The Academic Professional

Module titleThe Academic Professional
Module codeEFPM904
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Sarah Dyer (Convenor)

Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module is for academic professionals who teach or support learning in a research-intensive university. Drawing on relevant research, and your own professional experience, this module will locate your professional practice and development within the wider context of UK HE policy, education and research, as well as the more local institutional contexts and priorities which will shape your professional career development. It is designed to complement your work and to develop a supportive community amongst academics who are relatively new to the University. Together we will explore, critically and creatively, a range of ways in which we can enable students in our research-led university to learn effectively. Examining the values and practices of a changing higher education sector, we will focus on a range of research-informed themes, including: how students learn; teaching methods; designing effective teaching sessions and modules; assessment and feedback; and the quality of the student experience within HE. You will work with colleagues to identify areas of interest in the higher education debates and literature, and in your own practice, which will become the focus for your assignments. Recent teaching experience within higher education in the UK and current responsibilities in education (at least 100 hours during the duration of the Programme) at Exeter are pre-requisites for study.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide an understanding of the principles of academic practice and its political and social contexts; and then enable you to find creative and research-informed ways of enhancing your academic professional practice with respect to supporting student learning. Its purpose is to support you in building on your existing skills and knowledge in order to become effective academic professionals operating in your departments, in the university and in the national and international context.

It is intended to enhance your confidence and effectiveness through informed reflection on your own practice and to enable you to thrive within a research-intensive university such as the University of Exeter. We aim to help you to develop ways of engaging in peer dialogue, so that you can participate in and develop supportive communities of practice amongst colleagues from across the University, including those in your Academic Professional Programme cohort, with a focus on sharing and improving teaching practices and enhancing the student experience. Through critical exploration of practice and theory, recent developments in HE and University policy, and with respect to peer and student feedback, you will also locate and evaluate your practice within current institutional, political and social contexts and identify a specific aspect of your teaching practice to develop further.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. knowledge and understanding of a range of teaching, assessment and feedback methods used in higher education to support learning and achievement
  • 2. knowledge and understanding of how students learn and how to adapt delivery methods to support a range of students’ needs
  • 3. knowledge and understanding of how research is conducted, within their own and related disciplines and in inter-disciplinary or trans- disciplinary contexts
  • 4. knowledge and understanding of how research is conducted, within their own and related disciplines and in inter-disciplinary or trans- disciplinary contexts
  • 5. knowledge and understanding of technological processes associated with effectiveness in their role within the HE sector
  • 6. knowledge and understanding of methods for evaluating the effectiveness of academic activities, such as teaching and the quality and impact of research
  • 7. knowledge and understanding of how to engage with relevant professional bodies and other external organisations to support their work
  • 8. knowledge and understanding of the principles of reflective practice and the methods for applying reflective practice to their own professional development
  • 9. knowledge and understanding of innovative approaches to undertaking their work to create interest, understanding and enthusiasm among their students, funders or stakeholders

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. deliver higher education teaching of high quality through lectures, tutorials, practicals or seminars
  • 11. use varying teaching styles depending on the learning environment and students’ needs
  • 12. develop research questions and hypotheses prior to undertaking research in their subject discipline
  • 13. analyse, synthesise and use critical thinking in the conduct of research
  • 14. supervise and mentor students and peers to develop knowledge in their subject discipline
  • 15. implement approaches to academic practice that are informed by equality and diversity
  • 16. communicate orally and in writing and collaborate effectively, to manage people, processes or teams
  • 17. use digital technologies effectively to develop and disseminate knowledge and understanding of subject disciplines 2.9 share ideas and evidence with students, peers, policy makers and private and public organisations through a variety of channels including publication and teaching
  • 18. collect evidence of the impact of their work, including through student surveys or citations
  • 19. manage their own continuing professional development (CPD) in subject disciplines and pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and professional practices

