8 Analyze Your Course Outline

A Course Outline (also called a syllabus) is prepared by your instructor, and is like a roadmap for your learning journey ahead. Before the course starts, look at the Brightspace page for your course to see if the outline is available to you. If it is not, you will receive it on the first day of class. Sometimes, instructors will email them to you in advance.

 Course outlines include the following:

Course Description:

Description from the Course Outline, plus anything else the Instructor would like you to know about the overall intention of this course.

This is the general overview of what you will be doing in this course.

Contact Information:

Instructor name, email, phone, classroom, office hour times, office location.

This should contain all the information you need to contact your instructor when you need to ask questions, meet with them, or share information with them.

Course Materials:

Required and Additional Materials. These may include: reference to handouts, library materials that are used in the course, or other materials.

You will need all of these items. Get them from the indicated sources.  To start your semester off in the best possible, you will want to purchase or rent any required textbooks before the first day of class.

Tentative Schedule of Topics, Classes, and Assignments (may change):

Including times, attendance requirements, external activities, field trips, etc.

This information should go into your scheduling device (planner, calendar, online schedule, etc.).  In the next chapter, you will learn strategies to create a semester and weekly schedule based on the information in your course outline.


Assignments and due dates specified, may include rubrics / checklists.

Assignment due dates need to be scheduled in advance so you can plan your work, research, and study. Your course outline may also include some guidelines and rubrics that incicate what is required for each assignment, and how the assignments will be graded. Rubrics and checklists must be referenced for projects to ensure that you meet the specified criteria.

Tests and Exams:

Exam dates, may include other ways that testing will be done.

Put these test dates into your calendar as soon as you receive them. You will use this information to plan your study times, so you are well prepared for any tests, and can avoid cramming at the last minute.

This is an example of how to create a list of assignments and due dates from a course outline. Keep track of these dates in an accessible calendar.
Image Credit: Rawia Inaim


NSCC policies regarding class conduct, evaluation, testing, late assignments, and plagiarism are observed for all courses. Everyone at NSCC must comply with the policies laid out.  Make sure you understand any policies that are mentioned in your course outline. NSCC policies can be read or downloaded from the NSCC Policies and Procedures  webpage.

By getting to know your course outline, you can help to prepare yourself to meet the expectations of the semester ahead.

Try It!

Find a course outline for one of your classes.  You can find course outlines on Brightspace by logging in with your student number and password.  Try to find the following information:

  1. How to contact your instructor.
  2. What textbooks or course materials you will need before the first day of class.
  3. What assignments you will need to complete and what will be required.
  4. When your tests and exams are scheduled.

If you have any questions about what you read, e-mail your instructor, or plan to visit them in their office hours.


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NSCC College 101 Guide by NSCC & Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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