Starter Syllabus

Spring 2022 Syllabus 'Starter'

Spring 2021 legislation from the University Senate requires syllabi for all undergraduate courses with five or more students (you can read more about the Syllabus Requirement Policy page here). This "Syllabus Starter” resource provides framing and example language for many of the required elements as well as other sections that you may wish to add, including several related to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Sections that are required are noted in the title with an asterisk (*).  

We know that traditional syllabi tend to be complex documents. When the complexity of a syllabus increases, students' ability to—and interest in—engaging with it can seem to decrease. We appreciate approaches we’ve heard from UO instructors to help students engage with the syllabus and have listed several at the end of the page. We also believe there are a number of ways to design an effective syllabus that go beyond a text-dense document, and have linked to several excellent resources that can support more accessible syllabus design at the end of the page as well. 

The intent of this page, however, is to make meeting new syllabus requirements and addressing this unique face-to-face moment in the syllabus a bit easier for instructors. 

Introduction of Course and Instructor


Instructor Information* 

Include instructor(s) name, office/room number, uoregon e-mail address, and any other means of contact desired. 


Office Hours* 

Include office hours, room location (and, if providing remote office hours, a link) and a statement indicating how to contact the faculty member for an appointment outside of office hours.  

Please note that Academic Council requires all instructors to provide a minimum of 2 hours/week of live, synchronous options for students to meet with them (learn more here).


Course Description

Welcome to the course! 

Consider updating your student-facing course description to include a personal, in-your-voice statement about the course values, broad goals, or important question you will address together.  

Tip: The knowledge and capacities students are developing in your classes may have particular urgency in this moment. And the academic, study, communication, and resilience skills students practice in your course might be important to point out to students so that they can better build, track, and use these skills in other contexts. 

Sample Language

As we return to campus, I am committed to our course, and look forward to learning, questioning, and growing as a class community this term. The goals for this course are: 

  • Be moved and challenged by X, Y, Z (in course materials and big issues/questions);  
  • Practice A & B, which are cross cutting, transferrable skills;  
  • Affirm our hopefulness about the future by continuing to learn and answer questions/practice skills/examine subjects that are perhaps more relevant now than ever/that give us context to understand our present moment/that help us appreciate the beautiful even in a time of great challenge.  


Course Objectives* 

Provide students with a description of the course and list the course objectives.  

Tip: Objectives should be written as statements that specify student actions that are observable through the activities of the course. “By the end of the course, students should be able to...[verb] + [object].” For more information, check out Writing Good Learning Objectives

Sample Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should be able to: 

  • Describe the history of American immigration policy.  
  • Create a marketing plan for a non-profit organization.  
  • Compose an essay using a deliberate writing process with emphasis on inquiry, audience, research, and revision. 
  • Describe the cultural forces (history, social values, economic practices, and politics) that shape the professional practices in a target culture. 
  • Predict and explain the electronic and molecular structure of common substances using models.  
  • Design and carry out scientific experiments as well as accurately record and analyze the results of such experiments.  


Core Education Fulfillment (if applicable)* 

In addition to the learning objectives, if a course meets any Core Education Requirements, include a statement about which requirements it meets and why. You can find guidance on the Required Syllabus Content page. 


Course Modality 

Students reported confusion about the difference between fully online and remote courses; now that we are back on campus and in person, we suspect there also may be confusion about whether face-to-face courses have a remote option. Consider raising this directly with students to calibrate student expectations. According to UO Policy: "Instructors are not required to accommodate students who signed up for an in-person class but are requesting remote access for the entire term. Students have been advised to create a class schedule that best fits their situation; if they cannot attend in-person, they should enroll only in online courses" Learn more.  

Sample language:

This is an in-person course: that means that, unlike asynchronous online/WEB courses, we will meet during scheduled class meeting times in (class location). I will accommodate illness and absences as described below. If you need additional flexibility UO encourages you to consider WEB courses. If you need accommodation related to a medical or other disability, you can set those up through AEC (


Technical Requirements

Inform students of the main platforms you will use, how to access support, and what to do in the event of a technological failure.  

