A curriculum is a planned sequence of learning experiences.
In designing a curriculum, whether for a whole degree programme or for a particular unit, you are planning an intellectual 'journey' for your students - a series of experiences that will result in them learning what you intend them to learn.
Typically these experiences will include attendance at lectures and classes, work in small groups, private study, preparing work for assessment and so on.
Curriculum design includes consideration of aims, intended learning outcomes, syllabus, learning and teaching methods, and assessment. Each of these elements is described below.
It also involves ensuring that the curriculum is accessible and inclusive, i.e. that students with disabilities, and from all backgrounds, can participate in it with an equal chance of success.
Guidance on these topics can be found in the 'Students with additional support needs' section of the Manual of Academic Procedures (MAP).
The aims of the curriculum are the reasons for undertaking the learning 'journey' - its overall purpose or rationale from the student's point of view.
For example, a degree programme may aim, among other things, to prepare students for employment in a particular profession. Likewise a unit within the programme may aim to provide an understanding of descriptive statistics. The stated aims of a curriculum tell students what the result of studying it is likely to be.
Note that the aims are the educational purposes of the curriculum. To attract more students to study may be one of your aims in offering the programme or unit, but it is not an aim of the curriculum you offer.
Further guidance on writing aims for programmes and units is available in the 'Guide to writing aims and intended learning outcomes' section of the MAP.
Intended Learning outcomes
Learning outcomes are what students will learn if they follow the curriculum successfully (i.e. if they complete the programme or unit and pass the assessment).
Sometimes the phrase 'intended learning outcomes' is used to refer to the anticipated fruits of completing the planned 'journey'.
In framing learning outcomes it is good practice to:
a) Express each outcome in terms of what successful students will be able to do. For example, rather than stating 'students will understand why....' say 'students will be able to summarise the main reasons why...' This helps students to focus on what you are expecting them to achieve and it assists you in devising appropriate assessment tasks (see below).
b) Include different kinds of outcome. The most common are cognitive objectives (learning facts, theories, formulae, principles etc.) and performance outcomes(learning how to carry out procedures, calculations and processes, which typically include gathering information and communicating results). In some contexts affective outcomes are important too (developing attitudes or values, e.g. those required for a particular profession).
Further guidance on writing intended learning outcomes, together with helpful examples, is available in the 'Guide to writing aims and intended learning outcomes' in the MAP.