University of Washington School of Public Health

Guidelines for Course Syllabi and Course Learning Objectives

A good course syllabus – together with well-conceived and well-written learning objectives -- can benefit both teaching and learning.

For the instructor, the syllabus and learning objectives:

  • provide a comprehensive and clear description of the course;
  • help organize and integrate the development of class sessions, exercises, and exams;
  • anticipate and address common questions that students may have about the course; and
  • articulate expectations for learning.

For students, the syllabus and course learning objectives:

  • assist in choosing courses,
  • provide a framework for organizing time and effort toward learning,
  • provide a resource for identifying supplementary learning materials, and
  • assist in self-monitoring of attainment of course learning objectives.

Syllabi for courses taught in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine should include the following information:

  1. Course number(s) and title [Note: list all numbers if course is jointly listed]
  2. Instructors names, titles, and affiliations
  3. Contact information and office hours
  4. Course times and locations
  5. Brief – one paragraph – description of course
  6. Course learning objectives [see How to write course learning objectives]
  7. Course Session Schedule – e.g. a listing giving a brief description of each class session, participating faculty, reading assignment. If detailed session descriptions are provided (see #12 below)
  8. Required readings and/or textbooks
  9. Recommended, optional , or supplementary readings [if this is a long list, it may be good to place at the end of the syllabus]
  10. Grading - a) how will grades be determined (homework, exams, papers, classroom participation); b) criteria for grades [for examples, see Sample UW Grading Guideline]
  11. (Optional) - Student responsibilities. What you expect from the students [e.g., attendance, plagiarism, preparation for, and participation in, class discussions, presentations, class conduct, holidays, etc.]
  12. (Optional) – Session Descriptions: may include, for example,
    1. Date and Subject
    2. Speaker information
    3. Session learning objectives
    4. Readings for session
    5. Assignments
    6. Other
  13. Supplementary materials [Bibliographies and other course resources]
  14. UW SPH Disability Statement

Helpful Links for developing course syllabi