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Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments

Build better ways to learn

With online education dominating how we learn today, the demand for skills and knowledge to inform the design of effective learning environments is booming. By bringing together the latest thinking in computing, design, the social sciences and education, this programme will help you design better learning experiences and seize upon new career opportunities across multiple sectors.

Learn more today

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DFLE Webinar:

Watch the recording of our Online Design for Learning Environments webinar, hosted by the programme faculty and designed to give you an authentic feel for what it’s like to study the Design for Learning Environments programme online at the University of Birmingham.

Watch recording 45 minutes

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Quick facts


100% online study


total programme fee. This can be paid in full or in instalments of £715 every module1


world university2

The future of learning in your hands

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for online education has grown significantly3, as people switch from classrooms to apps, games, websites and other forms of online learning. App downloads alone have soared by 90% in this period, against a weekly average in the last quarter of 2019.4

By offering a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of online and offline learning environments, our online PGCert Design for Learning Environments will give you the edge when it comes to progressing a career in this ever-expanding field.

Combining topics as diverse as design, technology, education, social science, data science and digital development, this learning design certificate will help you develop the knowledge to design innovative learning environments, whatever the context. This makes it ideal for education providers, private learning specialists, in-house training teams and CPD providers.

“I’ve already been convincing my colleagues to do this course. For those with limited experience, the course takes you from zero to hero in one year – that’s a great achievement. For those already in learning design, it provides a deep as well as broad theoretical underpinning, that can be immediately leveraged in your day-to-day.”
– Kevin Cheeseman, online PGcert Design For Learning environments

Career outlook

As well as equipping you for a career in education or training, our learning design certificate will enable you to build a diverse portfolio of work to showcase your skills to employers.

Our own experience as a leading UK provider of distance and blended learning reinforces the practical value of our postgraduate certificate, as does our academic research into the latest developments in technology and learning. It’s these factors that will give you an advantage when it comes to furthering a career in online education – an area set to grow threefold between2015 and 2025.5

The choice of roles available to qualified professionals is constantly evolving, and includes instructional designer, digital learning designer, learning experience designer, learning architect, e-learning designer, learning technologist, learning developer, digital learning officer and learning adviser.

Unlock your career

Admissions requirements

To apply to study this learning design certificate, you’ll need:

  • Completed application
  • 2.1 degree (or equivalent) OR 2.2 degree (or equivalent) with 2 years’ work experience (in design, computing or education) OR no degree with 5+ years’ work experience (along with copies of transcripts)*
  • One reference (depending on your eligibility, this may not be required)
  • Statement of purpose
  • CV
  • Language requirements (international students)**

  • We welcome applicants with an appetite for learning. Since this programme combines modules from multiple disciplines, expect to cover coding and maths, starting at secondary schooling level and above.

* Short courses require a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) OR 3+ years’ work experience in design, computing or education.

** Exceptions to the listed admissions requirements will be assessed on an individual basis.

View requirements

Tuition details

The estimated total cost of this learning experience design certificate is £4,290. You can pay in full or in instalments of £715 on a module-by-module basis. All costs are listed, to help you make an informed decision.

More tuition details

Start dates:

February | June | October

Curriculum: Shape your own learning

Run by the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, our learning design certificate features expert lecturers and researchers from a range of disciplines, each bringing a unique perspective on learning environments to the curriculum.

As well as exploring classic and contemporary behavioural, social and cognitive approaches, you will also build digital artefacts and analyse data to enhance the learning experience. You’ll also understand how to tailor these experiences to different learners and to different environments, both digital and physical, to improve learning outcomes.

Explore the curriculum

Unable to commit to the full year programme?

We also offer short, 8-week Design for Learning Environments courses, each worth 10 credits toward the full postgraduate certificate in instructional design. These courses offer the same academic qualities and access to the same resources as the full PGCert.

Explore short courses

Programme outcomes

  • Explore the role of design, the processes involved, and current theories and practices
  • Develop a digital artefact and implement it in a new learning environment, drawing on new technologies
  • Analyse data sets against key tools and frameworks to evaluate teaching and learning techniques
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary learning perspectives
  • Examine the learning environment from social and technical perspectives
  • Communicate a design proposal and plan a learning environment design

Immersive online experience

As well as providing the highest levels of convenience and flexibility that 100% online learning offers, the programme is full of interactive elements, like video and group activities, which bring the content to life.

