Essays Syllabus Vs Curriculum

Key difference: Essentially, a syllabus is a descriptive outline and summary of topics that are to be covered in an education or training course. The syllabus will usually provide specific information about the said training course and is often drafted by the governing body or by the instructor of the course. A curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. A general curriculum, in the broadest sense of the word, may list all courses offered at a specific school. A curriculum is prescriptive, which means that is issued by the governing body and lists topics the must be understood by the student at the end of the course, and what level to achieve a particular grade or standard.

Essentially, a syllabus is a descriptive outline and summary of topics that are to be covered in an education or training course. The syllabus will usually provide specific information about the said training course and is often drafted by the governing body or by the instructor of the course. Syllabi, on the other hand, are the plural form of a syllabus.

According to Dictionary.com, a syllabus is:

  • An outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc.
  • A short summary of the legal basis of a court's decision appearing at the beginning of a reported case.
  • A book containing summaries of the leading cases in a legal field, used especially by students.

A typical syllabus will contain information on how, where and when to contact the lecturer and teaching assistants; an outline of what will be covered in the course; a schedule of test dates and the due dates for assignments; the grading policy for the course; specific classroom rules; etc.

The purpose of a syllabus is to ensure consistency between courses thought at different colleges under the same governing body. A syllabus issued by the governing body, i.e. the board of education, the head of department, etc, may be modified by the instructor as long as it is consistent with the curriculum.

The syllabus also serves as a means for the students to be aware and understanding what they will be thought in the duration of the course. Wikipedia lists the various purposes served by a syllabus:

  • fair and impartial understanding between the instructor and students such that there is minimal confusion on policies relating to the course
  • setting clear expectations of material to be learned
  • setting clear expectations of behavior in the classroom
  • setting clear expectations of effort on student's behalf to be put into the course
  • providing a roadmap of course organization/direction relaying the instructor's teaching philosophy to the students
  • providing a marketing angle of the course such that students may choose early in the course whether the subject material is attractive
  • clarifying student understanding of specified material such as grading policy, grading rubric, late work policy, locations and times
  • providing contact information for instructor and teaching assistant such as phone or email
  • listing materials required and/or recommended such as textbooks, assigned reading books, calculators, lab vouchers, or other equipments
  • listing outside resources for subject material assistance, including extracurricular books, tutor locations, resource centers, etc.
  • important dates in course such as exams and paper due-dates
  • tips for succeeding in mastering course content such as study habits and expected time allotment
  • suggested problems if applicable
  • necessary pre-requisites or co-requisites to current course
  • safety rules if appropriate
  • objectives of the course

Types of syllabus include:

  • Notional-Functional syllabus
  • Grammatical syllabus
  • Lexical syllabus
  • Situational syllabus
  • Text-based syllabus
  • Skill-based syllabus
  • Task-based syllabus
  • Learner-generated syllabus
  • Mixed syllabus
  • Online course syllabus

A curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. The term, ‘curriculum’ is derived from the  Latin word "Currere" which means to run/to proceed. Currere refers to the ‘course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults.’

Dictionary.com defines curriculum as:

  • The aggregate of courses of study given in a school, college, university, etc.: The school is adding more science courses to its curriculum.
  • The regular or a particular course of study in a school, college, etc.

A general curriculum, in the broadest sense of the word, may list all courses offered at a specific school. A curriculum is prescriptive, which means that is issued by the governing body and lists topics the must be understood by the student at the end of the course, and what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. It may also refer to a defined and prescribed course of studies students must fulfill in order to complete the course. An individual teacher may refer to the curriculum to ensure that her lessons are covering all the topics as required by the curriculum.

The various purposes served by a curriculum:

  • may refer to all courses offered at a school
  • may refer to a defined and prescribed course of studies
  • lists course of studies which students must fulfill in order to pass a certain level of education
  • may discuss how the sum of lessons and teachings will help students learn the basics

The main difference between a syllabus and a curriculum is that a curriculum is a more generalized or an overview of the subjects or topics that the students are meant to learn. However, a syllabus is a more detailed overview of the subject of study. For example: a math curriculum may list basics of algebra, basics of geometry and basics of trigonometry. While, the class syllabus will list what topics will be covered under each of the basic topics, what will be the concepts that students may understand by the end of each topic, and it may even list what exercises or problems in the textbook will be covered during class. Hence, it can be said that syllabus is a subset of curriculum. 