Sample language:

While our classes will be in person, Canvas will still be an important part of our course, and the place to go for course information and engagement outside of class time.  

Log into using your DuckID to access our class. If you have questions about accessing and using Canvas, visit the Canvas support page. Canvas and Technology Support also is available by phone or live chat: 
541-346-4357 | 

Course Policies


Communicating with Me: How and Why 

Establish clear means of communication. Students can check their communications settings and even receive class notifications via text. Many instructors find it helpful to indicate their typical response times to emailed questions and on submitted work.  

Tip: UO students report finding the variety of ways faculty are setting up course sites in Canvas, the number of non-Canvas platforms faculty are using, and the many notifications and emails they receive confusing. Try setting up regular patterns of communication (like a weekly Announcement sent every Monday, in addition to a weekly overview in Canvas modules). 

Tip: Even if students understand how to reach you, they might now know why—what kinds of things can they talk about with you? Some may need deadline and grading flexibility that you are empowered to extend, but don’t know what to ask for—or may be concerned about asking for what may seem to them like a special favor. Consider giving all students a sense of what you can help with and support them with. 

Sample language:

How will I communicate with you? 
  • Our class will communicate through our Canvas site. Announcements and emails are archived there and automatically forwarded to your UO email, and can even reach you by text. Check and adjust your settings under Account > Notifications.  
  • Every Monday I will post an Announcement that previews exciting, critical concepts we’ll work on that week and a checklist of the week’s due dates. You can also find this information in the overview page in each Canvas module. 
  • When I need to get in touch with individual students, I do so through email.  
  • When giving feedback on assignments, I do so in Canvas, and turnaround time for feedback is generally one week.

Please check Canvas prior to attending class—if case that there is a COVID-related interruption, I will notify students through Announcements. 

How can you communicate with me? 

If your question is a practical, yes/no one about an assignment, reading, or other component of our class, please post your question on the Discussion thread titled “Class Questions and Answers,” which I respond to daily, and where your peers can also pose questions and share answers. 

If your question is about a technical challenge with Canvas, Zoom, or another technology, please contact the UO Service Portal."  

If your question, concern, or excitement is about course content or activities, about something personal, is time sensitive, or is something else that doesn’t feel like it fits above, please do reach out to me by email or by attending office hours! If you contact me with a question, I will try to respond within one business day. 

Why should you reach out to me?

Talking with my students about our course material is a true pleasure—confused or excited about something? Wondering how what we’re learning relates to current events, career choices, or other classes you can take UO? Please be in touch! Please also be in touch to tell me how you are doing in the course. If you are having trouble with some aspect of it, I would like to strategize with you. I believe every student can succeed in this course, and I care about your success.  

Office hours details: 

When & where: I will host office hours through [Zoom/Canvas Conferences] each week on [day/time]. I welcome meetings outside my regular office hours, too, knowing that there is considerable uncertainty in all of our lives right now. Just email me or call me at [office number] to set a time. If you experience Internet access challenges, my office phone is a good way to reach me.  

What: During office hours, students bring in a wide range of concerns, questions, and successes. We might talk through a specific concept or problem to clarify it, might think together about an issue a student is curious about that relates to the class, might discuss a students’ post-graduation goals, might identify more supportive methods to study for a future exam or to begin a project, or any number of other topics. Some students have never been to an instructor’s office hours—if that is you, please change that this term by attending! Feel free to come with another peer as well if that is useful for you.  

Regardless of the format, I look forward to connecting!


Classroom Community Expectations (or "Classroom behaviors)* 

The Senate has noted that syllabi should include policy on “classroom behavior.” It is useful to be transparent about expectations you hold for students (and that they can hold for each other) and expectations your students can hold for you. 

In addition to identifying relevant expectations for how you will engage together, you will also want to identify behaviors that relate to the ongoing pandemic. For example, eating and drinking in classrooms is now prohibited.  

Sample language

All members of the class (both students and instructor(s) can expect to: 

  1. Participate and Contribute: Students are expected to participate by sharing ideas and contributing to the collective learning environment. This entails preparing, following instructions, and engaging respectfully and thoughtfully with others. Together, we will establish more specific participation guidelines and criteria for contributions in our first weeks of the term.    

