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Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice

The Professional Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice is a level 9, non-major award that focuses on professional development in academic practice, integrating four interrelated facets: teaching, learning, research and leadership. It carries a credit volume of 15 ECTS.


Who is the Cert for?

This Professional Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice is for academics or academic-related professionals in Trinity, including researchers with teaching responsibilities, part time or adjunct teaching staff, or staff with roles in supporting learning. This module is not open to graduate teaching assistants, who have a separate programme. As the course focuses on application of theory to practice and on reflection and evaluation, all candidates should be in an active teaching or supporting learning role while participating in the course. Applicants to this course would normally hold a minimum of an honours degree or equivalent in any discipline.

This course offers a professional qualification in academic practice and is designed to be flexible, research-informed and practice-based. It encourages candidates to select their own professional development agenda in academic practice, and allows them to develop and evidence their academic practice, knowledge and values throughout their careers at times that are appropriate to them. The Course is based on the premise that everybody educating our students in Trinity should be committed to and supported in achieving an excellent student learning experience.

Upon completion of the certificate staff can undertake further modules to facilitate lifelong learning and help maintain high quality practice throughout their careers.

The SP Cert aligns to Ireland’s National Professional Development Framework which recognises both accredited and non-accredited forms of professional development for academics and those engaged in supporting teaching and learning in the Irish higher education context.

Please note these modules are open to and free of charge to Trinity staff members only. Please note that if you are not a Trinity staff member and you register you will be billed. For any queries please contact

Modules Michaelmas Term 2020

Location: Online - Blackboard

Dates: Every Friday from 30th October 2020 – 11th December 2020 (six class module)

11:00 – 12:00. 

First class 10.30-12:00




Perspectives on teaching and Learning in Higher Education (5ECTS).

This online module is aimed at academics and/or academic-related professionals who teach and support student learning and who may be new to a teaching role. The module enables teachers in higher education to clarify conceptions of, and reflect on their own approaches to, teaching and learning in higher education. Module participants will explore how to apply the theories and principles of teaching and learning to their practice. The module will introduce strategies for teaching online and in hybrid environments and explore the fundaments of curriculum design & assessment. The module is designed to develop a supportive community of practice through formative peer feedback. 

For early career academics taking the Special Purpose Cert for credit, this module should be completed as one of their three 5 ECTS modules.

  • Session 1: Teaching as a Scholarly Activity - Fri 30th Oct 2020
  • Session 2: Philosophies and Practices of Teaching and Learning - Fri 6th Nov 2020
  • Session 3: Curriculum Design - Models/ ECTS/ Modules/Learning outcomes - Fri 13th Nov 2020
  • Session 4: Introduction to Assessment Practice - Fri 20th Nov 2020
  • Session 5: Teaching and Learning in a Digital World - Fri 27th Nov 2020
  • Session 6: Feedback in Practice - MicroTeaching - Fri 4th Dec 2020 (attendance is only required at session 6 or 7)
  • Session 7: Feedback in Practice - MicroTeaching - Fri 11th Dec 2020

Location: Online - Blackboard

Dates: Fully Online module - Start at your own time and pace.


Adapting our Teaching for Learning Online

This module is designed to support academics and/or those supporting teaching and learning at Trinity as we prepare for a hybrid approach to teaching and learning in academic year 2020/21. This module is designed for academic staff and those supporting teaching and learning at Trinity. The module is primarily aimed at staff without significant prior experience of designing for, or facilitating, hybrid learning.  

We will be operating three rolling deadlines this semester related to this module:  the first deadline is Friday 4th September; the second deadline is Friday 30th October; the third deadline is the 4th December. Assignments submitted by or on each of these dates will be assessed after each of these dates and we welcome any and all submissions. You are welcome to start this online module at any time.

If you are interested in doing this module for credit and as part of the SP cert, please click on the registration button at the top of this page. Please note that you have five years from date of first enrolment in which to complete three modules.

If you are interested in doing this module for professional development only and not as part of this cert, please go to where you can self-enrol.


Participants who are awarded the Certificate may apply to the Postgraduate Diploma/M.Ed in Higher Education within the School of Education; such participants may secure an exemption from one of the four modules within the Diploma.

Informal enquiries about the partial exemption from Diploma modules should be made to Dr. John Walsh (M.Ed Co-ordinator) at

Assessment FAQs

I have completed three modules.  Do I have to submit assignments and a portfolio?

No. You can choose to submit an assignment for each module by the deadline given by the facilitator OR you can choose to submit a Teaching Portfolio upon completion of three modules.

How do I submit an assignment?

You submit your assignment through Blackboard, your facilitator will guide you through this. Please use this template when submitting.

I have submitted my assignment to Blackboard, what happens now?

Approximately 30 days after submission of your assignment, you will receive an email from our course administrator with your feedback and a grade.   This email should also inform you on how many modules you have completed to date on the Special Purpose Certificate.  If this is the third assignment you have submitted, you will also be notified within this email that these grades are subject to the Court of Examiners and that you will be contacted after the COE sits, which is usually in April.

I have completed three assignments.  How do I graduate?

If you have completed an assignment following each module you have undertaken, you should have received an email from the course administrator with your feedback and grades.  This email should also inform you that these grades are subject to the Court of Examiners and that you will be contacted after the COE sits which is usually in April.  If you have successfully passed all assignments, your details will be forwarded to the Graduations office in Academic Registry.  Please ensure your contact details, address, phone number and current email are up to date with our course administrator otherwise the information originally provided will be the contact details Graduations office will receive from us. 

I have completed three modules but I have not submitted any assignments.

If you have completed three modules over a long period of time, (for example you started in Michaelmas Term 2015 and completed the last module in Hilary Term 2019) and you have not submitted any assignments, your option would be to submit a Teaching Portfolio.  This is due to the fact that assignments have specific deadlines.  In certain circumstances extensions can be given for submission of assignments but this is normally within the academic year of completing that module.

I have completed a module this term, can I get an extension for submission of my assignment?

Please contact the course administrator directly. Extensions can be given under certain circumstances.

When do I submit my Teaching Portfolio?

The closing date each year for submission of a teaching portfolio is typically the first week in September.  The next closing date is Friday 8th January 2021.  Please submit your portfolio to the course administrator using this template.  After submission of your portfolio, you will receive feedback and a grade approximately 30 days later.  This is subject to review at the Court of Examiners by the External Examiner.  Typically our Court of Examiners sits in April.  Graduations are then held the following June/July of that year.

Can I incorporate a fourth and fifth module to my portfolio?

You may incorporate learning from other modules into your portfolio but you must choose and declare which three modules your case studies concentrate on.

I have to resubmit my assignment/portfolio, how much time do I have?

Where a resubmission is required, you will normally have one working month (assignments)/two working months (portfolios) in which to submit.  Alternatively portfolios can also be resubmitted for the next round the following year.

General FAQs

How long do I have to complete the Certificate?

You have five years from date of first enrolment to complete three modules and submit assignments for each module. Alternatively, you can choose to submit a teaching portfolio (please see FAQs on: Teaching Portfolios) .

Do I need to attend all classes in the module?

Yes, attendance is compulsory at all classes for certification purposes.  If you have attended modules but have not been in full attendance, you need to contact the course administrator to see if you are eligible to submit assignments/portfolio or if you need to retake a module.

Who can I contact if I have any queries?

Please contact the Course Administrator: Jade Concannon, Education Support Officer, Email