The R&C Course Syllabus
Once you have settled on the design of your course, it’s time to formulate your plan for students to read in the course syllabus. (If you have not yet worked out the fuller design of your course, see the page Course Design for R&C.) An R&C syllabus should have the following elements at least; your department may ask for other items not listed here.
In addition to the items detailed below, you might also wish to consult the UC Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning web page Components of the Syllabus.
A few examples of syllabi for R&C courses, along with some evaluation criteria, are available from the page Sample Syllabi for R&C Courses. Your department may have others you can peruse.
- Course name, course control number (CCN), class meeting times, and location
- Your name, email address, office location and hours, mailbox location
Brief Course Description
The course description on a syllabus needs to be an accessible and accurate indication of the questions and materials students can expect to work with in your course. GSIs are often tempted to write course descriptions on the models of course descriptions they have favored as graduate students. These descriptions may be elegant to an academic, but to a freshman or sophomore they can look impenetrable and thus unattractive. Try to capture in your description a central curiosity, metaphor, or paradox in your course. Try to keep it short. Avoid scholarly jargon. If you find that a technical term or phrase is central to your description, provide a brief explanation of it and connect it with other terms that students are likely to find more immediately intuitive or interesting.
In a sentence or two, indicate the overarching learning goals for your course in terms of reading, writing, and content.
- Give a detailed list of books to procure, with editions specified where relevant.
- If readings are provided in a hard-copy reader, tell students where they can purchase it.
- If readings will be available on the bCourses site or other websites, let students know.
Assignments and Grading
- Major assignments with due dates and their value toward final grade
- A grading rubric, or at least a brief statement of the qualities of a successful formal essay in your course
- Any specific requirements you have about the form in which student work is turned in, including things that save you time such as consistent, readable formatting or stapling pages together
- Statement of your policy on late papers or other assignments
This section should at least include policies on class participation, diversity of views, accommodations for students registered with the Disabled Students Program, and plagiarism. For more information see Creating a Section Syllabus or Information Sheet.
GSIs usually provide a chronological list or chart of the readings, activities, and major assignments for the course.
It can be useful to stipulate that this schedule is subject to revision, in case you find you need to make adjustments partway through the semester. If you do revise the schedule, give students the revised schedule as early as possible. They use this information to coordinate their work for all their courses.