Access a Word document template of the Course Outline Brief Guide that can be edited and used for your course.
For ease of reference, the content from the Course Outline Brief Guide is provided below.
Course outlines are intended to provide students with an overall plan for your course, in order to enable them to function efficiently and effectively in the course. A course outline is generally divided into the sections described in the following pages.
This Course Outline Brief Guide provides a template that you may use as you develop or revise your own course outline.
Items in bold print are required to be included in course outlines, which must be provided to students during the first week of classes according to the McGill Charter of Students' Rights (Chapter One, Article 21 - amended by McGill Senate 25 October 2017). Text in italics provides additional helpful information. You may modify this document (add/delete sections) as you like, provided that the items referred to in bold print remain.
The course outline may be either posted on myCourses or distributed as a printed version; the choice is at your discretion.
General Information · Instructor Information · TA Information
Course Overview · Learning Outcomes · Instructional Method
Required Course Materials · Optional Course Materials · Course Content
Evaluation · McGill Policy Statements · Additional Statements
This Course Outline Brief Guide is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, questions, or if you would like to share your course outline as a model for other instructors, please tls [at] mcgill.ca (be in touch)!
The following Faculties and Schools offer their own templates:
- Department of Integrated Studies in Education
- Faculty of Engineering (you may need to download the file to your computer)
- School of Continuing Studies’ Career & Professional Development:
Template for PC users / Template for Mac users
If your Faculty has its own template that is not listed here, please tls [at] mcgill.ca (contact us). Thanks!
Sample course outlines are available in the right sidebar of this page.
The Teaching Preparation Checklist may also be of interest as you prepare for your course.
Request tls [at] mcgill.ca (in-person assistance): Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) is available to assist individual professors, departments and Faculties with various aspects of curriculum and course design, and the teaching and learning process.
Course Outline - Course Title Here
(as it appears in the eCalendar)
- Course #
- Section #
- Course pre-requisite(s)
- Course co-requisite(s)
- Course schedule (day and time of class)
- Number of credits
- Course location
(repeat as necessary for multiple instructors)
- Name and Title
- Telephone number for office appointments
- Office hours for students
- Office location
- Telephone number for office appointments
- Office hours for students
- Office location
Enter the course description as it appears in the eCalendar. Go to http://www.mcgill.ca/study to open the eCalendar, then enter the course number in the search field to find your course.
Learning outcomes are clear statements of the knowledge, competencies or skills you expect students to have acquired by the end of the course (e.g., "By the end of this course students should be able to synthesize information from..." or "make predictions" or "solve problems"). Learning outcomes provide more detailed information about the course goals or objectives.
Provide a brief description of instructional approaches that will be used during the course (e.g., lectures, seminars, laboratory or clinical activities, group projects). You may also choose to include additional information relevant to this course, such as attendance requirements, and classroom etiquette.
Also mention intended use of technologies such as polling (virtual “clickers”), videoconferencing, and myCourses. View sample statements regarding polling.
All instructors are strongly encouraged to conduct mid-course evaluations (examples here). Advising students of mid-course evaluations ahead of time will likely lead to more constructive feedback.
Provide specific information about required readings, including title, author(s), edition number and availability (from where they can be purchased or borrowed). It is helpful to the students to indicate how each reading relates to a particular topic in the course.
The Library provides access to course materials, both print and online, in its Course Reserves system. The Library puts course reserve materials on short-term loan at the branch libraries, while also linking to online materials (both e-books and e-journal articles.)
Course Packs can be made available at the library branches, along with print and online links for the materials listed in these Course Packs. Please share your lists of course materials with your Liaison Librarian. You can work with your Liaison Librarian to create links to the library’s Course Reserves and online resources in myCourses – see this Checklist for details.
Any other required materials should be listed.
If optional materials (e.g., recommended readings) exist, list them here.
- A description of the topics to be addressed in the course
- A concept map or graphic representation of the content of the course
- The rationale for the sequence of the course, especially if there is not an assigned text in chapter sequence (e.g., an historical approach with topics arranged chronologically, a progression from simple to more complex procedures or concepts, or a series of theoretical principles followed by applications
- If appropriate, explain what the course is not about or what topics will not be covered.
|Class/Topic||Date||Description||Assignments and/or readings Due|
|1||e.g., topic, content, associated readings, activities.||e.g., quiz, paper, group project, exam.|
It is strongly recommended that variations in schedules, e.g., due to holidays and reading week, be indicated.
A description of the means of evaluation to be used in the course: The purpose of evaluation is to provide feedback to students on their learning, as well as to permit the instructor to assign a fair grade at the end of the course. Providing explicit information about assignments and grading procedures will clarify expectations and allay student anxiety, while supporting students in pacing their studies, gauging their progress, and achieving learning outcomes.
When planning your examinations and assignments, make sure to consult the University Student Assessment Policy.
