This term is used in two different ways in English language teaching. Sometimes it refers just to a list of the items/areas which students are meant to learn and the teacher to teach over a course of study e.g. particular language skills or subskills, particular lexis or topics, particular tasks or grammatical structures. This list is presented in the order in which the items/areas are intended to be taught and is usually incorporated into an official school or ministry document and often forms the basis of course books.
The term is sometimes also used synonymously with ‘curriculum’ (See curriculum), where it includes not just the items/areas to be learnt but also learning outcomes, general educational objectives, assessment aims and methods and teaching approaches.
The map of the book at the beginning of a coursebook contains the syllabus for that coursebook.
Christison, M and Murray, D. (2014). What English Language Teachers Need to Know,
Volume 3. New York and London: Routledge.
Knapp, K., Seidlhofer, B. H. G. Widdowson, H.G.. (ed.s), 2009. Handbook of Foreign
Language Communication and Learning. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Nunan, D. (1988). Syllabus Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
CEFR 2001 http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/source/framework_en.pdf