Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP)

The Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) is a 60 credit masters level programme primarily designed for academic staff engaged in professional and academic practices including: teaching, learning, assessment, research, and professional development within the higher education context. The PGCAP is also open to other staff who are able to demonstrate that they engage in these activities. The programme provides an exploration of the underpinning pedagogy of teaching, learning, and assessment, and approaches to research. It also offers support for developing practical aspects of academic practice.

The programme is aligned with the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and the Vitae Research Development Framework (RDF). Participants who successfully complete the full PGCAP programme will meet UKPSF Descriptor 2 (D2) and the Vitae framework, and gain an internationally recognised PGCAP qualification to teach in higher education.

Read the most recent Teaching Qualifications and Recognition Policy.


Eligibility: Those who undertake the full PGCAP programme should be engaged in a minimum of 50 hours engagement in teaching, learning, assessment and research activity in Higher Education.

Pre-requisites: Applicants need to be ready to study a masters level programme, and must be fluent in written and spoken English.

Timetable: The PGCAP consists of roughly: 105 hours directly participating in the taught components of the programme; a minimum of 65 hours spent ‘in practice’; 60 hours on preparatory work prior to the taught sessions; and 270 hours spent on private study, programme-related activities and pedagogic research. Please download the schedule below and ensure that the taught sessions are prioritised in your diary. Full attendance is essential.

PGCAP schedule 2017-2019

Accreditation:  The programme is aligned with the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and the Vitae Research Development Framework (RDF).

Find out more (Plymouth University log in required).

APL: Accredited Prior Learning (APL) applications will be considered. Please see the guidance documents below for APL eligibility and process.

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) guidance
Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) guidance

Contact us at

Here’s some feedback from previous participants and the external examiner:

"I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your help and support through this. It has been quite a journey and I think it was really good to remember what it is like to be a student again because I think a lot of us had forgotten!"    (Participant, 2016)

"I owe you. Had it not been for PGCAP, students would be sat mainly listening to me using PowerPoint for two hours each week!" (Participant, 2013)

"Teaching and Learning staff uniformly fantastic. Atmosphere, attitude and camaraderie on the course was very supportive - invaluable."
(Participant, 2012)

"Having gone through a 'baptism of fire' in the first few months of my new post, I found the PGCAP gave me strength and support/knowledge that I needed." (Participant, 2011)

"As a member of staff who completed the programme a few years ago, becoming a mentor was a good opportunity to see firstly what new staff are being taught and secondly pick up tips from them where things have changed over the years. Cheeky but true - this might benefit me as much as my mentee!" (Mentor, 2011)

"I would like to congratulate the Programme Team and leadership in designing an excellent, high quality programme which provides staff from a very diverse range of disciplines to gain an accredited teaching qualification in Higher Education. The assessment rand moderation regime is extremely thorough, providing extensive opportunities for formative and summative feedback." (External Examiner, 2016)

How we used feedback to design the new PGCAP.  Participants told us:

  • It's hard not to overlap the REPs, essay and UKPSF assignments
  • We could do with some of the content from the last core module earlier in the programme
  • Morning with the disciplines was not very helpful
  • It's hard to balance the PGCAP with other workload priorities

In response the new PGCAP 2017-19 programme has:

  • Streamlined the assessment focusing on Reviews of Academic Practice (RAPs) and an e-portfolio which maps to the UKPSF and Vitae frameworks
  • Re-structured the programme with two successive core modules at the start and an elective choice for the final module
  • Threaded disciplinary thinking and issues throughout the programme, developed the disciplinary mentor / mentee relationship

  • Updated the Teaching Qualifications Policy to include stricter requirements for study time