Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure


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.

Modules may include Credits

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.


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.  

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, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

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.

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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Dr Janice Malcolm: Reader in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Principal research interest is in academic work and the construction and practice of academic and disciplinary identities. She has a particular interest in the nature of the academic workplace, and the impact of policy and regulation on disciplinary 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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Dr Joanna Williams: Senior Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice; Director, Centre for the Study of Higher Education

Current research interests include the changing construction of students as consumers of higher education and the impact this may have upon students’ attitudes to learning, the purpose of a university, and the concept of public good in higher education.

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Higher Education - PCert at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time TBC TBC
Part-time TBC TBC

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

General additional costs

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


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