Skip to main content

PgCert Academic Practice

Alex Bean and Olivia Binns in the Studio, BA (Hons) Bespoke Tailoring, London College of Fashion, 2017, © Alys Tomlinson

Join us to explore the contemporary higher education context. Develop your teaching and learning practice within a supportive community.

PgCert Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication

Start Date: January 2025

Course length: 1 year (part time)

Study time: 600 learning hours (including taught sessions) or about 12 study hours a week

Applications open: Wednesday 1 May 2024

Apply by: Friday 20 September 2024 (12 noon)

Course overview

The PgCert Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication is for everyone who teaches and/or supports student learning in arts higher education. The course attracts applicants from the whole range of job families across UAL.

You will join a community of colleagues with experience and expertise in a range of disciplines and educational modes. You will have opportunities to learn from each other whilst interrogating and enhancing your own teaching and learning practice.

You will learn about contemporary higher education contexts, discussing the role of universities in a rapidly changing world. You will explore the relationship between policy, society and theory, while considering what this means for your own practice.

UAL is committed to social justice and to becoming an anti-racist university. The PgCert is envisaged as a catalyst for institutional change. Through reflecting on your positionality and its influence on your actions, you will identify spaces for inclusive interventions with the potential to transform student experience.

You will study theories underpinning pedagogy and intersectional social justice, which will enrich your practice through ongoing application to your context, culminating in your own small-scale research project.

The PgCert is a benchmark national qualification for teachers in higher education, and as such is an important step in academic career development. Through the PgCert you will gain professional recognition via AdvanceHE as an Associate Fellow (AFHEA) and prepare a portfolio to support a subsequent application for Fellowship (FHEA).

Upon successful completion of the PgCert, you can choose to continue your Academic Practice studies by undertaking a further 120 credits to gain the MA in Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication.

Two people mimicking each other's balance surrounded by a semi circular tower of wine glasses
Tuli Litvak, 2018 BA Fine Art, Central Saint Martins, UAL | Photograph: John Sturrock

Course units

Unit 1: Theory, practices and policies

You will explore the macro context of the university, connecting it back to your own professional area. This unit considers contemporary Higher Education sector policies and how they filter through to institutional, disciplinary, departmental and individual practices. You will learn about philosophy of education and key learning theories before reflecting on how they inform your own practice.

You will take part in a course-wide peer observation exercise, giving and receiving feedback on live teaching practice.

Pulling together your reflections, you will map your learning to Descriptor 1 of the UK Professional Standards Framework. This means that successful completion of this first unit will also credit you the professional recognition of Associate Fellowship from AdvanceHE.

Unit 2: Inclusive practices

This unit will bring your focus back onto the micro-context of your own beliefs, values, and actions. You will be empowered to think deeply about your own positionality and how this affects those around you.

Through engaging with key ideas and theories such as intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, anti-racism and more, you will develop an understanding of how to embed expanded inclusivity into everyday professional life.

You will design an artefact that applies theoretical understanding within your practice, enacting an individual, and hence an institutional, change.

Unit 3: Action research project

You will gain an understanding of action research as well as learning about other research methods. You will design and develop your own small-scale, social justice oriented, action research project.

Your project will stem from an issue identified in your work context. You will explore the literature pertinent to this issue, design and conduct an appropriate intervention, and explore ways of evaluating the change with your stakeholders (students and/or colleagues).

For assessment you will present your project and findings back to the wider cohort, maximising practice-sharing and fostering potential future collaborative opportunities.


The courses are taught by colleagues from across the Teaching, Learning and Employability Exchange and the wider university. Below are some of the staff teaching on the PgCert.

Mode of study

The PgCert is a part-time course where you will study 3 consecutive units over 3 terms. Typically participants complete in 1 year. Under exceptional circumstances participants are allowed a maximum of 3 years to complete the course.

Download the PgCert Academic Practice course diagram (Word 24KB).

