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An employer's guide to work-based learning

Discover how work-based degrees can improve the commercial value and performance of your organisation

Support your staff to take a work-based degree and they'll develop new skills and abilities that can help your business.

Our Learning at Work degree courses allow your employees to get an undergraduate Bachelor's or postgraduate Master's university degree while they work, without going to university full time. Your staff will mainly be assessed on what they do at work, reducing the time they'll spend studying.

Supporting your staff in their professional development is commercially valuable to your organisation. Once they've successfully completed their work-based degree your staff will have enhanced strategic awareness, greater knowledge of best practice and increased motivation to perform in your workplace.

Our courses

Our courses are suitable for both military staff and employees in private and public organisations, and your staff will study with students from around the world.

Your employees can study their degree entirely through distance learning but they're also welcome to attend University-based taught classes.

Staff can start a work-based degree in either September or January and can choose from courses including:

  • Undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Business, Engineering, Maritime Studies, Applied Science, Applied Computing and Professional Studies
  • PGCert and MSc courses in Occupational Health and Safety Management and Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management

View our courses

7 reasons to support your staff through work-based degrees

There are many benefits to supporting an employee on a work-based degree, for both your employee and your organisation, including:

  1. Employee education and personal development brings commercial and strategic awareness to their role
  2. Their learning programme includes staff involvement in commercially valuable work projects
  3. Staff can share knowledge of best practice and latest technologies with the whole organisation
  4. Better qualified staff enhance the organisation's position in industry
  5. Staff supported in getting further qualifications show increased loyalty to their employers
  6. Employee motivation is increased as they develop their skills
  7. You retain staff who otherwise would have to take a career break to get a University qualification

Entry requirements

There are no standard entry qualifications for work-based degrees – the Learning at Work team assesses all applications individually.

However, as the course is work-based, you'll need to be employed or self-employed in a full-time, part-time or voluntary role throughout your studies. A work-based degree may not be suitable for staff on temporary or short-term contracts.

Learning programme

Once your employee has selected the work-based degree they want to do, we'll support them and you to design a learning programme that fits best with their work schedule. We set the framework for the degree and assess their work, but they choose what to learn, how they will learn and what evidence they will deliver for assessment.

Your employee will get academic credit from the following sources during their learning programme:

  • A learning management module, which helps them plan their learning and prepares them for doing research and writing reports
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), where they use the knowledge, skills and experience they've gained from training courses, employment, voluntary work, private study and previous attendance at college and/or university
  • Attending campus-based or distance learning taught modules
  • Work-based learning projects – projects that involve learning new skills and knowledge and where most of the work for these is done in their normal working hours


Our Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental courses are accredited by either the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) or the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). If your employee plans to do one of these courses, they'll do a work-based project once they've successfully completed the taught modules.

Most of our work based degree courses can be used to gain professional recognition, such as Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). The accrediting bodies we work with include:

The learning management module

This module lets your employee develop a learning contract. This contract will outline the details of their learning programme, their objectives, the justification behind their proposal, their course content and proposed timetable.

The learning management modules gives your employee key reflective opportunities as they progress through their learning. It also specifies the evidence they'll need to present for their assessment.

Work-based learning projects

Your employee will get the majority of their academic credits for this work-based degree from work-based learning (WBL) projects. The projects:

  • Must involve new learning – activities can't be the same activities involved in their regular role
  • Should provide commercial value to your organisations
  • Can be done mostly during normal working hours

Course duration

Work-based degrees aren't tied to an academic calendar. Your employees can start a degree in either September or January, but the duration depends on their circumstances at work and home. Work-based degrees accommodate for unforeseen events that may delay the programme.

Past work-based learning projects

To get an idea of the type of work-based learning projects your employee could work on, here are some past projects completed by students on work-based learning degrees:

  • Implementation of an occupational health programme in a mining company in Ghana
  • Development of emergency response and recovery plans
  • Analysis of piracy as a threat to maritime security in Nigeria
  • Development of conservation objectives for offshore oil and gas operations in the Gabon
  • Design and development of pneumatic test bench for cylinder test purposes
  • Analysis and management of major risks in Mega Road Construction Project in Qatar
  • Development of management processes for removing redundant equipment safely and cost-effectively
  • Incorporation of a vessel traffic information management system (VTIMS) and a marine simulator facility (MSF)
  • License application for self-production power using solar/photovoltaic system

How we support you

When your organisation supports an employee on a work-based degree, we recommend that you assigned a workplace mentor to your employee. We'll provide the employee's workplace mentor with support materials including further guidance on mentoring and form templates they can use.

How we support your employee

We also support your organisation by providing your employee with:

  • A personal tutor
  • Access to a virtual learning environment with resources and activities such as online tutorials, lectures, webinars and virtual tutor-led discussion sessions
  • Support for academic writing from the Academic Skills Department
  • An invitation to an induction session (either offline or on campus) at the start of their course
  • Access to our library and its vast selection of electronic resources including ebooks and journals, which students can access from anywhere

Funding work-based degrees

As an employer, you're not obligated to cover the cost of a work-based degree. However, you can pay for the course or contribute to the fees. If you work in the military, you can access the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service (ELCAS) to get work-based learning funding.

Contact us

We have a dedicated Learning at Work team who can answer any further questions you have about work-based degrees.

Email us:

Phone us: +44 (0)2392 846260

Other ways to train your workforce

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