Learner-Centered Syllabus

The syllabus is an important document for communicating instructor and student responsibilities in a course, the learning outcomes and the plan for how students will achieve them, and the resources that are available to students to support their learning and wellbeing. The syllabus is also an important tool for setting up the conditions for more equitable outcomes: when we center the learner’s experience in our syllabus design, we can take the opportunity to demystify the “unwritten rules” of college, clarify expectations for student engagement, contribute to student sense of belonging, and practice transparency and build trust with students. 

This page provides several of our favorite syllabus design resources, as well as a syllabus template with sample language that you can adapt for your courses. We also recommend adding the UCSC Introduction Module to your course, which provides students with detailed instructions about how to use Canvas, how to use the library, information about campus resources, and more.

Syllabus Design Resources & Guides

UCSC Committee on Courses of Instruction (CCI) Syllabus Requirements

This guide provides an overview of syllabus elements required for course approval at UCSC.

Learn More >>

Equity-Minded Syllabus Review Tool

Created by Estela Mara Bensimon, Director of the Center for Urban Education and Professor of Higher Education at USC, this comprehensive guide will help you design your syllabus language for greater equity.

Learn More >>

Accessible Syllabus

Drawing from the principles of Universal Design for Learning, this resource offers actionable suggestions for making syllabi more accessible at the level of image, text, rhetoric, and policy.

Learn More >>

Universal Design for Learning: Course Syllabus Rubric

A rubric for self-assessing your syllabus based on the accessibility principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Learn More >>

Your Syllabus Doesn’t Have to Look Like a Contract

Pedagogy Unbound provides an overview of how to draft an engaging, clear syllabus that students will want to read.

Learn More >>

Syllabus Template

Browse and adapt the syllabus categories and sample statements below, or download an editable syllabus template.

Course Information

This section provides an overview of the major components of the syllabus. Click on a section to review content options and example statements.

COVID-19 for In-Person Courses (optional)

Sample Language — Modify as you see fit:

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM EACH OTHER — Each individual at UC Santa Cruz should act in the best interests of everyone else in our community. Please take care to comply with all university guidelines. If you are ill or suspect you may have been exposed to someone who is ill, or if you have symptoms that are in any way similar to those of COVID-19, please err on the side of caution and stay home until you are well or have tested negative after an exposure. Let me know that you’re not feeling well and I’ll respond about how best you can keep learning.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM ME — I have designed our course following campus guidance and with current public health guidelines in mind. However, these guidelines may change in accordance with shifting infection rates or the emergence of new variants. If updated public health recommendations and university requirements make our current course format unfeasible, or if I experience a need to self-isolate, I will alter the format. This may include moving in-person sessions onto Zoom, modifying course assignments to work in a remote format, and reconfiguring exams (if applicable). I will communicate clearly with you via email or Canvas announcement about any changes that occur. I will provide as much advance warning as possible and give you all the information you need to transition smoothly to the new format. If you have questions about the changes, please reach out to me so I can answer them. 

WHAT I EXPECT OF YOU — If you experience an illness or exposure that requires you to miss class sessions or to attend remotely, please communicate with me as soon as possible and I will provide you with options to allow you to continue making progress in the class. [Alternatively, based on your own plans for instruction, you may want to add specificity to this section; for instance, that you will provide alternative assignments, links to recordings of class sessions, or Zoom links to allow students to participate in class from home.]

Course Information
  • Briefly describe the subject of your course.
  • Explain the general format (in-person, online, hybrid). Include how you will deliver the course (synchronous, asynchronous, or a mix).
  • In this section, and in your entire syllabus, use learner-centered language that is simple, encouraging, and inviting.
  • Include a link to your Canvas course.

Instructor Information

Provide your name and contact information. Clarify what students should call you, and any expectations you can share regarding communication (e.g. your working hours for checking emails and an expected response time.) Consider adding a short bio that relates to your interest in and experience with the subject.

Course Learning Outcomes

Clarify what students will learn by taking the course. What will they be able to do as a result of the coursework? How will their perspective of the subject, the world, and themselves change?

