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PGCert Academic Practice (Higher Education) (Initial Professional Development Route, IPDR)

The IPD route (PGCert in Academic Practice programme) is designed to support you as a new academic to develop your teaching practice. We have adopted a model of work-integrated learning to link “the theoretical, practical and general life experience knowledge” that will contribute to your professional learning (Cooper et al 2010). The taught modules provide grounding in pedagogic and professional practices, scholarship of learning and teaching and inquiry into practice.

The programme is situated in the local context of St Mary’s educational priorities and initiatives as well as the wider UK Higher Education sector. The two modules of the IPDR are taken in sequence and comprise:

  • ACP7010 Developing Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Higher Education; runs in Semester one from September to January
  • ACP7011 Enhancing Learning in Higher Education: Curriculum Design, Evaluation and Enquiry; runs in Semester two from February to May

The first module lays the foundations for engagement with the second. The second module culminates in an Action Research project into an aspect of your pedagogic practice. Completing both modules, accounts for 60 credits of work at Level 7 (Master’s level) and you will receive the award of PG Cert. Academic Practice (Higher Education).

Admission Criteria

For staff who are employed by St Mary’s on permanent or fixed term academic contracts:

  • Completion of the PG Cert is a requirement for academic staff with fewer than two years’ experience of teaching in higher education, and who do not hold a teaching qualification relevant for Higher Education (HE) or HEA Fellowship as detailed in St Mary’s ‘Institutional Policy on Higher Education Academic Teaching Qualifications’ (2016).
  • Applicants must satisfy the general admissions requirements of St Mary’s University. Normally students who enrol on the PG Cert will have a first degree. The programme is relevant for those contracted staff who exercise a substantive teaching role. This would normally apply to those employed by St Mary’s University Academic full-time or part-time contracts (> 0.3 FTE), or hourly paid staff if they undertake module leadership roles.
  • Because the programme also provides an HEA accredited route to Fellowship, students must have sufficient genuine teaching to evidence the Descriptor of Fellow (D2) i.e. be employed as a lecturer or senior lecturer. The programme is not accessible to those who are unable to evidence their practice to meet UKPSF Descriptor 2. These individuals may instead be able to access the Continuing Professional Development Route (CPDR) and apply for recognition against UKPSF Descriptor 1.
  • Experienced Academic and Learning Support staff may access the CPDR to gain Associate Fellowship (D1), Fellowship (D2) or Senior Fellowship (D3), as appropriate to their responsibilities and experience in HE.
  • Students whose first language is not English must have achieved an overall score of 6.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with no less than 5.5 in any section.

For staff at collaborative partner institutions, where St Mary's validates academic programmes:

If you are employed by a collaborative partner institution you must obtain agreement from the collaborative partner to pay St Mary’s University the fees for enrolment on the PG Cert Academic Practice (Higher Education). Details of fees and application forms are available by contacting

On successful completion of the IPDR, individual participants employed by collaborative partner institutions may be required to pay an additional fee to join the register of HEA Fellows. The following conditions for registration are applied by Advance-HE:

  • If the collaborative partner institution subscribes to the HEA (including HEA Access partner subscriptions) successful participants will receive Fellowship without an additional fee being payable by the individual.
  • If the collaborative partner institution does not subscribe to the HEA, successful participants will be charged an additional fee by the HEA for Fellowship, which is 50% of the current direct application fee. This fee is payable by the individual, direct to the HEA in order to become registered.

 Details of the fees payable to the HEA can be found on the HEA website.