When it comes to education, the two concepts which pop up in our mind which are commonly misconstrued are syllabus and curriculum. Syllabus connotes the subjects as well as the topics covered in the course of study. On the other hand, curriculum implies the chapters and academic content taught in school or college. It alludes to the knowledge, skills and competencies students should learn during study.

The fundamental difference between syllabus and curriculum is that the former is focused towards a particular subject. Unlike, the latter, which is related to the all-round development of a student. Similarly, there are other differences between these two, that are discussed in the article provided below, take a read.

Content: Syllabus Vs Curriculum

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonSyllabusCurriculum
MeaningSyllabus is the document that contains all the portion of the concepts covered in a subject.Curriculum is the overall content, taught in an educational system or a course.
OriginSyllabus is a Greek term.Curriculum is a Latin term.
Set forA subjectA course
NatureDescriptivePrescriptive
ScopeNarrowWide
Set out byExam boardGovernment or the administration of school, college or institute.
TermFor a fixed term, normally a year.Till the course lasts.
UniformityVaries from teacher to teacher.Same for all teachers.

Definition of Syllabus

The syllabus is defined as the documents that consist of topics or portion covered in a particular subject. It is determined by the examination board and created by the professors. The professors are responsible for the quality of the course. It is made available to the students by the teachers, either in hard copy or electronic form to bring their attention towards the subject and take their study seriously.

A syllabus is considered as a guide to the in charge as well as to the students. It helps the students to know about the subject in detail, why it is a part of their course of study, what are the expectations from students, consequences of failure, etc. It contains general rules, policies, instructions, topics covered, assignments, projects, test dates, and so on.

Definition of Curriculum

The curriculum is defined as the guideline of the chapters and academic content covered by an educational system while undergoing a particular course or program.

In a theoretical sense, curriculum refers to what is offered by the school or college. However, practically it has a wider scope which covers the knowledge, attitude, behaviour, manner, performance and skills that are imparted or inculcated in a student. It contains the teaching methods, lessons, assignments, physical and mental exercises, activities, projects, study material, tutorials, presentations, assessments, test series, learning objectives, and so on.

The curriculum is well planned, guided and designed by the government or the educational institution. It is aimed at both physical and mental development of a student. It is the overall learning experience that a student goes through during the particular course of study.

Key Differences Between Syllabus and Curriculum

The basic differences between syllabus and curriculum are explained in the point given below:

  1. The syllabus is described as the summary of the topics covered or units to be taught in the particular subject. Curriculum refers to the overall content, taught in an educational system or a course.
  2. Syllabus varies from teacher to teacher while the curriculum is same for all teachers.
  3. The term syllabus is a Greek origin, whereas the term curriculum is a Latin origin.
  4. The curriculum has a wider scope than the syllabus.
  5. The syllabus is provided to the students by the teachers so that they can take an interest in the subject. On the other hand, normally the curriculum is not made available to the students unless specifically asked for.
  6. Syllabus is descriptive in nature, but the curriculum is prescriptive.
  7. Syllabus is set for a particular subject. Unlike curriculum, which covers a particular course of study or a program.
  8. Syllabus is prepared by teachers. Conversely, a curriculum is decided by the government or the school or college administration.
  9. The duration of a syllabus is for a year only, but curriculum lasts till the completion of the course.

Conclusion

Curriculum and Syllabus are the terms of education, imparted to the students by teachers. It means the knowledge, skills or qualifications that are passed on from one generation to another. A subject syllabus is a unit of the curriculum. The two terms differ in a sense that curriculum is a combination of some factors which helps in the planning of an educational program, whereas a syllabus covers the portion of what topics should be taught in a particular subject.

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