  2. Expect and Respect Diversity: All classes at the University of Oregon welcome and respect diverse experiences, perspectives, and approaches. What is not welcome are behaviors or contributions that undermine, demean, or marginalize others based on race, ethnicity, gender, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, ability, or socioeconomic status. We will value differences and communicate disagreements with respect. We may establish more specific guidelines and protocols to ensure inclusion and equity for all members of our learning community.    

  3. Help Everyone Learn: Our goal is to learn together by learning from one another. As we move forward learning during this challenging time, it is important that we work together and build on our strengths. We are returning with a range of feelings about and comfort with being in person, and this means we need to be patient with each other, identify ways we can assist others, and be open-minded to receiving help and feedback from others. No one should hesitate to contact me to ask for assistance or offer suggestions that might help us learn better.    

Additional sample guidelines for using Canvas Discussion:   
  1. Use subject lines that clearly communicate the content of your post   
  2. Write clearly and concisely and be aware that humor or sarcasm doesn’t always translate in writing.   
  3. Be supportive and considerate when replying to others’ posts. This means avoiding use of jargon or inappropriate language, and it means disagreeing with respect and providing clear rationale or evidence to support your different view.   
  4. Keep focused on the topic and reference readings and other class materials to support your points (as applicable).   
  5. Try to use correct spelling and grammar and proofread your submissions.  After submitting, use the edit feature to make corrections and resubmit (don’t create a new or duplicate post that corrects your error).   
  6. Contribute and interact often!   
Additional sample COVID-specific expectations for each other this term: 
Being back in person may feel more challenging for some of us, for a variety of reasons. If you need to step outside of the room momentarily to take care of your own physical or mental needs, please feel warmly welcome to do so. Students who may have mobility issues that make this guidance challenging should contact me. 


Class Materials* 

Let students know what materials are required and how they can access materials for your class. Consider using free or low-cost materials if you do not already; recent Student Experience Survey responses indicate that free or affordable materials are among the most common recommendations students have to increase access to your course. 



The Office of the Provost’s “Required Syllabus Content” states that the syllabus must include: “clear absence policy that is pedagogically appropriate for the specific course. Policy should make clear how absences affect grades and the conditions under which assigned work and/or tests can be made up." Academic Council’s Spring guidance removes most campus-wide attendance and makeup policy provisions in favor of individual faculty discretion:

"Instructors should clearly express on their syllabus and in early class meetings their expectations around attendance. As the University moves into low-risk status, expectations for attendance should be closer to pre-pandemic expectations, with some flexibility for absences but not unlimited flexibility. It should be made clear to students that they are expected to attend class unless they are ill, as would have been the case prior to the pandemic. Instructors should also make clear to students what they can expect in terms of course materials for makeups. Instructors are not expected to record lectures or provide access to course materials beyond what they would have done prior to the pandemic. [...] Students who are directed or advised to quarantine by the university or other public health authority or provider should be held harmless in attendance policies. Instructors may ask students to show the document instructing them to quarantine/isolate as verification of their quarantine/isolation status."

Sample Attendance Policy A (names the context of returning to in-person after the surge) 

Students may miss three classes this term for any reason and access a standard makeup assignment on our Canvas site. Please stay home and use these absences if you are sick. Students who miss six or more classes are in danger of failing given the centrality of our in-class work to our learning objectives.    

I know that there was great variety in attendance policies and approaches to supporting students who were absent as the campus grappled with the Omicron surge in winter. Now that it's spring, I hope we have a happier, healthier term together as a class and as a campus. Your success and thriving are genuinely important to me. If challenges come up for you this term, please let me know. Together we can identify what resources or strategies might be available to support you and your learning.  

Sample Attendance Policy B (no grade penalty)  

This is a face-to-face course. Attendance is important because we will develop our knowledge through in-class activities that require your active engagement. We’ll have discussions, small-group activities, and do other work during class that will be richer for your presence, and that you won’t be able to benefit from if you are not there. Excessive absences make it impossible to learn well and succeed in the course. While there is not an automatic grade deduction for missing classes, it is unlikely that students who miss X or more classes will be able pass this course.   

