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Curriculum design

Designing subjects

Subject design strongly influences what and how students learn at university. Designing subjects begins with considering what you want students to learn. Learning aims and objectives, course and subject structures, learning activities and forms of assessment can then be developed with desired student learning outcomes in mind.

Designing a subject also starts with considering what and how students are intended to learn, then designing the learning objectives, subject structure learning activities and forms of assessment with this in mind. On this site you'll find some suggestions and resources for improving subject design, considering student diversity and introducing appropriate forms of e-learning. You may also be interested in the sections of this website on assessment, online and blended learning, and groupwork.

If you're a subject co-ordinator, there is also information that you need to know about subject design and approval at UTS. The Subject Descriptions and Outlines policy contains a list of information which must be included in subject outlines for students.  Subject assessment must be consistent with the Policy and Procedures for the Assessment of Coursework Subjects, and with any other requirements of your Faculty.

If you're designing and preparing to teach a subject for the first time, the Learning and Teaching section of this site has further information to assist you.

Find out more about subject & course design

Do the Course Design and Assessment subjects from the GradCertHEd. You can participate in learning activities and then choose whether or not to complete the assessment and gain credit for the module.

Further reading

Two books which have very good chapters on aspects of course design, in particular aims and objectives and how they relate to student learning are:

  • Biggs, J & Tang, C. (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.
  • Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.


For a good overview of different course design philosophies, structures and practices:

  • Toohey, S. (1999) Designing courses in Higher Education. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.


Two older, but short and practical starting points from the IML resources shelf are:

  • Gibbs, G. (1992) Teaching more students: Problems and course design strategies. Oxford: Oxonion Rewley Press.
  • Foster, G. (1995) Design of university courses and subjects: A strategic approach. HERDSA Green Guide No 15.