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The Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHighE) consists of two 30-point papers (HEDU 501 and HEDU 502) that can be completed in one year of part-time study (or full-time as part of the MHEd). These papers explore the theory and practice of tertiary teaching and learning, and participants inquire into an area of their own practice.

Both the Postgraduate Diploma and the Postgraduate Certificate are eligible for endorsement in clinical teaching if the academic is engaged in clinical teaching at tertiary level, and the focus of inquiry is on the specialist area of clinical teaching. Both the Certificate and the Diploma are offered on the Dunedin campus, as well as by distance.

Required papers

HEDU 501 - Critical Reflection on Higher Education

The goal of Critical Reflection on Higher Education is for participants to develop a critical understanding of teaching and learning in higher education. This critical understanding will be informed by key theories and ideas in higher education and enriched by participants' reflection on their practice within their teaching contexts.

Find out more about HEDU 501 on the main Otago University website.

HEDU 502 – Learning Theory and Practice in Tertiary Teaching

Examination of contemporary research on student learning. Exploration of the effects of participants' teaching practices on how students learn in order to enhance student learning outcomes.

Find out more about HEDU 502 on the main Otago University website.


All assessment is internal to the course.

Graduate outcomes

By the end of the Certificate, graduates should

  • have gathered together material for a Teaching Portfolio
  • be able to articulate a critical rationale for their teaching practice
  • be aware of contemporary issues regarding teaching and learning
  • have explored an aspect of their teaching practice in depth
  • understand the principles of course design
  • be aware of a range of teaching and assessment strategies
  • be able to evaluate and change their teaching practice

Don't know which course to take?

If you're not yet sure whether the diploma or the certificate is the right choice for you, you can make a start and then decide later on. For example, you might enrol in the certificate and decide at the end of the year that it was so stimulating that you want to carry on! In this case the University is able to re-register you in the diploma and backdate your enrolment to start with HEDU 501. If you enrolled in the diploma and at the end of HEDU 502 you decided that two papers were enough, then you could opt to take the certificate instead.

Further information about the PGCert

For admission and enrolment information, visit the main Otago University website.

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