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Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments

Start date
June, October, March
1 year
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught
We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2022/23 are £4,290 which can be paid in instalments

Make your mark in online education.
Equip yourself with the diverse skills needed to design effective learning environments and experiences in any sector.

Find out more about this programme

Advance your career at a recognised institution

Online and blended learning is increasingly dominating how we learn today – and so too is the demand for skilled individuals with the specific instructional and learning design knowledge needed to create effective learning environments.2

By bringing together the latest thinking in computing, design, the social sciences and education, this Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments will help you design better learning experiences and seize upon new career opportunities across multiple sectors.

Offering a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of online and offline learning design, this PGCert will give you the edge when it comes to progressing your career in this expanding field.

Your programme of study

Our Design for Learning Environments PGCert will equip you with the skills and knowledge to design programmes of learning that meet the needs of a variety of learners and organisations.

Critically exploring aspects of instructional and learning design from design thinking to applied data science, this 60-credit programme is split into six core modules and takes a minimum of 12 months to complete.

Combining subjects as diverse as design, technology, education, social science, data science and digital development, this learning design certificate will help you develop the knowledge to build learning environments for a range of learning contexts. This makes it ideal for careers in education institutions, private learning specialists, in-house training teams and CPD providers.

As well as equipping you for a career in education or training, our learning design certificate will enable you to build a diverse portfolio of work to showcase your skills to employers once you have completed your studies.

Programme outcomes include:

  • Exploring the role of design, the processes involved and current theories and practices
  • Developing a digital artefact and implementing it in a learning environment, drawing on new technologies
  • Analysing data sets against key tools and frameworks to evaluate teaching and learning
  • Assessing the strengths and weakness of contemporary learning perspectives
  • Examining the learning environment from a social and technical perspective
  • Communicating a design proposal and planning a learning environment

Did you know?

If you’re unable to commit to a full programme of study at this time, we also offer 8-week Design for Learning Environments short courses. Find out more about our online short courses.

Why choose the University of Birmingham for your PGCert?

  • An interdisciplinary teaching team including designers, researchers, educationalists and technologists
  • A world top-100 university1
  • Leading UK provider of distance and blended learning
  • Immersive online learning experience

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I start a programme?

There are three intakes per year. You can choose to join the learning design certificate programme in summer, autumn or spring. Request information to find out more about upcoming start dates.

What will my learning design certificate say?

You will graduate with a PGCert in Design for Learning Environments having further developed your skills in instructional design and 60 postgraduate credits. Your certificate will not specify that you studied the qualification online, as we make no distinction between our campus and distance learning programmes.

Are there specific times for online classes?

We have designed the programme to fit your busy schedule. Much of the work that you will carry out with tutors and fellow students will be asynchronous, with specific periods of time given to collaborate via email, discussion forums and video conferences. You’ll receive a timetable of your synchronous (live) sessions after you enrol.

What are the types of networking and collaboration opportunities?

Our online learning environment, Canvas, allows you to contact your peers and tutors, use discussion forums, connect with lecturers and take part in group work. It’s a highly interactive environment, designed to make you feel part of the learning community.

How will I be supported as an online student?

As well as learning from expert lecturers, you’ll have access to community boards, instant messaging services, live discussions and one-to-one support from a Student Services Coordinator. We also offer 24/7 technical support should you encounter any difficulties accessing the online platform.

Our online learning environment includes videos and interactive activities for you to learn from. You can also access the university’s online library, which includes e-textbooks, journal articles and specialist industry reports.

Request to find out more about the online student experience.


  1. World University Rankings (2022). QS Top Universities (accessed 07.12.2020).
  2. MATTHEWS, A. (2019) ‘Design as a Discipline for Postdigital Learning and Teaching: Bricolage and Actor-Network Theory’, Postdigital Science and Education, 1(2), pp. 413–426. doi:10.1007/s42438-019-00036-z.


The Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments is a 60 credit, 12-month programme of study. As a student on the programme, you will study six 10-credit modules over the year, with each module lasting 8 weeks.

You have a maximum of 5 years to finish your online programme and under certain circumstances, you can break up your studies and take time out between modules if you need to. Please discuss this with a recruitment coordinator.

You can take the modules individually at a cost of £850 for 2021 (prices are subject to change each academic year, 2022 fees TBC). Apply for individual modules.

Programme modules

  • Applied data science for learning environments
    Understand the fundamentals of data analysis using appropriate tools and frameworks to evaluate teaching and learning, and to report findings to a variety of audiences with the aim of understanding the effectiveness of learning.
    Instructor - Dr Richard Mason
  • Communicating design stories
  • Design and design thinking
    Learn about the role and skills of the designer, examine the processes used to develop designs and designed artefacts that deliver user experiences in any learning environment.
    Instructor - Dr Tim Jackson
  • Developing digital artefacts for learning
    Create your own digital artefacts for use in a learning environment using a piece of contemporary technology.
    Instructor - Dr Jonathan Watkins
  • Perspectives on learning
    Explore different perspectives on how we learn and how to help others learn, you will cover the behavioural, cognitive, social, and networked perspectives on learning and evaluate approaches for application in your own learning environment.
    Instructors - Adam Matthews and Dr Jaimie Miller-Friedmann.
  • Sociotechnical learning environments
    Analyse learning environments from the perspective of connecting the social, physical, and digital in networks of the human and non-human to challenge perspectives of online and offline learning.
    Instructor - Adam Matthews


The full cost of this programme for 2022 is £4,290 GBP. This can be paid in full or in instalments.
You can take the modules individually, £715 for 2022.
Programme fees are reviewed annually and are subject to change each academic year.

