Course Development

The following is designed to provide clarity and resources around the process of creating or revising good quality course outlines. Please contact the Office of Academic Quality (OAQ) at any point for assistance with this process.

Course Outline

A Course Outline is a contract between the college and students about what learning students are able to demonstrate by the end of a course, as well as topics covered throughout the course, and how they are to be evaluated. Remember, all courses and their learning outcomes must stem from the approved Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) in the Program Outline. As such, the approved program mapping should be referred to regularly, to ensure individual courses are connecting to the overall program goals.

When creating course outlines, keep in mind the following:

  • purpose and goals of the course within the context of the program
  • sequence of learning
  • assessment
  • instructional methods and resources
  • continuous quality assessment and improvement plans
  • accessibility and inclusivity (i.e. students with disabilities and from all backgrounds can participate with an equal chance of success)

To create or revise a course, faculty access the online form within the Curriculum Information Management (CIM) system. The outline is drafted, submitted to workflow, reviewed by the Office of Academic Quality (OAQ), approved by the Dean/Associate Dean of the academic area, and finalized in the system by the OAQ Curriculum Support Specialist. Relevant stakeholders are notified upon the completion of the process.

The online form contains information and instruction regarding all of the essential components of a Course Outline, including title, hours, semester offered, delivery method, requisites and equivalents, the course description, course learning outcomes, course content, and course evaluation.

Information and resources below will help teams create or revise the course description, course learning outcomes, course content, and course evaluation components of a Course Outline.

Course Description

A course description is a concise, general description of the course which broadly includes content and goals for students taking the course. The statement should be general enough to allow for changes in trends or technology over time, but specific enough to reflect content and learning outcomes. Descriptions serve an academic function, but they should also appeal to and be understood by non-experts and students. When writing course descriptions consider the general guidelines below.

Course descriptions should:

  • be a maximum of 150 words
  • be written in the present tense
  • use the term students (as opposed to the student, learner or learners)
  • stay focused on what students do (active voice)

Other standard style guidelines apply as well, such as avoiding use of the course title in the description, and spelling out names in full before providing an abbreviation or acronym in brackets. All of this information is contained within the field’s help bubble in CIM.

NOTE: in many cases, the course description has been written in advance of the Course Outline and approved during the New Program Development or Five-year Program Renewal processes. In these situations, take the time to review the course description to ensure it still accurately reflects the original intentions. As teams develop the learning outcomes, they may find that changes to the description are necessary; such changes are permissible and should be made to accurately reflect the course.

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are clear statements that define and clarify the level and quality of performance required by students in a specific course. Learning outcomes must be specific, attainable, measurable, and learner-centred, and they should identify the knowledge and skills that students are able to demonstrate by the end of a course or program.

When developing courses, it is important to consider the big picture of the program and how the courses connect to the Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). When writing Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs), a clear understanding of how the course is expected to contribute to the achievement of one or more of the PLOs is expected. This is where course mapping is helpful and can identify overlap or gaps.


The content included on a course outline should indicate topics that students study throughout a course and that relate to the course learning outcomes. Content items should also provide some structure for faculty delivering the course, but remain flexible enough to allow for individual teaching styles and subject matter expertise. Content items, such as current trends and fleeting technologies, may be time sensitive, necessitating frequent changes to course outlines. Where possible, write content items loosely enough to avoid such situations.

Evaluation Factors

Evaluation of learning outcomes should be varied to meet the needs of students with a variety of learning styles. As such, a course must have evaluation in at least two categories and provide opportunity for a minimum of three evaluation opportunities.

General rules about evaluation include the following:

  • The weighting in any one category should not exceed 75 per cent of the final mark.
  • Evaluation requirements from outside agencies with which a program is aligned may impose limitations on the scope of evaluative strategies and weightings.
  • Evaluative activities will generally assume to be individual unless designated “group.”
  • Attendance is not an evaluation.

Submission Deadlines

Be mindful of the following course submission deadlines:

  • Georgian College Courses
    • developed or revised as part of New Program Development, Program Renewal, or adoption of a new Program Standard must be approved by the Dean/Associate Dean in CIM prior to program curriculum approval at Academic Council.
    • revised as a result of the curriculum review during annual Program Assessment, must be approved by the Dean/Associate Dean in CIM by Nov. 30. These changes are effective fall of the following calendar year.
  • Ontario Learn Courses
    • March 31 for fall implementation
    • June 30 for winter implementation
    • Nov. 30 for summer implementation

Upon approval of individual courses, instructional design can continue including developing syllabi, assessments and lesson plans. Please contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning for support.