Curriculum Vs Syllabus | Difference and Similarities Between Syllabus and Curriculum

Curriculum Vs Syllabus: Every student in his or her student life has heard of these two terms. They are – Syllabus and Curriculum. Though they may indicate a similar thing in the literal meaning, these two words’ intention is different.

A syllabus consists of a subject that is to be taught in one term or semester and a detailed explanation of the topics covered in the subject.

The general understanding of a curriculum can be a little confusing. To put it simply, a curriculum is the base outline of any educational content. While the syllabus is descriptive, the curriculum is prescriptive. What does it prescribe? It prescribes the object of an educational system, while the syllabus shows the way to achieve them.

Only education is not related to the curriculum. Some extra activities and all the academic contents can also be part of a curriculum. However, it depends on the governing organization.

The small difference between these two is the syllabus is directed to a particular subject and its topics. Simultaneously, the curriculum is directed towards the broader picture – all the subjects and the other activities in an academic course (if any).

Definition of Syllabus

A syllabus is a document that consists of a subject and the topics related to the subject. If a student is studying in an autonomous institute, the syllabus is designed by the institute. Otherwise, the syllabus is created by the examination board with the help of the professors.

The professors determine quality. And in the end, it is made available to the students by their respective institutions. In modern times, syllabuses are designed in hard copy and electronic copies.

Some may question what the relevance of the syllabus in the presence of the curriculum is. Well, the syllabus works as a guide to the students for getting an insight into the topics. It also consists of the expected assignments, tests, projects, general rules, and failure consequences.

The syllabus thus gives detailed instruction and contents of respective subjects.

Differences Between Syllabus and Curriculum

What is The Purpose of the Syllabus?

  • A mutual understanding of the subjects between students and teachers.
  • Having a goal in mind and setting a responsible expectation of concepts to grasp and learn.
  • Providing a detailed roadmap of the course institute.
  • Gaining knowledge through the study of subjects.
  • Meeting the student expectation judging their age level.

Definition of Curriculum

The curriculum is the guideline of the chapters and all the educational content following a particular program or course. Some think that the curriculum is served by the school or college. In reality and practical sense, the curriculum serves a broader spectrum.

It consists of the knowledge, behaviour, performance, attitude, and skill expected of a student. It also covers the teaching methods, mental exercises, assignments, study resources, tutorials, presentations, and learning objectives.

The curriculum is well planned and designed by the regulatory body of an institution. It benefits the student both mentally and physically. The learning curve a student would go through depends solely on the curriculum.

Types of Curriculum

There are various types of curriculum. Some are:

  • Explicit Curriculum: A formal curriculum that includes specific procedures and ways for exemplary implementation.
  • Hidden Curriculum: This does not include any intended outcomes because it results from the application of the explicit curriculum.
  • Excluded Curriculum: It has a relationship with what is not taught in the course.

What is The Purpose of Curriculum?

According to the experts, the curriculum’s purpose relies on making today’s students the future asset. Some of the core motives and intent of the curriculum is to build-

  • Successful learners: building enthusiasm and motivation in the students. Students should develop new ideas and have a unique thinking calibre.
  • Confident individual: Students should develop self-respect and a healthy sense of physical and emotional well-being. Students should be self-aware and pursue a healthy and responsible lifestyle.
  • Responsible citizens: Students should respect others. They should commit to taking an active part in political, social, economic and cultural life shortly or when needed. They should learn about the world and different beliefs and cultural policies.
  • Effective contributors: Students should grow up to be good communicators. Making sure they can work in teams and work alone too. They should be able to communicate and adjust to different settings.

Syllabus and Curriculum

Relationship Between Curriculum and Syllabus


  1. Both the curriculum and syllabus are related to the concept of teaching.
  2. Both curriculum and syllabus provide strong guidelines. The first provides the outline of the whole course. The second provides the policies of a particular subject referred to in the curriculum.
  3. Both are equally important in the holistic development of a student.

Difference Between Syllabus and Curriculum

Syllabus Curriculum
The syllabus is a part of a curriculum. The syllabus is more about a particular subject and the containing details of it. A well-constructed syllabus helps a student have a more in-depth look into the topics’ depths and help him/her be well prepared for exams. The curriculum includes the overall content of a course of study during a specific amount of time. It consists of all sorts of things relevant to the system. It is not only directed towards the students but also to the teachers.
The syllabus is all about the description of the topics, so it is generally descriptive, and as the curriculum provides the basic outline of a course, it is prescriptive. The examination governing body determines a curriculum of a course. Usually, this control relies on state government or central government. At the same time, the syllabus is designed with the help of knowledgeable professors of institutions.
Change in the syllabus is standard and not so much intricate work. The syllabus changes overtime to catch up to the new topics and subjects. The governing bodies also do it, but in the autonomous institution, usually, teachers are responsible for this. Adjustments to the curriculum are quite tricky as it serves a wide area, so one has to go to the root to change something in a curriculum, which can be pretty hectic, by the way. This scope is not available to others and only open to the higher-ups.
The syllabus is fixed for a specific term or semester. A curriculum ends when the course ends. Accessibility is another thing that is different for these two. Usually, the curriculum is not accessible to the students. Students are only allowed to access the syllabus of an ongoing course. Though there are some exceptions, teachers can access the syllabus and the curriculum in most cases.
The syllabus is different from student to student and teacher to teacher. As every student in a course does not study the same subjects, and each teacher also does not teach the same subjects, it is evident that the syllabus will differ. Things are different for the curriculum, though. As long as a course lasts, It is the same for every teacher as well as students.

FAQ’s on Curriculum Vs Syllabus

Question 1.
Is the syllabus a part of the curriculum?

A Syllabus is a unit of curriculum. The curriculum consists of many factors that define an educational course. The syllabus only covers the topics of a particular subject. Since detailing a subject falls under an academic system, you may call the syllabus a part of the curriculum.

Question 2.
How both syllabus and curriculum are designed?

some teachers mainly design syllabus. Teachers take care of the topics related to the subject. The curriculum is designed by mainly exam control board. It means it is governed by the same organization that creates the terminal examinations in the school and colleges.

Question 3.
What is a Textbook?

It is generally a book for guidance. Students take help from textbooks to better understand topics referred to in the syllabus. Usually, a reader should have an excellent and student-friendly presentation to grasp the concepts of an issue.

Question 4.
Can the curriculum change?

Yes, the curriculum can change, but it is not what one sees very often to happen. The curriculum can vary due to various reasons. But the primary reason is to improve the all-around educational approach. This includes teaching approaches, followed sources and so on.

Question 5.
What is the meaning of the revised syllabus and revised curriculum?

A revised curriculum means restructuring a curriculum based on the students’ skills and their needs and abilities. A revised syllabus means making changes in the current syllabus, either adding, removing, or updating it. The Syllabus change is more often than curriculum change.

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