Skip to Content

My School of Music

SP 6.00 - Syllabus Construction Guide

Adopted: August 31, 2009

The primary function of a syllabus is to communicate the instructor's expectations and standards to the students enrolled in the course. The guide below has been adopted by the University of South Carolina Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)and all teachers, especially young faculty and those new to college teaching, are strongly encouraged to use the guidelines below, as they construct syllabi for their courses. Syllabi for all music courses, including studio and ensemble courses, are to be submitted to the School of Music Executive Associate Dean in the Fall semester by September 1 and in the Spring semester by February 1.

Introductory Information 
All syllabi should contain the following information: course title, course number, semester/year, class location, meeting time(s), instructor's name, office location, office hours, e-mail address, office phone number, and TA information (if needed).

I. Course Description
The course description is listed in the Academic Bulletin. You may consider including additional details that better describe what the course will cover. This statement is especially important as it will encourage genuinely interested students to take your class and dissuade those who are not.

II. Goals and Learning Outcomes
Goals: Goal statements provide the broad, general aims of the course. Goal statements describe intended educational outcomes for students/graduates of the course. Goals should be linked with specific learning outcomes.

Learning Outcomes: Your learning outcomes are the crux of your syllabus. Learning outcomes shape every aspect of your course: the content, overall structure of your course, required readings, forms of assessment, and your grading procedures. Learning outcomes are much more specific than goal statements. Learning outcomes describe the measurable skills, abilities, knowledge, or values that students should be able to do or demonstrate as a result of the course or program. Learning outcomes should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-framed. List 3-5 learning outcomes for the course, including at least one from the course list provided by the DPA Committee.

Below is a list of sample words that are suitable and appropriate for learning outcome statements:

By the end of this course, students will:

define compare reca.. examine distinguish
construct paraphrase develop apply argue
demonstrate judge analyze identify discriminate
state assemble interpret design translate
appraise construct evaluate predict describe
differentiate recognize test explain create
summarize formulate compute defend support

III. Textbooks, Readings, and Other Materials
Syllabi should include full bibliographic information for texts (state whether required or optional). Follow the format customary to your discipline. For example:

Myers, D. G. (2000). Exploring Social Psychology (4th Edition). NY: McGraw-Hill.

List other materials needed (e.g. calculators, art supplies, safety equipment).

IV. Overall Structure of the Course
Discussing the overall structure of the course provides an indication of the way class sessions will be conducted and the types of activities students will be involved in (e.g., lecture, discussion, lab and experiments, group learning projects). It is important to select modes of instruction appropriate for your clearly defined learning outcomes.

V. Course Requirements
This section details what students will have to do in the course: assignments, exams, projects, and performances. Describe the nature and format of these assignments. Be specific. For instance: What format are the exams? Short answer, essay, multiple-choice? What are the topics, expected lengths, and due dates of the term papers? Is attendance a requirement in your course?

VI. Course Policies
Clearly state your expectations and procedures concerning attendance and tardiness, class participation, missed exams or assignments, assignment submission, and academic honesty, as will as procedures for accommodating disabilities or special needs.

VII. Assessment and Grading
Keep your learning outcomes in mind when developing assessments. Your intended learning outcomes should shape your assessment procedures. Select a variety of assessment procedures because these measure the extent to which students have achieved the course learning outcomes. Provide clear details of the items that will contribute to the final grade, the weight or point value of all graded items, and the grading scale. The weight given to each graded item conveys its relative importance, and hence affects how students allocate their study time and the amount of effort they put forth. If class participation contributes to students' grades, establish and make clear the criteria used to make that assessment.

VIII. Course Outline / Academic Calendar
Create a schedule that outlines the dates in which topics and readings will be discussed and when assessments will take place. Keeping a degree of flexibility in the schedule is advantageous, but exam dates should be somewhat fixed.

 Further syllabus resources available through the UofSC CTE.


Cornell University. Education 548: Effective College Teaching, Retrieved May 1, 2008 from

Woolcock, M.J.V. Constructing a Syllabus. Retrieved April 30. 2008 from

My School of Music

    Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.