How to Read the Course Syllabus – Part 1

Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

The course syllabus is a crucial document that provides a comprehensive overview of the entire course. Each course will have its own syllabus, mapping out your instructors’ and the university’s expectations. Understanding how to effectively read the syllabus will simplify your academic year.

Course Schedule & Grading Criteria – Anticipate Workload

Each syllabus lists assignment due dates and their grade weightage. Mark these on your calendar to predict busy weeks and manage your workload effectively. It is almost inevitable for there to be a week or two when it feels like everything is due. Start assignments beforehand so you don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Instructor’s InformationThe ultimate resource

Near the top of the syllabus, you’ll find the instructor’s contact details and office hours. Instructors block these hours for you. Take advantage and drop by to clarify doubts, seek guidance, or get to know them. If you can’t make it to their office hours, a quick email is all you need to set up an alternate meeting time.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes – Show your progress

These are the specific expectations your instructor has for your learning. Revisit them when preparing for assignments and exams to ensure you’re on the right track.

Course Materials & Schedule – Stay informed and organized

Your syllabus is not just a one-time read. It identifies all required textbooks and articles for the course and outlines a reading schedule for each week. This means you should look at the syllabus at least every week to be prepared for each class.

Check out part two for more essential sections of the syllabus you shouldn’t miss!