Higher Education - PCert


This programme offers theoretical and practical support for those embarking on a career in Higher Education (HE). It considers different approaches to teaching and learning, grounded in educational research, and related aspects such as curriculum design and delivery and the principles and purposes of assessment. It enables you to bring these considerations to bear on your own work and experience as a teacher, researcher or practitioner.

The emphasis throughout is on developing an understanding of the HE context, recognising the diversity of provision – universities, Further Education institutions, specialist institutions, professional providers – and practices, for example, in different disciplinary fields.

About the Centre for the Study of Higher Education

The Centre for the Study of Higher Education provides a base for postgraduate provision with a distinctive focus on the field of Higher Education. CSHE is also a focal point for research in this area, supported by seminars and events to which all postgraduate students and staff are warmly welcomed.

We offer three taught postgraduate programmes (PCert, PDip and MA in Higher Education) and a PhD in Higher Education. Taught programmes are tailored to different levels of experience and designed for you to select subject matter according to your own professional interests and role. The emphasis throughout is on developing an understanding of the Higher Education context, the diversity of provision and the implications for all aspects of academic work in the 21st century.

The PhD programme, offered on a full-time or part-time basis, is aimed at those with a professional or scholarly interest in any aspect of Higher Education who wish to develop as independent researchers in the field.

Students on our programmes come from a wide range of subject backgrounds and bring a rich variety of experiences to their work, resulting in a lively interdisciplinary dimension to taught modules and opportunities for debate.

Please note that we are unable to offer tuition or supervision in relation to other phases of education (e.g. schools), or to schoolteacher education.

Entry requirements

You should be teaching at Higher Education (HE) level for at least two hours per week throughout one term, so that there are opportunities for sustained teaching observation.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


A group of postgraduates sit outside the Kennedy Building on the Canterbury campus

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module is only available to members of staff who have to complete the PGCHE as part of their probation, or Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) who are contracted by the University to teach. It is not available to postdoctoral research workers or part-time teachers.

It is essential that you are teaching is at Higher Education level when you start this module, and provides opportunities for sustained teaching observation. The minimum requirement is two hours per week throughout any one term.

The module is aimed at those members of staff who are fairly new to teaching in Higher Education.The module covers the background knowledge required to begin teaching, and is designed to support you in developing the confidence to undertake the range of teaching duties required at HE level. Completion of, or exemption from, this module is a pre-requisite for progression to the module UN831: Contextualising Higher Education Teaching.

The seminars will aim to introduce participants to principles underpinning different approaches to learning, teaching and assessment in higher education and the skills needed to apply this knowledge in practice. You will be encouraged to develop an evaluative approach to your teaching.

Find out more about UN819

This module is intended to help participants situate their teaching within the discipline they teach and within national and institutional higher education policies. The overall aim is to help participants clarify their own values related to their teaching through critical examination of the values embedded in those contexts and the UK Professional Standards Framework for University Teaching (UKPSF). To that end, we will start with dilemmas participants encounter in their teaching practice and analyse them in relation to the responsibilities of and accountabilities on academics in the current context. With support, participants will also individually investigate issues particular to teaching in their own subject area.

Find out more about UN831

Optional modules may include

This module offers existing researchers the opportunity to develop and enhance the understanding and skills required for a successful research career in a university, as well as a forum for the recognition, discussion and resolution of problems encountered doing research in higher education. Contributors to the module are drawn from different disciplinary areas across the University.

The module explores the policy framework of research, the mechanisms used to assess research quality, and the structures and networks through which research funding is distributed. The researcher's own role in developing successful research is explicitly acknowledged through sessions on grant applications and reviews, and on the varied disciplinary practices of dissemination and publishing. Participants are encouraged to review their own practice and to consider future strategies for developing research careers.

