male and female student observing machine
Mode of Study
2 years part-time
Start Date
January 2022, September 2022, January 2023


If you want to gain a University-level qualification alongside your job without committing to a full Bachelor's degree, this Professional Studies Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) distance learning course is ideal.

You'll develop transferable skills in your choice of subject, boosting your career prospects while you improve your performance at work. You can tailor the course to match your professional and personal aspirations and your employer's objectives. You'll get to put the skills you learn to work instantly in your job, contributing to the success of your company.

The course is work based, so you'll need to be in a full-time, part-time or voluntary role to do it. You can study online wherever is most convenient for you and schedule your studies around your existing commitments.

A CertHE is equivalent to the first year of a full-time BA or BSc Bachelor’s degree. When you complete the course, you'll improve your career prospects and have the skills and knowledge to perform more effectively in your job. You could also put the credits you gain towards a BA or BSc Bachelor's degree.

TEF Gold Teaching Excellence Framework

Entry requirements​

CertHE Professional Studies

Qualifications or experience
  • A typical applicant would have a level 3 qualification such as A levels or equivalent (BTEC, City & Guilds, Apprenticeship), together with appropriate work experience and
    3 GCSEs at grade C or above to include English and Mathematics/3 GCSEs at grade 4 or above to include English and Mathematics.
  • Please contact Learning at Work to discuss this course and entry requirements in more detail.

See full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept

English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

What you'll experience

On this course you'll:

  • Study 120 credits at level 4 over 2 years
  • Choose either a technical or business pathway through your course
  • Taught modules develop knowledge, skills and behaviour to enhance performance at work
  • Work-based project enables learning to be undertaken to match both your personal and professional goals
  • Optional induction day on campus
  • A full online induction programme
  • Online course material, tutorials and lectures.
  • Online seminars and networking opportunities
  • Support from a learning manager, academic tutors and a mentor
  • Full access to our student support services and community including study support, sports and recreation facilities, and the Students' Union
  • Tap in to our Library's electronic resources, which you can access from anywhere with a Web connection

Course duration

The duration of this course is two years. You can complete the course more quickly if you have relevant work experience, training or qualifications that you can put towards your degree. This is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). You can use RPL for up to a maximum 40 credits.

Careers and opportunities

When you finish the course, you'll have the skills and knowledge to advance your career with your current employer and boost your long-term career prospects.

You could also use your qualification to enter further study, by applying for one of the Learning at Work degree courses where you can study 240 credits to achieve a Bachelors degree in your chosen subject.

You can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

​What you'll study

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits. In each year, you'll study modules worth a total of 60 credits.

You can complete the course more quickly if you have relevant work experience, on-the-job training or qualifications that you can put towards your CertHE. This is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). You can use RPL towards this qualification – please contact Learning at Work.


Year 1
Year 2
  • Effective Communication (20 credits)
  • Learning Management and Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Technical Foundation or Business Foundation (20 credits)
  • Work based project (40 credits)
  • Reflective professional (20 credits)

Recognition of work-based and distance learning courses

Our Learning at Work courses are fully approved by the University under its powers to award degrees and are compliant with the Office for Students (OFS) and Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) standards in the United Kingdom.

These qualifications are generally recognised internationally, however, as with distance learning type courses, each country will have its own regulations and rules on work based and distance learning education. You should check with the qualification recognition authority in the country you are resident in or intend to use the qualification to secure employment in, that the Learning at Work qualification is recognised by them before you commit to studying with us.

We are currently unable to offer our courses to applicants who are nationals of, or who live in, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.


How you're taught will depend on which modules you take and the work-based learning projects you do.

Most of the course is delivered via our interactive virtual learning environment. With access to all the study material you’ll need, discussion forums and the chance to connect with peers and lecturers via chat sessions, you’ll have plenty of academic support and heaps of resources.

How you're assessed

The way you're assessed will depend on which modules you take and the work-based learning projects you do.

Supporting your learning

To help you juggle this course alongside your work and home life, you'll get extra support from:

  • a workplace mentor chosen by you – someone at work who can offer advice, guidance, and moral support
  • an Academic Tutor specialising in your area of study
  • a Learning Manager who oversees your programme

Academic skills support

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2021 and January 2022 start)

UK/EUChannel Islands/Isle of Man/International students

  • 80 credits: £4,110
  • 100 credit: £5,140
  • 120 credits: £6,170

We will apply an even yearly split to your course fee. If you want us to consider an alternative schedule of payments, please contact us before the course start date.

You may be able to claim Recognised Prior Learning (RPL), please contact us for further information on RPL.

If you're an armed forces student in receipt of funding e.g. ELCAS, any documentation must show the correct start date and tuition fee. If not, we can't accept it and you'll have to pay the course fee yourself.

We can give you an estimate of your course fees. To contact us:

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Additional costs

You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.


Apply for this course using our online application form:

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.

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