Proposals for new courses and for course changes are made on the online Course Proposal Form (CPF). The online form is largely self-explanatory; however, the Yale College Web site offers course proposal help pages for faculty seeking further information about the process. The online CPF should be used whenever a new course is proposed or when substantial changes are made to an existing course (see below). Most helpful to the Course of Study Committee in understanding the nature of a proposed course are:
- The title and a brief description of the course suitable for publication in the YCPS.
- An expanded description of the subject matter and purposes of the course, including the level of the course and examples of the bibliography, and any other material that might help the committee understand the nature of the course.
- The name and rank of the proposed instructor.
- A brief but specific indication of the nature and amount of work required of the student. Anyone teaching in Yale College for the first time is asked to attach a curriculum vitae and a provisional syllabus for the proposed course to the Course Proposal Form.
As you plan new courses, keep in mind the standard time patterns for class meetings and the distinction between lecture and seminar course formats. (Information about standard time patterns is available under Standard Meeting Times.) Also of importance is the Course Proposal Form's section on the nature and amount of work required for a course. The Course of Study Committee has expressed the strong feeling that students in every type of course must have some review of their work and standing in the course by midterm. Such feedback can be provided, for example, by a midterm test, by a paper due by midterm, by the evaluation of an oral presentation during the term, or by some other similar arrangement. For additional guidelines established for Yale College courses, see Course Requirements.
In 2007 a question was added to the Course Proposal Form regarding academic integrity. The question is designed to ensure that instructors are prepared to address issues of cheating, plagiarism, and the like within the context of the proposed course. Information about teaching these matters is available on the Writing Center Web site.
Besides new courses, any already existing course that undergoes a significant change must be submitted on the Course Proposal Form. The committee's rule is that it must approve all courses in which any two of the following three components have changed: (1) title; (2) instructor; (3) description. This means that each new independent seminar offered within such categories as LITR 400–480, ECON 450–489, etc., must be submitted to the committee before the seminar enters the curriculum. A change in course format is also considered "significant change." For example, a course that had originally entered the curriculum as a lecture course (with a three-hour time pattern and required work appropriate for a lecture course) that is changing to a seminar course (with limited enrollment, a two-hour meeting time, and a different pattern of work expected of the students) must be resubmitted to the committee. Conversely, a seminar becoming a lecture course must also be resubmitted. Previously taught courses returning to the curriculum after an absence of more than seven years must be resubmitted for review. Finally, courses being submitted as undergraduate/graduate courses must be accompanied by an explanation of the reasons for their dual level. For an explanation of an undergraduate/graduate course, see Undergraduate/Graduate Courses under YCPS and Related Publications in the DUS Handbook.
The Course of Study Committee and the editors of the YCPS have within their charge the editing of titles of courses, as well as the editing of course descriptions, to conform to a consistent standard.
The title of a course should be both descriptive and succinct. Course titles need to make evident the focus or method of the course, whether to students searching online databases for keywords, to colleagues in other departments serving as advisers, or to graduate admission committees, fellowship commissions, or potential employers seeking to establish the nature of the student's program of study. Titles with two parts joined by a colon are strongly discouraged. Instructors sometimes propose titles with an ornamental or metaphorical initial phrase followed by a colon and an explanatory second half; the Course of Study Committee generally discards the first half of such a title before it approves the course. Titles longer than thirty characters, including spaces, must be abbreviated to fit in online course information displays and on transcripts. A sample of appropriately descriptive titles of thirty or fewer characters includes the following: The Art of Chu China; Ethics and the Media; French New Wave Cinema; General Ecology; History of Japan to 1868; Human Evolution; Local Flora; Royal Maya Cities; Shakespeare's Political Plays; Stars and Their Evolution; and Theoretical Fluid Dynamics.
Course descriptions should be relatively short. Ideally, the course description should run from three to five lines in the YCPS, a length that may not be able to do a course full justice. But within the necessary limits, a well-written course description can provide a pithy introduction for students trying to identify the courses they might like to take. Course descriptions should focus on what will be taught in the course rather than on observations or general statements about a field or discipline. Descriptions are routinely edited for brevity and cogency. In keeping with YCPS style, questions are rephrased into statements, future tense is changed to present tense, and jargon is removed.