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Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments: curriculum

Curriculum Details

The Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments is a 60-credit programme which takes one year to complete. There are six 10-credit modules, each module lasting 8 weeks in total. You will enrol onto these modules sequentially, building your knowledge of the various perspectives of learning and the application of technology and data. During the programme you will also be invited to design your own learning exercises, further enriching your understanding of the learning process.

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.

Core courses


What is design? Is it a verb or a noun?

In this module, we define design and design thinking by exploring old and new conceptualisations of design in general, and design within learning environments. We look at interactions between actors within the design process
and around designed artefacts. We consider what being a designer means, by exploring what designers do, how they think, the processes they follow and the objectives they aim to achieve.

We propose experience as the purpose of design and consider how we might influence and improve learning experiences if everyone thinks like a designer.

Learning outcomes:
– Define the contemporary field of design thinking and critically evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
– Explore the classic and contemporary philosophy of design, defining design, and the designer in your own context.
– Evaluate and use design and learning frameworks, processes, and theory to describe activities and actors involved in the design process from idea to use.
– Identify and critically evaluate the ethical implications of design and innovation decisions alongside desirability, feasibility, and viability.

Getting under the bonnet

This course focuses on some of the key technologies underpinning modern digital artefact creation, including how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build rich learning experiences. You will also consider how to create basic VR experiences, explore how blockchains could impact education in the future and consider deployment and security of virtual learning environments.

Learning outcomes:
– Appreciate contemporary techniques used in education.
– Evaluate technologies that could be used in education for feasibility, viability, and desirability.
– Appreciate website security and its implications for education.
– Understand a range of technology standards.
– Specify, design, and implement a digital artefact for education.

Get to grips with data

This course is designed to give an introduction to data science within education and modern learning environments. Data provides a mechanism of asking “what actually happened”, and whether hypotheses we might hold are seen to be true
in practice. You will create and use data stories and consider how to design data collection strategies for robust insightful analysis.

Learning outcomes:
– Critically understand and apply summary statistics.
– Critically understand and apply summary machine learning to breakdown data.
– Use appropriate data science technologies to summarise and visualise data stories.
– Understand and apply the ethics of data.
– Appreciate data science techniques for learning and education.

How do learners learn?

In this course, we look at learning environments from a theoretical and critical perspective in terms of how we think about education and learning.

Criticality is important when looking to change an education system or make learning environments more equitable and inclusive for diverse learners. This can throw up big questions such ‘are we teaching the right thing?’ or ‘what is the purpose of our learning environment’?

This course allows you to study learning theory from a practical design perspective as well the fields of sociology and psychology.

Learning outcomes:
– Evaluate behavioural, cognitive, and social perspectives on learning.
– Examine and critically evaluate classic and contemporary learning theories for learning environments.
– Apply learning theories to real life scenarios to critique strengths and weaknesses in practice.
– Explore appropriate assessment strategies for different theoretical perspectives and environments.

The social meets the technological

In this course, explore the relationship between society and technology. Two polar extremes frame the course – are we determined by technology or are technologies a product of a wider social context? Also, are technologies mere tools for human use or do they act?

These are key discussions and perspectives explored in the course informed by the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS), philosophy of technology and critical theory. The course deeply engages with how the social and technical interact and influence education and society.

Learning outcomes:
– Examine empirical and theoretical research literature on the affordances of technology in learning and teaching environments.
– Identify key learning environments in your own context and explore how the physical, social, and digital environment connect.
– Evaluate ethical and equality issues involved with the adoption of technology in networked learning environments.

Integrating disciplinary knowledge

This course invites you to integrate disciplinary knowledge from the previous courses, moving from a multidisciplinary approach to integrating knowledge and practice in an interdisciplinary manner. This is all achieved through a case study approach where you have the opportunity to apply such approaches and integrate knowledge in response to a case study project.

Learning outcomes:
– Carry out a research project in agreement with a programme lead and a group of agreed stakeholders.
– Evaluate designed artefacts and processes using technology in learning environments.
– Develop a suitable design in agreement with a programme lead and stakeholders.

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