Frequently asked questions

What is Academic Practice?

What is the aim of PCAP?

Who teaches on the PCAP programme? 

What is the role of the PCAP Tutor?

Who is eligible to attend PCAP?

Who is exempt from undertaking PCAP?

When is it possible to Accredit Prior Learning (APL) towards the PCAP?

Do I have to take both modules in a single academic year?

Does it matter in which order I take the modules?

Do I have to attend every session?

Is it possible to do just one module of the PCAP programme?

If I do just one module, do I get 30 credits and Associate Fellow of the HEA?

Why do I need a separate email address and IT account for PCAP?

What happens if I cannot meet the submission deadline for assignments?

Can I interrupt the programme?

When will I receive confirmation that I will be awarded PCAP and FHEA?

How are the quality of the awards made on PCAP assured?

What happens if I fail PCAP?

How is excellent performance in PCAP assignments recognised and rewarded?

Can I use post-nominals on successful completion of PCAP?

Once I have completed PCAP, what development opportunities are there for me at Exeter?

 

What is Academic Practice?

We have adopted the University of Warwick’s definition, which is that academic practice can be defined as “professional work which directly contributes to the generation and dissemination of knowledge. This includes teaching and learning, research, and supervising and managing research; and managing academic departments”.

What is the aim of PCAP?

PCAP aims to enhance participants’ knowledge of UK higher education in general, and of working within a research-intensive university in particular (module 1); and to support the development of academic practitioners as accomplished educators, who create research-inspired, inquiry-led learning environments that will enable our graduates to thrive in an international workplace (module 2).

As such, the aims of PCAP are directly aligned with the University’s strategic ambitions of being a global 100 research leader and graduating students of distinction. Successful completion of the programme leads to the award of a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits at level 7), Aspire Fellowship, and Fellowship of the HEA.

Many participants will have significant prior experience of academic practice, so PCAP aims to extend and broaden that expertise. Professional development as an educator will occur through exposure to varied instructional methods, access to the rationales and evidence-base underpinning PCAP session planning, opportunities for college-based peer-observation of teaching, and discussions that challenge assumptions about pedagogy and stimulate critical, reflective, research-informed dialogue about higher education.

Who teaches on the PCAP programme? 

The PCAP programme is delivered primarily by academic staff members at the University of Exeter, who represent a number of different disciplinary backgrounds (sciences and humanities) and geographic locations (Streatham, St Luke’s and Penryn). In 2015/16, these are Karen Mattick (PCAP director and module 1 lead), Barrie Cooper (module 2 lead), Rob Freathy, Andy Pye, Debbie Osberg and Vivienne Baumfield. Between them, they have a breadth and depth of education and research relevant to academic practice, and strong links to the Centre for Research in Professional Learning (of which Karen and Vivienne are co-leads), which has doctoral students researching relevant areas (e.g. academic leadership).

What is the role of the PCAP Tutor?

All PCAP participants are assigned a PCAP tutor for each module, who is a member of the teaching delivery team and therefore familiar with the module content.  The role of the PCAP tutor is to provide academic support, especially in relation to the module assessment.  Typically a PCAP tutor might provide feedback on a participant’s assessment plans, either via email, phone or face-to-face meeting (please note a PCAP tutor would not normally comment on a final draft just prior to submission).  Please contact your PCAP tutor directly by email if you wish to take up this support.  Your personal tutor will aim to provide you with feedback within 3 weeks, but where this is not possible we will ensure that another member of the team is available to provide you with feedback. Therefore, if you get an out-of-office message, or you don’t hear back from your personal tutor within 3 weeks, please alert the Graduate School of Education Office (edadmin@ex.ac.uk) and we will ensure that another member of the team responds to you as soon as possible.

Who is eligible to attend PCAP?

The Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice is available to all staff at the University of Exeter for whom Academic Practice (teaching and/or research) is a key part of their role. For Lecturers (E&R) on the Professional Development Programme, completion of PCAP is a probationary requirement. For Module 2 of PCAP, recent teaching experience within higher education in the UK (at least 100 hours within the past year) and current and/ or planned responsibilities in education (at least 100 hours in the coming year) at Exeter are pre-requisites for study.  However it is possible to complete a single module of PCAP or undertake the full programme on a part time basis over two years. For all staff members, but particularly those who are on fixed term and/or part time contracts, the time commitment of studying for the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice should be discussed with your academic lead, Head of Discipline and/ or Associate Dean for Education before enrolling on the programme.  If spaces are limited, those with probationary requirements that include completing PCAP will be prioritised above those for whom the timing of undertaking PCAP is more flexible. In exceptional circumstances, PCAP places may be allocated to individuals who are not University of Exeter staff members, for example an individual who is employed by another organisation but contributes significantly to academic practice at Exeter. Please contact PCAP@exeter.ac.uk directly if you wish to discuss this.  Please note that PCAP is not available to Postgraduate Teaching Assistants (i.e. postgraduate students engaged in teaching); the Learning & Teaching in Higher Education programme is designed specifically with this group in mind.

