Frequently asked questions

  1. I enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018 and still need to submit assignments or take a module; where can I find guidance and information about my programme?
  2. Who is eligible to participate in the Academic Professional Programme?
  3. Who is exempt from undertaking Academic Professional?
  4. When is it possible to Accredit Prior Learning (APL) towards the Academic Professional Programme?
  5. How long does the programme last, how much contact time is there, and how will I manage my workload?
  6. Do I have to attend every session?
  7. Can I interrupt the programme once I am registered?
  8. What are the roles of the Academic Professional Lecturer, Academic Professional Tutor, and Academic Lead?
  9. Is this a teaching programme, or can I specialise in research practice development?
  10. What happens if I cannot meet the submission deadline for assignments?
  11. When will I receive confirmation that I will be awarded PCAP and FHEA?
  12. Can I use post-nominals on successful completion of the Academic Professional Programme?
  13. When will I receive confirmation that I have been awarded a L7 Degree Apprenticeship or have completed the Academic Professional Programme?
  14. What happens if I fail an Academic Professional assessment?
  15. How does ESFA funding eligibility work?
  16. How is excellent performance in Academic Professional assignments recognised and rewarded?
  17. Once I have completed Academic Professional, what development opportunities are there for me at Exeter?

1. I enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018 and still need to submit assignments or take a module; where can I find guidance and information about my programme?

Colleagues who were enrolled on the PCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) programme prior to September 2018 will continue to follow the version of the programme as set out when they began (also known as legacy PCAP). Additional guidance and information can be found on the ELE pages for the Academic Professional part-time pathway (single sign-on required) which comprises the same modules and assignments as legacy PCAP.

Since September 2018, PCAP has been incorporated into the Academic Professional Programme. For further information, please contact academicprofessional@exeter.ac.uk.

2. Who is eligible to participate in the Academic Professional Programme?

The Academic Professional Programme 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 most Lecturers, participation is mandatory: this applies to Lecturers (E&R) on the Professional Development Programme, for whom completion is a probationary requirement; and for (E&S) Lecturers, the programme must have been started before the end of their probation period. 

The majority of participants on the programme are funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as Higher Degree Apprentices. However, as not all colleagues meet the eligibility requirements for ESFA funding (based on recent UK/EEA residency requirements), a near-identical pathway (funded by the University of Exeter) is offered.

There are three pathways on the Academic Professional Programme:

  1. Standard pathway: 18-month duration for colleagues on full-time contracts, or part-time contracts over 0.8FTE, for a minimum of 18 months (i.e. the full length of the programme), and eligible for ESFA funding (based on recent UK/EEA residency)
  2. Non-standard pathway: 18-month duration for colleagues on full-time contracts, or part-time contracts over 0.8FTE, for a minimum of 18 months (i.e. the full length of the programme), and not eligible for ESFA funding (based on recent UK/EEA residency)
  3. Part-time pathway: for colleagues who are on E&S or E&R Lecturer contracts of less than 0.8FTE and/or on a fixed term contract of less than 18 months.

The content and delivery of the standard and non-standard pathways are identical, with the exception that on the standard pathway the end-point assessment (EPA) is conducted by an external EPA organisation (Advance HE); and on the non-standard pathway, the end-point assessment is conducted by an internal assessor (for more information about end-point assessment, please refer to the programme handbook on ELE).

For colleagues who are on contracts of less than 0.8FTE and/or on a fixed term contract of less than 18 months, the part-time pathway is offered. The delivery days for modules 1 and 2 are identical to standard and non-standard pathway, but there is no end-point assessment.   In these instances, participation would usually be discussed with your academic lead, Head of Discipline and/ or Associate Dean for Education before enrolling on the programme.

For colleagues who enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018, please refer above to Frequently Asked Question: I enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018 and still need to submit assignments or take a module; where can I find guidance and information about my programme?

Please note that Academic Professional is not available to Postgraduate Teaching Assistants (i.e. postgraduate students engaged in teaching); because the Learning & Teaching in Higher Education programme is designed specifically with this group in mind. For further information about the LTHE programme, please refer to the LTHE web pages.

