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New course outline guidelines

At its December 2023 meeting, Senate approved revisions to the Course Outline requirements for the undergraduate and graduate academic calendars, effective May 1, 2024.

The approved revisions are intended to:

  • Provide instructors with detailed information on what should be included in a course outline,
  • Provide students with consistency in course outlines across academic units,
  • Provide students with certainty with respect to expectations and learning outcomes, and
  • Reduce workload for instructors.

What is a course outline and when is it required?

Course outlines are required for all courses except pro-forma courses (e.g., independent studies, directed research, etc.), Masters Thesis, Doctoral Candidacy and Doctoral Dissertations.

Course outlines communicate to students what they can expect in the course and provide helpful resources to support students’ learning and wellbeing. At the beginning of each course, instructors are responsible for providing their students with a written course outline that includes adequate information.

It is important for course outlines to provide consistent information across academic units and for unit leaders to be able to review and ensure all outlines for courses offered by the academic unit include the necessary information about the course and available resources.

Academic units may adopt discipline- or unit-specific course outline templates that include the baseline information and resources, and other relevant information as appropriate.

In addition to course information, teaching modalities, learning outcomes and assessment methods, course outlines should include Territory acknowledgement. As well, instructors are encouraged to adopt inclusive and universal design for learning principles in developing courses where appropriate. Details are available in the undergraduate and graduate academic calendars.

Reducing instructor workload

Implementation of the course outline regulation is expected to reduce faculty workload.

The Division of Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation is exploring efficient ways to integrate course outline templates into Brightspace. Templates will be integrated into Brightspace pre-populated with all the standard course information (from the template and Banner), leaving instructors to only customize certain information such as course materials, assessments, etc.

Instructors will have to submit electronic copies of course outlines for every course to their Chair/Director (or Associate Dean in non-departmentalized faculties) for review as the current Brightspace settings do not support academic leaders having direct access or the ability of instructors to automatically forward course outlines to others from Brightspace.

Resources for instructors