If you must miss a class please fill out the absence report form. I will do X to help you make up for missed material.  

Participation and Deadlines 

Academic Council’s Spring 2022 Guidance and Expectations document states that: 

"Instructors may count attendance and participation as part of the grade as they would have prior to the pandemic provided they have reasonable ways for students to complete make-up assignments for a reasonable number of missed class sessions or participation points without loss of credit or points. Instructors must communicate these policies in their syllabi and can state in those policies how many absences are allowed before the grade will be affected. If a student’s frequent absences and lack of availability for make-ups are jeopardizing their success in the course, instructors should communicate with those students as early as possible and recommend students work with an advisor to consider their options."

Tip: In thinking about what to carry forward in your spring teaching, we remind you that UO Academic Data Analytics analyses of Student Experience Survey data show the power of relatively straightforward choices like: 

  • posting assignments earlier to allow students to choose when to complete their work; 

  • designing for imperfect attendance by, for example, allowing students to drop the lowest assignment grade and posting slides, notes, or recordings; 

  • making expectations for students transparent. 

Example Language:

As the university community continues to balance learning and health during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that each of us not attend class when ill. 

Capturing what happens during our live meetings is a way to take care of one another in our COVID context and help all students deepen learning. You will find a shared document for notes in each Canvas module; we will distribute the work of taking notes for class sessions. This is an opportunity to solidify learning, surface questions, and support your peers! 


Though attendance and participation account for 10 percent of students’ grades, I have developed and posted to Canvas daily make-up activities which may be used up to five times by any student for any reason.  

Assignment deadlines: 

Assignments are always due in this course Sundays at 8:00pm. All students also have up to two “oops tokens”—opportunities to turn in an assignment up to one week late for any reason, no questions asked, except for final papers or projects due in week 10 or finals week; additional accommodations are available for students who have been instructed to quarantine. I hope both this regular deadline and some built-in flexibility supports your work in the course.  


Grade Policies* 

Describe your grading scheme and any related policies (find information about the University of Oregon’s grading system here). Include policies you may have about deadline flexibility that would impact grades (see “Using and Communicating Flexible Deadlines” in “Fall 2021: Class Policy and Planning”). Include or link to grading criteria and expectations, such as grading rubrics. 

University Policies

COVID Policies*

Just as instructors wish to understand how to protect themselves and others and plan for necessary changes, so do students. Academic Council and the Corona Corps has drafted the language below to include in syllabi.  

In addition to including it in your syllabus, you may wish to make space for questions and discussion of this section and others that are important to you. One way to “discuss” and clarify syllabus language that can be particularly effective is to have students annotate the syllabus. Find out more about how to annotate your syllabus with students here (resource made by Dr. Remi Kalir and Maha Bali of Equity Unbound). 


Academic Disruption* 

The following is language to include in your syllabus:

In the event of a campus emergency that disrupts academic activities, course requirements, deadlines, and grading percentages are subject to change. Information about changes in this course will be communicated as soon as possible by email, and on Canvas. If we are not able to meet face-to-face, students should immediately log onto Canvas and read any announcements and/or access alternative assignments. Students are also expected to continue coursework as outlined in this syllabus or other instructions on Canvas. 

In the event that the instructor of this course has to quarantine, this course may be taught online during that time.



As the University of Oregon continues in-person instruction, instructors and students play a key role in keeping our community healthy and safe.

Prevention: To prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms and on campus, all students and employees must:

  • Comply with vaccination policy
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Complete daily self-checks
  • Say home/do not come to campus if feeling symptomatic
  • Individuals with no symptoms or mild symptoms can get tested at McArthur Court through UO's Monitoring and Assessment Program. Masks are required at COVID-19 testing sites including in line outside.
  • Visit the Exposure Scenario page page for information on reporting cases.

 Support: The following resources are available to you as a student. 


Other Policies

Accessibility *

Every syllabus needs to include a statement encouraging students with disabilities to make their needs known to the instructor early in the term and to inform students that AEC is a source of support. 