Who is exempt from undertaking PCAP?

PCAP is mandatory for new Lecturers (E&R) on the Professional Development Programme (PDP) and strongly recommended for new lecturers (E&S) and other staff whose role entails creating effective student learning. If you are a Lecturer (E&R) but already a Fellow of the HEA, have a qualification equivalent to PCAP (see below) from another higher education institution (at least 60 credits at Level 7) or have more than 3 years full-time equivalent HE teaching experience in the United Kingdom, you may be exempt from undertaking some or all of PCAP. It is for the Pro-Vice Chancellors (previously known as Deans) in each College to decide whether this is appropriate or not. Pro-Vice Chancellors are invited to discuss such situations with the PCAP Programme Director and the Head of Academic Development.

In order to ensure consistency and an audit trail for such decisions, a record of the following information should be gathered by the College:

  1. Evidence of certification of a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for secondary, further or Higher Education (such as Postgraduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education) and details of the modules taken.
  2. Number of years teaching / supporting learning in HE and level of experience (including the number of hours undertaken over the year). This would usually require in excess of three year’s employment in HE and could include a range of activities: design and delivery of modules, assessment, tutorials, PhD supervision, dissertation supervision, external examining, mentoring, staff development.
  3. Level of teaching undertaken. This would usually need to have involved developing a range of different modules, either for sole delivery or as part of a team, and assuming the role of module leader.
  4. Teaching observation carried out in line with peer observation practices at the University of Exeter.

The Pro-Vice Chancellor may still require the member of staff to attend one of the PCAP modules (e.g. to gain an understanding of UK higher education and working within a research-intensive university), some Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) sessions or other short courses, including the Doctoral Supervision Workshops which is mandatory for all staff new to supervision at Exeter.

Where it has been agreed by the College that a Lecturer (E&R) does not need to complete PCAP, they will still need to gain ASPIRE / HEA Fellowship status through Exeter’s ASPIRE Professional Recognition Scheme. This is a probationary requirement for all E&R staff and is also expected for all E&S staff. More information is available via the ASPIRE website.

Staff requesting exemption from PCAP, please complete PCAP Exemption Request Form

When is it possible to Accredit Prior Learning (APL) towards the PCAP?

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the process whereby staff can omit some parts of their chosen programme of academic study by recognition of their learning from previous experiences and achievements (which can include the University of Exeter). Occasionally, a new member of staff may have certificates of learning and/or evidence of experiential learning that can be accredited through PCAP, which must normally have occurred in the past five years, allowing the individual to be awarded the credit from one of the PCAP modules without completing it and receive the award of PCAP and Fellowship of the HEA.

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (AP(C)L) is the certified acquisition of relevant skills and knowledge, as demonstrated by the award of level 7 credits in Academic Practice (or cognate studies). Where a member of staff has completed the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Programme (LTHE) at Masters level (30 credits at Level 7) at the University of Exeter, this will normally be accredited towards the PCAP award and that member of staff will be required only to complete one further 30 credit module (usually Module 1). Where a member of staff has gained Level 7 credits in Academic Practice (or cognate studies) at another institution and wishes these to be accredited towards the PCAP award, they will need to provide the PCAP Programme Director with a transcript of the credits/awards from the other institution and clear evidence of the intended learning outcomes of the relevant programme/module. If the programme/module is accredited by the HEA, this should also be made clear.

Please note that, if AP(C)L for Module 2 of PCAP is sought, the applicant would need to provide clear evidence of their suitability for Fellowship of the HEA by mapping their experience against the UK Professional Standards Framework.  Applicants may be asked to complete one element of the Module 2 assessment (completion of the Professional Recognition Pathway application form for Fellow), in addition to their APCL application form, in order to ensure there is clear evidence that the UKPSF criteria at this level are met. 

Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (AP(E)L) is the non-certified acquisition of relevant skills and knowledge, gained through relevant experience, which is capable of being evaluated. It should be noted that mapping their prior experience to the module outcomes is a substantial piece of work for the individual and should not be undertaken lightly. APL operates at the whole module level, and cannot be applied to components of modules. Consideration of whether staff can demonstrate attainment of every single intended learning outcome is not required, only that they can demonstrate achievement of the significant learning outcomes for the relevant module. Other ILOs are likely to be demonstrated through completion of the remaining parts of the programme of study.

