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Syllabus Preparation

What are the basic elements of the syllabus?

Here is a helpful website on the basic elements of a syllabus. One recommendation: Make sure your attendance and late paper acceptance policy is clearly stated -- and you stick with the policy.  

What Northwest policies should I include in the syllabus?

One policy everyone must include in syllabi is the university statement on student with disabilities. You may also want to include university policies on attendance and grading from the undergraduate catalogue. Listed below these are sample departmental and instructor policies.

University Policies

Disability Accommodations

Students in this course who need disability accommodations/modifications should present a copy of their official Northwest accommodation letter form the LAP/S Committee to the instructor during private office hours as early in the term as possible. Additional information can be found online at Accessibility Services.


Students are expected to attend all classes as specified in the course syllabi for each course. However, specific attendance policies may vary from instructor to instructor. Each instructor will clarify the attendance policy at the beginning of each course. It is the responsibility of the student to promptly notify his or her instructor when unable to attend class. Students receiving veterans' benefits should consult with the coordinator of Veterans' Affairs for the additional attendance requirements.

A student may make up class work without penalty if (1) engaged in University activities endorsed by the provost, (2) prevented from attending class by illness, the validity of which is proven to the satisfaction of the instructor, or (3) prevented from attending by some other circumstances considered adequately extenuating by the course instructor.

After the add period until the end of the drop period, an instructor may request the Registrar to delete a student from the class roster due to non-attendance." (Undergraduate Catalogue, 2004-06, p. 41)

Grading System

(from page 45 of the Undergraduate Catalogue)

The following marks are used in evaluating the work of students:

A: superior
B: above average
C: average
D: below average
F: failure

Sample Department Policies

(check within your own department regarding its specific policies)

Make-up Exam Policy

In an effort to create a fair testing situation for all students, the Department of Psychology, Sociology, and Counseling has implemented a department-wide make-up exam policy.  Students who have instructor approval to take a make-up exam must take their make up exam(s) on Feb. 23, 2007, 4:00 pm, in Colden 3500 (for exams missed prior to this date) and/or April 20th, 2007, 4:00 pm, in Colden 3500 (for exams missed after Feb 23rd, 2007).

Students who are eligible to take a make-up exam are those who are engaged in University activities endorsed by the Provost or students who are prevented from attending due to illness and have a written excuse, the validity of which is satisfactory to the instructor. In all cases, as stated in the Undergraduate Catalogue, "it is the responsibility of the student to promptly notify his or her instructor when unable to attend class." Thus, to be eligible for a make up exam, students should notify the instructor of his/her expected absence prior to missing the exam.

Academic Honest Policy

(ask for your department policy)

Syllabus Revisions

Include a statement similar to the following:

The syllabus is not a contract and is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor to accommodate instructional and/or student needs. It is the sole responsibility of the student to maintain an updated course syllabus.

Sample Instructor Policies

(you may want to consider)

Classroom Etiquette

  • In an effort to create a classroom environment respectful of one another and conducive to learning, I require the following classroom etiquette:
  • Turn off your cell phone and store them in your book bag or under your desk. No phone calls or texting during class.
  • Be in your seat at the beginning of the class (i.e., at the time the class is scheduled to begin.)
  • Do not carry on conversations with others during class.
  • Be polite and respective to other people in the class. For example, do not interrupt someone during a class discussion, and respect others' opinions/comments as you would like them to respect yours.

Statement on Electronic Devices

Cell phones and pagers that ring during class are disruptive. Please turn them off before class begins. If there is an emergency situation that requires that you be reached, set your phone or pager to vibrate or mute. If it rings, leave the class to take the call. Laptops and handhelds may be used during class time if they are being used for a class activity class such as taking notes. Please do not prepare, read or send email, text messages, IM, surf the web, or play games on any electronic device during class time. If you are using an electronic device during class, be prepared to share what you are doing with the professor.

E-mail Policy

I follow the University's policy on email: I will communicate with you by using your student email account and I expect you to check your emails on a regular basis.

Policy for Accepting or Penalizing Late Paper/Assignments

(once set, stick to those rules.)

Where students can print lecture outlines and other material

(for example eCompanion course site, if available)