3. Who is exempt from undertaking the Academic Professional Programme?

If you have already been awarded Fellowship of the HEA (now Advance HE) and/or have an equivalent qualification from another higher education institution (at least 60 credits at Level 7), you may be exempt from the Academic Professional Programme. It is for the Pro-Vice Chancellor in the relevant College (or their nominee) to decide whether this is appropriate, based on the content of a Programme Exemption Form. Pro-Vice Chancellors are invited to discuss such situations with the Programme Director and the ASPIRE Framework Director where needed.

In order to ensure consistency, and provide an appropriate audit trail for exemption decisions, a record of the relevant information should be provided. For example:

  1. Evidence of certification of an equivalent qualification from another higher education institution, which should be at least 60 credits at Level 7.
  2. Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) certificate.

If exemption is approved, you will not receive the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice nor Fellowships of ASPIRE and the HEA (i.e. exemption does not confer a HESA-recognised qualification or accreditation). Therefore colleagues who are exempt from the programme, but who do not already hold Fellowship of the HEA, may be required by their College to gain ASPIRE / HEA Fellowship through Exeter’s ASPIRE Professional Recognition Pathway. 

Exemption may also be approved with other conditions required by the College. For example, the Pro-Vice Chancellor may still require the member of staff to attend some PCAP sessions (e.g. to gain an understanding of UK higher education, or working within a research-intensive university), some Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) sessions, or other short courses (including, for example, the Doctoral Supervision workshop which is mandatory for all staff new to supervision at Exeter).

Staff considering seeking exemption should request a programme exemption form from the Academic Professional Administrator.

4. When is it possible to Accredit Prior Learning (APL) towards the Academic Professional Programme?

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the process whereby colleagues can be exempt from some parts of the programme 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 the Academic Professional Programme, which must normally have occurred in the past five years.

APL can take the form of either submitting pre-existing credits (APCL) or details of relevant previous experience (APEL), which are taken into account before starting the programme. If APL is approved, you would be invited to complete either 50% or 75% (rather than 100%) of the programme.

Please note: APL is not the same as a request for programme exemption because the maximum number of credits that can used for APL towards this programme is 30 credits (at level 7), therefore the other elements of the programme will still need to be completed.

APL might be applicable under circumstances such as:

  • Prior successful completion of the 30-credit Learning and Teaching in Higher Education programme (for postgraduates and research fellows who teach at Exeter)
  • If you are already an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE)
  • Equivalent qualification or experience from this, or another, institution which equates to 30 credits at level 7

The decision of the Academic Professional Programme Director is final and will be provided to the member of staff within 4 weeks following receipt of the request.

APL forms and additional guidance can be requested from the Academic Professional Administrator, and must be returned with supporting evidence to the Programme Director, via the Programme Administrator. 

5. How long does the programme last, how much contact time is there, and how will I manage my workload?

From September 2019, the programme length is 18 months for the standard and non-standard pathways. Within this period, there is one introductory workshop; six contact days of classroom based learning (split into two learning blocks), and an end-point assessment preparation workshop. In addition, you will attend a tripartite review with your department-based Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer, at least once a term for the duration of the programme. The rest of your work is ‘guided independent study’ which requires you to manage your time and assignments, taking note of assessment submission deadlines.

You will receive 495 SWARM hours for the 18 month duration of the programme. This equates to 20% of an E&R contract, and slightly above 20% of an E&S contract. The programme is designed to work within this allocation, and for many of your existing activities to form a part of your assignments. These should form a key part of the discussions with your Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer during your tripartite review meetings.

For the part-time pathway, the programme length is flexible (with the majority of colleagues completing the programme within two years). There is also usually an allocation in SWARM for the completion of the programme, which is allocated at the discretion of each College. Within this period, there are six contact days of classroom based learning (split into two modules). In addition, there are optional termly review meetings to support your progress on the programme. Again, the rest of your work is ‘guided independent study’ which requires you to manage your time and assignments, taking note of assessment submission deadlines.

