Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies: Educational Assessment

Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies: Educational Assessment

Date: 24 Sep 2021 - 30 Dec 2022 Venue: Faculty of Education,
University of Cambridge
184 Hills Road Cambridge CB2 8PQ
Type: 15 month, part-time course Fee: £4,700 (Home)/£9,900 (EU/Overseas)

This course is predominantly delivered online with four face-to-face day schools which provide an opportunity for students to hear from, and debate with, eminent academics in the educational assessment field. This is an important and enriching part of the course. However we are aware that Covid-19 may affect learners’ ability to attend face-to-face sessions so provisions will be made for the learning to be delivered online if required. Should the day schools run face-to-face, but you cannot travel to Cambridge due to Covid-related travel restrictions or health reasons, then reasonable adjustments will be made to ensure access to the learning from the day schools.

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The Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies: Educational Assessment is a 15 month, part-time course worth 90 credits at Master's level (Level 7). It is led collaboratively by experts from Cambridge Assessment and the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. This course will lead to a University of Cambridge Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies (PACES).

I’ve learnt a huge amount on assessment and now have an appreciation of complexities that I didn’t have before. It has impacted on my own use of assessment in the classroom."

The qualification is valuable for all professionals wishing to develop their understanding of educational assessment and its evaluation. It may be of particular interest to those working for awarding organisations, professional institutions, teachers, examiners and assessors, HE professionals and regulatory authorities. 

The Postgraduate Advanced Certificate is a practice-based qualification and is designed to directly impact your work as you learn to apply various research methodologies to your professional context. As a course participant, you'll develop an in-depth understanding of assessment in a supportive academic environment, and benefit from working on small scale enquiries that are relevant to your own professional practice. You'll also learn from other students, and build networks from beyond your specialist areas of expertise.

Course overview

Each student takes three units in total. Units 1 and 3 are taken by all students. Unit 2 offers a choice for students, depending on their particular professional interest. Students will select their optional unit during the application process. A summary of the units is provided in the table below:

Unit title Unit period Number of teaching weeks Day schools
Unit 1 - Principles of Assessment October 2021 - January 2022 10 Friday 1 October 2021 & Saturday 2 October 2021
Unit 2 - Option A - Assessment design and evaluation January 2022 - May 2022 12 Saturday 5 February 2022
Unit 2 - Option B - Assessment for learning January 2022 - May 2022 12 Saturday 5 February 2022
Unit 3 - Issues and debates in assessment September 2022 - November 2022 10 Saturday 3 September 2022

How you'll learn

The course is part time with learning taking place online and at four interactive day schools. Included in the course are six tutor-led online Research Methods sessions.

You'll explore assessment literature, adopting an analytic and critical approach, conferring with colleagues and experts at interactive and structured input sessions at the day schools. You will also have opportunities to share, reflect and try out your new understanding at work through course assignments.

The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) provides the course materials and you'll work with your colleagues there throughout the course. The rich environment of the online forums is a key part of this programme.

Learning outcomes

As a course participant you'll develop:

  • An in-depth understanding of key concepts and issues within the field of educational assessment.
  • A critical and reflective approach to academic enquiry on issues of educational assessment.
  • The ability to link collected data and theoretical perspectives in assessment in order to make new insights
  • Understanding and skills related to research methods, including critical awareness of methodological issues, ethical principles and data collection methods
  • The ability to evaluate the impact of research enquiry on their own professional context 
  • Skills in planning, organisation and academic writing.

As an employer you will:

  • Support your staff through accredited CPD, engaging with experts
  • Gain staff who have a deep, wide-ranging and evidence-based understanding of educational assessment

Supervision offered

There are three methods of teaching for each of the course units.

Online learning – each unit for the course has weekly materials and activities to support students in their learning. Each unit has a dedicated Unit Tutor, who provides guidance for students in how to get the most out of the course materials and activities. The Unit Tutor facilitates forum discussions through the virtual learning environment (VLE). For some weeks of the course, students will also be supported by a Research Methods Tutor.

Day schools – Each unit has one day school which takes place early on in the unit, with the exception of Unit 1, which will have two consecutive day school days. 

The dates for the day schools for the 21/22 academic year are given below:

  • Friday 1 October 2021
  • Saturday 2 October 2021
  • Saturday 5 February 2022
  • Saturday 3 September 2022

The day schools are an enriching learning experience, where students are able to hear from, and debate with, eminent academics in the educational assessment field.

Supervision – each student is given a supervisor for each unit assignment. Supervisors provide support for each stage of the assignment writing process. They give guidance on developing an effective assignment title, offer feedback on draft versions of assignments, and provide written feedback on submitted work.

Course teaching is led by a teaching team of staff from the Faculty of Education and Cambridge Assessment. The team is chaired by Dr Ayesha Ahmed.

Assessment methods

Assessment comprises three 4000 word assignments – one for each unit.

  • Unit 1 – a critical review of the literature regarding a validity issue that is relevant to the professional context of the student (3500 words), plus a critical reflection of their learning from Unit 1 (notional 500 words).
  • Unit 2 – a report of a small-scale research enquiry. The enquiry undertaken will focus on an issue of professional or personal interest related to the course content and is informed by the student’s study of research methods.
  • Unit 3 - an enquiry based essay related to an issue or debate in assessment of professional interest to the student.

For each unit, feedback on assignment drafts and final submissions is provided by the supervisor.

Entry requirements

As part of their application, prospective students should evidence that they:

  • Have relevant experience of working in an education or related professional setting.
  • Demonstrate a reflective and enquiring approach to their work which supports improvement in professional practice and/or policy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work independently and collaboratively with the support of Faculty supervision.
  • Demonstrate a willingness and ability to engage with academic and professional literature that will support empirical and/or literature-based enquiry into policy and/or practice.

It should be noted that Accredited Prior Learning (APL) (i.e. credits gained from other institutions) are not accepted to gain accelerated entry to the PPD programme, although these credits can be considered as part of an applicant’s entry qualifications to support the application, if considered relevant.

How to enrol

To apply you will need to fill in the Practitioner Professional Development (PPD) application form from the Faculty of Education and email it along with any required supporting documentation to The application deadline is 24 June 2021.

More information on your application and entry requirements can be found on the Faculty of Education course page.

This course is part of the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education's Practitioner Professional Development Programme (PPD) and is worth 90 credits. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be eligible to apply to undertake the part-time Master of Education (MEd) in just one year if they wish to do so. The PPD and MEd parts must be completed within 5 years of starting the PPD course.

184 Hills Road Cambridge CB2 8PQ

Meet the Course Directors

PGCA Course Directors Ayesha and Simon, together with alumna Caroline talk about the PGCA and answer commonly asked questions in this new video

“I've had a really enjoyable experience on this course - in so many ways. I've gained knowledge for professional benefit but also so much personal confidence.”

Through reflection and practice, my understanding of assessment has moved from theoretical to implicit, working knowledge.”

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