Constructing a Syllabus

Purpose of a Syllabus

The syllabus is your opportunity to set the framework for the class. Certainly, it sets the rules for the course, but it also provides an opportunity for you to explain the purpose of the course and your values as the professor, as a representative of your discipline and as a member of the university community. A strong syllabus prevents confusion by setting clear expectations and encourages the structured development of ideas by outlining learning objectives. The best syllabi give students a sense of what they need to do in order to successful in the course and are written using positive terms.

University Requirements

The Georgia State University community has worked to compose key elements of the syllabus. These elements illustrate our values as a community and help create consistency across courses. The following information is found in the GSU Faculty Handbook and lays out information that is REQUIRED to be included on a syllabus for all classes at GSU.
Course syllabi shall contain the following items of information:

  1. Complete course title and number; name of professor; term, year;
    The complete course title and number can be found in the catalog.
  2. Statement of faculty member’s accessibility to students outside of class (e.g., office hours, telephone number);
  3. Prerequisites (if any) for the course;
    Prerequisite information can be found in the catalog.
  4. Course objectives that specify measurable and/or observable student learning outcomes. These learning outcomes should state course objectives in language that makes explicit the knowledge and skills students should have after completing the course. Consequently, these objectives may be quantitative or qualitative, as appropriate for the learning outcomes. The learning outcomes for general education courses are available in the Core Curriculum Policy.
    See your department for specific course objectives.
  5. Course assignments (e.g., required readings and activities) and due dates;
  6. Specific course requirements (e.g., written and oral tests and reports, research papers; performances). In cross-listed undergraduate and graduate classes, the course requirements will clearly specify how the nature (quality and/or quantity) of the work expected of students and the criteria for evaluation of the work produced be commensurate with the degree level. Any projects and/or other activities required specifically of graduate students taking the course and the criteria by which student work will be judged must differentiate graduate-level from undergraduate-level work;
  7. Grading policy: how the final grade is to be determined with respect to the weights assigned to various course requirements;
    See your department/college for specific grading policy.
  8. Attendance policy (see current Faculty Handbook for University guidelines). Syllabi should state specific requirements for attendance including requirements for the frequency and kind of participation by designated channels;
  9. List of text(s) or other required course materials;
    See your department/college for specific information on texts and course materials.
  10. Make-up examination policy;
  11. All syllabi should include the following statement: “The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.”
  12. All syllabi should refer to the Policy on Academic Honesty
    Be explicit about what you consider to be an academic honesty violation.
  13. All syllabi should include the following statement: “Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take the time to fill out the online course evaluation.”
  14. All syllabi should include the following statement: “Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Access and Accommodation Center. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Access and Accommodation Center of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought.”

To locate University Policies on course syllabi as well as other policies see: