Writing and using a syllabus

While a course syllabus typically includes information about course meeting times, contact information, and readings, it should also clearly outline the instructor’s objectives for the course and articulate their expectations and learning outcomes for the students enrolled in the course. A syllabus can also serve as an excellent resource to address issues of academic integrity, to inform students about instructor and institutional expectations and processes, and to introduce students to the norms of a particular discipline. As such, this document should include such essential information as:

  • Clear grading schemes and an overview of assessment criteria.
  • Details regarding late penalties (if relevant).
  • A statement about academic integrity and instructor expectations (see a sample below).
  • Information on resources and supports for students (e.g. writing centres, web sites, tip sheets)
  • Information on plagiarism detection software (if the instructor is planning to use this resource in the course).

Sample syllabus statement on academic integrity:

Academic integrity is essential to the pursuit of learning and scholarship in a university, and to ensuring that a degree from the University of Toronto is a strong signal of each student’s individual academic achievement. As a result, the University treats cases of cheating and plagiarism very seriously. The University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/PDF/ppjun011995.pdf) outlines the behaviours that constitute academic dishonesty and the processes for addressing academic offences. Potential offences include, but are not limited to:

In papers and assignments:

  1. Using someone else’s ideas or words without appropriate acknowledgement;
  2. Submitting your own work in more than one course without the permission of the instructor;
  3. Making up sources or facts;
  4. Obtaining or providing unauthorized assistance on any assignment.

On tests and exams:

  1. Using or possessing unauthorized aids;
  2. Looking at someone else’s answers during an exam or test;
  3. Misrepresenting your identity/pretending to be someone else.

In academic work:

  1. Falsifying documents or grades;
  2. Falsifying or altering any documentation required by the University, including (but not limited to) medical forms.

All suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be investigated following procedures outlined in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. If students have questions or concerns about what constitutes appropriate academic behaviour or appropriate research and citation methods, they are expected to seek out additional information on academic integrity from their instructors or from other institutional resources.


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