference (i.e., PDF, HTML, EPUB, and MP3). For more information visit the alternative formats link or watch the video entitled, "Ally in bCourses.”

Statement in Support of Diverse Learning Communities

Consistent with UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community, we are all responsible for creating an inclusive learning environment where diverse perspectives—expressed through race and ethnicity, culture, gender identities and sexual orientations, political and social views, religious and spiritual beliefs, learning and physical abilities, language and geographic characteristics, age, veteran status, and social or economic classes—are recognized, respected, and seen as a source of strength. We welcome your unique perspective as an individual. In the same manner, we expect you to treat every other individual in this course with respect and dignity. We encourage your suggestions on how to incorporate diversity in this course in a meaningful way.

Statement on Student Wellness

Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking time to recharge your mental health. Taking time to care for yourself, and avoiding academic burnout, will help you achieve your academic, professional, and personal goals.

Support Resources include emotional, physical, safety, social, and other basic wellbeing resources for students. Academic resources can be found at the Student Learning Center and English Language Resource sites. Berkeley’s Office of Emergency Management has resources to prepare for emergencies.

Statement on Academic Integrity

You’re a member of an academic community at one of the world’s leading research universities. Berkeley creates 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. 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, websites, or other sources, but only with proper attribution. If you’re unclear about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or examination, be sure to seek clarification from your instructor or GSI beforehand. For additional information on plagiarism and how to avoid it, read the UC Berkeley Library Citation Page, Plagiarism Section.

As a member of the campus community, you’re 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. Read more about Berkeley's Honor Code.

Statement on Collaboration

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.

Syllabus Template

Download or print a template to guide your thinking as you design a syllabus from scratch or revise an existing one.

Download a version to edit [doc] or a version to view [pdf].

Design Experiences to Support Student Learning

What activities, assignments, or discussions will help prepare students to demonstrate their learning? Explore active learning strategies that meaningfully engage students in their learning, build on prior knowledge, and foster collaboration.

Promote Equity and Inclusion in Your Syllabus

Explore the following resources on designing equitable and inclusive course syllabi.

An Accessible Syllabus(link is external)

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 Duke University curated and created an entire site devoted to designing an 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. Learn more about Classroom Technology Support

Addressing DSP Accommodations in Your Syllabus

Many instructors struggle to articulate a comprehensive disability accommodation statement on their syllabi. Of course, every class is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all statement. Review suggestions of language for presenting your accommodation policy accurately and setting appropriate expectations and procedures for your students.