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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

Advancing Practice

Please note, following a decision made by the multi-academy trust we are part of, The Learning Institute will be closing at the end of academic year 2023-24 and therefore we are no longer accepting applications for our degree courses.

The Advancing Practice BA (Hons) top-up degree was designed for those who wanted to advance their practices for effective working with children, young people, their families and communities.

This top-up degree encouraged professionals from a range of settings to refine their professional practice by engaging in critical and analytical reflection and individual and collaborative research.

They were provided with opportunities to relate theory to practice and to evaluate their capacity to embrace and facilitate change in the workplace. Students were equipped with the skills required to make a significant impact on their own workplace practices and to positively influence those of others.


Whilst this top-up degree was relevant for professionals within a range of sectors, the four separate pathways allowed learners to continue their own professional journey.

To ensure that studies were relevant to a current or future role, learners had the opportunity to negotiate a specific assignment foci.

Pathways available were:

  • Early Years Professional
  • Inclusive Education
  • Learning and Education
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People

Key features 

  • The use of regular learning sessions, either face-to-face in local venues or online, enabled learners to balance study, work and home demands.
  • Local delivery in a study group supported learners to be successful in their study.
  • Two multi-disciplinary weekend conferences across the year structured to support learners to engage and network with students and tutors on their course from across the country.
  • Learners shared their study with students across a small number of interrelated pathways.
  • Opportunities to develop networks across education, health and care sectors.
  • Benefitted from strong practice links already established across TLI and professionals, practitioners, service managers.
  • Supervisor support for research projects.
  • One year course (full time) with weekly learning sessions

Course delivery

This course was delivered using a blended learning approach. Learners were taught through a combination of face-to-face teaching, live online learning, critical engagement workshops, student conferences, tutorials and guided online learning, alongside independent study time.

In a typical week there were around 8 hours of planned learning via teaching, guided study or tutorials. The planned learning sessions comprised a range of learning activities which changed week to week depending on whether they were face-face or live online, and from module to module.

Online learning took place in a virtual learning environment (VLE) called Blackboard, and the virtual classroom, Collaborate. Learners required a good level of ICT competence and computer and software including access to broadband and an up-to-date web browser.

Face to face learning took place in small study groups providing opportunities to interact with other students who were studying on the top-up; they may have been from the other related pathways, providing an enriching environment. These study groups provided learners with a supportive peer learning environment where they could develop their skills and share their learning. In addition, meetings with personal academic tutors were scheduled on at least four occasions across the year.

Both face-to-face teaching and live-on-line online learning took a variety of formats and were intended to enable the application of learning through discussion, small group activities and individual learning.

Group and individual tutorials enabled the discussion and development of knowledge, key concepts and skills as well as providing support as learners approached key assessments.

Critical engagement workshops provided the opportunity for students to engage in a range of ways, for example exploration of a particular topic or skill and/or to explore it in more detail than might be covered in a typical session. These incorporated elements of teaching or guided learning, and they could be student or peer-led activities which would be supervised by staff. Alternatively they could involve guided, tutor-led discussions in small groups.

In addition to the weekly learning sessions, there were twice yearly conferences on Friday evening and Saturday daytime with set study sessions that provided the opportunity to work with other students from across the county, giving an additional layer of peer support and networking opportunities.

In addition to the contact time, learners were expected to undertake around 29 hours of personal self-study per week, some elements of which could take place within the workplace. Typically, this would involve completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, working on individual projects, undertaking research using the online library or when possible within the workplace, as well as preparing coursework assignments.

The University places emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement.

This mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support from Student Services and Library Services, as well as the personal academic tutoring system, enabled learners to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that helped them to flourish and be successful.

What will you study?

Our course was informed by research and current developments in each discipline and by feedback from students, external examiners and employers. The module information below is provided as an example of course content from academic year 2023-24.

Mandatory modules (for all pathways):

  • The positionality of the practitioner
  • Engaging with change in the professional environment
  • Specialism in focus

Mandatory pathway-specific modules

  • Perspectives of childhood [for Early Years Professional pathway]
  • Culture and disability [for Inclusive Education pathway]
  • Psychological perspectives of motivation in learning environments [for Learning and Education pathway]
  • Mental health and wellbeing issues in contemporary society [for Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People pathway]

Optional modules (you will choose one of these)

  • Research project
  • Social enterprise


The course provided opportunities to test understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or ‘formative’ assignments that fed into final assessment pieces.

Each module had one or more formal or ‘summative’ assessments which were graded and counted towards the overall module grade. Assessment methods included coursework assessments such as critical reflections, portfolios, critical evaluations, projects or business plans.

A typical formal summative assessment pattern for the course is:

  • 1 x critical reflection
  • 2 x portfolio
  • 1 x critical evaluation
  • 1 x project or business development plan

Learners received feedback on practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback was intended to support learning and learners were encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate.


The top-up degree placed emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that would equip them for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement.

The modules were chosen and structured to support the development of more sophisticated independent study skills during the final year of an honours degree.

One optional module, the Research Project provided the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of a learner's study skills development. As an alternative, the Social Enterprise module, if opted for, provided the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills from learning to a social enterprise development opportunity.

Moving on further into masters level study would be an appropriate next step for some students. In addition, some pathways provide excellent routes to progress to qualified teacher status.

Entry requirements* 

Foundation degree, DipHE, HND or equivalent qualification in education, health, care or welfare or related subject.

We consider applications from individuals from a wide range of prior educational and employment experiences, therefore we will also consider applicants from non-standard entry routes. We encourage applications from candidates who can provide evidence of their ability to work at Level 6 and substantial experience of working within education, health, care or social welfare.

*Please note, these were the entry requirements for academic year 2023-24. Unfortunately we are no longer accepting applications for this course due to our upcoming closure.

Fees and other course-related costs 

Tuition fees

This information will be supplied centrally by the University of Worcester’s Finance Department. Please note that there is a charge for retaking modules.

Course-related costs included in the fees

This information will be supplied centrally by the University of Worcester’s Finance Department.

Course-related costs not included in the fees

Learners were expected to purchase key texts for each module. It is likely that they chose to purchase other texts as they become familiar with their specialist research areas.

It was expected that learners had access to their own computer. As some of the learning took place online it was necessary to have a secure internet connection in order to access materials and engage with the virtual learning environment. A technical specification was available on request.

It was necessary to provide personal stationary throughout the course.

Learners were required to source and pay for Friday nights’ accommodation and meals for each of the 2 weekend conferences across the year.

Sources of financial support

Most financial support is available from Student Finance England.

The University’s Money Advice Service can also provide information about student money.