Syllabus vs Curriculum
One should carefully understand the difference between syllabus and curriculum as they are two important words in the field of education that are often confused as if they mean the same. Strictly speaking, they are two different words that give different meanings. Syllabus refers to the program or outline of a course of study. Curriculum, on the other hand, is a word that refers to the subjects that are studied or prescribed for study in a school or in a college. This is the main difference between syllabus and curriculum. Curriculum is a much broader concept whereas syllabus is much narrower. This with regard to the different areas they cover. Curriculum covers the whole course experience while the syllabus only covers a part of that course experience. More details about syllabus and curriculum is discussed below.
What is a Syllabus?
Syllabus refers to the program or outline of a course of study. In other words, syllabus refers to the portions of the study prescribed in a particular subject meant for a particular course of study. For example, if Physics is a subject meant for a course of study called ‘material science’, then the portions of study prescribed in the subject of Physics is called as syllabus.
As a matter syllabus is prescribed once in a year and the particular syllabus that is prescribed for the year should be completed both by the teacher or the professor and the student during the year. Examinations will be conducted at the end of the year only from the particular syllabus of the year in the particular subject. This shows that the student will follow another syllabus in the next year of a given three-year undergraduate course.
What is a Curriculum?
A curriculum, on the other hand, pertains to the entire period of study in a college or a school. For example, the curriculum of a certain course of study, say B.Sc Chemistry, includes all the subjects, including the allied subjects to be studied as part of the entire course of study. Hence, it can be said that syllabus is a subset of curriculum. In other words, it can be said that syllabus is contained in the curriculum. Syllabi make a curriculum. A curriculum gets completed once the syllabi get completed.
What is the difference between Syllabus and Curriculum?
• Syllabus refers to the program or outline of a course of study. Curriculum, on the other hand, is a word that refers to the subjects that are studied or prescribed for study in a school or in a college. This is the main difference between syllabus and curriculum.
• Syllabus is the portions of study that should be covered in a subject. This subject can be a part of a course. What the whole course should cover, including different subjects and their relevant study areas are all included in the curriculum. So, syllabus is a subset of the curriculum.
• The plural of syllabus can be syllabi or syllabuses. The plural of curriculum can be curricula or curriculums.
• A syllabus is descriptive. This is because the syllabus is formed to create an understanding between the teacher and the student. A syllabus, therefore, explicitly describes what areas will be covered in a subject. A curriculum is prescriptive or specific. It is a guide the institution follows for the course as long as the course lasts.
• A syllabus is usually for a year. A curriculum can be as long as the course lasts. For example, think about a three year degree program. The syllabus will be for each subject that is covered throughout the period of three years. Let us say English is one subject. So, there will be different syllabuses that are followed for different sub-units under the subject called English for the three year period. American English will have one syllabus. Shakespeare will have one syllabus. However, when it comes to curriculum, it is the whole degree experience. That means it includes all the subjects that are covered in the three year period. This will contain all the objectives of the whole degree course.
• Syllabus is for a subject while curriculum is for a course.
This is the difference between syllabus and curriculum.
- Syllabus by intenteffect (CC BY-SA 2.0)
- Philadelphia manual training schools curriculum via Wikicommons (Public Domain)