A systemic approach to curriculum development ideally should begin by scoping the broad design boundaries and parameters then working through to the specific detail within the particular agreed boundaries and parameters. It builds a series of interconnected plans:

  • the statement of aims and intended learning outcomes;
  • a statement of content, assessment, learning interactions to achieve the ends;
  • resource plan detailing people, materials, time, facilities, texts, references, readings, etc. needed;
  • an implementation plan - assigns responsibility for who should do what, when and where
  • a plan for monitoring and evaluating the success of delivery and making adjustments to improve achievements.

Such interactive ‘ends-means' planning can help to ensure holistic, coherent design.

The phases are:Topic level CD:Course level CD:
Scoping and positioning:

identification of and consultation with interested parties
establishment of learning ethos and intent

established need for and context of the topic

establishment of topic aim

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established need for and context of the course

statement of course philosophy


development of the broad/high level description

Topic description;
topic objectives(?)

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Course rules;
graduate profile;
requirements to meet external accreditation requirements
Detailed design:

intended learning outcomes

educational means plan (assessment, content and learning interactions)


logistics/delivery resources and implementation plans


control/evaluation plan

Detailed topic information: learning outcomes

assessment (SAM)
learning and teaching mode(s) and methods

timetable, study plan, textbooks, support resources, FLO pages


Topic evaluation plan

Course information
Course aims and learning outcomes

Program of study, sequence of topics, specializations, majors

Strategies for development and assessment of Graduate Qualities

Broad consideration of delivery mode, work integrated learning, etc.

Particular issues in design of first year curriculum

Course review plan

Planning review and confirmationConfirmation of:
resource availability
teaching capability
Confirmation of:
resource availability
teaching capability
internal / external approval
Implementationeffective topic deliveryeffective course delivery
Ongoing review

formative input toward continuous improvement

refined/improved topic

refined/ improved course

CD is in essence a subjective process of asking questions and making choices. Educational design is not a 'hard' science.  Subjective decisions need to be made on the philosophy, ethos and orientation of a course or topic and what content to include and to exclude; about what textbook to use; about what references to recommend; about what student capabilities to develop. Subjective decisions are made about delivery strategies, the importance of different types of learning, and the level of support given to students as they pursue learning, and assessment.  Following this guide will assist in ensuring at least "informed subjectivity" considering the full scope of curriculum issues.