Programme director's handbook

Curriculum information about courses

A course is a part of studies that covers a specific topic, content or competence area. The curriculum defines the course contents, implementation methods and other course information that is valid for the whole curriculum period.

Course descriptions

The responsible teacher (i.e. the teacher responsible for the course) compiles the course description, i.e. adds all the curriculum information concerning the course for the next two academic years using the Curriculum Planner tool. The school Learning Services supports and coordinates the course description writing process. In Sisu, some details are part of course information while others are entered in the implementation method details.

Improvements in teaching and in course implementations should be continual and goal-oriented. Course description information entered into the curriculum should be left sufficiently open-ended.

The curriculum should not include small details on the grading procedures (such as ‘60% of the grade is based on the examination and 40% on assigned work’) or number of contact hours (‘lectures 16 h, laboratory work 10 h’). However, the assessment criteria (e.g. ‘examination’, ‘laboratory work’) and the teaching methods (‘lectures’, ‘math exercises’) must be stated.

Course completion methods

Courses may be defined one or more completion methods. Aalto uses three course completion methods: participation in teaching  (regular lecture course that may involve e.g. lectures, exercises, mid-term exams and a final exam), examination (credits are earned solely by taking an examination, no participation in teaching) and independent work (the student does the coursework independently using the material provided, no participation in teaching). The student chooses a completion method for the course and registers for the corresponding implementation.

Course syllabus

A course syllabus is made for each course implementation. The syllabus is published on MyCourses no later than three weeks before the beginning of the implementation. The syllabus describes the implementation of the course in greater detail, elaborating the assessment criteria and study methods if necessary. The course syllabus is talked about in more detail under Designing the course syllabus.

From below you can download a document including three examples of course descriptions. These examples have been gathered from Sisu and slightly modified together with the responsible teachers. 

Other instructions related to this stage

Curriculum information about programmes and study modules

This page describes what information goes into a programme and study module curriculum.

Programme director's handbook

Formulating degree requirements clearly in Sisu

Clearly formulated degree requirements make planning studies easier. This page contains instructions on how to formulate degree requirements clearly.

Programme director's handbook

How to update course information in the Curriculum Planner

The Curriculum Planner is a tool for the courses’ responsible teachers to update their course information.

Programme director's handbook

More information about the topic at

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Teaching periods for 2024–2025 and 2025–2026

At Aalto University, teaching is divided into five periods. As a rule, one period lasts for 7 weeks and includes an examination week. This page has the dates for the teaching periods in the academic years 2024–2025 and 2025–2026.

Programme director's handbook

To the main page Curriculum design at Aalto University

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Curriculum design at Aalto University

Aalto University’s curriculum design guidelines and schedule aims at supporting sustainable, future led degree programmes.

Programme director's handbook
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