  • List 4–5 broad-based learning outcomes that reflect what the students will learn and skills they will develop by successfully completing the course. (It is recommended that at least one align with your program’s learning outcomes.)
  • This guide provides an overview of the concept of learning outcomes, from developing goals to using them in the classroom. It includes helpful sample learning outcomes as models.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

List any required/expected prior knowledge, or coursework. Explain to students where and how they might be able to refresh their knowledge and understanding from a prior course, such as videos, worksheets, etc. that can support recall of that prior knowledge.

Required Materials, Textbooks & Technology

List any required equipment, materials and/or textbooks. Include ISBNs and/or direct links to sources. Consider accessibility of the course materials when choosing and preparing them.


Add instructor and/or TA, office hours, days and times. Explain how you would like students to contact you and any other pertinent details about your communication expectations. Some examples include your turn-around time when responding to student emails, and the times when you are available to answer emails (e.g., 8 AM–5 PM, M–F). Include information about any discussion/chat programs you use.

Assignments and Assessment

List course assignments and/or exams and grade point values for individual items and/or categories.

  • Connect multiple means of assessment (exams, quizzes, exercises, projects, papers, etc.) directly to learning outcomes.
  • Explain clearly how students will be evaluated, and grades assigned. Include components of final grade, weights assigned to each component, grading on a curve or scale, etc.
  • Describe your late/missing assignment policy and the approximate time you’ll take to grade and return major assignments.
  • Use both summative and formative assessment (e.g., oral presentations, group work, self-evaluation, peer evaluation).
  • Provide ways that students can easily calculate or find their grades at any point in the course.
  • Consider providing time estimates for how long you expect each student to spend on each assignment. 
  • Make sure no assignment that carries more than 12.5% of the grade takes place during the final week of instruction.

Student Hours for Class

Systemwide Senate Regulation 760 specifies that one academic credit corresponds to a total of 30 hours of work for the median student over a quarter (e.g., 3 hours per week for a 10-week quarter).

Your syllabus should estimate the anticipated distribution of the required hours. For example, a 5-unit course may require 3.25 hours of lecture, 5 hours of reading, 1 hour of section, and 5.75 hours of homework per week.

Instructor Feedback

Describe how students will receive feedback from you and/or TAs or readers on their submitted work. If you use Speedgrader in Canvas, include the language below to inform students of where to view your comments.

I will provide direct comments and feedback on your assignments. Learn how to access my comments in Canvas.

For major assignments, I will include a grading rubric that will be available to you prior to submitting your work. Learn how to access grading rubrics for assignments.

Student Feedback

Describe the opportunities that students will have to provide feedback (formal or informal). If you solicit informal feedback include information about the purpose. For end-of-quarter Student Experience of Teaching surveys, explain their importance and impact such as by using the sample text below. Consider referring students to TLC’s Guide to Giving Useful Feedback to Instructors and TAs.

At the end of the quarter you will be asked to complete a Student Experience of Teaching survey for this course. SETs provide an opportunity for you to give valuable feedback on your learning that is honest and constructive. This anonymous feedback will help me consider modifications to the course that will help future students learn more effectively.

Course Schedule

Create a table that outlines readings, activities, and deliverables for each week of the course.

Final Exam Information

Include any information that students need to know about the final exam in your course. If you are not giving a final exam in the course’s assigned time slot, provide information regarding what replacement for a final exam will be used. If you use ProctorU for online exam proctoring, you are required to make a statement about it on your syllabus. Include a link to the ProctorU FAQ document, which has more information about ProctorU (e.g., “This course uses ProctorU for online exam proctoring. Learn more about ProctorU here.”). Similarly, if there are other technological tools that will be required to take exams, include information about what they are.


This is a required accessibility notification for all undergraduate courses. You can find the graduate course statement on the DRC page dedicated to accessibility statements.

UC Santa Cruz is committed to creating an academic environment that supports its diverse student body. If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations to achieve equal access in this course, please affiliate with the DRC. I encourage all students to benefit from learning more about DRC services to contact DRC by phone at 831-459-2089 or by email at drc@ucsc.edu. For students already affiliated, make sure that you have requested Academic Access Letters, where you intend to use accommodations. You can also request to meet privately with me during my office hours or by appointment, as soon as possible. I would like us to discuss how we can implement your accommodations in this course to ensure your access and full engagement in this course.

You can find further examples of accessibility and inclusivity statements in TLC’s Accessibility & Inclusivity Statements guide. 