Find out more about UN812

This module offers new or early-career supervisors the opportunity to review the multiple purposes and varieties of doctoral education, to consider a range of approaches to supervision and other programme components, and to evaluate current and potential methods of assessing research student progress and attainment. The module also strives to provide a forum for discussion of issues encountered in supervisory practice, possible solutions and sources of support. Indicative topics covered include: types of research degree, current developments in doctoral training and the 'skills agenda', supervisory relationships, academic and pastoral support for a diverse student body, assessment and the examination process, and divergent disciplinary and professional perspectives on doctoral education.

Find out more about UN813

This module provides participants with an overview of the field of Learning Technologies and offers an opportunity for experience of various technologies from the points of view of the student, tutor and other HE staff. Participants will analyse and discuss pedagogical principles which underpin possible uses of new technologies and the implications variously on learning and teaching, research and administration, in terms of staff development and student support. Indicative topics are: modes of pedagogy (e.g. the spectrum of pure face-to-face through blended learning, or combined mode, to computer-mediated distance learning) and assessment, including tools such as quizzes, personal response systems and other mobile devices; modes of computer-mediated communication (e.g. one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many); technology in society and diffusion of innovations. This module does not consider new technology for its own sake nor does it focus upon technical specifications.

Find out more about UN815

This module is project-based, and requires participants to design, implement and evaluate an innovation in their teaching.

It supports academic staff engaging in the process of educational change. Participants will be planning, implementing and evaluating their project in the course of the academic year in which they take this module. This may be a process of change in their own immediate teaching context; changes in student profile or employers' expectations; a process of major curriculum development. The innovation may be in any area of learning and teaching, such as the use of learning technology, dealing with gender issues, student learning support, resource-based learning, problem-based learning, teaching of critical thinking skills, or incorporation of key skills in the curriculum. Central to the module is the notion of deliberated change, supported by scholarship and critical evaluation. It provides a framework within which participants can engage in research-informed teaching innovation in their disciplinary field. However participants will also have the opportunity to learn from other subject areas and consider alternative approaches.

Find out more about UN816

This module focuses upon assessment and feedback within higher education. The module covers in the main the impact of the educational and policy context on approaches to assessment, the relationships between assessment of and for learning, with approaches to giving feedback. The module considers the impact of 'stakeholder' (eg student, employer, institutional) perceptions on assessment design and practice and how these interact with feedback practices. The module further considers critically the current literature relating to recommended feedback practice and how this can be operationalised within the students learning environment.

Find out more about UN821

This module is intended to offer students the opportunity to investigate a higher education topic of their own choosing, in detail and with academic support. This may take the form of, for example, a literature review on an agreed topic; a small-scale educational research study; a research report on a topic or project related to academic practice within their own discipline; a conceptual study of specific educational ideas, practices or principles.

The curriculum will be negotiated with each Faculty-based group but as a minimum will include:

A survey of relevant sources of scholarly material related to higher education topics

A critical review of relevant investigations of higher education topics

Methods of investigation relevant to selected topics

Group and individual evaluation and reviews of progress

Relevant approaches to academic writing and presentation

A programme of reading, investigation and support will be negotiated with each student.

Find out more about UN822

The curriculum builds upon the skills, knowledge and understanding of policy and practice in Higher Education students will have developed as part of the PGCHE programme (or equivalent appropriate experience) and upon the prerequisite module: Educational Research Methodology in particular. The teaching, content and assessment of this module aims to take students beyond the initial understanding of a range of methods of educational research which will be introduced in the Educational Research Methodology module, and aims to develop their capacity for critical analysis of a range of educational theories and their application in contemporary HE research. The scope for this activity is deliberately broadly interpreted to enable students to interrogate educational research in relation to their personal interests and professional practices. Participants will explore the impact of theoretical approaches to higher education research, through engaging in interdisciplinary discussion focused upon critical analysis of relevant research monographs, journal articles, book chapters or guest lectures. The emphasis throughout is on interrogating the rationale and application of particular theoretical approaches.

