8 Tips To Create a Complete Course Outline

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Article by Nelli Gevorgyan

Content writer

Published 22 Mar 2022
9 min read
8 Tips To Create a Complete Course Outline

Have you ever wondered why you have the necessary knowledge and motivation to keep learning after taking some courses, and from others, just the disappointment because you did not get what you expected?    

Indeed, most of us experienced both feelings, and the secret is the Course Outline. It is one of the most crucial aspects of any course, whether online or offline. And in this article, we will look at the top 8 tips to create a complete course outline, which will leave your clients amazed and satisfied!   

So, if you are ready, let's start.    

What is a course outline?

Let's start from the very beginning with the concept of the Course Outline itself. The course outline is the aims & outcomes of the course, course requirements, textbooks, other assessment dates, etc. It is a document, much like a syllabus, that benefits both instructors/coaches/teachers and students. 

Because the instructor sees the material more clearly, manages time better, and sets realistic objectives, students can fully comprehend what they need for the course and what they will gain after it. 

Why is the course outline important?

There are several reasons why a course outline is critical; let's examine the main ones. 

  • It made it clear regarding final results and expected outcomes: If you want a good reputation in the coaching market, you must provide high-quality materials and take students from points A to B. So, how will you be able to do that? Suppose your students purchase a course without a clear idea of what they need or will do. In that case, This will potentially decrease their motivation to study, fewer students will take the course, and some may end up disappointed because they had different expectations. Therefore, the course outline is essential to make things clear from the beginning, both for students and instructors. 
  • Rules: Your students must be familiar with the in-class regulations and ethics to avoid further difficulties with you or your peers. The Course Outline is a perfect place to share a few rules students must follow throughout the course. For example, it can be an anti-discriminatory policy, grade policy, absence policy, etc. 
  • Permanent record: A course outline can significantly benefit you in the future, especially if you decide to make some improvements. Instead of trying to recall what you covered throughout each course and what you have missed, you can take course outlines for every class you offered, revise, add or remove materials, clear things up, and generally make it better than before. 
  • Effective learning tool: Some may underestimate the value of the course outline. However, it is essential. The course outline helps students become more efficient learners because they are clear on materials, reading, notes, and every other requirement & responsibility related to the course. Course outlines assist students in better planning their day, week, and general goal achievement.    
Working on a computer

Difference between course outline and curriculum

Also, sometimes people confuse the curriculum with the course outline. Those are two completely different things.     

Course Outline 

Course Outline, as mentioned above, consists of instructions, learning objectives, and deadlines concerning a subject. 

Course Outline generally includes five primary elements, which are:

  • Student learning objectives/outcomes
  • General Policies 
  • Grading policies 
  • Reading list/learning resources
  • Assignments descriptions and deadlines 

The course outline, or the syllabus, defines activities, objectives, assignment dates, and everything else for the particular course. It is more narrowed down.    


Meanwhile, the curriculum is a guideline for the academic content covered throughout the course. It also includes the exact instructions of what professors or coaches must teach, why, and how they must do it. 

The curriculum is a more theoretical version of the course outline; the course outline is more of a logical continuation and set of everything about the practical implementation of the curriculum. 4 main elements of the curriculum are:

  • Materials and Resources 
  • Physical/Mental activities for students 
  • Assignments, tests, exams 
  • Student success evaluation methods 

The purpose of the curriculum is to define the content plan and methodology of a study program or a specific course. It tends to be less flexible and long-term oriented.   

Planning a course in a textbook

8 tips for creating an effective course outline

I guess it is time for us to share the top 8 easy but highly efficient tips on creating an effective course outline. Let's start with the following: Tip 1 - Use the least number of steps. 

To start, you will need to have an approximate plan of what to do. Programs always do help; the challenge is to create a working one. Do not put millions of steps and substeps so that when you look at your "to do," you only want to procrastinate and complain about how much you have to do. Instead, ensure a clear outline of your further steps in creating the course outline. And the very first one will be to understand your expectations from the course. 

