Writing a Syllabus

Especially for a new instructor, the task of writing a syllabus can be a daunting one. The faculty member needs to clearly present their layout for the class, their expectations, and the policies that they will follow.

Every instructor’s syllabus is unique, but individual faculty members build the syllabus for their particular course sections upon the framework of the course’s master syllabus.

Master syllabi for all courses taught at ACC

For the sake of ensuring complete and consistent communication to students, the college has identified a set of items that all course syllabi are expected to contain. The goal is to provide all ACC students clear statements of the course expectations, requirements, and policies that may (among many other factors, of course) help them to succeed  in the class.  A checklist is available that lists all of the items in a sequence that many faculty might find useful.  Faculty are encouraged to follow the arrangement of items in the checklist so that students have a consistent layout from course to course.  Innovative and engaging arrangements and styles can be a refreshing change of pace, however, and if you have a syllabus you’d like to share as an example, please email it to syllabi@austincc.edu .

Many of these statements, particularly those for college policies such as academic integrity, will be consistent across courses and the institution. Since the syllabus serves as a contract between the instructor and the student, faculty members are encouraged to incorporate the college-policies language approved by the shared governance process as it puts one in a much stronger position in case of grade disputes or lawsuits. In fact, some faculty may simply choose to download and print the college policies document and include it among their first day handouts.

Generally, it is wise to go over the syllabus point by point with the students on the first day and answer any questions they might have. Some instructors also have students sign a waiver saying that they have read and agreed to the terms of the syllabus.

Examples of typical course syllabi for transfer and workforce courses are provided elsewhere on this website, and descriptions for each of the syllabus components is given in the master syllabus template.

Any questions about syllabi related issues can be sent to syllabi@austincc.edu