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 20. mindful of ethical, sustainable and inclusive practices and equality of opportunity to a professional standard
  • 21. mindful of the need to continuously develop their knowledge and insight in relation to career management, responsiveness to opportunities, networking, reputation and esteem
  • 22. mindful of the need to commit to CPD in relation to relevant contemporary issues such as: student employability and graduate employment destinations, ethics and sustainability, academic integrity, legal compliance and intellectual property, respect and confidentiality, and health and safety
  • 23. mindful of the need to consider evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and CPD to inform their own professional practice
  • 24. mindful of the wider context (policy, economic, societal, technological, legal, cultural and environmental) in which higher education operates, recognising the implications for professional practice
  • 25. mindful of the need to seek opportunities to network, to practise public engagement and to communicate effectively
  • 26. mindful of the need to be enthusiastic, self-confident, and self-reflective to operate effectively in the role
  • 27. mindful of the requirement to persevere, have integrity, be prepared to take responsibility, to lead, mentor and supervise.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This module is designed to develop supportive communities of practice amongst academic professionals in Higher Education. Most of the teaching on the module is concentrated into six study days. Structured learning activities will be varied, to include interactive lectures, discussion groups, expert panels, and collaborative small group tasks. Participants will be allocated an academic mentor and two assessment tutors (one for each Block) who will provide support as needed, in face-to-face meetings, by email and/or telephone.

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • the social, cultural and policy context of the contemporary university, in particular research-intensive universities such as the University of Exeter;
  • the nature of contemporary academic practice in all its dimensions: research, teaching, citizenship/leadership, and business and community relations;
  • the relationship between research and teaching and how to negotiate them;
  • Contexts for creativity in higher education: issues, changes and values;
  • Developing your teaching and research practice through dialogue with peers: academic tribes and territories; communities of practice;
  • The socially constructed nature of learning and its implications for your teaching of large and small classes (active learning and feedback loops; use of PowerPoint; questioning techniques);
  • Professional development: mapping your academic and professional practice against, and critically engaging with, the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and Vitae;
  • Planning for teaching: programmes, modules and individual sessions. QAA Subject Benchmarks.
  • Where applicable, planning your own professional development with regards to research
  • Creating authentic intended learning outcomes; selecting teaching methods/ learning activities and assessment methods, including online options;
  • Research-inspired, inquiry-led learning;
  • Developing student skills for academic success, employment and sustainability;
  • Cultural inclusivity and accessible teaching in an internationalised university;
  • Student support and wellbeing;
  • Technology-enhanced learning and research;
  • Engaging students as agents for change and as co-creators in research and teaching.

Additional elements will be designed in collaboration with you, as participants, in order to reflect your own priorities and the needs of your department, as determined in prior and on-going discussions between you and your Academic Leads.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities42Whole group sessions (6 study days), each approximately 7 hours, comprising a combination of discussion groups, collaborative small group tasks, ‘panels of experts, interactive lectures and participant presentations.
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities5Triad activity: working in a group of three to prepare a group presentation
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities12.5Blended learning engagement including online discussion and preparation for sessions and tripartite review meetings
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1.5Individual assessment tutorials and online/telephone support
Guided Independent Study20Preparing a poster relating to your Extended Study
Guided Independent Study100Undertaking reading relating to your Extended Study
Guided Independent Study100Undertaking data collection and analysis (or equivalent) relating to your Extended Study
Guided Independent Study58Writing your Extended Study
Guided Independent Study10Engagement with the Annual Review of Teaching Scheme and writing up and reflecting on that experience
Guided Independent Study40Independent study of the education literature focusing on the area of teaching practice to be developed
Guided Independent Study42Completion of the ASPIRE application for Fellowship of the HEA (Descriptor 2)
Guided Independent Study120Implementation and evaluation of planned change to teaching practice
Guided Independent Study50Developing output to be assessed, reflecting on and evaluating the implemented change


