In writing a course description, be sure to include the following information:
- What will students learn in the course (i.e., knowledge, skills, attitudes, as opposed to topics)?
- Why will learning this matter to students?
- How will the course help students develop as scholars, learners, future professionals?
- What will students experience in the course (e.g., assignments, activities, etc.)?
- What are the instructional methods, and how will they support student learning?
- How does this course fit into your department’s curriculum? Are there any prerequisite courses?
Sample 1: Course description from History
At-home births, epidurals, and C-sections: women’s experiences with childbirth vary widely. Many of these differing experiences stem from societal developments that occurred in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Amidst these changes, the ritual of childbirth was transformed. Women went from giving birth at home with a midwife, surrounded by female friends and relatives, to giving birth in a hospital with male practitioners. This transformation was never unilateral or complete. Women today continue to experience aspects of an at-home birth in a twenty-first century hospital. This course will examine the varied ways that this transformation has unfolded in the United States and Britain from 1600 to the Present. Throughout this course, we will use primary sources to examine the historical arguments pertaining to three central questions: 1.) where should women give birth? 2.) with whom should women give birth? and 3.) how should women give birth? Students will use these arguments to identify significant historical trends and agents of change, and ultimately to develop an informed perspective on the transformation(s) of childbirth. Student performance in the course will be assessed using various types of written assignments (online posts, online discussion boards, final paper), in-class discussion, and an oral presentation. This course has no prerequisites, and aims to bring together students from a wide variety of academic disciplines.
Sample 2: Course description from Psychology
Have you ever wondered how human chess experts keep beating (well, almost always keep beating) the computer program DeepBlue? Have you ever considered what makes the performances of Yo-yo Ma, Serena Williams, and Kevin Spacey so great? Have you ever wanted to be an expert at X (you fill in the blank) without really trying? Have you actually tried to become an expert or highly skilled performer in a particular domain and needed help deciding on the best approach?
In this course, we will address these and many other questions. In particular, we will be reading from the primary literature on expertise (i.e., psychology journal articles) and from other relevant sources (e.g., review chapters, news stories, biographies). We will cover a variety of domains, from chess to sports to visual arts. Also as part of this course, you will each learn first-hand what it takes to acquire expertise by practicing a skill of your choice and documenting your progress throughout the semester. Finally, you will research and write about the development of expertise in a particular domain.