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A course syllabus is intended to serve as a durable record of the learning experience, convey course expectations and support student learning. These primary functions and core components of a syllabus are described in further detail below.

Every UW–Madison group instruction course must have a syllabus that fulfills a standard set of requirements.


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Office of the Provost

Core Components of a Syllabus

For more details on each of these components and their corresponding elements, download this Word document.

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1. Key Course Information

The first component of a syllabus is key course information, also referred to as the durable record. The durable record communicates elements of the course approved through governance processes, many of which cannot be changed without governance approvals. Find the durable elements of a particular course.

Instructors must include this component and its elements in their syllabi.

Elements in this section include:

  • General Identifying Information (e.g., course subject, name, title; credits, attributes, description; meeting time and location; instructor contact info, etc.)
  • Course learning outcomes
  • How credits are met by the course
  • Regular and Substantive Student-Instructor Interaction

2. Instructor to Student Communication

Instructor to student communication is the heart of the syllabus and conveys expectations for instructor(s) and students.

Instructors can choose which elements to include in this component, as not all suggested elements may apply.

Elements in this section may include:

  • Course overview
  • Course website and digital instructional tools
  • Discussion and/or laboratory session information
  • Required textbook, software and other course materials
  • Homework and other assignments
  • Exams, quizzes, papers and other major graded work
  • Course schedule/calendar
  • Grading
  • General guidelines for exam proctoring

3. Academic Policies and Statements

Instructors can find institutional academic policies and statements to include in syllabi in Guide. Instructors are strongly encouraged to link to or copy and paste these policies and statement in their syllabi. Providing some statements in-full may help to build an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Institutional academic policies and statements are reviewed and updated annually, as needed. They currently include:

This section can also be used to clearly communicate course-specific policies such as expectations related to group work, missing class, communication policies, etc.