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Poster and oral presentation1 hour plus feedback1-27Oral peer and tutor feedback
Triad activity: working in a group of three to develop a strategy for enhancing an area of teaching practice, mapped to the UK PSF and with respect to the educational research literature20 minutes for the triad plus feedback (1,000 words equivalent)1-27Oral peer and tutor feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
1 x Extended study, consisting of ONE of the following options: 1. A long written project report/essay 2. Two shorter written project reports/essays assignments totalling on different topics 3. A shorter written project report/essay PLUS a digital project presentation (e.g. video, written words, plus the equivalent podcast or wiki) on the same topic50Option 1: 4,500 words maximum. Option 2: 4,500 words. Option 3: A minimum of 2,000 written words, plus the equivalent podcast or wiki) on the same topicof 2,500 words in another medium (e.g. 10 minutes of video)l1-27Written feedback by tutor
Portfolio 501. Written record and reflection on peer observations/dialogue (1,000 words) 2. Completed ASPIRE/HEA Fellowship application (3,000 words) 3. Analytical account of the changes implemented to practice, with critical reference to research into higher education and other relevant literature (15-minute recorded presentation - 2,000 word equivalent).1-27Written feedback by tutor
Mandatory End-Point Assessment (EPA) (Pass or Distinction Required) 0EITHER teaching-specialist pathway OR research-specialist pathway, comprising: EPA Stage 1: Academic Professional Practice EPA Stage 2: Professional Conversation EPA Stage 3: Written Submission (comprising 3,500word reflective essay and 10 piece – 4,500word - portfolio of evidence.1-27


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-27Resubmission at next assessment deadline (minimum 3 months later)

Re-assessment notes

As per the original assessment but with a covering letter explaining the changes made in response to feedback, and using tracked changes or highlighting to demonstrate this.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Becher, T and Trowler, P (2001) Academic tribes and territories: intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines (2nd ed.) Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press

Biggs, J. (2003) Teaching for quality learning at university (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Brown, K, Mountford-Zimdars, A. (2017) "Exploring academic hiring and life in humanities and social sciences at an English research university through a PhD students-as-partners project", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education , Vol. 8 Issue: 1, pp.15-29,

Fung, Dilly. 2017. A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education. London: UCL Press

Gibbs, Graham (2014) 53 Powerful Ideas all teachers should know about

Meyer, J. and Land, R. (2003) Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines Occasional Report 4; Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses Project, University of


Mountford-Zimdars A, Sanders J, Moore J, Sabri D, Jones S, Higham L (2017). What can universities do to support all their students to progress successfully throughout their time at university?. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21(2-3), 101-110.

Moore, J, Higham, L, Sanders, J, Jones, S, Candarli, D, Mountford-Zimdars, A (2017) Analysis of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF2) provider submissions,


Advanced Reading:

Barber, M., Donnelly, K., Rizvi, S. (2013). An avalanche is coming. Higher education and the revolution ahead. Available at: . Barnett, R., Parry, G., and Coate, K. (2001) Conceptualising Curriculum Change. Teaching in Higher Education, 6:4, 435-449. Available at:

Bolden, R., Gosling, J., O’Brien, A., Peters, K., Ryan, M., Haslam, A., Longsworth, L., Davidovic, A., Winklemann, K. (2012) Academic Leadership: changing conceptions, identities and experiences in UK higher education. Available at:

Carnell, Brent and Fung, Dilly (eds.) 2017. Developing the Higher Education Curriculum: Research-based Education in Practice. London: UCL Press Debowski, S. (2011). The New Academic: A Strategic Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Morley, L. (2003) Quality and Power In Higher Education (2003) Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press. Ramsden, R. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education (2nd edn) London: Routledge/ Falmer.

Fry, H., Ketteridge, S. & Marshall S. (eds.) (2003) A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2nd edition. London: Kogan Page

Kreber, C. (ed.) (2009) The University and its Disciplines: Teaching and Learning Within and Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries. New York: Routledge

Jackson, N., Oliver, M., Shaw, M. and Oliver, M. (eds.) (2006) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: The Imaginative Curriculum. Oxford: Routledge

Knight, P. and Yorke, M. (2003) Assessment, Employability and Learning, Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press.

Morss, K. and Murray, R. (2005) Teaching at university: a guide for postgraduates and researchers. London: Sage

Rowland, S. (2006) The Enquiring University: Compliance and Contestation in Higher Education. Buckingham: McGraw Hill

Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education (2nd edn). London: Routledge/ Falmer

Tong, Vincent C H, Standen, Alex and Sotiriou, Mina (eds.) Shaping Higher Education with Students: Ways to Connect Research and Teaching. London: UCL Press

Participants will also need to construct an individual list of references of books, journal articles and policy literature according to their portfolio plan.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) website: The WonkHE website:

Higher Education Academy (HEA) website:;

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Higher Education; Teaching; University; Academic Practice

Credit value60
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date