The Course Outline should address the following:
- What assignments and exams will make up the students’ grade, including a clear statement of what percentage of the final grade each assignment and exam will represent;
- The grading criteria;
- The consequences of a delayed presentation or late paper (possibility of extensions, if any; acceptable circumstances for a delay; penalties);
- Explicit information about assignments (e.g., length, breadth, submission instructions) can also be provided as part of the course outline, but this may be more easily provided later in the course, as assignments are presented. Some instructors prefer to hand out a description sheet for assignments before each is due, responding to any questions at that time.
If students are submitting assignments electronically, this should be done either via myCourses or McGill e-mail. In the former case, include the FAQs for students using myCourses: Assignments in the course outline.
|Name of Assignment||Due Date||% of Final grade|
Required Course Outline Statements [in keeping with Senate resolutions]
Language of Submission:
“In accord with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded. This does not apply to courses in which acquiring proficiency in a language is one of the objectives.” (Approved by Senate on 21 January 2009 - see also the section in this document on Assignments and Evaluation.)
Note: In courses in which acquiring proficiency in a language is one of the objectives, the assessments shall be in the language of the course.
The FRENCH TRANSLATION about this right may also be used on your course outline:
« Conformément à la Charte des droits de l’étudiant de l’Université McGill, chaque étudiant a le droit de soumettre en français ou en anglais tout travail écrit devant être noté (sauf dans le cas des cours dont l’un des objets est la maîtrise d’une langue). »
“McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures” (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for more information). (Approved by Senate on 29 January 2003)
The FRENCH TRANSLATION of the Academic Integrity statement may also be used on your course outline:
« L'université McGill attache une haute importance à l’honnêteté académique. Il incombe par conséquent à tous les étudiants de comprendre ce que l'on entend par tricherie, plagiat et autres infractions académiques, ainsi que les conséquences que peuvent avoir de telles actions, selon le Code de conduite de l'étudiant et des procédures disciplinaires (pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/).»
Instructors may avail themselves of software freely available on the internet that can be used for text-matching. If you intend to use such software, you must inform students in writing before the end of the add/drop period of your intention to do so. The Policy on Text-matching Software provides details on required statements and appropriate implementation. (Approved by Senate on 1 December 2004) You may use this text in your course outline:
Text-matching software is used in this course. Item 2 of the text-matching policy states, in part:
2. Students shall also be informed in writing before the end of the drop/add period that they are free, without penalty of grade, to choose an alternative way of attesting to the authenticity of their work. Instructors shall provide students with at least two possible alternatives that are not unduly onerous and that are appropriate for the type of written work.
If you prefer that an alternative way of attesting to your work’s authenticity be used, you may choose from these alternatives:
[Per the policy, as an instructor you must choose “at least two possible alternatives that are not unduly onerous and that are appropriate for the type of written work, and the alternatives shall be chosen from the following, as appropriate:” (bold added).]
a) submitting copies of multiple drafts;
b) submitting an annotated bibliography;
c) submitting photocopies of sources;
d) taking an oral examination directed at issues of originality;
e) responding in writing to a quiz or questions directed at issues of originality;
f) providing a written report regarding the process of completing the work; other alternatives devised by the instruction, provided that they are not unduly onerous, that they are meant to attest for authenticity of the written work, and that they meet the approval of the Dean or Disciplinary Officer in the faculty in which the course is offered.
The following statements are optional and you are encouraged to include them on course outlines as appropriate:
“The University Student Assessment Policy exists to ensure fair and equitable academic assessment for all students and to protect students from excessive workloads. All students and instructors are encouraged to review this Policy, which addresses multiple aspects and methods of student assessment, e.g. the timing of evaluation due dates and weighting of final examinations.”
“© Instructor-generated course materials (e.g., handouts, notes, summaries, exam questions, etc.) are protected by law and may not be copied or distributed in any form or in any medium without explicit permission of the instructor. Note that infringements of copyright can be subject to follow up by the University under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.”
"As the instructor of this course I endeavor to provide an inclusive learning environment. However, if you experience barriers to learning in this course, do not hesitate to discuss them with me and the Office for Students with Disabilities, 514-398-6009.”
“End-of-course evaluations are one of the ways that McGill works towards maintaining and improving the quality of courses and the student’s learning experience. You will be notified by e-mail when the evaluations are available. Please note that a minimum number of responses must be received for results to be available to students.”
In keeping with McGill's preparedness planning strategies with respect to potential pandemic or other concerns, the Administration suggests that all course outlines contain the statement: “In the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond the University’s control, the content and/or evaluation scheme in this course is subject to change."
Additional policies governing academic issues which affect students can be found in the McGill Charter of Students' Rights (see document).
McGill has policies on sustainability, paper use and other initiatives to promote a culture of sustainability at McGill. (See the Office of Sustainability.)
Guidelines for the use of mobile computing and communications (MC2) devices in classes at McGill have been approved by the APC. Consult the Guidelines for a range of sample wording that may be used or adapted by instructors on their course outlines.