We have tried to address some of the most common queries from
learners and employers around work-based learning. If you
are unable to find the answer you need here, please email the PDA
What is work-based learning (WBL)?
Work-based learning is where learning takes
place in the workplace rather than traditional study environments.
Opportunities to learn arise from tasks and challenges associated
Who can undertake work-based
Anyone who is employed or in a recognised
relationship with an external organisation/employer can undertake
work-based learning. This can be either paid or unpaid work in
various forms including traditional employment,
part-time, self-employment, entrepreneurial activity or
voluntary forms of engagement.
Who is involved in work-based
The key people involved in work-based
learning are the learner, line manager, mentor and academic
facilitator. The key driver of the WBL
initiative is the learner, who
has responsibility for negotiating time and activities in the
workplace with their line manager. The mentor will act as a guide
and coach and, where appropriate, give feedback. They may also act
as an assessor of competencies and learning outcomes.
What form of evidence is there for
Evidence of work-based learning such as
reflection logs, reports, audits and SWOT
analysis can be submitted for academic credit towards an
How is work-based learning assessed?
Evidence of work-based learning is assessed
by two markers. Once may be an identified person in the workplace
and the other an academic. This process contributes to the quality
assurance of the programme you are studying.
Can previous work-based learning be
Yes. If you can produce relevant and current
evidence of learning, often referred to as portfolio evidence, it
is possible to gain academic credit against existing specific or
generic modules. This is know as Accreditation of Experiential
Can previous qualifications can be
Yes. We recognise and integrate credit for
certified or accredited study from other academic institutions if
they can be mapped against the programme learning outcomes. This is
known as Accredited Learning (AL).
How can Professional Development
Awards benefit my business?
Senior and experienced academics can work with you to identify
learning needs of your employees. Needs can be captured to shape a
bespoke programme of learning to suit your business.
The development of a highly skilled workforce will help to keep
your business ahead of the competition, both nationally and
internationally. A motivated and educated workforce can lead to
improved productivity and efficiency.
What qualifications are available within
the Professional Development Awards (PDA)?
Learners can work towards one of the following awards, each with
the title Professional Development Awards (PDA):
- Certificate (Cert)
- Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)
- Diploma (Dip)
- Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- Foundation Degree (FdSc/FdA)
- Degree (BSc/BA)
- Degree with Honours BA (Hons), BSc (Hons)
- Graduate Certificate (GradCert)
- Graduate Diploma (GradDip)
- Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert)
- Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
- Masters Degree (MSc/MA)
A full breakdown of the awards can be found on the PDA qualifications page.
Could the University support a request
for a specific title that would reflect my business?
Yes. On receipt of a request in writing from
you, the University has a process to validate such requests if no
other title is in existence. An example is the Professional
Development Award (Cardiac Practice), which was requested for a
cohort of learners from the British Heart Foundation
How much time away from the workplace
will my employees need?
Time away from the workplace will depend on
the type of resources the employee will access. For example, most
of the work-based learning (WBL
) modules will occur in every day work,
where the employee takes on new tasks to reflect the higher-level
If the programme is mainly WBL, the employees will need to negotiate
with you some time to undertake a literature search online or visit
a local library. Some taught modules may be delivered in the
workplace at agreed times or at the University. Others may be
accessed online as distance learning material.
What support can I offer my
As the manager, you are in a position to
open doors to valuable learning opportunities in the workplace,
such as networking across the organisation or shadowing key
There are many support mechanisms you could
ensure are in place, for example:
- A mentor who has been supported and prepared for the role
- Space and time to access a computer (firewalls need to be
- Space to store learning materials
- A negotiated learning contract (ensure that target dates are
Do my employees need certain
qualifications to undertake work-based learning?
No. Your employees need to be willing to
learn. The University can provide support mechanisms for those
without formal qualifications to learn about the rigours of gaining
higher level skills.
What support would employees receive from
An academic facilitator will be identified
to work with the mentor and learner for work-based learning
modules. A module leader is available for any taught module that
the employee may undertake. There will be access to the following:
- computer suite
- the University's Virtual Learning Environment
- extensive library resources (hard copies and e-learning
- large collection of online journals and books
- academic facilitation
- regular feedback
- Students' Union
Is there evidence that work-based
learning is effective?
Yes. The University has been running
work-based learning for many years and the evidence is quality
assured by external examination from academics in the field. There
is also a fairly recent longitudinal evaluation of work-based
We have an in-house programme of project
management. Can this be given academic credit?
Yes. It is the evidence from this in-house
provision that can attract academic credit which can contribute to
What is the price of modules?
Module prices vary according to the size and
number of academic credits. See our fees page