What is the nature of curriculum? Difference between Syllabus and Curriculum explained.

Curriculum as field of study

In general words we refer curriculum as syllabus that is thought to the school children, however it is a broad concept and it involves many sub-concepts according to different paradigms/models. It includes teaching methods, teaching and learning activities, syllabus to be thought, learning objectives, learning outcome to be achieved, assessment and evaluations and all the experiences faced by teachers and students. If we take curriculum as a field of study then it offers the opportunity to explore deep knowledge of sub-concepts that is discussed above, i.e. pedagogy, assessment and curriculum as a whole. Curriculum as field study will focus on contemporary issues that are faced by curriculum development in schools. Specialization in curriculum studies may provide a critical as well as analytical overview for schools leadership.  


It is a sub part of curriculum, which includes, what subjects as well as topics should be taught to a specific grade. Syllabus contains compulsory and optional subjects for the students to read. Syllabus is descriptive in nature as it includes description mostly. With respect to curriculum, syllabus is narrower concept than curriculum and has a limited scope. On the other hand, syllabus may vary for different teachers but curriculum may be the same. Coming to conclusion, the two terms are different in a way that syllabus covers the part of curriculum which include topics that should be taught in a specific subject while curriculum is a combination of different concepts which are required to plan an education program.


Content is the subject matter of the curriculum. Content consist of facts, concepts, theories and principles.  Every subject includes different content. For example, the content of general science will be different than Islamic studies. It is actually the subject matter which is to be taught to the student in a specified period. Different subjects are divided in different units and each unit have different content.

In earlier days, the curriculum was thought to be content or subject matter. But now educationist have understood that content is a subpart of the curriculum and curriculum is a wider concept. Content of an English subject may include Grammar, poem and stories. The content of mathematics may include geometry, theorems, algebra, etc.

Nature of curriculum

Curriculum is a broader concept which not only consist of what to be taught to the students but it includes syllabus, content, teaching methods, teaching and learning activities and experiences of a student for a certain grade. Therefore, the nature of curriculum is very diverse. It is not a simple concept.       

Curriculum has a diverse nature. It is not only content of course which to be taught to the students. Curriculum is a structured or may be unstructured programme offered to the teachers and students to meet certain requirements.   Curriculum has deep influence on culture and similarly culture has influence on curriculum. Curriculum is the collective heritage of a society and its individuals’ knowledge sorted out through the reflection of contemporary demands and pressure.  Curriculum is selected from available cultural knowledge to shape personality and life of the common man.

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