Who is the course for?

The Centre for Academic Development offers a four week CPD course for staff who support others to learn. The course is aimed at postgraduate research students, early career researchers, new lecturers, teaching fellows and other, non-academic staff who:

  • are actively involved in teaching and have a current role in supporting the learning of others in the University of Aberdeen
  • have recent experience of supporting others to learn in UK higher education (or another sector which the Centre is satisfied is substantially equivalent to UK higher education) for a substantial portion of at least one academic year.

Examples of current/ previous teaching experience may include:  

  1. Lecturing
  2. Running tutorial sessions for undergraduate courses
  3. Demonstrating and supporting lab sessions 
  4. Supervising students involved in undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral projects
  5. Delivering workshops for either staff or students

Please note: You are strongly advised to complete the application form in a detailed manner.


The course is externally accredited by Advance HE (formerly Higher Education Academy, HEA) and runs in both the first and second half sessions of the current academic year. The Principles of Learning & Teaching in Higher Education course normally runs over four half day, spread over four weeks to allow participants to complete three formative assignments, observations of practice and study. There is also a single summative assessment which is tied to the course's professional accreditation. Successful participants with enough teaching experience should be able to achieve Associate Fellowship of Advance HE (formerly Higher Education Academy, HEA). Those who do not yet have enough experience, will receive a course completion certificate that they can use to demonstrate they have enough knowledge to begin to practise tutoring and gain the necessary experience to apply for Associate Fellowship of Advance HE (formerly Higher Education Academy, HEA) at a later date, through the University of Aberdeen’s CPD Framework run by the Centre for Academic Development.

Please note: to complete the course successfully you need to attend all sessions (Block 1-4) - this is a requisite element of the course. For more details on sessions 1-4, our duties under GDPR and an Application Form see the drop-down menu below. 

Block 1
  • How People Learn 
  • Assessment & Feedback

Post-session activity 1: Your developing rationale for your teaching

Block 2
  • Approaches to teaching 
  • Design, Planning and Delivery: Large & Small Groups 
  • SWOT analysis of own teaching/supporting others to learn

Post-session activity 2: Prepare a 5 min presentation to deliver at the next workshop

Block 3
  • Elements of Effective Learning Environments 
  • Diversity/Learning Differences

Post-session activity 3: Look at UKPSF SD1 and decide whether you want to be assessed orally or by writing

Block 4
  • Evaluating Your Own Teaching.  SWOT analysis (revisited) 
  • Scholarship of Learning & Teaching 
  • Prepare for summative assessment (to meet UKPSF SD1 and/or obtain course completion certificate)
Optional Session on Professional Standards Framework

There are four compulsory classroom-based workshops in the PLTHE course– these are on Wednesday afternoons.

Principles of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PLTHE) Course participants may wish to note in their diaries that there will also be an optional session on the Friday afternoon of Week 2 of the course. This session is to help to ensure that those wishing to apply for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) are familiar with the requirements of the  Professional Standards Framework – this Framework sets out the dimensions that you have to make claims against when you are applying for AFHEA.  

The next session will run on: Friday, 15. 11. 2019, 1-2pm.  

If you would like to attend this optional session, but are unable to, then you are advised to discuss other options with your course coordinator when you start the PLTHE course. Your course coordinator will be happy to help you.

Holding your data: our duties under GDPR

The University of Aberdeen is mindful we have a legal obligation to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 ("GDPR").  Our position with regard to GDPR is set out here

Further Details/ Application Form

Further details on any aspect of the Principles of Learning & Teaching in Higher Education and/or an application form are available from the Course Co-ordinator Dr Jennifer Duthie at the Centre for Academic Development. Email: cad@abdn.ac.uk, tel: +44(0)1224 27 3030.

CAD is based in the Regent Building, Old Aberdeen.

Mustafa Khedewi

Here some comments from some of those who have recently, successfully completed the Principles of Learning & Teaching in Higher Education course:

Mustafa Khedewi: “I honestly feel grateful for attending the PLTHE course as it has significantly shaped my views and enhanced my knowledge of learning and teaching methods in higher education. My first experience of teaching was in Egypt in 2012, later on, I have been involved in the teaching of several courses at the University of Aberdeen. Indeed, teaching Politics and International Relations to learners from all over the world requires a specific attention, besides the fact that such interesting topics need full engagement of learners and up to date use of technology to  promote learning in constructive ways. Although I was trying hard to improve my teaching skills, attending the PLTHE was the crucial step for me in terms of providing scientific and recognised approaches and methods delivered by experts in the field of education. Therefore, this intensive knowledge helped me to develop better organisational skills and interactive methods of learning to the learners. I highly recommend the PLTHE course to everyone involved in the education process.”


Sa’adatu Abatemi-Usman

Sa'adatu Abatemi-Usman: "I am a PhD research student of chemistry. My teaching experience prior to the PLTHE course was working as a demonstrator in the teaching laboratories. In this regard, I acted in the capacity of a support staff. The short of it is that the PLTHE course gave me answers to a lot of my puzzles like understanding the concept of critical writing and the importance of feedback from all stakeholders. Overall, it was a win, win experience for me. I gained knowledge and an esteemed membership by undertaking the course."


Louisa Lawrie

Louisa Lawrie: "I really enjoyed the PLTHE course. The course made me reflect on my teaching practices and provided me with useful new techniques to employ within the classroom setting. The teaching staff on this course were always helpful and gave constructive feedback. I would encourage anyone who is teaching to take this course!"



Kenneth C. Nwoko

Kenneth Nwoko: "The Principles of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PLTHE) course was a huge learning opportunity and milestone in my development as an educator. Prior to the course, I had 2 years of experience in the UK working with undergraduate students in Chemistry as a student PhD demonstrator, and 5 years of experience as a university lecturer in Nigeria. The key takeaway from the course was the importance of adequate preparation before laboratory sessions, effective time management to cope with my busy schedule as a Ph.D. student. Now I can interact more confidently and professionally with students of different academic and social backgrounds, and relating the subject matter vividly  in a way that appeals to them as individuals".