Why Provide a Syllabus?
A syllabus is a document that serves as a roadmap to your course and typically outlines essential elements such as course objectives, a class schedule, the grading system, course and university policies and the instructor’s expectations.
In general, your syllabus has the following functions:
- Communication tool — Organize feedback plan, office hours and other logistical information
- Course introduction — Introduce course rationale, goals and content
- Guide to expectations — a contract between you and your students that documents your expectations for assessments and grading and clearly explains student responsibilities
- Plan of action — lists assignment due dates, exam and review dates and required readings
- Sets the tone of your course
A well-constructed syllabus that clearly communicates your expectations will help you avoid many common teaching problems, including student grievances and misunderstandings. Your syllabus is also an opportunity for you to explain why you teach this course, how you define success and what your students can expect from you.
Per The University of Alabama’s Syllabus Policy, your syllabus must be distributed on or before the first day of class, and the required items must be entered into the University’s syllabus management system. If you don’t adhere to this policy, you will be subject to progressive discipline. The required items represent minimum expectations for your syllabus; we suggest that you also include learner-centered information that focuses on the learning experience and promotes engagement.
A learner-centered syllabus will move beyond the mechanics of the course to begin building an inclusive learning environment and get your students engaged and excited to learn. See the “Learn More” section below for more information about the learner-centered syllabus.
Materials & Resources
You are required to build your syllabus in the Online Syllabus Management System. We recommend that you review the required components and guiding questions below in preparation for building your syllabus online.
If you are developing a course with UA Online, your instructional design team may assist you with this process. Many of the required components, such as the Course Schedule and grading policy, may be included elsewhere in your online course.
Simple Syllabus will launch on April 17, 2023. All course sections must have a syllabus published in Simple Syllabus by the first day of classes for Summer 2023 and future terms.
It is helpful to design your syllabus in Microsoft Word and then copy your information into the syllabus management system. You can then use your final Word document to hand out in your face-to-face class. Providing a Word version of your syllabus also facilitates providing students with additional, detailed information that you might want them to have at the beginning of the semester. For example, it is appropriate to include detailed assignment instructions and rubrics in your syllabus.
- Attend a Simple Syllabus training or information session.
- Publish your syllabus in the online syllabus management system. Please note that The University of Alabama will begin using Simple Syllabus on April 17, 2023.
- Copy your syllabus for distribution in class if you are teaching face-to-face. Simple Syllabus will be integrated with Blackboard, so you won’t need to add your syllabus as an attachment in your Blackboard course.
- A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning (Faculty Focus)
- Student Centered Syllabus (Penn State Harrisburg)
- Microsoft Bookings
- Simple Syllabus
Required Syllabus Components
Provide essential course information at the top of your syllabus, including:
- Course number, semester, credit hours
- Type of course, such as lecture, seminar, lab
- Instructor name
How do you want your students to contact or find you?
- Office — building and room (if course is face-to-face)
How will you hold office hours? Options include:
- By appointment – How will students schedule an appointment?
- Email to schedule time — Be sure to include your communication plan in your syllabus so students know how quickly to expect a response
- Call for appointment
- Link to online scheduling system such as Microsoft Bookings (included in Microsoft 365)
- Open office hours
- Zoom link
- Drop in at your office
What other courses are students required to take prior to taking this course?
Students will likely read this section closely, so if the content is not mandated by your department, then this is your opportunity to get students’ attention and tell them why they should be excited about the course. Why should they take this class? Is there a story to tell? What kind of work will they be doing? How will they be spending their time together? Try to make an impact here, but keep it direct.
List all required textbooks, including edition number.
Student Learning Outcomes
Some courses will have department or college-mandated learning outcomes.
Other Course Materials
List lab materials, optional textbooks, software, technology equipment or journal articles.
Outline of Topics
Provide a list or table with week and date, topics (modules) and events or to-do-list.
Exams and Assignments
Provide a list or table with all assignments and their point values, and include how each is calculated in the final grade. Consider these questions:
- How many assessments will there be, at what point in the semester do they occur and what is their length and format?
- How will they factor into the final grade?
- Are you providing a brief description of your assessments in the syllabus, with more details later, or will you provide a detailed description of all major assignments here?
- Is there other information you can provide to help students plan and prepare?
Include your grading scale with percentages/points and letter grades. If you are using a points system that is not equivalent to 100 points, consider providing a table with how points are converted to percentages/letter grades.
Policy on Missed Exams and Course Work
If you are working with an instructional designer in UA Online, you may be provided with guidance on how to write your policy. If you are writing your own policy on late or missed work, consider the following:
- Will students be allowed to submit late work? If so, what is the timeline? Will they lose points? How many?
- Will you allow students to make up exams or other work? Do they need to request that ahead of time? What is the deadline?
- Will students need to provide documentation for late or makeup work, such as a physician’s note? When do they need to submit this? Be mindful of privacy when asking that a physician’s note be provided directly to you.
- Can some assignments be submitted late, while others cannot?
When writing an attendance policy, keep the following in mind:
- Justify the policy as it relates to the role of attendance in learning.
- Try to frame your policy in a positive way to make your syllabus more learner-centered and less punitive (“you will be eligible for only 75% credit” instead of “you will lose 25% of the points for this assignment”).
- Explain the circumstances under which absences will be excused. Will documentation be required?
- Explain if and when students should notify you when they know they will be absent.
- Keep in mind that your definition of “attendance” in an online class won’t be the same as for a face-to-face class. You may be focusing more on your participation requirements.
UA Mandated Policies for Inclusion in the Syllabus
Notification of Changes
The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.
Statement on Academic Misconduct
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the online catalog.
Statement on Disability Accommodations
Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the online catalog.
Severe Weather Protocol
Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the online catalog.
Pregnant Student Accommodations
Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.
Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.
The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact) provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.
College can be a stressful time.
If you or someone you know is facing a challenging time or dealing with academic or personal stress, anxiety, depression or other concerns, we strongly encourage and support you to seek assistance or to help friends find the care that they may need. Please refer to our Campus Resource List for Students.
Also, if you are experiencing a personal crisis and need urgent assistance, you can also contact the following resources:
Monday-Friday during routine Center hours (205-348-3863).
Weekends, holidays, after hours (contact UAPD at 205-348-5454 and ask to speak with the on-call counselor).
You may also text BAMA to 741-741 to text with a trained volunteer.
Women and Gender Resource Center
Monday-Friday during routine Center hours (205-348-5040).
Weekends, holidays, after hours (contact UAPD at 205-348-5454 and ask to speak to the on-call advocate for the WGRC).