Sample Language

The University of Oregon is working to create more inclusive learning environments, including for students who identify as having a disability. At UO, 10% of students use the Accessible Education Center (AEC) and nationally an estimated 20% of undergraduates identify as having a disability. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in disability-related barriers to your participation, please contact me—your success and the success of your peers matters. 

You are also encouraged to contact the Accessible Education Center in 164 Oregon Hall at 541-346-1155 or The AEC offers a wide range of support services including note-taking, testing services, sign language interpretation and adaptive technology.  


Your Well-being 

The UO Counseling Services reminds us that there are various ways to demonstrate your care towards students’ learning and well-being. One simple way to support the emotional well-being of students and campus mental health is to include the statement below on your course syllabus. Additionally, University Counseling Services welcomes you to consult with its clinical staff about any concerns you have regarding a student and how to reach out to the student in providing support (call 541-346-3227). See Reaching Out—Student Mental Health to learn more.  

Sample Language:

Life at college can be very complicated. Students often feel overwhelmed or stressed, experience anxiety or depression, struggle with relationships, or just need help navigating challenges in their life. If you're facing such challenges, you don't need to handle them on your own--there's help and support on campus.  

As your instructor if I believe you may need additional support, I will express my concerns, the reasons for them, and refer you to resources that might be helpful. It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I care and that help is available. Getting help is a courageous thing to do—for yourself and those you care about. 

University Health Services helps students cope with difficult emotions and life stressors. If you need general resources on coping with stress or want to talk with another student who has been in the same place as you, visit the Duck Nest (located in the EMU on the ground floor) and get help from one of the specially trained Peer Wellness Advocates.  

University Counseling Services (UCS) has a team of dedicated staff members to support you with your concerns, many of whom can provide identity-based support. All clinical services are free and confidential. Find out more at or by calling 541-346-3227 (anytime UCS is closed, the After-Hours Support and Crisis Line is available by calling this same number). 


Basic Needs  

As students continue to struggle at increased rates with meeting basic food, housing, economic and other needs that invariably impact learning, we encourage a "Basic Needs" statement so students can get connected to the support they need.

Sample Language:

Being able to meet your basic needs is foundational to your success as a student at the University of Oregon. If you are having difficulty affording food, lack a stable place to live, or are struggling to meet another need please review the UO Basic Needs Resource Guide ( for information on how to get support.


Respect for Diversity 

Consider crafting a statement explicitly valuing diversity in identities, backgrounds, and beliefs. 

Sample Language

You can expect to be treated with respect in this course. Both students and your instructor(s) enter with many identities, backgrounds, and beliefs. Students of all racial identities, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, national origins, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, citizenship statuses, ability and other visible and non-visible differences belong in and contribute to this class and this discipline. All students are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment for every other member of the class.  

Class rosters are provided to instructors with students’ legal names. Please let me know if the name or pronouns I have for you are not accurate. It is important to me to address you properly. 

Please notify me if you feel aspects of the instruction or course design or classroom activities undermine these principles in any way. You may also notify the [Home Department] at [contact information].  For additional assistance and resources, you may also consider contacting the Division of Equity and Inclusion at or 541-346-3175, or the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence at or 541-346-3479.


Academic Integrity 

In addition to including the University’s standard misconduct statement in the syllabus, consider giving specific guidance about what this means in your course.  

Tip: The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards recommends that instructors: 

  • Clarify if and how students are permitted to collaborate with each other. 
  • For assignments and assessments, clearly outline what, if any, resources students are permitted to use. 
  • Tell students that you will report all suspected cases of academic misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
  • Be clear about the consequence for academic misconduct in your course (e.g. “if you do not adhere to these expectations regarding academic integrity, you will receive a failing grade for this course”). 

In addition to this guidance, you may wish to note that recording without instructor permission is a violation of the Student Conduct Code.  

Example 1

The University Student Conduct Code defines academic misconduct, which includes using unauthorized help on assignments and examinations, the use of sources without acknowledgment, and recording class without “the express written permission of the instructor(s).” Academic misconduct is prohibited at UO. I will report misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards—consequences can include failure of the course. 

