Resources for Preparing your Course Outline

One of the options to fulfill the written component of the Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning is to design a course in your discipline and submit a 10 page course outline.  The outline should include a(n): (1) course description, (2) rationale and learning outcomes for the course, (3) outline of course topics and class activities, (4) list of required and recommended readings, (5) description of assignments, and (6) description of the most frequently used teaching methods and activities.

Before beginning to develop your course outline, please consult the following resources:


These articles simply and efficiently identify the key functions and components of an effective syllabus. They provide numerous examples of drawn from a number of disciplines, and, in one case, include a sample syllabus in its entirety.

Parkes, J., and Harris, M. B. (2002) The purposes of a syllabus. College Teaching, 50(2), 55-61. (PDF)

Slattery, J. M., and Carlson, J. F. (2005). Preparing an effective syllabus: Current best practices. College Teaching, 53(4), 159-164. (PDF)

Online Resources

Western University’s Policy on Course Outlines (PDF)

Constructing a Syllabus (PDF)
This handbook from Brown University covers the fundamentals of course instruction and includes an online syllabus workshop. There are sample syllabi from 4 areas (humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, life sciences) with commentary and feedback from the Center for Teaching and Learning. Also offers a "Master Syllabus Form" to adapt to one's own pedagogical needs.

Writing Learning Objectives (PDF)
The most frequent piece of feedback that we give faculty and graduate students about their course syllabus is to rewrite their course goals as ‘actionable learning objectives’. This resource, developed by Raoul Arreola at the University of Tennessee, defines learning objectives, describes a simple method for crafting them and provides a list relevant verbs associated with Bloom’s Taxonomy. This resource is a must-read!

Resources on Course Design
From University of Washington's Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR).

Recommended Books

Davis , B.G.(1993). Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

  • Available as an e-book from the library catalogue, or at There are print copies in the library and at the Teaching Support Centre (LB2331 .D37 1993 ).
  • Contains useful tips and has excellent chapters on Preparing or Revising a Course and Creating a Syllabus.

McKeachie, Wilbert. (1999) Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

  • Available in the Weldon Library: LB1738 .M35
  • Chapter 2 ( Countdown for course preparation) and Chapter 3 (Meeting a class for the first time) contain particularly useful information for designing course outlines.

Toohey, S. (1999) Designing Courses for Higher Education. The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
Available in the Weldon Library: LB2361 .T56

  • Available in the Weldon Library: LB2361 .T56