Course Planning and Instruction

Course descriptions, syllabus, and course hours policy

Course Planning and Instruction

Resources and relevant policies to assist instructors in the development of course schedules, syllabus, and instruction are organized by the Academic Director for each program, Academic Operations & Planning team and Project & Instructional Resources team. These individuals are familiar with UC Davis policies to ensure compliance and standards to instruction.

Course Descriptions

All courses have an official description as shown in the UC Davis campus catalog and the internal GSM course catalog (RaPs). You should design your course with this official description in mind. At times, several different instructors may teach the same course, so the content must stay consistent with the official course description. While you may not be able to change the course description every time you teach without prior approval, we do encourage instructors to elaborate on how they intend to deliver the information in detail via the course syllabus.

With 290 series courses or 298 group studies courses, you have considerably more flexibility in the course description. This is due mainly to the fact that those courses are generalized “tests” for a certain class (topics in finance, topics in marketing, etc.)  Finally, if you contemplate major changes in the content of a course that you have taught previously that will require an update to the course description, it is best to bring these request changes to the Academic Director.


A syllabus is a brief description of the format of the class. It should list the course title, professor, time and date of class, professor’s office hours and office location, required textbooks or textpak information. It may also include a description of what may be covered in the class, a day-to-day assignment schedule, examination and grading procedures. Recommended procedures regarding syllabus information can be found on the Student Judicial Affairs web site. All syllabi will be posted on the RaPs and linked to your Canvas course site.

Following recommendations from the GSM Ad Hoc Ethics Committee, your syllabus should also refer appropriately to:
1) The UC standards of conduct for students
2) Any unique student conduct requirements established by the instructors of the course.

Course Prerequisites

Course prerequisites can be general or specific. Students should have completed the core courses prior to taking an elective. Some elective courses may also require that a specific course be taken as a prerequisite to the elective. As an instructor, you should attempt to be aware of students who are registered in your course who may not have all the necessary prerequisites. Based on information that they provide, you may encourage or discourage them from taking your course at the present time.

Testing Out of a Core Class

Students may request to “test out” of a core class by passing an exam given by the professor teaching the course. You may, therefore, have to administer a test prior to the beginning of the quarter. This can be done in written form or orally. For oral exams, you may make your determination based on information presented by the student to demonstrate that the material has been covered in an earlier class or as a result of prior work experience. Testing out for core classes is offered during Fall Orientation for incoming students. Results of the “testing out” of a core course need to be communicated to Academic and Student Services team.

Planned Class Changes and Cancellations

If you need to cancel or change a scheduled class meeting time and/or date, this needs to be discussed and arranged in advance with the Academic Director. If the Academic Director agrees to cancel or change your scheduled class meeting time and/or date, the faculty member is responsible for notifying your class via the class mailing tool (accessible via Canvas) and Project & Instructional Resources. This must be done as this change in your class schedule may impact catering, staffing, and staff assistance at your particular class location.

Credit for Courses, and Course Hours Policy

Credit for Courses
Units of credit are assigned to courses based on the "Carnegie rule" which specifies one unit of credit for three hours of work by the student per week. Usually this involves three hours of lecture or discussion led by the instructor and six hours of outside preparation by the student.

Course Hours Policy
Normally two hours of laboratory or studio time (plus an hour of outside preparation) are required for each unit of credit.  Proposals for these courses will require assurance in the expanded course descriptions that the Carnegie unit standard is being followed.  If the number of lecture or discussion hours specified in the General Catalog is less than the number of units of credit assigned to the course, some form of additional non-classroom work, such as a substantial term paper, is required of the student. Requests for courses with fewer contact hours than the number of units awarded (e.g.., a 4-unit course that meets three hours per week) must be accompanied by adequate justification.

More information can be found on the Academic Senate website.

Travel and Entertainment

Reimbursement of commuting costs to your primary teaching location is not allowable per University policy which includes airfare, mileage, hotel accommodations, car rentals or meals/incidentals. However, UC Davis does provide a list of several vendors that offer discounts for travel and entertainment. A link to a list of patrons and instructions can be found here.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding travel and entertainment, please contact the GSM Business Office.