Credit and award requirements

The course is credit-rated at 60 credits. On successfully completing the course, you will gain a PgCert Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication.

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, a PgCert is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the PgCert. The classification of the award is derived by averaging the marks across all 3 units.

Tianqi Xu, MA Design for Art Direction, London College of Communication

Learning and teaching methods

You will attend classes approximately every 2 weeks as you progress through the course units. Each unit requires an average of 10-12 hours work per week, including taught hours and independent study.

The course is underpinned by the principles of collegiality and active participation. You will share your own knowledge and experience with the group, and give and receive feedback through presentation, discussion, microteaching, and peer observation. You will experience online and face-to-face interactive group learning.

Alongside your classes you will attend monthly online lectures, seminars and workshops from guest teachers. You will meet your tutor group once per term, co-creating a collaborative space in which to share thinking and support your learning.

Assessment methods

We invite you to demonstrate your learning in a range of ways that reflect the variety of learning outcomes and the specialisms of arts disciplines. This includes blogs and sketchbooks, peer observation, peer review, peer and self-assessment, creation of artefacts, essays, case studies, presentations and documentation of practice in visual and written formats.

You will learn how to use Workflow to create and edit a digital portfolio of your coursework. Your portfolio stores your work in progress and you will submit it for summative assessment at the end of each unit.

Emilion Sannié, BA Interior and Spatial Design, Camberwell College of Arts 1

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • Applicants must currently be employed at UAL in a higher education role and be contracted for a minimum of 35 hours of teaching or teaching-related activity for the year/s in which they intend to study the PgCert.
  • All applications must be supported by a line manager.

You must record your intention to undertake the PgCert at your summer PRA prior to the course starting.

AP(E)L – Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

It may be possible to receive credits for previous courses (admissions with academic credit, or AAC) or for experiential learning (Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning, or AP(E)L).

You need to identify the units you are claiming credit for and complete an AAC or AP(E)L application form. You’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve achieved equivalent learning outcomes in your previous course of study, or through experiential learning.

For full criteria and the number of credits that you can make a claim for, download the Guide to AAC and APL / APEL (Word 35KB).

Applications open 1 May 2024

Apply by Friday 20 September 2024 (12noon)

Before you apply

All teaching sessions are compulsory, unless stated on the timetable. You will usually have PgCert sessions on the same day each week: either Monday, Wednesday or Friday. You will be able to tell us your preferred day to attend when you apply.

Fees and Funding

There is no charge to UAL staff for studying the PgCert.

Internal (UAL) applicants

There are 2 steps to the application process:

Step 1. Complete the authorisation form

Both your UAL line manager and staff development contact need to agree you can apply to study.  You must record your intention to undertake the PgCert at your summer PRA prior to the course starting.

You can then download the Internal authorisation form (Word 48KB),  ready to apply online.

Step 2. Complete an online application

You will need to create an account using an external (non-UAL) email address and upload:

  • A copy of your passport
    • If this is a non-UK passport please also upload a copy of your residence permit.
  • A copy of the certificate for your highest level qualification
  • A copy of your completed authorisation form (saved as a document) must be uploaded in the reference section.

External applicants

The PgCert is not open to external applicants in 2024/25.

Opportunities for all

UAL is committed to diversity, individuality and equality. We support all students, including those who have dyslexia, long term health conditions, mental health issues, physical or sensory impairments or autism spectrum disorders.

If you have, or think that you might have, a disability please contact the University Disability Service as soon as possible to discuss your support needs. All enquiries are treated confidentially.

Contacting the Disability Service in good time means that the right support can be put in place for you should you need it.

Disability Service: +44(0)20 7514 6156/6157 or

What happens next?

After you apply you will receive an automated email to confirm your application has been submitted.

Applications are reviewed after the application deadline in September. You will be notified of the decision by email in October: please check the non-UAL email account that you used to apply online.

Alumni case studies