Full details of the different pathways can be found in ELE (single sign-on required):

6. Do I have to attend every session?

Yes, attendance at all of the sessions, and completion of the associated formative assignments, is mandatory for successful completion of the programme. If there is a compelling and unavoidable reason which means you cannot attend one of the sessions, please let the programme team know and you will be invited to attend the next time the relevant session is delivered. Enquiries about your specific circumstances can be made by emailing academicprofessional@exeter.ac.uk.

7. Can I interrupt the programme?

Yes, it is possible to interrupt the Academic Professional programme, as with other taught programmes. You should contact the Academic Professional Programme Administrator for a discussion in the first instance.

8. What are the roles of the Academic Professional Lecturer, Academic Professional Tutor, and Academic Lead?

Academic Professional Lecturer

The Academic Professional Lecturer delivers key elements of the programme and is responsible for coordinating the tripartite review meetings. The Academic Professional Programme is mapped against the requirements of the Academic Professional (L7) Apprenticeship Standard (as well as the UKPSF). The Academic Standard requires participants to take undertake a core role, and to follow one of two specialist routes, teaching and supporting learning, or undertaking research. It is expected that participants’ programmes will be highly individualised, as they align their independent guided study and the focus of their summative assessments with their College-based practice and their chosen specialist route. Tripartite reviews are designed to support this process, and to map participants’ progress against the Knowledge, Skills, Values and Behaviours (KSVBs) outlined in the Academic Standard. The Academic Professional Lecturer will lead on monitoring and mapping your progress against the Standard in the tripartite reviews, and in supporting you to plan your learning, with your Academic Lead.

Academic Lead

Academic Leads provide support and guidance to colleagues throughout their career; review progress by conducting 1-1 reviews and the annual PDR. Your Academic Lead will work with you and the Academic Professional Lecturer to align your College-based practice with your assignments on the Academic Professional Programme, using the tripartite reviews to map your learning and progress. Your final tripartite review is the “gateway” review where the Academic Professional Lecturer and the Academic Lead confirm that you are ready to take the end-point assessment.

Academic Professional Assignment Tutor

All participants are assigned an Academic Professional Tutor for each module assignment. The Tutors are members of the teaching delivery and marking teams, and are therefore familiar with the relevant module content. The role of the Tutor is to provide academic support, especially in relation to summative assessment. Typically a Tutor might provide feedback on a participant’s assessment plans, either via email, phone or face-to-face meeting (please note a Tutor would not normally comment on a final draft just prior to submission). Please contact your Tutor directly by email if you wish to take up this support. Your Tutor will aim to provide you with feedback within three 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 Tutor within three weeks, please alert the Academic Professional Administrator (academicprofessional@exeter.ac.uk), and we will ensure that another member of the team responds to you as soon as possible.

9. Is this a teaching programme, or can I specialise in research practice development?

A feature of the Academic Professional Programme is that, through consultation with your Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer, you should design a bespoke course of study that is aligned with your interests, professional values, and College-based practice. The includes reflecting on your academic practice in the round (including teaching and research practice).

Participants on the standard and non-standard pathway will need to select a Specialist Route for their end-point assessment, in either Research or Teaching: your end-point assessment will be marked against the core knowledge, skills, values and behaviours, as well as the knowledge and skills of your chosen specialist route.

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

There are four submission deadlines per year and so you are able to choose which of these deadlines fits in with your other priorities and will enable you to complete the programme within the allotted period (e.g. 18 months for standard and non-standard pathways). If you cannot meet a submission deadline, please contact the Academic Professional Administrator to discuss your proposed timelines for submitting the assignment(s), and at what point an interruption to studies may become necessary.

You should attend all taught sessions for a module before submitting the associated summative assessment.

Full details of assessments are provided in the Programme Handbooks on ELE.

11. 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 each summative assessment is marked. 

However the Academic Professional Programme, 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 relevant Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC), with the External Examiner in attendance. For the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PCAP), the APAC is held in November each year.

