Understanding Your Course Syllabus
Your course syllabus is your roadmap to help navigate through each individual course. Like any map, refer back to it often to confirm you’re on the right path to reach your destination. When stuck or lost, your syllabus can provide insightful direction on how to proceed forward and how to find help.
Carefully reviewing your course’s syllabus is key to understanding what your professor expects of you throughout your semester together. Your syllabus can cover vital information, such as:
- Instructor Contact Information & Office Hours
- Course Description
- Course Details
- Evaluation & Grading
- Due Dates & Deadlines
- Additional Syllabus Information
Check out our visual resource for Deciphering Your Syllabus below!
Such as your instructor’s contact details (email, phone), preferred methods for communication, office location, and office hour availability.
Unsure how to start a conversation or how to ask for help from your instructor? Check out the ASC’s page on Communicating with Instructors.
Your syllabus is likely to expand on the description provided in MUN’s university calendar. Typically, this extra info will outline themes, topics of interest, and course learning goals/outcomes. These are often interconnected to the type of assignments/projects you may be given and the information that will be targeted on exams/tests/labs.
These details can include:
- Required coursework items (i.e. textbooks, materials, resources, tech, and devices).
- Recommended coursework items (i.e. supplemental readings).
- Required attendance (i.e. class time/location, lab time/location, tutorial time/location, and co-ops).
- Recommended attendance (i.e. tutoring, extramural opportunities).
- Online course platforms used (i.e. Brightspace, Office 365).
- Library reserves.
- and more.
For courses offered through online or remote delivery, it is important to refer to your syllabus for direction about if the course will be synchronous, asynchronous, or blended.
- Synchronous -> classes are live and at a fixed scheduled time.
- Asynchronous -> classes or materials are delivered through an open, flexible format that you can access any time of day within the designated course timeline.
- Blended -> these courses will use both synchronous and asynchronous offerings simultaneously; it is vital to know which will be which so you don’t miss any required attendance or timeline specific events.
Your syllabus will include a clear outline of the types and weights of evaluations which will count toward your final grade. This can include assignments, projects, labs, tests, exams, and more. If it is unclear how your final grade will be decided, email your instructor for clarity.
Your syllabus may include policies detailing submission expectations, participation/attendance expectations, codes of conduct, and how late or missing submissions will be handled.
Carefully review all important dates and deadlines for your course. Visit the ASC's Plan Your Semester page to download our customizable planner and see strategies for meeting your deadlines.
Also, many syllabi will include timelines for when preparation materials or required readings must be competed in order to engage in class.
Your syllabus may also include:
- Examination information; such as the format of exams, alternative assessments, policies for final or supplementary exams, and allowable items to bring to exams.
- Expectations for classroom etiquette, safety, academic integrity, and in person or online communication with classmates.
- Sign up processes for individual or group assignments.
- Opportunities for student feedback; such as instructor-developed feedback forms/surveys or MUN’s Course Evaluation Questionnaire (CEQ).
- Adverse weather policies and plans.
- Important links to MUN student resources.
Are you starting a new course but feeling overwhelmed in understanding what exactly your syllabus is saying and figuring out what learning outcomes mean? If you missed the ASC's WebEx session for helping to decipher the language of learning outcomes, feel free to use our resource below:
Looking for more strategies and tips?
Check out MUN's Academic Success Centre online!
Memorial University of Newfoundland. (2021). University regulations (2021/2022) 6.7 Evaluation of student work. Memorial University of Newfoundland: Office of the registrar. https://www.mun.ca/regoff/calendar/sectionNo=REGS-0601