Recommended Syllabus Statements

The language we use to communicate with students about inclusivity, academic integrity, accessibility, and campus resources matters. This section provides sample syllabus statements that instructors can adapt and revise as needed for their own teaching contexts, including templates for setting the tone for inclusive learning environments and for communicating information about key campus resources at UC Santa Cruz. Click on a section to review content options and example statements.

Academic Integrity

Research suggests that being transparent with students about what academic integrity is in the context of specific classes and assignments can support more academically honest learning environments. While including a course-specific statement on collaboration, citation, and academic integrity in the syllabus is required by policy, it can take different forms. These sample statements can be revised for different contexts and offer students resources on citation practices and understanding the ethics of belonging to a scholarly community:

All members of the UCSC community benefit from an environment of trust, honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility. You are expected to present your own work and acknowledge the work of others in order to preserve the integrity of scholarship.

Academic integrity includes:

  • Following exam rules
  • Using only permitted materials during an exam
  • Viewing exam materials only when permitted by your instructor
  • Keeping what you know about an exam to yourself
  • Incorporating proper citation of all sources of information
  • Submitting your own original work

Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Disclosing exam content during or after you have taken an exam
  • Accessing exam materials without permission
  • Copying/purchasing any material from another student, or from another source, that is submitted for grading as your own
  • Plagiarism, including use of Internet material without proper citation
  • Using cell phones or other electronics to obtain outside information during an exam without explicit permission from the instructor
  • Submitting your own work in one class that was completed for another class (self-plagiarism) without prior permission from the instructor.

Violations of the Academic Integrity policy can result in dismissal from the university and a permanent notation on a student’s transcript. For the full policy and disciplinary procedures on academic dishonesty, students and instructors should refer to the Academic Misconduct page at the Division of Undergraduate Education.

You can find further examples of academic integrity statements in TLC’s Academic Integrity Statements guide. 

Generative Artificial Intelligence

Include a generative AI policy in your syllabus. You may fold it into your academic integrity statement, but because generative AI is new and developing quickly, it’s worth addressing it separately. Your policy should align with the specific needs and ethics of your discipline, your department, and your course. Consider when and how AI resources may or may not be used; how AI should be cited or acknowledged; how you will handle cases of suspected or confirmed AI use that contravenes your policy; and resources students can use if they need help understanding how to interpret or use your policy—including an invitation to attend office hours. Sample language is below, but your policy should be unique to your course. (You may also consult this crowd-sourced document that contains syllabus language samples from higher education institutions all over the U.S.)

A Word About Integrity

Integrity—other people’s perception of your word as true—is one of the most valuable assets you can cultivate in life. Being attentive to integrity in academic settings allows others to trust that you have completed work for which you are taking credit. This is symbolic of the public trust from which you will benefit in your future occupation and activism after you graduate from UCSC. 

The creativity of your words, expression, understanding, and knowledge matters a great deal in your work as a sociologist, and it matters to me. My AI policy reflects the emphasis our discipline places on original thought and scholarship.

AI Policy

In this class, I ask that you complete your work without using AI-generated sources to augment, think through, or write your assignments.

There is one exception: you are welcome to use AI tools for pre-submission editing (spell-check and grammar-check) as long as you do not use them for thinking or drafting.

On rare occasions, I may create an assignment in which I ask you to critique content generated by AI; if this occurs, I will provide clear assignment-specific AI-use guidelines within the prompt. 

If you submit work that appears to have been written using AI sources, I will ask you to meet with me to discuss your thinking and writing process. If, after our conversation, I conclude it’s more likely than not that you did not personally complete an assignment you submitted under your name, I may refer you to your college provost for further conversation. 

If you have questions about AI use and/or proper attribution of other people’s work, please come ask me! Scholarly citing is not particularly intuitive, and part of my role is to help you learn those conventions.

Intellectual Property

The materials in this course are the intellectual property of their creators. As a student, you have access to many of the materials in the course for the purpose of learning, engaging with your peers in the course, completing assignments, and so on. You have a moral and legal obligation to respect the rights of others by only using course materials for purposes associated with the course. For instance, you are not permitted to share, upload, stream, sell, republish, share the login information for, or otherwise disseminate any of the course materials, such as: video and audio files, assignment prompts, slides, notes, syllabus, simulations, datasets, discussion threads. Conversely, any materials created solely by you (for example, your videos, essays, images, audio files, annotations, notes) are your intellectual property and you may use them as you wish.