Tip 2 - Use simple language and ideas in your outline 

When writing a course outline, make sure you use simple language understandable by many audiences. Avoid "super-niche specific" terminology because, most likely, your students came to learn that and do not have a practical understanding of those terms. However, also make sure you use some professional terminology so that it is clear what they are going to learn. 

Also, it would be best to express simple ideas in your course outline rather than complicated outcomes. 

Tip 3 - Set Learning Objectives for your students 

Objectives and goals automatically make everything purposeful and force the inner motivation to drive us further. Therefore, set learning objectives and differentiate those from the learning outcomes.    

Successful courses do have a separate section of "learning outcomes," and to create your own, try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the primary purpose of this course from my perspective? (then answer the same questions from your student's perspective)
  • Who is my potential client?
  • What are the needs, wants, and expectations of students purchasing this course?

If you answer those simple questions, you will have a better idea of who your clients are; you will also be able to meet their needs and expectations throughout the course and formulate learning objectives that will be more appealing to the student. 

Tip 4 - Description 

The description of the course should be short and to the point. Using catchy words is essential. Read a few articles about the robust dishes; remember that descriptive literate language to describe the course won't help you attract anyone. In this dynamic market, everyone cares about one thing "What is in it for me" make sure while describing the course you answer that question for your client. 

Tip 5 - Breakdown the content

Indeed, your course includes all the necessary materials, and you are sure that students will gain the most from it. I am not saying they won't, but if your content is a mess, they probably won't, leaving you with bad reviews.    

So, make sure you break down the content by days, weeks, or hours, depending on what type of courses you are holding; it is very individual. We recommend referring to each session as "day 1, 2, 3…" or" "week 1, 2, 3…". 

Tip 6 - Course Evaluation 

This tip is related to course evaluation, which is one of the most crucial aspects of your course. Students who take your class are interested in how their grades will be evaluated and how learning objectives will be met. So, to increase the trust factor, we recommend sharing the evaluation methods, practices, or tools you will use. 

Tip 7 - Determine further steps

Your goal as a coach is to take the learner from where they already are to where you promise them to be after the course. To do so, you need to have an action plan in mind. First of all, create a clear lesson plan distributed by weeks. E.g. your course lasts four weeks, and for each week, you write down the topics, readings, and everything that will be covered. If you have tests and exams, also mention deadlines, and do not forget to mention homework under each week. 

Tip 8 - Revise 

After you are done with everything above, which means:

  • You know who your target audience is 
  • You are aware of what are their expectations
  • You have an action plan for a course, and it is designed to meet the potential expectations of your students 
  • You have clear learning objectives and learning outcomes for the course
  • You finally have the drafted version of the course outline 

Then, I believe it is time for you to revise everything you did to make sure that the information you grabbed is accurate, and of course, proofread and edit the draft so that students will be provided with a high-quality final version of the course outline. 

Course Outline Examples

Finally, we are at the point where we will share some examples of successful course outlines, which will assist you in creating your own. 

Woman working on a computer

Here is the primary example, under which you will also be able to find links to many other templates depending on the purpose and format of your course.   

  • Introduction 

This usually includes a few points 

  • Welcome 
  • Description 
  • Learning objectives of the course
  • Course participation policy/grading policy (other policies as well)   
  • Schedule (weekly/daily)

This part includes:

  • Outline of the weeks and readings, tasks, or homework required for the week 
  • Assignment dates
  • Resources 

This part must include the following:

  • Links, PDFs, or anything on what the course is based on and what will provide students with a more fundamental understanding of the material    
  • Summary 

This part includes:

  • Exam date (if applicable)
  • Learning outcomes of the course
  • Final words
  • Instruction on when or how certification will be provided (if applicable) 
Do you want to get a course outline example?


Remember that it won't always be easy, but you will eventually succeed if you commit to what you love. In our blog, you can read many interesting and useful articles related to course creation, including video contentbest coaches' websites, and general tips on how to succeed in the coaching business.

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