A member of staff can apply using the appropriate form (either the “PCAP AP(C)L Form”, “PCAP AP(E)L Form (Module 1)" or "PCAP AP(E)L Form (Module 2)”), which should be completed and sent to the PCAP Programme Director (Prof Karen Mattick). The decision of the PCAP Programme Director is final and will be provided to the member of staff within 3 weeks following receipt of the request.

Do I have to take both modules in a single academic year?

No, in response to participant feedback, and in recognition of the multiple priorities that people face at this stage of their career, we are offering the PCAP as either a full time or part time programme. Full-time would involve taking both modules in the same academic year. Part-time would involve taking one module in one academic year and the second in the next academic year. It is important to check the implications of doing PCAP over two years for your college, however, since there may be implications for workload modelling etc.

Does it matter in which order I take the modules?

It is recommended that you start with Module 1 (The Contemporary Academic in Context) and then take Module 2 (Creating Effective Learning in Higher Education). This is for three main reasons: (1) it makes sense in terms of the content, (2) it means we can refer back to Module 1 from Module 2, and (3) it means the majority of participants will travel through both modules as a ‘cohort’.

Do I have to attend every session?

Yes participants must attend every session, unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason that means they cannot. In that situation, please liaise with the module lead in advance of the session, so that they are aware of the situation and can help you to catch up.

Is it possible to do just one module of the PCAP programme?

Yes it is possible to take a single 30-credit module. For example, an academic in the Research only job family might not have sufficient teaching activity to warrant doing the second module (Creating Effective Learning in Higher Education) but might benefit greatly from the first module which provides an understanding of UK higher education, the University of Exeter context of a research-intensive university, and the role of an academic in this context.

What happens if I do just one module of PCAP?

Sometimes a participant only takes one module of PCAP, for example if they leave the university midway through the programme, or if they do not need to take the full programme for their PDP.  In this situation, if a participant only completes Module 2 (Creating Effective Learning in Higher Education), they will be awarded 30 credits and Associate Fellow of the HEA.  This reflects their partial completion of the PCAP programme (and therefore only partial evidence against the UK Professional Standards Framework, in terms of breadth as well as depth) but also recognises that Module 2 provides the greater proportion of the opportunities to provide evidence against the UKPSF.  The award of Associate Fellow would only be made if it did not bring the ASPIRE Framework into disrepute.  If a participant only completes Module 1 (The Contemporary Academic in Context), they will be awarded 30 credits at level 7 but not Associate Fellow or Fellow of the HEA. This is because the content of this module is not so directly relevant to the UK Professional Standards Framework and therefore doesn’t provide sufficient evidence for this award, particularly around the key “Areas of Activity” within UKPSF.

Why do I need a separate email address and IT account for PCAP?

To register your status as a postgraduate student for the duration of PCAP (as well as staff member), it is necessary to create an entry in SITS, the student records system. This automatically creates a new IT account and email address. The downside of this is that you will need to take a few minutes to redirect your ‘student’ emails into your staff account so as not to miss any correspondence. The positive side of this is that you will have a students’-eye view of the process. We will continue to try to streamline this process to make it as easy as possible for participants and please do let us know of any innovative solutions you may think of.

What happens if I cannot meet the submission deadline for assignments?

We have moved to a system whereby there will be 4 submission deadlines per year that you can choose from (4 Jan, 1 Apr, 1 Jul, 1 Sep, or the first working day after these dates in each calendar year), so if you cannot meet one submission deadline, you can continue to work towards the next one. Details of the submission dates and process are provided within the ‘Assessment Guidance’ section of the PCAP ELE course: http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/mod/page/view.php?id=473741. After completing the second module, however, the latest submission date is the 1 Sept in the same year, in order for the marks to be considered at the Assessment, Progression & Awarding Committee (in November). If you cannot make this 1 Sept deadline, please do contact edadmin@ex.ac.uk, to discuss your proposed timelines for submitting the assignment(s) and at what point an interruption to studies will become necessary.  We recommend that you attend all taught sessions before submitting the summative assessment.

Can I interrupt the programme?

Yes it is possible to interrupt the PCAP programme, as with other taught programmes.

When will I receive confirmation that I will be awarded PCAP and FHEA?

You will receive a provisional module outcome and detailed feedback immediately after they are marked. However PCAP, like any taught programme at the University, is subject to External Examination, and so all assessment outcomes are deemed ‘provisional’ until they are considered through the school- and college-level Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC), with the External Examiner in attendance. For PCAP, the APAC is held in November each year. Therefore, once the APAC process is complete, you will receive notification that you have been awarded PCAP and the ASPIRE/HEA Fellowship. If you require confirmation of the provisional outcome in writing in advance of the APAC meeting (e.g. to demonstrate completion of PDP), please contact the PCAP Programme Director.

How are the quality of the awards made on PCAP assured?

