Have you ever learned so much in a class that you wanted to cite the whole thing? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, because a class is not a retrievable source, when you try to put together a reference, you won’t have a "where" there. There, there: Don’t worry, you do have other options!
Sometimes people who ask about citing a course are really trying to cite the textbook, course pack, custom textbook, or other published materials used in the class. Our recent post on that topic provides a number of options.
Citing the Teacher’s PowerPoint File or Other Materials
In some cases, you might want to cite materials presented by the instructor that were not included in a course pack or a custom textbook (e.g., the instructor’s lecture itself or a PowerPoint presentation designed by the instructor).
If the instructor has posted the materials somewhere online, you can cite them directly. But, it’s more likely that he or she is the only source for the materials. In that case, cite as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).
Citing Your Own Class Notes
In other cases, you might want to cite your own notes from the class. Again, because these notes will not be a retrievable source for most readers, cite them as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).
Citing the Course Itself
Your experience of attending the class simply cannot be replicated or retrieved. But, although the course itself is not retrievable, you may be able to find a description of the course on your school’s website. If you can find it online, you can cite it!