Course Materials & Syllabi

Source: FAS Information for Faculty Handbook (2020-2021) .pdf, pages 37-38 

  • Faculty will need to activate their Canvas sites by August 15, 2021.

Faculty should post a complete course syllabus to the course website before the start of the semester so that students can make efficient use of the course selection period during the first days of the term with minimal disruption to classes. For help posting your syllabus on your course Canvas site, visit

The syllabus should include a listing of course readings and materials. To control the escalating cost of reproducing coursepacks and sourcebooks, instructors are encouraged to determine whether the course readings they assign are available electronically from the Harvard libraries, and if they are, to link to them from course websites. For information on how to include links from your syllabus/course web page directly to readings available in electronic format, contact your department's Library Liaison or refer to E-Resources on the Harvard Libraries website. The Get Teaching Support for Your Courses page contains additional useful information for instructors.

In addition to a description of the course and its pedagogical goals, the syllabus should include contact information and office hours for teaching staff, a reading list, dates of hour/midterm exams, due dates for papers or other assignments, plans and expectations for Reading Period, course policy with respect to late work and makeup hour exams, and the basis on which the course grade will be awarded. It should also include a clear statement about plagiarism and collaboration. (See Papers and Other Written Assignments for a description of the policy and for template text for this portion of the syllabus.)

In selecting the dates for midterm examinations, as well as for papers and other assignments, instructors should be aware of the constraints of the academic calendar and should consult the information on religious holidays on the Harvard Divinity School's Multifaith Calendar. Instructors noting the possible dates of the course's final examination on the syllabus should also note on the syllabus that these dates are tentative until the final examination schedule is approved. Instructors are reminded of the policy that a three-hour final exam will not be scheduled for the course unless the Office of the Registrar is appropriately notified. For further information about final examinations, policy concerning alternative means of end-of-term assessment, and the process by which faculty should notify the Registrar if a three-hour exam is intended, see Final Examinations.

In courses designed for undergraduates it is helpful and beneficial for students to receive an evaluation on at least one course assignment before the seventh Monday of the term, the last day on which undergraduates may withdraw from a course. In addition, it is important to note any limitations on the credit earned by passing the course -- e.g., a full-year 8-credit course may not be divisible at midyear for 4 credits -- should be made clear as part of the presentation of the course. No substantial changes in the work load or calendar of a course should be made after the registration deadline each term.