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The Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (PGDipHighE) is a 120-point course normally building on the Postgraduate Certificate (60 points plus the first two papers of the Diploma). It is designed as two linked papers (HEDU 503 and HEDU 510) in practitioner research, in which participants are expected to inquire into an area of their own practice. The process of inquiry is supported by a comprehensive research methods programme, and the final assessment is through a dissertation.

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. All papers in the Certificate and Diploma are pass/fail, although grade indications can be provided on request for external purposes, such as scholarship applications.

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 & Practice in Higher Education

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.

HEDU 503 – Research Methods in Higher Education and HEDU 510 – Advanced Topics in Higher Education

HEDU 503 and 510 are linked papers that focus on research into higher education. In HEDU 503 we explore different qualitative approaches to educational research and plan a research project that is completed in HEDU 510. We work collaboratively and provide one-to-one supervision of research projects.

Find out more about HEDU 503 on the main Otago University website.

Find out more about HEDU 510 on the main Otago University website.


The assessment for HEDU 503 is a report on research in progress. The assessment for HEDU 510 is a report on the completed research project. Assessment processes are formative (developmental), and we use regular peer review of “work in progress” to provide ongoing feedback on each participant's project.

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 back date 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 out the certificate instead.

Further information about the PGDipHighE

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

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