How to Write a Course Description

A course description is a brief summary of the significant learning experiences for a course. Course descriptions appear in individual Course Outlines and in the Program of Studies (POSs) for individual programs.

Course Descriptions at Mohawk College

Course descriptions should:

  • Be student-centered, rather than teacher-centered or course-centered
  • Use brief, outcomes-based, descriptive phrases that begin with an imperative or active verb (e.g., design, create, plan, analyze)
  • Be clear, concise, and easy to understand (< 80 words)
  • Detail significant learning experiences and benefits students can expect
  • Align with the outcomes identified in the rest of the course outline

Course descriptions should avoid:

  • Obvious, redundant, or repetitive language (such as “this course will…” or “students should expect to…”)
  • Marketing language (such as “Concept X is a critical part of success in Industry Y” or “Course A will change the way you think about everything”)

For more details on how to write the learning outcomes included in course descriptions, see How to Write Course Learning Outcomes.

Example Course Descriptions

CADM CV203: Produce dimensioned introductory level drawings using a computer assisted drafting program (AutoCAD).

ACCT CB340: Prepare and analyze financial information of a business to develop sound managerial decisions relating to Corporate Finance, including the valuation of securities, working capital management, and short term financing

SSCI SS299: Examine a wide variety of technologies that have influenced our society significantly. Analyze the contribution these technologies make to society, associated ethical dilemmas, and critique their value to the individual and society.

Initially, course descriptions are written when a new program is being developed  or when developing a new course.

Course descriptions can also be changed during the POS Renewal Cycle, which is managed by the Academic Data Office. For questions about this process, please contact academicdataoffice [at]