While unauthorized help and use of sources is prohibited, learning together and citing sources is crucial! Each assignment and assessment will have a note about whether and how you might work with others so that you can clearly act with academic integrity. All assignments will use [insert citation method], and you can find support in using [citation method] at this excellent UO Library resource [insert name/link]. If at any point in the term you are unsure about whether a behavior aligns with academic integrity in our course, please contact me. I welcome your questions about what academic integrity looks like in our class.

Example 2

The University Student Conduct Code defines academic misconduct, which includes using unauthorized help on assignments and examinations and the use of sources without acknowledgment, and recording class without “the express written permission of the instructor(s).” Academic misconduct is prohibited at UO. I will report misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards—consequences can include failure of this course. I will ask you to certify that your exams/papers are your own work. Exams are administered in Canvas and untimed. I have designed them with the expectation that you will have access to course materials and the Internet when you take them. I will be looking to see evidence of critical thinking and your ability to put the concepts we’re working on into action in response to the exam prompts. I will adjust times to support students with accommodations through the Accessible Education Center. If a technological glitch disrupts your exam, don’t panic. Take a photo to document the error message you’re receiving and then email or call me. 


Student Experience Surveys 

The Senate’s teaching evaluation committee warmly encourages instructors to offer students 10 minutes of class time to complete their Student Experience Surveys. This is particularly important because the old, negative incentive of holding students’ grades until they interact with UO’s course feedback surveys has been removed: it’s now up to instructors and students to build a culture of reflection and feedback.  
A new Canvas integration allows students and instructors to more easily access UO Student Experience Surveys. The integration provides a link titled “UO Course Surveys” from the Canvas course navigation menu and allows easier access to CollegeNET, the system that deploys Student Experience Surveys and Instructor Reflections. The “UO Course Surveys” link is automatically visible to students in each Canvas course. However, instructors can customize the visibility of this and other items in their course navigation menu in Settings under the Navigation tab.   

Sample language

The midway and end-of-term Student Experience Surveys will be conducted in class on [insert dates. these happen during week four, then week 10]. These are important opportunities to provide feedback about your learning experiences—I deeply value this feedback and am continually improving the course with students’ responses in mind. The key parts of the survey are the open-ended questions where you share concrete, actionable feedback and about the teaching practices that stand out to you. Thank you for your thoughtful reflections!


mandatory reporter status*

The following is the recommended minimum language to include on syllabi:

“I am a [designated reporter/student-directed employee]. For information about my reporting obligations as an employee, please see Employee Reporting Obligations on the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance (OICRC) website. Students experiencing any form of prohibited discrimination or harassment, including sex or gender-based violence, may seek information and resources at, or or contact the non-confidential Title IX office/Office of Civil Rights Compliance (541-346-3123), or Dean of Students offices (541-346-3216), or call the 24-7 hotline 541-346-SAFE for help. I am also a mandatory reporter of child abuse. Please find more information at Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect.”

See for additional recommended syllabus language.


General Syllabus Resources

Ideas UO instructors have shared to engage students in the syllabus include: 

  • Taking time for student annotation (in synchronous or asynchronous activity), especially in sections that feel most important. 

  • Using a “syllabus quiz.” These are low-stakes and repeatable, with questions only about the things most important for them to register about the course. Ideally a quiz can include one question for students to flag questions for the instructor and one question that asks them to connect their goals to goals of the course. 

  • Create an abridged or “liquid” syllabus that students can reference for the most important parts of the document. These usually consider UDL principles in their design.  

If you are looking for additional resources for your syllabus design, we recommend: 

  • The “Accessible Syllabus” site. If you only look at one additional resource to increase accessibility, we recommend this as the one! 

  • This timely post by educator Matt Johnson on “10 Course Policies to Rethink on Your Course Syllabus” (from the Chronicle) 

  • Dr. Michelle Pacansky Brock’s Liquid Syllabus resources, which guide instructors who are interested in open resources and UDL principles through using “a website tool rather than a tool for document creation to create a welcoming, supportive syllabus with visuals”