You can find further examples of intellectual property statements in TLC’s Academic Integrity Statements guide.

Religious Accommodation

UC Santa Cruz welcomes diversity of religious beliefs and practices, recognizing the contributions differing experiences and viewpoints can bring to the community. There may be times when an academic requirement conflicts with religious observances and practices. If that happens, students may request the reasonable accommodation for religious practices. The instructor will review the situation in an effort to provide a reasonable accommodation without penalty. You should first discuss the conflict and your requested accommodation with your instructor early in the term. You or your instructor may also seek assistance from the Dean of Students office.

All-Gender Restrooms

UC Santa Cruz is committed to the well-being of all students and cares about all students feeling safe and welcome, regardless of their gender identity, expression, and/or embodiment. The Lionel Cantú Queer Center has worked with students and campus staff to create more safe and accessible restrooms for transgender and genderqueer students, staff, faculty, alumni, and UCSC visitors. A complete list of all-gender restrooms on campus was compiled and is maintained by the Cantú Queer Center.

Principles of Community

Instructors may want to involve students in the preparation of principles of community for your course. This allows students to be partners in deciding what guidelines you will collectively follow to ensure free, open, and respectful discussions. A sample of such principles appears below:

The University of California, Santa Cruz expressly prohibits students from engaging in conduct constituting unlawful discrimination, harassment or bias (see more here). I am committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity and supports inclusivity. We need to work together to build this community of learning. I ask all members of this class to:

  • Be open to and interested in the views of others
  • Consider the possibility that your views may change over the course of the term
  • Be aware that this course asks you to reconsider some “common sense” notions you may hold
  • Honor the unique life experiences of your colleagues
  • Appreciate the opportunity that we have to learn from each other
  • Listen to each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner
  • Keep confidential discussions that the community has of a personal (or professional) nature
  • Ground your comments in the texts we are studying. Refer frequently to the texts and make them the focus of your questions, comments, and arguments. This is the single most effective way to ensure respectful discussion and to create a space where we are all learning together.

You can find further examples of principles of community statements in TLC’s Accessibility & Inclusivity Statements guide. 

Land Acknowledgement

A land acknowledgement is a statement that recognizes the history and presence of Indigenous peoples and their enduring relationship to their traditional homelands. Land acknowledgements help create awareness of the cultural erasure of Indigenous peoples and the processes of colonization and subjugation that have contributed to that erasure.

The land acknowledgement used at UC Santa Cruz was developed in partnership with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum. Click here for more information about the use of land acknowledgements.

You may wish to to include the following land acknowledgment in your syllabus:

The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.

You can find further examples of land acknowledgement statements in the TLC’s Accessibility & Inclusivity Statements guide. 

Title IX / CARE Advisory

Created in collaboration with the UC Santa Cruz Title IX and CARE offices, this statement addresses instructor reporting responsibilities and provides students with information on resources and support services (including the confidential services at CARE) for experiences of sexual and gender-based violence.

The Title IX Office is committed to fostering a campus climate in which members of our community are protected from all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender-based harassment and discrimination. Title IX is a neutral office committed to safety, fairness, trauma-informed practices, and due process.
Title IX prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence, you can receive confidential support and advocacy at the Campus Advocacy Resources & Education (CARE) Office by calling 831-502-2273. In addition, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can provide confidential, counseling support, 831-459-2628. You can also report gender discrimination directly to the University’s Title IX Office, 831-459-2462. Reports to law enforcement can be made to UCPD, 831-459-2231 ext. 1. For emergencies call 911.

You can find further examples of Title IX and CARE statements in the TLC’s Title IX and CARE Statements guide. 

Content Advisory

Adapted from the University of Michigan’s LSA Inclusive Teaching Initiative:

Consider including a content advisory if your course includes highly charged content. Content advisories give people the forewarning necessary for them to make use of the strategies that will decrease the harmfulness of encountering triggering material. They are not intended to censure instructors nor invite students to avoid material that challenges them. On the contrary, warning students of challenging material can help their engagement by giving them the ability to take charge of their own health and learning. Consider including a content advisory for content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms.