Indicative content:

Shifting paradigms in HE research

Truth and bias in HE research

The relationship between theory and method in HE research

The contribution and influence of major thinkers upon HE research (e.g. Bourdieu, Habermas, Bernstein, and Foucault)

A critical overview of current theoretical approaches to HE research, such as: discourse analysis, social and critical realism, actor-network theory, auto/biographical research

Find out more about UN824

The main purpose of this module is to provide programme participants with an introduction to methodologies and methods of conducting educational research, and their implications in terms of ethics, validity and generalisability. Topics introduced include: conceptual analysis, forms of reasoning, epistemology, education as social science, quantitative vs qualitative analysis, datasets and other sources, various methods and approaches for empirical investigation (with room to accommodate participants' needs), research ethics considerations, research writing and audiences.

Find out more about UN825

This module covers:

The meanings, history and development of internationalisation in the UK HE sector, considered in relation to institutional, national and international policy objectives, for example: The Bologna Process.

Internationalisation and the student experience – from mono-culturalism to integration?

Pedagogy and the internationalised HE sector (teaching students for whom English is an additional language; the academic expectations of international students; interrogating a 'Western curriculum')

Contemporary challenges in internationalisation: Marketisation and internationalisation : a critical exploration of selling the UK student experience overseas

The international academic: working in a global labour market – collaborations and partnerships.

A critical appraisal of internationalisation in practice including a consideration of the role of the University of Kent as the UK's European University.

Find out more about UN826

The module is intended to support professional development through a process of critical reflection, and to meet the particular needs of staff engaged in a range of learning support roles. For this reason it is designed to be flexible and adaptable to practice in different specialist fields. It aims to provide an introduction to different approaches to learning, the assumptions on which they are founded and their implications for practice. The curriculum focuses chiefly on student-centred approaches to learning: how students learn, both generally and within subject/ disciplinary/practice areas; effective approaches to student support and guidance; the role of feedback in supporting learning; and strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of professional practice. The module seeks to make explicit links between principles and the application of these to participants' own practice and development. Participants are encouraged to reflect on personal practices, evaluate them and identify how they can be developed.. A further central component of the module is the role of observation: being observed (and observing more experienced colleagues), receiving and responding to feedback, and articulating the values which underpin one’s own practice are central to the development of the skills of a reflective practitioner and to career development.

Find out more about UN828

This module offers the chance to explore what is meant by the idea of reflection or effective reflective practice, how it is used within the academic practice, in teaching, in research, as part of practice as research, and the differences between reflective and reflexive practice. It will offer the opportunity to critically consider a variety of different theories and models of reflective and reflexive practice, including the supervisory model. The module will give the students the opportunity to consider the role of reflection/reflexivity in enhancing an individual's teaching and/or research, how it can be approached for development. It will allow students to critically evaluate Practice as Research within different disciplines, including questions such as "What does this look like / feel like?" “How does it fit within an academic career?” “How is it different from an individual practice?”

Core indicative themes include different theoretical models of reflective practice, how they can be put into practice, how they might be assessed, reflexivity as a researcher, practice as research, embodied practice and the role of reflexivity and reflective practice within academic practice.

Find out more about UN829

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by an essay of 3,000 words or negotiated equivalent for each module.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • assist you to become an effective professional HE teacher informed by scholarship, research and innovation
  • assist you to become an effective research worker, supervisor of research students and staff, and manager of projects (where appropriate)
  • provide a sound knowledge and systematic understanding of the principal institutions, constituents and procedures of a higher education institution
  • introduce you to a range of different theoretical approaches to the study of education and develop a critical awareness of education in its historical, socio-economic and political contexts
  • enable you to study some selected aspects of higher education in greater depth.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • appropriate methods for teaching and learning in your own subject area and at the appropriate level
  • models of how students learn
  • the use of learning technologies appropriate to the context in which you teach
  • methods for monitoring and evaluating your own teaching
  • the implications of quality assurance for your own practice
  • methods for the development of your research careers (where appropriate)
  • methods for obtaining and managing research grants (where appropriate).

