Step-by-step guide to course design

After the initial approval of a new course by one of the degree directors, the course design phase starts. During the design phase, you formulate the learning outcomes of the course and determine which work formats and assessment methods will be used.

The GSLS has developed an interactive step-by-step guide to course design (see below for link) to help you in the course design process. The guide provides information on design principles and leads you to your course design in nine steps. You also fill in information about the course for OSIRIS and the Study Guide. In the end, the step-by-step guide brings this together in the assessment matrix that is required for the official approval of your course. An explanation of the assessment matrix can be found here.

Download the guide PDF iconhere. Please open the guide in Adobe Acrobat Reader to use all the interactivity and get started with your course design. After you have gone through all steps in the guide, please return to this Teacher Guide – page Registering a course in OSIRIS – for further steps to complete the process.


In step 9b of the step-by-step guide to course design you will be asked to fill in the assessment matrix, which is a result of going through the entire step-by-step process for course design. The assessment matrix forms the basis for the design and development of the assessment methods that match the learning outcomes and learning activities of the course. Moreover, these matrixes are instrumental in case of a programme accreditation.

In the assessment matrix you first correlate the learning outcomes of your course with the GSLS learning outcomes (for students during their whole Master’s programme). In addition, the course learning outcomes are correlated with the work formats and assessment and feedback methods.

If you need help with filling in the assessment matrix you can contact the Assessment Support Panel (ASP) for advice.

Please note that it is also possible to use the assessment matrix in the step-by-step guide to course design for courses that are already developed and need adjustments. Use step 9b for this.

For your course to receive final approval you send the assessment matrix accompanied by a motivation to the Master Assembly of Life Sciences (MALS; reachable via its secretary Marjan Batist-de Vos).

Graduates of the GSLS are expected to achieve the below mentioned learning outcomes on the following five topics:

1. Knowledge and insights

  • will be able, with the knowledge of at least one of the specialised subjects of Life Sciences, to make a substantial contribution to the development and/or application of scientific concepts and methods, often in a research context;
  • will be able to overview the important, recent developments within the Life Sciences and to point out the implications of these developments on the Life Sciences field and society;
  • will be able to adequately use and interpret specialist literature in at least one of the subjects of Life Sciences.

2. Apply knowledge and insights

  • will be able to translate a Life Sciences problem into a relevant research question or approach, suitable for research development, product development, education or society;
  • will be able to design a suitable research plan to test the formulated research questions, according to methodological and scientific standards;
  • will be able to independently perform research, with the required accuracy. Graduates are able to handle, analyse, interpret and evaluate the empirically derived data in a correct manner.

3. Judgement

  • will be able to discuss the outcomes of empirical research and to link them with scientific theories;
  • will be able to indicate the importance of research activities for solving a biomedical question or problem, if applicable from a social perspective;
  • will be able to critically reflect on their own research work in Life Sciences, from a social perspective.

4. Communication

  • will be able to comprehensibly report research results verbally and in writing, to specialised and non-specialised audiences in an international context;
  • will function effectively in a multidisciplinary research team.

5. Learning skills

  • will have the skills to reflect on their own development and study career, and, if necessary, to motivate themselves and make any necessary adjustments;
  • will have the skills to function independently and result-oriented in a competitive labour market;
  • will have the qualification to be eligible for a PhD position or a position in another sector of the labour market.