Professional Development Awards FAQs

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 team.

Learner questions

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 with work.

Who can undertake work-based learning?

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 learning?

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 work-based learning?

Evidence of work-based learning such as reflection logs, reports, audits and SWOT analysis can be submitted for academic credit towards an Higher Education award.

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 accredited?

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 Learning (AEL).

Can previous qualifications can be accredited?

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).

Employer questions

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):

Undergraduate awards

  • 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)

Postgraduate awards

  • 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 skills.

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 employees?

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 people.
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 enabling)
  • Space to store learning materials
  • A negotiated learning contract (ensure that target dates are being met)

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 the University?

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 objects)
  • 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 learning.

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 an award.

What is the price of modules?

Module prices vary according to the size and number of academic credits. See our fees page for further information.

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