Special Study in Supporting Learning University Certificate

The Postgraduate Certificate of Special Study in Supporting Learning is a one-semester 20-credit module at level 7 (Masters level). It is designed for colleagues in the University of Westminster (or teaching on University of Westminster programmes in partner colleges) who have a role in teaching/supporting the learning of students at the University of Westminster, but who do not have the full role of an academic member of staff. You might be interested in the module if you are for example:

  • a research student or research fellow who tutors or demonstrates to students or who runs a seminar group
  • a visiting lecturer with only a small teaching load
  • a librarian or careers advisor who does face-to-face sessions with groups of students
  • a member of the technical staff who supports students in the studio, laboratory or computer suite.

It is normally necessary for you to have at least 15 hours of supporting student learning during the semester in which you would take the course.

The course is delivered by educational development specialists in the Department of Leadership and Professional Development (Westminster Business School), and led by Jennifer Bright. The educational development team supports the University in a range of teaching and learning developments, including the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE), which is a course for new and established academic staff.

The module aims to help you enhance your students’ learning by helping you to gain an understanding of effective learning design, planning and student engagement, and further aims to encourage a culture of quality enhancement in teaching and supporting learning.

Course content

You will be encouraged to consider current thinking in pedagogic practices in relation to designing, delivering and supporting student learning in HE through a reflective process using multiple feedback sources. The module activities will include evaluating the nature of the student learning experience in your own context, an observation of your own teaching/supporting learning activities (and that of others) and an investigation of relevant literature/theory.


The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.

Module topics and themes supporting this process include:

  • the scholarship of learning and teaching and linking teaching and research
  • reflective practices and using student feedback for evaluation and development
  • threshold concepts, graduate attributes and signature pedagogies
  • session design and peer observation of teaching
  • learning design, sustainability and ethics
  • managing the learning environment
  • using technology to enhance student learning
  • student-centred and activity-based learning
  • facilitating student learning in different subject contexts and in face to face and online environments
  • facilitating one to one, small group and whole group learning
  • inclusive practices and using student diversity as a resource
  • personal and professional development planning

Teaching and learning methods used

  • work-based learning including teaching/supporting learning practice (15 hours minimum)
  • observation of your practice as well as your observation of the practice of an experienced peer
  • on-line learning of approximately four hours per week
  • self-directed study and recording of on-going reflections on practice for reflective narrative-building and assessment, together with teaching observations and professional practice conversations with your subject mentor or educational development tutor, will comprise the remaining hours of this 20-credit module

The sessions will all take place on-line; however, when your teaching/supporting learning session is observed, your tutor will go to the location in which you work. (If you are teaching outside the University of Westminster, you will need to arrange for a tutor from your own institution to observe you.) There will also be a face-to-face Induction session which you will be invited to attend.


Assessment is wholly coursework based; there are no examinations.

  1. The assessment will include formative piece of work that is compulsory but ungraded and which is submitted for feedback
  2. The final assessment is a reflexive narrative that integrates theory and practice supported by practice-based feedback from different sources. These will include two teaching practice observations by an experienced peer in your workplace (one of which may be a WEx tutor) plus your observation of an experienced peer.

The narrative will provide a place for you to evidence your continuing professional development in teaching and supporting learning.


You will need to get the written support of your line manager or Head of Department in order to take the module. This is demonstrated by your line manager’s/Head of Department’s signature on the application form. Their signature recognises the requirement that you can be released from your normal duties to attend the taught sessions, that you will be allocated sufficient hours to fulfil the requirements of the course, that you can be observed undertaking a session of student support and that you will be supported in any other ways to help you to complete the work. If you are not teaching University of Westminster students, the full fee will apply.

Length of course

The course lasts for one semester and will be run twice during the year. The face-to-face induction session for the first cohort will be on Friday 23 September (10am–4pm) with submission of the final assessment at the end of January. The Induction session for the second cohort will be on Friday 13 January (10am–4pm) with the final submission due at the end of May.

Successful completion of the module will allow you to become an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Find out more about the benefits of becoming an HEA Associate.

In addition, if you continue in your teaching role and have an increased number of teaching hours, you may take further modules leading to the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE).

Finally, if you transfer to another university which also has such a course, it is highly possible that you will be able to gain some credit toward their award, but of course this will depend on their particular qualifications and regulations.

Deadline for applications for the September 2016 intake is 31 July 2016.

Deadline for applications for the January 2017 intake is Monday 12 December 2016.

Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact course leader Jennifer Bright at j.a.bright@westminster.ac.uk.

Course team

Jennifer Bright, Course Leader and Admissions Tutor

How to apply

This course is offered to University of Westminster staff and PhD students only. To apply, please go to UKPASS and download the guidelines below.

University of Westminster staff

Download the application guidelines (PDF)

After obtaining your line manager's approval, you'll need to fill out the form below to gain exemption from course fees.

Download a fee exemption form (PDF)

Additional costs information

To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.


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