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Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice

This postgraduate certificate is for new and experienced staff in higher education who are teaching or directly supporting student learning. You will examine a wide range of approaches to teaching, learning and assessment and investigate how to use a range of technologies to support learning in different teaching contexts. You will have the opportunity to develop your own professional practice in the light of current research in the field of teaching and learning in Higher Education (HE). This qualification consists of one module which is presented over two years.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

This qualification has now been recognised as an accredited programme by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). This means that participants who successfully complete the 60-credit module Postgraduate certificate in academic practice (H812) are eligible to become an HEA Fellow.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this postgraduate certificate you require:

60 credits from the following module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Postgraduate certificate in academic practice (H812)

Develop your expertise in supporting higher education students (whether through teaching or in other ways) by investigating learning in distant, virtual, blended and face-to-face contexts.

See full description.

60 Oct

Educational aims

This qualification provides postgraduate-level study for teachers and other practitioners in higher education who directly support student learning. Its main aim is to support you in examining, evaluating and developing your own practice through critical engagement with theories and approaches concerning learning and teaching. It provides skills and understanding which are relevant for a range of learning contexts, including online distance learning, face to face, elearning and combinations of these.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this postgraduate certificate you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • Common approaches to, and debates around, learning and teaching in higher education.
  • The range of learning and teaching methods in use in your particular subject area and how to evaluate these in relation to the relevant subject benchmark statement.
  • The implications of course design for different student audiences in terms of accessibility/disability, widening participation and the needs of part-time learners, continuing professional development and work-based learning.
  • Different approaches to assessment and how to choose and apply these in context.
  • How to relate educational research and theory to assessment practices in your own context.
  • How to use a range of media and digital environments for both supporting learners and developing your own practice.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this postgraduate certificate, you will be able to:

  • Make judgements about and evaluate the teaching and learning of the course in terms of its fit for purpose.
  • Use online environments to communicate effectively with others.
  • Explore and evaluate different learning and teaching media.
  • Evaluate a range of teaching and learning environments, for example, elearning, face-to-face, online distance learning, and understand the different contexts and educational aims they are able to support.
  • Evaluate those assessment methods most suited to promoting a selection of learning outcomes from the relevant national benchmark statement.
  • Make judgements about assessment in terms of fitness for purpose in your specific context.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this postgraduate certificate, you will be able to:

  • Engage in critical and reflective conversations about your own and others' approaches to learning in practice.
  • Present evidence and argument to support the development of teaching and learning in your subject area.
  • Reflect on your own practice and relate this to appropriate literature, both generic and subject-based.
  • Monitor and evaluate your own practice in supporting learners and make changes on the basis of this.
  • Reflect on your own personal and professional development needs and the implications of this in supporting learners.

Key skills

When you have completed this postgraduate certificate, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


  • Demonstrate an awareness of diverse audiences and purposes in you own academic writing.
  • Structure and present reasoned arguments in text using appropriate scholarly structures such as referencing systems and abstracts.
  • Engage generatively in online and digital communication.
  • Be sensitive to and respectful of different cultural and language issues in online communication.

Application of number

  • Critically evaluate published data with respect to aspects of teaching and learning, including assessment processes and student feedback.

Information literacy

  • Identify, access, evaluate, process and present material from a range of sources, both print-based and digital.

Learning how to learn

  • Continue to develop skills of reflection based on your enquiry into your own practice.
  • Reflect on and use feedback and evidence from peers and experts to improve your own learning.
  • Manage a complex and demanding personal workload so that time for personal development and continuing professional development is assured.

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