Assistance in completing the course description

The process of accreditation for EPFL programmes requires that all courses are written in terms of learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes also help clarify the goals of the course for students and can be used by teachers in providing feedback for learning to students and in planning course assessments.

What are learning outcomes?

Learning outcomes are short statements of what a successful student will be able to do when they complete the course.

Here are some examples:


At the end of the course the students must be able to:

Low-level cognitive outcomes

  • Define the concepts of thermodynamic efficiency
  • Explain the formation of p-n junctions, and the limiting of current flow across the junction
  • List and explain the hygiene and safety rules applicable to biomechanical testing of tissues
  • Explain the operation of sensors, actuators and of the respective control algorithms

Mid-level cognitive outcomes

  • Analyse, according to multiple criteria (technological, economic, environmental), design and production solutions
  • Model, analyse and optimize the internal logistics of a production and distribution system
  • Compare the performance of JFET and Bipolar Transistors

Higher cognitive outcomes

  • Design mechatronic systems (choice of sensors, actuators, embedded systems)
  • Evaluate the performance of a closed loop system, drawing on simulation or experimental data, and draw conclusions
  • Design and optimise energy conversion systems and industrial processes

Transversal skills

  • Co-ordinate a team to develop, agree and deliver upon a work plan
  • Write a scientific or technical report
  • Take responsibility for health and safety of self and others in a working context

Checklist for writing learning outcomes


  1. They begin with an action verb (such as compare, model, analyse, explain, describe, etc.) 
  2. Where there is more than one verb, the more complex action is listed first.
  3. They can be observed, and in most cases measurable. Therefore verbs such as “know”, “understand” or “be aware of” are typically not used. Instead more observable verbs like “describe”, or “explain” are normally used.   
  4. They are short and precise.
  5. They refer to the right level(s) of cognitive thinking. IS Academia will automatically suggest to you the probable level of cognitive complexity of the learning outcome based on the verb used.  However, since the complexity depends on the material being studied as well as the tasks performed, the teacher will be the best judge of how complex the learning outcome is.
  6. They focus on what students will be able to do rather than on teacher’s intentions.
  7. A transversal skill will figure as an aim in many courses of a same program. While most learning outcomes are specific to the course and its content, there are some cross-cutting or transversal skills that are developed across many courses. These type of learning outcomes may not be taught explicitly in a course, but the student will often develop these skills through the course activities (writing reports or working in teams, for example).These learning outcomes are important for accreditation purposes, since these type of skills are required for professional practice. IS Academia proposes transversal learning outcomes which teachers can select in relation to their course.

If it seems that an important verb or transversal learning outcome (or an appropriate synonym) is not available in the IS Academia list, please contact the Teaching Support Centre and it can be added. 

Course summary

The summary of the course states the key knowledge and skills students will acquire in a course. Such statement must be brief, maximum 300 characters, and resemble the overall objectives of the course. This will be included in the students’ diploma supplement.

Some examples of the summary are included below:

1. Course « composants semiconducteurs »

Les étudiants comprennent et appliquent la physique des composants semiconducteurs, tels que diodes Schottky ou pn, transistors bipolaires, JFET et composants MOS. Ils savent les utiliser dans des circuits électroniques de base, par exemple dans un inverseur CMOS ou un amplificateur de tension.

The students understand and apply the physics of semiconductor devices like Schottky and pn diodes, bipolar transistors, JFET and MOS devices. They use such devices in basic electronic circuits, for example in a CMOS inverter or a voltage amplifier.

2.Course « méthodes de détection optique »

Les étudiants analysent les caractéristiques fondamentales des détecteurs optiques. Les détecteurs thermiques, photoémissifs, les photodiodes et les capteurs infrarouges leur sont familiers. Les caméras CCD et CMOS sont analysées en détail. La détection de photons singuliers est expliquée.

Students analyse the fundamental characteristics of optical detectors. Thermal and photoemissive devices as well as photodiodes and infrared sensors are studied. CCD and CMOS cameras are analysed in detail. Single photon detection is explained.