A syllabus (pl. syllabi or syllabuses; from Latin syllabus "list", in turn from Greek σίλλυβος or σίττυβος sillybos/sittybos "parchment label, table of contents"), is an outline and summary of topics to be covered in an education or training course. It is descriptive (unlike the prescriptive or specific curriculum). A syllabus is often either set out by an exam board, or prepared by the professor who supervises or controls the course quality.

Both syllabus and curriculum are often fused, and usually given to each student during the first class session so that the objectives and the means of obtaining them are clear. A syllabus usually contains specific information about the course, such as information on how, where and when to contact the lecturer and teaching assistants; an outline of what will be covered in the course; a schedule of test dates and the due dates for assignments; the grading policy for the course; specific classroom rules; etc.

Within many courses concluding in an exam, syllabuses are used to ensure consistency between schools and that all teachers know what must be taught and what is not required (extraneous). Exams can only test knowledge based on information included in the syllabus.



The syllabus serves many purposes for the students and the teacher such as ensuring a fair and impartial understanding between the instructor and students such that there is minimal confusion on policies relating to the course, setting clear expectations of material to be learned, behavior in the classroom, and effort on student's behalf to be put into the course, providing a roadmap of course organization/direction relaying the instructor's teaching philosophy to the students, and providing a marketing angle of the course such that students may choose early in the course whether the subject material is attractive.

Many generalized items of a syllabus can be amplified in a specific curriculum to maximize efficient learning by clarifying student understanding of specified material such as grading policy, locations and times, other contact information for instructor and teaching assistant such as phone or email, materials required and/or recommended such as textbooks, assigned reading books, calculators (or other equipment), lab vouchers, etc, outside resources for subject material assistance (extracurricular books, tutor locations, resource centers, etc), important dates in course such as exams and paper due-dates, tips for succeeding in mastering course content such as study habits and expected time allotment, suggested problems if applicable, necessary pre-requisites or co-requisites to current course, safety rules if appropriate, and objectives of the course.



A notional-functional syllabus is a way of organizing a language-learning curriculum, rather than a method or an approach to teaching. In a notional-functional syllabus, instruction is not organized in terms of grammatical structure, as had often been done with the audio-lingual method (ALM), but instead in terms of "notions" and "functions."

In this model, a "notion" is a particular context in which people communicate. A "function" is a specific purpose for a speaker in a given context. For example, the "notion" of shopping requires numerous language "functions," such as asking about prices or features of a product and bargaining.

Proponents of the notional-functional syllabus (Van Ek & Alexander, 1975; Wilkins, 1976) claimed that it addressed the deficiencies they found in the ALM by helping students develop their ability to effectively communicate in a variety of real-life contexts.[1]

Other types

  • Grammatical syllabus
  • Lexical syllabus
  • Situational syllabus
  • Text-based syllabus
  • Skill-based syllabus
  • Task-based syllabus
  • Learner-generated syllabus
  • Mixed syllabus
  • Online course syllabus


  1. ^ Brown, H. Douglas (May 6, 2007). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (Third ed.). Pearson ESL. ISBN 978-0136127116. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Syllabus — • The name given to two series of propositions containing modern religious errors condemned respectively by Pius IX (1864) and Pius X (1907) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Syllabus     Syllabus …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • SYLLABUS — (1864) Recueil «contenant les principales erreurs de notre temps» adressé aux évêques par Pie IX (et daté du 8 décembre 1864) en même temps que l’encyclique Quanta Cura . Il était constitué de quatre vingts propositions déjà condamnées… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Syllabus — Syllabus, m., Pl. Syllabi, ist ein pseudo lateinischer (ursprünglich griechischer,aus συλλαμβάνω, ich nehme, stelle zusammen) Ausdruck für Register, Verzeichnis, Aufzählung, Auszug, Zusammenfassung. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Kirche 2 Akademische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • syllabus — index capsule, compendium, outline (synopsis), pandect (treatise), plan, program, prospectus …   Law dictionary

  • Syllabus — Syl la*bus, n.; pl. E. {Syllabuses}, L. {Syllabi}. [L., fr. the same source as E. syllable.] 1. A compendium containing the heads of a discourse, and the like; an abstract. [1913 Webster] 2. (Law) The headnote of a reported case; the brief… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • syllabus — 1650s, table of contents of a series of lectures, etc., from L.L. syllabus list, a misreading of Gk. sittybos (pl. of sittyba parchment label, table of contents, of unknown origin) in a 1470s edition of Cicero s Ad Atticum iv.5 and 8. The proper… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Syllabus — (griech.), Verzeichnis; in der Sprache der katholischen Kirche Verzeichnis der mit dem römischen Katholizismus nicht verträglichen »Irrtümer« der modernen Zeit, insbes. die der Enzyklika Pius IX. Quanta cura vom 8. Dez. 1864 beigegebenen 80 Sätze …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Syllabus — Syllăbus (grch.), Verzeichnis, Aufzählung; insbes. das der päpstl. Enzyklika vom 8. Dez. 1864 beigegebene Verzeichnis der (80) modernen Irrlehren …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Syllabus — s. m. Índice de quanto foi condenado pelo papa Pio IX na célebre Encíclica de 8 de dezembro de 1864.   ‣ Etimologia: palavra latina …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • syllabus — *compendium, digest, pandect, survey, sketch, précis, aperçu Analogous words: conspectus, synopsis, epitome, *abridgment, brief, abstract …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • syllabus — has the plural form syllabuses, not syllabi …   Modern English usage

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