All summative assessments on the PCAP programme are graded by a senior member of University of Exeter staff, with relevant content expertise and experience in assessing at masters level, and who has normally been involved in the module teaching delivery.  After reading the assessment carefully, they will use the level 7 descriptors adapted for PCAP (see Assessment Handbook) to determine whether a passing standard has been achieved in all domains.  To ensure that assessment outcomes are fair and reliable, moderation and sampling is undertaken as per the TQA manual guidance.  A sample of 10 assignments or 10% (whichever is greater), selected to encompass all assessors, is double open graded.  In addition, all assignments below the passing standard will be double open graded by a second assessor.  If there is disagreement in the grades, then the first and second assessors will liaise to agree on a final grade. If they cannot agree, a third assessor will be invited to grade the assignment.  The final agreed grade and feedback comments are shared with participants.  All grades awarded and feedback given are reviewed by the module lead. 

Like any taught programme at the University of Exeter, PCAP is subject to external scrutiny via External Examination.  Therefore, all assessment outcomes are deemed ‘provisional’ until they are considered through the school- and college-level Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC), with the External Examiner in attendance at the school-APAC. For PCAP, the APAC is held in November each year.  Prior to the school-APAC, the External Examiner will be sent a selection of scripts: either a sample of 10 or 10%, whichever is greater, including all assignments that have ‘not yet passed’ plus a sample of assignments that have ‘passed’.  The External Examiner attends the school-APAC, at which the marks are approved and recommendations on awards are made.  The External Examiner also has the opportunity to review key documents and meet with the programme team and students and provide feedback, for example on assessment and academic standards.  The PCAP is also subject to regular re-accreditation from the Higher Education Academy to ensure that the PCAP (and other routes that lead to the award of HEA fellowships at some level, e.g. LTHE and the ASPIRE scheme) meets the criteria outlined in the UK Professional Standards Framework required for award at that level.  All PCAP awards are received by the Aspire Management Group (which oversees all routes leading to the award of HEA fellowship at all levels), which liaises closely with the HEA.  An External Advisor (separate from the PCAP External Examiner) attends these meetings.

What happens if I fail PCAP?

If a summative assessment does not meet the expected standard for a Pass, clear guidance will be given to the participant by the module tutors about how the assignment needs to be revised in order to successfully meet the assessment criteria and there will be an opportunity to re-submit.  Successful completion of PCAP is a probationary requirement for some academics, which requires a Pass in each of the module assessments. Therefore if the second submission still does not meet the expected standard, a meeting of the PCAP participant, the PCAP Programme Director and Head of Discipline will be convened to discuss the next steps; and HR will be kept informed.  Normally, in this situation, the PCAP participant would be required to re-take the module. 

How is excellent performance in PCAP assignments recognised and rewarded?

PCAP is a Pass/Fail award but, given the substantial efforts that many participants put into PCAP assignments, we are keen to recognise and reward the very best. Therefore in 2015/16 we introduced “Dean’s Commendations for PCAP”, which are awarded to the highest quality assignments in each module as part of the marking process.  The nominations for Dean’s Commendations are received and approved at the Assessment, Progression & Awarding Committee meeting (usually early November each year) and then appear on the participant’s student record.  If they have been awarded a Dean’s Commendation, PCAP participants are notified by email soon after the APAC meeting. A list of those receiving a Dean’s Commendation is also added to the PCAP website, together with a short description of their assignment topics.  On the rare occasion that an individual receives a Dean’s Commendation in both modules, the senior team in their College (or equivalent) are notified directly by the Programme Director.  As well as the Dean’s Commendations, there is also a webpage called PCAP Celebrating Excellence which highlights the achievements of PCAP participants who have put their work to ‘a use beyond the assignment’ e.g. as a publication, blog, or teaching resource.  We generally hear about these achievements by word of mouth - so please do let us know if you hear of an example that doesn’t yet feature.

Can I use post-nominals on successful completion of PCAP?

After successfully completing PCAP, we will share the information with the Higher Education Academy, and they will send a Certificate of HEA Fellowship. Once you have received this certificate, you will be entitled to use the post-nominal letters FHEA, as well as PCAP.

Once I have completed PCAP, what development opportunities are there for me at Exeter?

As well as PCAP, there is a wide range of other academic development opportunities at the University of Exeter, relating to teaching, research and/or management responsibilities at various different levels through Learning and Development. As an Aspire Fellow, PCAP alumni will automatically be invited to ASPIRE seminars and related events, and they may wish to work towards Senior Fellow of ASPIRE and the HEA through the ASPIRE professional recognition scheme. It is also possible for PCAP participants to continue their studies towards a Master’s degree or Professional Doctorate – for example, PCAP is named as a ‘linked programme’ for the MA Education (Professional Learning) and so credits can be used towards this award without applying for Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning.  Please contact the Director of PCAP in the first instance to explore these options.