AskDefine | Define syllabus

Dictionary Definition

syllabus n : an integrated course of academic studies; "he was admitted to a new program at the university" [syn: course of study, program, programme, curriculum] [also: syllabi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Late Latin syllabus list, a misreading of Greek 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.

Noun

  1. A summary of topics which will be covered during an academic course, or a text or lecture.

Translations

Extensive Definition

A syllabus is an outline and summary of topics to be covered in a course. It is often either set out by an exam board, or prepared by the professor who teaches the course, and is usually given to each student during the first class session. 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, syllabi are used to ensure consistency between schools and that all teachers know what must be taught and what is not required. Exams can only test based on information included in the syllabus.
The common plural form syllabi is sometimes considered a hypercorrection, as it is in all likelihood from a Greek root, and we do not know that syllabus is a second-declension Latin noun, simply because there are not enough classical uses of the term to definitively discern its declension. If, as the vast majority of Latin nouns ending in "-us", "syllabus" belongs to the second-declension, the plural would be syllabi; if fourth, the plural would again be syllabus. For this reason, syllabi, syllabus, and syllabuses are all commonly accepted. However, the word syllabus originally comes from a mis-transliteration by Cicero, who mis-copied the word σιττύβας (accusative plural of σιττύβα, meaning label or title page) as syllabos, making any Latin-ized plural form technically incorrect.
The syllabus serves many purposes for the students and the teacher such as ensuring a fair and upfront 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 of 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 items can be included in a syllabus to maximize course organization and student understanding of expected 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 (extra-curricular 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.

References

syllabus in German: Syllabus
syllabus in Dutch: Syllabus
syllabus in Japanese: シラバス
syllabus in Russian: Силлабус

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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