Syllabus Design

Authentic Teaching Tasks

Syllabus Design

To complete the AT Program, students are required to design their own course syllabus. To fulfill this task, you will need to:

  • Write your own course syllabus for a class you will or hope to teach;
  • Submit your syllabus to a member of your department along with the Syllabus Design Faculty Verification form.
  • Once you receive feedback from your designated faculty member, submit the following items electronically to
  • Receive feedback from CNDLS;
  • If necessary, revise and submit final version to CNDLS.


Your syllabus design must be submitted first to a faculty member in your department and then to CNDLS for review. Remember that you must submit these materials no later than the submission deadline of your graduating semester (see Submission Schedule). After review, CNDLS will provide feedback and you will be notified if any changes are required.

Suggestions and Expectations 

You can design the syllabus for a course you actually teach or a dream course you would like to teach. As sample course suggestions and syllabi are commonly required for academic job applications, it is useful to start thinking about this task as an opportunity to show off your teaching expertise and awareness of your field.

The required AT workshop, "The Syllabus: A Conceptual Tool for Course Design," will be helpful to you as you design the syllabus for submission. In addition, you should visit the CNDLS Teaching Commons page Creating Your Syllabus. As you begin designing your syllabus, it may be helpful to identify what your goals are for the students of your course and what you hope they will learn through the semester. Working backwards from there, decide what evidence you would accept to show that your students have accomplished those goals. You can then design or build in assignments that will allow students to demonstrate that they have achieved these learning goals and allow you to assess this accomplishment. This will help you to consider which readings will best match your goals and compliment the assignments. Taking another step backwards, consider what logistics and structure would be most conducive to fulfilling the assignments you have planned. Think through how you will link readings, assignments, and feedback, the order and connection between assignments, and the optimal time spread between assignments in order to maximize learning.

You may also find it helpful to look at syllabi available online either at Georgetown or another college/university, and note specific techniques, formats or content that you find particularly effective.

While syllabi can range greatly in length and depth, it is very important that you include certain fundamental elements in your syllabus. You should be sure to include the following:

  • A course description 
  • Logistical information (course title, meetings times and locations, contact info, etc.)
  • Learning goals
  • Descriptions of assignments 
  • Grade breakdown
  • Required readings
  • A course schedule
  • Relevant policies

An important part of a syllabus is clearly conveying to students many pragmatic aspects of the course. This includes not just classroom-specific policies, but also department-specific and university-wide policies and resources that students might need to be aware of during the semester--the "nuts and bolts" as it were. At Georgetown, it is considered a best practice to include a statement about plagiarism, access (or information regarding the Academic Resource Center), and Title IX. See CNDLS’s page on Syllabus Policies.