Sample Content Advisory Statement (General), adapted from educators at UC Santa Cruz:

Content Advisory: This course examines some texts, images, and videos that contain descriptions of violence and/or scenes depicting violence. I will do my best to provide individual warnings on the syllabus for course materials and in presentation slides for class content that are particularly sensitive. My hope is that these notifications will help your engagement by allowing you to prepare to work through challenging material. I encourage you to do what you need to care for yourself. If taking care of yourself means that you need to take a break during class, either for a short time or for the rest of the class, you may do so without academic penalty. If you do leave the class for a significant time, please make arrangements to get notes from another student or connect with me individually.

In addition to a general statement, educators may consider adding specific “tags” to specific course materials:

I’ve included tags for [X, Y, and Z] next to specific course materials on the syllabus. If you have concerns about encountering anything specific in the course material that I have not already tagged and would like me to provide warnings, please come see me or send me an email. I will do my best to flag any requested triggers for you in advance.

You can find further examples of content advisory statements in the TLC’s Accessibility & Inclusivity Statements guide.

Difficult Conversations

In our in-class and online discussions and dialogues, we will have the opportunity to explore challenging, high-stakes issues and increase our understanding of different perspectives. Our conversations may not always be easy. We sometimes will make mistakes in our speaking and our listening. Sometimes we will need patience or courage or imagination or any number of qualities in combination to engage our texts, our classmates, and our own ideas and experiences. We will always need respect for others. Thus, an important aim of our classroom interactions will be for us to increase our facility with difficult conversations that arise inside issues of social justice, politics, economics, morality, religion, and other issues where reasonable people often hold diverse perspectives. This effort will ultimately deepen our understanding and allow us to make the most of being in a community with people of many backgrounds, experiences, and positions.

Report an Incident of Hate / Bias
Report an Incident of Hate / Bias

The University of California, Santa Cruz is committed to maintaining an objective, civil, diverse and supportive community, free of coercion, bias, hate, intimidation, dehumanization or exploitation. The Hate/Bias Response Team is a group of administrators who support and guide students seeking assistance in determining how to handle a bias incident involving another student, a staff member, or a faculty member.

To report an incident of hate or bias, please use the link below:
Hate/Bias Report Form

You can find further examples of hate/bias reporting statements in the TLC’s’s Accessibility & Inclusivity Statements guide. 

Student Services

Directed at student audiences, these statements explain the support available at key campus resource centers, including Slug Support, Basic Needs, Undocumented Student Services, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and the Student Success Centers.

Counseling and Psychological Services
Many students at UCSC face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Campus Mobile Crisis Team
If you are concerned about yourself or someone around you and feel they may be having a behavioral health crisis, do not hesitate to call our team. Behavioral Health concerns can include mental health or substance use related situations where you or someone around you may be a danger to self or others. Dial 831-502-9988 to reach the team.

Reporting and Support Services
A resource to help students, faculty, staff and others report acts of bias as well as discrimination and harassment.

Student Success and Engagement Hub
The Division of Student Success provides campus-wide coordination and leadership for student success programs and activities across departments, divisions, the colleges, and administrative units.
Tutoring and Learning Support
At Learning Support Services (LSS), undergraduate students build a strong foundation for success and cultivate a sense of belonging in our Community of Learners. LSS partners with faculty and staff to advance educational equity by designing inclusive learning environments in Modified Supplemental Instruction, Small Group Tutoring, and Writing Support. When students fully engage in our programs, they gain transformative experiences that empower them at the university and beyond.
Slug Support Program
College can be a challenging time for students and during times of stress it is not always easy to find the help you need. Slug Support can give help with everything from basic needs (housing, food, or financial insecurity) to getting the technology you need during remote instruction.
To get started with SLUG Support, please contact the Dean of Students Office at 831-459-4446 or you may send us an email at deanofstudents@ucsc.edu.
Slug Help/Technology
The ITS Support Center is your single point of contact for all issues, problems or questions related to technology services and computing at UC Santa Cruz. To get technological help, simply email help@ucsc.edu.
On-Campus Emergency Contacts
For all other help and support, including the health center and emergency services, start hereAlways dial 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.

Last modified: Jan 26, 2024