Prince Sultan University PSU
Policy Management System
Course Design Policy

Policy Code: TL0002
Policy Name: Course Design Policy
Handler: Teaching & Learning Center
Date Created: 15 August 2020
Date of Current Review: 15 August 2020
Approved by: University Council
Date of Approval:


Instructors are encouraged and advised to apply Outcome-Based Education (OBE) principles at all levels of curriculum development. The process starts at the top by articulating the Program Learning Outcomes (PLO’s) and propagates down to the course level, where instructors derive and articulate Course Learning Outcomes (CLO’s). The most important OBE principle at the course level is the principle of constructive alignment, according to which instructional strategies and assessment tasks should be aligned with the course learning outcomes.


This policy is to ensure the quality and relevance of all University programs and courses by providing a single University-wide policy for their design.


This policy applies to all academic courses offered at PSU.


Each faculty member that joins PSU is responsible for the design and implementation of the individual courses and/or multi-section courses as assigned to them in compliance with the University, College, and Department Regulations. All new faculty members are required to attend the course design series offered by the Teaching and Learning Center.

All faculty members will follow the guidelines provided in this policy. Faculty members are required to provide feedback regarding the guidelines and recommendations for amendments or updates.

Constructive Alignment

  1. Articulate the learning outcomes to describe the knowledge and skills students should acquire at the end of the course.
  2. Adopt instructional strategies that help students meet the intended learning outcomes.
  3. Design assessment tasks to measure the degree to which the students are meeting the learning outcomes

The Course Design Process:

The Course Design Process should address the following items.

  1. Prepare the course learning outcomes.
  2. Research the latest developments and current trends at the local and international levels. The Course Design Process
  3. Identify the course resources and textbooks.
  4. Based on the course learning outcomes, outline the course structure (course content and sequencing).
  5. Identify the appropriate instructional strategies. Remember that instructional strategies should be aligned with the course learning outcomes.
  6. Identify assessment tasks and activities.
  7. Prepare the course schedule.
  8. Prepare the course syllabus
  9. Grading policy: This would include informing the students about how their assignments and exams will be assessed (e.g., providing them with a copy of the i. Instructor’s chosen rubric to be used for a writing assignment).
  10. Course policies: This would include the policies for the course that the faculty member establishes from the beginning of the semester.

The Learning Outcomes (Learning Outcomes are the specific intentions of a program or course, written in specific terms. They describe what a student should know, understand, and/or be able to do at the end of that program or course.):

  1. Learning outcomes must be clearly specified, consistent with the National Qualifications Framework and requirements for employment or professional practice.
  2. Learning outcomes are to be expressed in a student-centric manner and address achievements, knowledge, and skills of students at the end of the course, e.g.: “At the end of the course, students should be able to XXXX; or, at the end of the course, students will be able to identify the challenges and opportunities XXXX.”
  3. Learning outcomes break down the learning tasks into smaller achievable cognitive skills.
  4. Learning outcomes are measurable.
  5. Use action verbs to specify student behavior.
  6. Keep statements short and focused on a single outcome.
  7. Explain expectations for student behavior, performance & understanding.
  8. Use specific terminology that has a clear interpretation to ensure that all students understand the same interpretation.

Course Structure and Organization

  1. Sequence topics in a manner consistent with the course learning outcomes.
  2. Concentrate on essential content that facilitates deeper learning through active engagement.
  3. Remember that deeper learning and intended learning outcomes are more important than “broad coverage.”
  4. Use the course learning outcomes as a guide for selecting the topics and related activities
  5. Sequence topics such that they build on one another, or from simple to complex.
  6. Remember to frame all learning goals around the desired outcome or end result, not around the process or means: this is known as “reverse design.” Articulate the result, then plan the means to get to it.

Suggestions for Choosing Teaching Strategies:

  1. A teaching or instructional strategy involves the use of a number of activities to help students accomplish the learning goals of the class.
  2. A general guideline for choosing a teaching strategy is to think of what your students will be able to do after they finish the course. (See Point #6 above)
  3. Try to answer these questions:
    1. What are the types of activities that will help the students acquire the intended skills and knowledge?
    2. How can these activities be organized and sequenced to maximize the gain?

Preparing the Schedule:

  1. Take into consideration the time constraints and the expected breaks in the semester.
  2. Spread assignments so that students will be able to handle the load and submit on time.
  3. Make sure that students will be able to receive the feedback on a given assignment before engaging with the next assignment.
  4. Leave some unscheduled slots in your schedule to handle risks and emerging topics.
  5. Prepare your schedule according to the Institutional Syllabus Template (see the PSU Policy website).
  6. Scheduling is an iterative planning process. Start with a tentative schedule and keep tuning it until you feel satisfied.

Suggestions for Preparing Assessments to be used:

  1. One of the major goals of assessment is to measure the degree to which students have achieved the intended learning outcomes.
  2. The intended learning outcome should guide and drive the choice and design of assessment activities.
  3. Students’ work must be aligned with the assessment activity and course learning outcomes in order to measure their competence with respect to the targeted learning outcome.
  4. Assessment results must guide and improve student practices from the constructive feedback that has been provided to them.
  5. Assessment outcomes should be used as a guide and help in choosing the best teaching strategies to be used by the instructor.

The Syllabus:

A Syllabus is expected to include the following components as found in the Institutional Course Syllabus Template (please refer to the PSU Policy website):

  • Title page
  • Course code and title
  • Instructor contact details
  • Program mission
  • Course description
  • Course objectives
  • Course learning outcomes
  • Grading and evaluation policy
  • Assessment tools
  • Course organization and weekly schedule
  • Required texts
  • Readings
  • Material
  • Prerequisites and co-requisites
  • Course requirements
  • Course Policies