Syllabus vs Curriculum

Syllabus vs Curriculum

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.” – Abigail Adams. Every education system has an essential foundation in imparting academic knowledge along with equipping students with practical life skills. There is an infinite range of knowledge that we gain throughout our academic life. But when it comes to learning the know-how of an education system, we don’t consider the comparison between syllabus vs curriculum. We often use them as interchangeable terms without knowing that they are entirely different. Before pursuing an academic program, you can understand its structure in a more detailed way if you know the difference between syllabus and curriculum. So, let’s begin with the discussion of syllabus vs curriculum and explore their key differences. 

Syllabus vs Curriculum
Syllabus vs Curriculum

Syllabus Vs Curriculum: Key Differences

Here is a table listing the various comparison points of the debate of syllabus vs curriculum: 

Comparison Points of
Syllabus vs Curriculum
MeaningA set of guidelines of the
different academic contents
and chapters that are
covered during a program
offered by a particular
educational institution.
A document that has all the
information about different
topics or concepts that need
to be covered for a particular
NaturePrescriptive Descriptive
Structured ForComplete Course Each Subject Under the Course
Determined ByAdministration of College,
Institute or School or the
Exam Board
Scope Wide Narrow
UniformityUniform for all the teachers Different from one
teacher to another
Term DurationUntil the course lasts A fixed-term,
can also be a year

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Syllabus: Definition & Meaning

In simple terms, a syllabus is a document containing the information about the different topics or the portion that needs to be covered for a particular subject or a course. This document is determined by the board of examination and created by different professors. While forming a syllabus, the professors ensure that the fundamentals of a particular subject or course are added in a unique combination of theoretical and practical learning methods. A syllabus is provided to students and teachers at the beginning of an academic session.

Discussing syllabus vs curriculum, it’s important to understand that the syllabus of a subject is considered as a guide for the subject teacher as well as the students. It helps the students understand the subject in detail and why it is a part of their course. It also helps students to anticipate what is expected from them and the consequences in case of failing the subject. It also contains the general policies, rules, topics to be covered, instructions, assignments, test dates, projects, etc.

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Curriculum: Definition & Meaning

A Curriculum is basically a set of guidelines for different academic contents and chapters that are covered in a specific program offered by a particular school or college. However, it covers the attitude, manner, knowledge, behaviour, performance, manner and the different skills that students will develop throughout the academic period. Also, for the differences between syllabus vs curriculum, the latter deals with different teaching methods, assignments, lessons, mental and physical exercises, assessments, presentations, learning objectives, test series, etc. 

Generally, a curriculum is well-planned and carefully designed by educational institutions or the government. Focusing on the overall learning experience provided by a course, it emphasizes essentially on the mental and physical development of the students. 

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Elaborating the Key Differences Between Syllabus vs Curriculum

Now that you know the basic meanings of syllabus vs curriculum, let’s delve deeper into the key differences that set them apart. To begin with, we have listed down the major pointers that elaborate their distinctiveness. 

  • The first point of difference lies between the structure of the syllabus vs curriculum. Curriculum contains the overall content as provided by an education board for a particular course spanning across a stipulated time period. Whereas syllabus explains the summary of different topics covered or units that will be taught in a specific subject or discipline under that particular course.
  • Curriculum remains prescriptive in nature as its structure needs to be followed in the specified manner while syllabus is more descriptive and flexible in nature and can be covered in a non-prescriptive manner.
  • Curriculum is meticulously designed by the school or college administration while syllabus gets created by teachers by the educational board.
  • Curriculum stays the same for every teacher while syllabus can differ and it can be covered in a distinctive manner as per their own individual teaching style.
  • Another important point of difference between syllabus vs curriculum is that the term curriculum originated from Latin “curricule” which means to run or course. On the other hand, the term syllabus finds its origins in the Greek “sittuba” meaning title slip or label.
  • Curriculum encompasses more extensive scope than syllabus. This is because syllabus remains confined to a particular subject while curriculum provides the structure for the whole course.
  • Syllabus is only provided for a year while the curriculum covers the whole course.
  • Curriculum contains all the subjects and outlines how they will be studied during the course while syllabus is more detailed version for each subject under the course.

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What is the difference between syllabus and curriculum?

Syllabus and curriculum both are important terms used in reference to an educational program but they have different meanings. A curriculum is a combination of topics, subjects or activities that are to be included in an educational program. Whereas, the syllabus covers portions of topics in a particular subject.

What type of curriculum is syllabus?

Here is the origin of both these words: 

Syllabus is a Greek term
It is a set of a subject  
It is descriptive in nature
It’s scope is narrow

Curriculum is a Lain term
It is a set of a course
It is Perspective in nature 
It’s scope is wide

What is curriculum and syllabus design?

Syllabus design and curriculum development are the 2 terms used in language teaching. The syllabus is a specific set of the content of course and list of topics which are to be covered in a subject. While syllabus design or curriculum is the process of development of the entire syllabus.

What is the difference between curriculum syllabus and scheme of work?

These 3 terms are highly interlinked and interdependent. Scheme of work is derived from syllabus and syllabus is derived from the curriculum. A curriculum enlists the topics, activities and subjects covered in an academic program. These topics and activities become the syllabus for a particular subject and then gets divided into terms or semesters. The subtopics you cover in a particular term are actually scheme of work.

Thus, educational terms like syllabus and curriculum seem similar but have different elements and definitions. Once you comprehend the key points of syllabus vs curriculum, you will see the academic plan of a program or a course in an entirely different manner. If you are confused about any other educational terms or are looking for career guidance, Leverage Edu experts can assist through every step from profile and interest analysis to help you settle down in the country of your choice. Call today for the best career advice.

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