Course Outline Examples & Samples

Back in the day as an elementary and a high school student, the subjects have remained the same throughout the years: Math, Science, English, and Civics (Social Sciences). Then there are also the minors: Physical Education, Home Economics, Music, and the occasional art club. Perhaps the only difference would be that each grade and year level’s subject content varies from the last, becoming more difficult and challenging from the last.

But as you reach the college or university level, things become different. Just as there are many courses offered by the different departments of the university, so is the number of subjects. And, take note that each course has no similar schedule and subject.

With that being said, it is also important to know that each course’s outlines go through a number of procedures before it actually gets approved and is now ready to be taught to the enrolled students of the said course.

According to the University of Lethbridge’s Teaching Center, a course outline is a document that benefits students and instructors as it is essential when designing any course.

Also known as a syllabus, a course outline serves as a planning tool. As the syllabus is written, it also guides the instructor’s development of the course beginning from the first year to the fourth year. Not only instructors can set course goals, develop student learning objectives, but they can also create and align assessment plans, as well as establish a schedule for the course.

Course outlines give the student a brief idea on what subjects he or she will be taking over the next couple of years by setting course goals and student learning plan outcomes. The syllabus also explains to students about what expectations lies ahead of them and provides a timeline of these expectations.

Finally, a syllabus also works as a reference for colleagues, administrators, and accreditation agencies. It serves as a guide to others to know what kind of subjects you are taking and what will be expected of them. In some cases, some may refer to the syllabus to give the students an idea of what particular skills they would have obtained after completing the course. Related courses that utilize your course as a prerequisite or co-requisite will likely build on the outcomes mapped out in your current course outline. You may also see sample essay outlines.

The University of Lethbridge’s Teaching Center and McGill Teaching and Learning Services provides a sample course outline and its contents that can be utilized when designing your very own syllabus.

1. Course Description

It is always important to give the students a brief idea of what the course is all about. This is also the section that informs the students on what subjects they will be taking should they enroll. Some syllabuses also provide a small description of the subjects to give further detail on what they can expect for that subject.

2. Course Goals

As you begin encoding the syllabus, it is important to ask these questions: What are the big ideas that you are going to cover in your course? What are the essential understandings that students will take away with them after the course has finished? It is imperative to define these course professional goals, as they will help you determine what you expect from your students, and what your students can expect from the course. In some cases, it helps if you indicate what careers can they be pursuing to provide motivation for them to do better in their academics.

3. Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

At the end of the day, it is pointless to have your students taken the course if they have not learned a single thing. Which means formulating a syllabus is easier said than done since you also have to start designing outcomes that the students might achieve during their time in the university, and it is a valuable element to have in your syllabus. The outcomes are usually statement samples that are verb oriented and directed at the students. For example: “Students will be able to identify key geomorphological formations on a Southern Alberta map.” This example uses the verb identify, which is a lower level thinking skill. A higher order thinking skill is incorporated in the next example: “Students will be able to read and analyze population maps interpreting any trends the data may show.”

4. Assessment Overview

The assessment overview is a grading guide that allows students to see what weightings can apply to the different assessment elements of a course.  An example of an assessment overview is below.

Quizzes: 50%
Participation: 5%
Journal Assignments: 20%
Team Assignment: 10%
Final Exam: 15%

As well as including the overview of grading, a grading scale should be identified for the students, so they understand at what level they are performing. Grade scales can range between faculties and departments. It is best that you check with your department and faculty and use the scale they wish you to use. You may also like program outline examples.

5. Assessment Plan

These assessment plans are built in line with student learning objectives as these indicate what the students will learn. While your assessment plan states how you, as an instructor, will gather evidence for achievement of the objectives. This will detail the type of assessments that will occur within the course structure, how they will be marked, and how they provide evidence of student learning. Your assessment plan will more than likely consist of multiple assessments ranging from online examinations to essays and group projects. Different assessments can and should be used to find evidence for multiple outcomes. You may also see risk assessment examples.

6. Instructional Method

Though it is not always required, indicating on how the course is going be taught from here on is not really such a bad idea whether they would be lectures, seminars, video presentations, etc. But along the way, it is important to be evaluated by the very students you teach before the end of the semester as it also helps you grow as a teacher to see how your students feel on how you teach. You may also see speech outline examples.

7. Required Course Materials

Provide specific information about required readings, including title, author(s), edition number and availability (from where they can be purchased or borrowed). It is helpful to the students to indicate how each reading relates to a particular topic in the course. You may also like outline an essay.

It is never a bad idea to go to the library as it provides access to course materials, both print and online, in its Course Reserves system. The library puts course reserve materials on a short-term loan at the branch libraries, while also linking to online materials (both e-books and e-journal articles).

Any other required materials should be listed.

8. Schedule of Activities

This portion of the outline should be built once the plan has been made. Once you understand how you want to assess your students, you can create activities that help facilitate the learning that needs to be done to help students achieve the objectives. Course activities should work in parallel with the assessment plan. If students need to provide evidence of learning by completing a multiple choice exam, then the activities in the schedule should prepare them for this assessment. Lectures, readings, small group and whole group discussions can all be activities that help the student meet their learning objectives. You may also see the rough outline.

9. Plagiarism Announcement

Students have the tendency to be lazy and due to that, they might end up copy-pasting someone else’s work and making it their own. With that said, you have to inform your students that a plagiarism detection service such as Turnitin will be used to ensure original quality work from the students. But should they request an alternative method of plagiarism detection because of privacy concerns, an alternate option must be provided for them. You may also see thesis outline examples.

10. Reading List

This section will serve as a guide for the students on the textbooks and other educational materials during the entirety of the course.

Listed below is an example of a course outline.

Course Code: ENGL 105

Course Title: The Dynamic World of Neil Gaiman

Course Description:
Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books and graphic novels. His notable works include the dynamic comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. You may also see book outline examples.
This course will examine Gaiman’s diverse and most popular works. We will pay close attention to how Gaiman weaves fantasy into his narratives and builds characters fused with mythology. Why are some stories sad, others tragic? Are our emotional responses contingent on storylines, on characters, on the choice of words? This course facilitates a deeper understanding of Neil Gaiman’s works through readings of his poetry, prose fiction, and literary criticism.
We begin with the dark manifesto of The Sandman and move to new forms, to the heroism of Coraline and the American ironies of American Gods. You may also see write a speech outline.
Required Readings:
‐ The Sandman: Absolute Volume 1‐5
‐ Stardust
‐ American Gods
‐ Coraline
‐ The Graveyard Book

Topics Covered / Weekly Lecture Schedule:
Week 1 ‐ September 7 ‐ The Sandman: Absolute Volume 1
Week 2 ‐ September 14 ‐ The Sandman: Absolute Volume 2‐3
Week 3 ‐ September 21 ‐ The Sandman: Absolute Volume 4
Week 4 ‐ September 28 ‐ The Sandman: Absolute Volume 5
Week 5 ‐ October 5 ‐ American Gods
Week 6 ‐ October 12 ‐ American Gods
Week 7 ‐ October 19 ‐ The Graveyard Book
Week 8 ‐ October 26 ‐ The Graveyard Book
Week 9 ‐ November 2 – The Graveyard Book / Stardust
‐ Essay #1 due
Week 10 ‐ November 9 ‐ Stardust
Week 11 ‐ November 16 ‐ Stardust
Week 12 ‐ November 23 ‐ Coraline
Week 12 ‐ November 30 ‐ Coraline
Week 13 ‐ December 7 – Final exam review
‐ Essay #2 due
Final Exam ‐ December 14

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