For colleagues on the part-time pathway, once the APAC process is complete for both of your modules, you will receive notification that you are being awarded PCAP and the ASPIRE/HEA Fellowship.

For colleagues on the standard and non-standard pathways, you will need to pass both module 1 and module 2 summative assignments before you can go through your gateway tripartite review to the end-point assessment. Upon successful completion of the end-point assessment, you will receive notification that you are being awarded APP, PCAP and 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 Academic Professional Administrator by emailing academicprofessional@exeter.ac.uk.

12. Can I use post-nominals on successful completion of the Academic Professional Programme?

After successfully completing the Academic Professional Programme, we will share the information with Advance HE, and they will email you the details for accessing your electronic 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.

13. When will I receive confirmation that I have been awarded a L7 Higher Apprenticeship or have completed the Academic Professional Programme?

For participants on the standard and non-standard pathways, the assessor will confirm the grades shortly after the completion of the end-point assessment (usually within four weeks of completion). The external end-point assessment organisation will confirm results for the standard pathway (Distinction/Pass/Fail), and the Internal Assessor will confirm those for colleagues on the non-standard pathway (Distinction/Pass/Fail).

14. What happens if I fail an Academic Professional assessment?

If an assessment does not meet the expected standard for a Pass, clear guidance will be given to the participant by the marker 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 Academic Professional is a probationary requirement for some academics, which requires a Pass in each of the assessments. Therefore if the second submission still does not meet the expected standard, a meeting of the participant, the 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 participant would be required to re-take the relevant module.

Further details about resubmission of assessments are available in the Programme Handbooks on ELE.

15. How does ESFA funding eligibility work?

Participants on the Standard Pathway will be funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as Degree Apprentices, and will receive a certificate from the Institute of Apprenticeships on successful completion of the programme. Participants on the Non-Standard Pathway (who don’t meet the ESFA’s funding eligibility criteria for Degree Apprenticeships) will be funded directly by the University of Exeter. Participants on all pathways (standard, non-standard, part-time) will receive a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Fellowship of the HEA, and Fellowship of ASPIRE upon successful completion of the programme.

To meet the ESFA’s eligibility criteria, a participant must:

  • Have right of abode and the right to work in England
  • Be resident of the EEA (including UK/EU) for at least 3 years immediately prior to the start of the programme
  • Have other eligible residency status (as detailed in the Apprenticeship Funding Rules, Appendix A)
  • Be employed for the duration of the programme
  • Spend at least 50% of working time in England for the duration of the programme

The Academic Professional Administrator and HR team will determine eligibility using data gathered during the enrolment process, and may request additional information where necessary to complete this process; thank you in anticipation for your help and patience in assisting the team to complete these checks.

16. How is excellent performance in Academic Professional assignments recognised and rewarded?

The two module assessments for all Academic Professional programme are marked as Pass/Not Yet Pass/Fail but, given the substantial efforts that many participants put into their assignments, we are keen to recognise and reward the very best. Therefore in 2015/16 we introduced “Dean’s Commendations”, 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, participants are notified by email soon after the APAC meeting. A list of those receiving a Dean’s Commendation is also added to the 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 web page called Celebrating Excellence which highlights the achievements of 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.

In addition, for the Academic Professional Programme standard and non-standard pathways, the end-point assessment is marked as Distinction/Pass/Fail.

17. Once I have completed Academic Professional, what development opportunities are there for me at Exeter?

As well as the Academic Professional Programme, there are 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. Many of these can be found via the Exeter Academic website.

As ASPIRE Fellows, Academic Professional alumni are automatically invited to ASPIRE seminars and related events, and you may wish to work towards Senior Fellow of ASPIRE and the HEA through the ASPIRE Professional Recognition Pathway.

It is also possible for Academic Professional participants to continue their studies towards a Master’s degree or Professional Doctorate with the Graduate School of Education. Please contact the Director of the Academic Professional Programme in the first instance to explore these options.