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of educational theory and practice, and to apply it within the academic environment
  • the ability to evaluate current research and scholarship in teaching and learning
  • the ability to identify sources of research funding and make effective applications for such funding (where appropriate).

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to design higher education programmes, modules or schemes of work, in the light of a broad understanding of curriculum development
  • the ability to evaluate a wide range of teaching and learning methods and identify appropriate methods to use with large groups, small groups and one-to-one
  • the ability to recognise the diverse needs of students, to respond to the requirements of widening participation, equal opportunities, disability legislation and key skills, and to provide support to students in both academic and pastoral situations
  • the ability to evaluate a wide and appropriate range of assessment methods and identify appropriate methods to support student work and record achievement
  • the ability to make use of local, regional, national and international resources and networks for the production and publication of research (where appropriate)
  • the ability to understand the essentials of the supervision and examination of postgraduate students (where appropriate)
  • the ability to operate and develop effective teaching and/or research and related administrative processes within quality assurance codes of practice.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • improving your own learning: the skills of a reflective practitioner who is able to evaluate their own teaching and research practice, using appropriate feedback mechanisms and to plan for continuing professional development
  • communication: the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in a diverse range of teaching and research contexts, using IT where appropriate, and showing assured, accurate and fluent use of language in presenting information, sustaining the interest of others and responding perceptively to their contributions
  • problem-solving: expertise in operating successfully within the constraints and opportunities of the institutional setting, managing change, and (where appropriate) developing strategies for balancing and integrating teaching and research
  • working with others: the ability to work effectively as part of a team, sustaining motivation and effective working relationships in order to meet responsibilities and to enable others to do so.


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home/EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time TBC
  • Home/EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time TBC

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2020 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 97% of the University’s research was judged to be of international quality, with 73% of this judged to be internationally excellent.

Research areas

Research on HE at Kent includes work on education policy, the philosophy, economics, management and politics of HE, disciplinary teaching and learning, learning technology, academic practice and sociological perspectives on academic work.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Fran Beaton : Senior Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice; Director of Taught Programmes in Higher Education.

Principal research interest is in the nature of support for early career academics and the impact of this on practice and self-image. 

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Dr Jennifer Leigh : Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Research interests include academic practice, programmes for academic development and part-time teachers as well as aspects of teaching and learning in higher education. She has also explored reflexivity and embodiment, and is interested in how this relates to professional practice.

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Edd Pitt : Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Principal research interest is in assessment and feedback in higher education. He has a particular interest in staff and students' emotional processing of feedback and its implications for teaching practice.

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Our students are higher education professionals at various stages of their careers, ranging from early career teachers to lecturers to experienced senior leaders. Throughout, we aim to enhance students’ understanding and capacity for critical analysis of the contexts and practices of higher education.

The MA in Higher Education further encourages students to reflect upon their own professional experiences through critical engagement with topics of academic interest. After completing the MA, recent graduates have gained promotion within their existing roles, taken up new employment or commenced PhD study.

Study support

Research expertise and resources

The Centre for the Study of Higher Education has members of staff based in all faculties in the University, as well as a core team of Education specialists. Higher Education is a broad interdisciplinary field, and members of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education research and publish on a wide range of subjects. Full details can be found on individual staff webpages. The Centre draws on expertise from a range of disciplines; we offer joint supervision with other academic schools, and can accommodate a wide range of research topics.

The University library houses a growing collection of books and journals on higher education, many of which can be accessed online. You also have access to the extensive training and other resources provided through the Graduate School.

Research seminars/events

The Centre holds regular research seminars where academic staff and postgraduate students discuss their research and work in progress. Every term we also invite a number of external speakers to give lectures and seminars. Our students have access to lively national and international research networks and conferences through the Centre’s active involvement in the Society for Research into Higher Education, the British Educational Research Association and other scholarly bodies.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: Journal of Workplace Learning; Discourse; Journal of Further and Higher Education; Teaching in Higher Education; International Journal of Lifelong Education.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PCert at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 824013
E: cshe@kent.ac.uk


International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk