Syllabus vs Curriculum

6 minute read
Syllabus vs Curriculum

The difference between curriculum and syllabus is that a subject syllabus is just a unit of a course or subject curriculum. Curriculum can be termed as a combination of the syllabus, course design, class timetable as well as lesson plans for the subject.

A curriculum also helps in planning how a certain subject or course will be taught while the syllabus just includes topics and concepts that will be covered. 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

Also Read: ICSE vs CBSE

What’s the Difference Between Syllabus vs Curriculum?

The curriculum contains the overall content as provided by an education board for a particular course spanning across a stipulated period. Whereas the syllabus explains the summary of different topics covered or units that will be taught in a specific subject or discipline under that particular course.

Syllabus Vs Curriculum: Key Differences

Syllabus vs CurriculumCurriculumSyllabus
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
ChangesCannot be easily changedCan be easily changed
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

Also Read: CTET Syllabus 2024: Subject-wise Syllabus

Let us comprehensively understand the difference between Syllabus vs Curriculum from the following points:

  • The curriculum remains prescriptive as its structure needs to be followed in the specified manner while the syllabus is more descriptive and flexible and can be covered in a non-prescriptive manner.
  • The curriculum is meticulously designed by the school or college administration while the syllabus gets created by teachers by the educational board.
  • The curriculum stays the same for every teacher while the syllabus can differ and it can be covered distinctively as per their teaching style.
  • Another important point of difference between syllabus vs curriculum is that the term curriculum originated from the 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.
  • The curriculum encompasses a more extensive scope than the syllabus. This is because the syllabus remains confined to a particular subject while the curriculum provides the structure for the whole course.
  • The syllabus is only provided for a year while the curriculum covers the whole course.
  • The curriculum contains all the subjects and outlines how they will be studied during the course while the syllabus is the more detailed version for each subject under the course.
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Syllabus and Curriculum PPT

Courtesy: Mardiatun Nisa, Slideshare

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What is Syllabus?

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.” – Abigail Adams.

In simple terms, a syllabus is a document containing 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.

Also Read: Best Education System in the World

What is Curriculum?

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. 

Also Read: How to Study for Long Hours?

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Relationship between Curriculum, Syllabus and Textbook

There is a close and interrelated relationship between Curriculum, Syllabus and Textbooks because these three are essential component of an academic session. Let’s understand this relationship in further detail:

  • Curriculum defines the intricate structure of how the syllabus, teaching periods and prescribed study materials would be, the syllabus includes all the chapters and topics in detail along with the reference books, study guides and further academic instructions and then the textbook follows all the essentials mentioned in both curriculum and syllabus for an academic semester or year.
  • Lesson plans for a certain subject are part of the curriculum, but detailed in terms of chapters and topics in a syllabus while further studied through textbooks.
  • The more structured a curriculum is, the syllabus will be simpler and easy to cover with the help of textbooks.
  • When it comes to formulation of these three, the curriculum and syllabus are constituted by the education board and teachers while textbooks are created by academic authors and publishers as per the curriculum and syllabus.
  • The curriculum is provided for a whole year, the syllabus is for a certain academic session like a semester and textbooks differ as per the syllabus for each session as well as the curriculum for each year.

Also Read: OTET Syllabus 2023: Download PDF, Tips and Books


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.

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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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