For more information and to speak to a Recruitment Coordinator, fill out our form.


International students can occasionally gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or via your home government. It’s good to do your research to find opportunities which you could be eligible for.

How To Apply

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button and create an account. You will be directed to an application specifically designed for the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments. Submit your application and supporting documentation online. Your supporting documents include:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé: Demonstrate your academic and work experience, in addition ot any other skills that may support your application. This will help our recruitment team ensure that you have the right experience for the programme.
  • Statement of purpose: Draw attention to your skills, experience and goals, and to explain why you wish to apply for this programme. This should be no longer than one page of text.
  • Two references: Send details of your references either as a letter of recommendation or a recorded transcript by email or by post to our recruitment team. These must be signed, on letter headed paper, or supplied with your referee’s business card.
  • Transcripts: To verify your education, we ask you to submit your previous academic transcripts, either in notarized form or sent directly from your previous institution.
  • Evidence of language (if applicable): If English is not your first language, you will need to also supply an up-to-date English language certificate which meets the entry criteria – as detailed in our standard entry requirements section.

If you would like any feedback or advice about your application, our recruitment team would be happy to help. You can fill out a request for information or call +44 (0)800 032 7101.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

In order to be eligible for the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments, you will need to possess (or be predicted to obtain) an upper second-class degree or equivalent from a UK university or recognised international institution. Select your country from the drop down below for details on equivalent qualification levels.

You may also be eligible to apply with a lower second class degree plus 2 years’ work experience in design, computing or education, or no degree plus 5 or more years’ work experience in the above fields. We welcome applicants with an appetite for learning. Since this programme combines modules from multiple disciplines, expect to cover coding and maths, starting at secondary schooling level and above.

Standard English language requirements also apply. If English is not your first language, you must also have an up-to-date English language test certificate. We accept Academic IELTS certificates with a grade of 6.0 and no less than 5.5 in any band. Other forms of English language certificates are accepted. Please discuss this with a recruitment coordinator.

View a full transcript of the above video.

What is it like to study for an PGCert online?

Distance learning involves a whole lot more than just putting campus programmes online. All of our online programmes have been purpose-built from the ground up to harness the full power of the technologies available, involving everything from cloud-powered collaboration to interactive live lectures. The format is ideally suited to working professionals who are balancing their careers and personal commitments alongside their studies.

Run by the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, our instructional design certificate PGCert Design for Learning Environments is delivered by an interdisciplinary faculty of designers, researchers, educationalists and technologists. By exposing you to the latest research, thinking and practical application of technology from a range of different perspectives, the programme will expand your understanding of the learning experience and the use of technology to transform learning environments and outcomes.

By studying a range of different disciplines and perspectives, the Design for Learning Environments PGCert allows you to shape your own learning experience. You will be encouraged to collaborate with fellow students, academics and practitioners from diverse backgrounds to create a portfolio of assessed work, including instructional design exercises, digital development and data analysis.

Learning for the future

Online PGCert students will have access to our digital learning platform throughout their studies. We have moved beyond the traditional classroom structure, taking full advantage of digital media with modules that draw on interactivity, active student participation and social connectivity to provide a more dynamic learning experience.

Rather than simply reading lecture transcripts and sending in assignments, the University of Birmingham’s online students engage with the curriculum directly using:

  • Video lectures: accessing content at any time and from any device
  • Interactive assignments: actively participating in learning exercises
  • Real-life case studies: gain skills you can apply to your organisation immediately
  • Peer interaction: connect with peers, professors and tutors online
  • Digital resources: rely on support for any of your admissions, enrolment, technology or career needs

Module structure

In some modules there will be live lecture sessions. Dates and times for these sessions will be communicated to you once you begin your studies. In each live session you will have the opportunity to present your work and/or discuss case study exercises.

  • Be taught by our internationally respected course leaders.
  • Communicate and network with fellow students in forums.
  • Undertake assignments (reports, essays, presentations, quizzes, group work), with deadlines structured at reasonable intervals to help guide you through your student journey.

Find out more about the Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments.

Career opportunities: Online PGCert Design for Learning Environments

Build a brighter future in digital education
Our Design for Learning Environments PGCert will equip you with the skills and knowledge to design programmes of learning which will meet the needs of a wide range of learners and organisations in an expanding field.

We have taken an innovative interdisciplinary approach with our PGCert, incorporating aspects of design, technology, education, the social sciences, data science and digital development to provide you with a rich diversity of perspectives. You will work with academics, active practitioners and designers of learning environments from the fields of education, computer science, theoretical physics and engineering - each bringing their own unique disciplinary perspectives to instructional design.

Become more employable

We want to ensure that you can progress in this competitive environment and have designed our course  with a practical approach and cross-disciplinary subject matter. It is this experience that will give you a commanding position when it comes to taking advantage of the career opportunities available in this growing area.

For students keen to progress in this field, the choice of roles available include instructional designer, digital learning designer, learning experience designer, learning architect, e-learning designer, learning technologist, learning developer, digital learning officer and learning adviser.

Our own experience as a leading UK provider of distance and blended learning reinforces the practical value of our postgraduate certificate, as does our academic research into the latest developments in technology and learning. It’s these factors that will give you an advantage when it comes to furthering a career in online education – an area set to grow threefold between 2015 and 2025.1

As well as equipping you for a career in education or training, our learning design certificate will enable you to build a diverse portfolio of work to showcase your skills to employers.

Find out more about your career outlook by requesting information today.


  1. RENUB RESEARCH (2019) Online Education Market & Global Forecast, (acessed 07.12.2020), by End User, Learning Mode (Self-Paced, Instructor Led), Technology, Country, Company. Renub Research.

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