The plural of syllabus is syllabi, like the plural of octopus is octopi.  Like the octopus a syllabus has many arms or purposes.  It unites everyone around what are the essentials of a topic, it specifies limits of the subject, what is expected to be learnt and how it will be assessed, who will teach and when the classes will be offered.

At its heart a syllabus is a means of communication and some say more than others.  I am reflecting on the lessons learnt from Weimar’s Student  Centered Learning and changing institutions that makes me wonder if anyone has a clear idea on what a good syllabus looks like.  In some institutions I have studied at there was a short form and a long form.  In others there was only a long form.  From a student perspective I always wanted the most amount of information possible.  From a lecturer’s point of view I want flexibility and not having to check how many mistakes I have (re)introduced and thus want the smallest possible.

In the end the demands of all groups who use a syllabus, including re-accreditation panels, must be considered, they must meet the minimal requirements of re-accreditation, institution and personal.  This does not mean they can’t be longer but how they can be is a different issue.