Rather than trying to replicate a campus-based setting online, we’ve built this programme from the ground up, drawing on the latest technology to create a truly unique and immersive student experience.

The online learning environment is not only a window to programme materials, it’s an opportunity to connect directly with your lecturers and other professionals like yourself.

Experience Online

Faculty expertise

Our instructional design certificate is delivered by an interdisciplinary faculty team of designers, researchers, educationalists and technologists. By exposing you to the latest research, thinking and practical application of technology from a range of different perspectives, the programme will expand your understanding of the learning experience and the use of technology to transform learning environments and outcomes. Programme director Adam Matthews has designed a number of successful learning experiences, using various digital technologies, in sectors as diverse as travel, sport, policing, financial services and higher education. As well as leading digital design teams, Adam is an active researcher, publishing in the fields of education and technology.

The faculty draws on extensive networks across the university and beyond to produce a variety of exciting case study projects. These include collaborations with Educational Enterprise (the University distance learning team), case studies from the campus launches in Dubai and Singapore, the building of new physical learning environments on campus and academic partnerships with online programme management and massive open online course (MOOC) providers.

Meet the faculty

Frequently asked questions

You may have some questions about the programme, the university or the online environment. It’s always the way when starting something new. Don’t worry; we’re here to answer them.

If you have a question we don’t cover here, request more information or call +44 (0)800 032 7101.

Yes, all of the modules on the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments programme are available as stand-alone Postgraduate Micro-credentials, which you can study online over an 8-week period. At the end of your 8-week course, you will receive an official University of Birmingham Postgraduate Micro-credential certificate worth 10 credits, and a transcript highlighting your new credential to both current and prospective employers.

You’ll also be able to use any course credits you’ve earned through this Micro-credential qualification towards the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments qualification, should you choose to study the full programme at a later date. Find out more about our short online courses here.

On completion of the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments, you will be awarded a 60-credit Postgraduate Certificate. A PGCert is a postgraduate qualification at the same level as a master’s degree. It is the shortest commonly available postgraduate qualification and is therefore sometimes referred to as a ‘mini Masters’. As with all postgraduate qualifications, it will look great on your CV, shows your commitment to continued learning and can open up pathways to further career progression.

Yes – this online programme is designed as a holistic introduction to the field of learning design. Your studies will take an interdisciplinary approach, covering topics as diverse as design, technology, social science and digital development – ensuring you a well-rounded learning experience. Students will be challenged to think like a Learning Designer, allowing you to develop your own individual learning design style. As with any higher education qualification, it will look great on your CV and open up career pathways into instructional design.

Digital learning is stronger than ever, and the need for high-quality digital learning talent remains firmly in place. New organisations and qualification opportunities are popping up to encourage people into the sector, and completing a programme of study such as the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments will enable you to fill roles such as Instructional Designer, Learning Architect, Learning Technologist, VLE Administrator, Digital Learning Officer and many more.

No – you don’t necessarily need to have previous work experience specifically in the field of education. We accept applications from a wide range of professional fields including design and computing, as well as education. Work experience is also not a requirement if you possess an upper-second class degree or equivalent. Overall, this is an excellent qualification for people working in any industry or for recent graduates who are interested in entering into the field of instructional design.

Visit our FAQ page


  1. Programme fees are reviewed annually and are subject to change each academic year.
  2. UNKNOWN (2023) World University Rankings. QS Top Universities [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20.07.2022]
  3. CNBC (2020) Make It. CNBC [online] Available at: [Accessed 07.12.2020]
  4. Sydow, L (2020) Mobile Minute: Global Classrooms Rely on Education Apps As Remote Learning Accelerates. App Annie [online] Available at: [Accessed 07.12.2020]
  5. RENUB RESEARCH (2019) Online Education Market & Global Forecast, by End User, Learning Mode (Self-Paced, Instructor Led), Technology, Country, Company. Renub Research [online] Available at: [Accessed 07.12.2020]