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Online PGCert Higher Education Policy Into Practice: curriculum

Curriculum Details

The Online PGCert Higher Education Policy Into Practice 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 in these modules sequentially, developing knowledge and skills across design, data science, and policy.

Unable to commit to the full year programme? We also offer short, 8-week micro-credentials that can be completed online or in-person. Learn more about our micro-credentials.

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.

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.

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.

Universities are one of the most enduring institutions globally. Such longevity comes with a legacy of ideas and practices that influence both the present and the future idea of a university. Moreover, higher education has wide ranging societal impact.

This module examines the idea and purpose of higher education from classical works and case studies to the present day and beyond. Drawing upon methodologies from the field of Futures Thinking, students will develop and propose ideas which provoke debate and discussion as to the future direction of the future university and higher education’s role in society.

Students will explore their own specific context and experiences to integrate ideas, both historically and across a diversity of approaches to higher education locally, nationally and internationally.

Learning outcomes:

  • Examine key theories and ideas associated with the idea of the university, the purpose of higher education, and the concept of the future.
  • Assess and critique the application of different ideas of a university from a variety of perspectives, including the social, cultural, political, and economic.
  • Propose and critically evaluate a desirable, viable, feasible, and sustainable idea on the future of higher education for both academic and non-academic audiences.

This module covers a range of models, theoretical insights, and practical approaches to examine, understand and engage with the concept of equity in education.

Over the course of the module, students will analyse equity through different theoretical and political approaches, examining how it intersects with a range of issues such as diversity and inclusion; social class, disability, faith, race, gender, and other identity and social markers; meritocracy, social mobility and opportunity; globalisation and localisation; and educational governance and systems.

Bringing together perspectives from multiple disciplines, the module explores contemporary issues and the influence and implications of political, economic, cultural, and social dynamics for equity in education policy and practice, so students can better identify and understand these educational issues and how to address them in their workplaces.

Special attention will be paid to existing inequities in educational milieus, critically contextualising the work of policy to design effective change and inform future practice towards more equitable educational environments.

Learning outcomes:

  • Examine key concepts associated with equity in education.
  • Assess and critique policy and practice in the context of educational equity.
  • Design and communicate strategies and approaches in specific contexts that will enhance education equity.

The ways in which national policy affects activities and practices in educational organisations is complex, multi-layered and influenced by a range of factors, including practitioner interpretation and transformation of policy.

The Policy into Practice module introduces students to theories, concepts and models associated with policy making and policy enactment, equipping them to analyse the real-world complexities of policy into practice in higher education settings. Across the module students will engage with diverse theories, empirical evidence, and methodologies, alongside a range of international examples that demonstrate the possibilities of policy into practice in higher education settings globally around the world.

Drawing on this diverse knowledge, students will map policy and practice in their chosen own context to test out specific ideas and theories and propose a course of action in an applied scenario.

Learning outcomes:

  • Examine key theories, models, and debates associated with policy making and its relationships with disciplinary, organisational, and individual practices.
  • Assess and critique the implications of policy-into-practice for organisations, staff, and students in relation to dominant and emergent agendas such as excellence, internationalisation, equity, and sustainability.
  • Critically evaluate the implications of a specific policy in a specific context and formulate a course of action linked to one or more features of organisational mission.

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