Module code: GCAM019

Module Overview

Design for learning is a multi-layered, deliberate and social process where designers (e.g., educators, professionals with interdisciplinary expertise) transform ideas and knowledge into artefacts, products or services to facilitate and enrich other people's learning. In the dynamic and continuously shifting landscape of higher and professional education, design plays a key role in any learning and teaching context and can have a significant impact on learners' engagement and growth. This module will enable participants to develop a holistic and contemporary understanding of the theory and practice of design for learning. It takes evidence-informed, systemic and creative approaches to design, and aims to empower participants to become competent and confident in designing meaningful and pedagogically sound learning and teaching in different contexts. Participants will be enabled to reflect on their professional practice, and recognise their learning design needs, values, challenges, and future aspirations. Through activity-based, collaborative and inquiry-led learning opportunities, they will explore a range of frameworks, case studies, tools and new directions in the field to expand their practice and support them in taking informed design decisions.

There are many current debates about design for learning, and a wide range of design contexts, opportunities and challenges for us to delve into and find inspiration, as part of this module. So, this is an exciting time to consider crucial elements of design practice in higher and professional education contexts and shape your future practices.

Module provider

Surrey Institute of Education

Module Leader

PAPAGEORGIOU Vily (Sy Inst Educ)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Seminar Hours: 10

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 38

Captured Content: 1

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Design for learning: a historical overview, definitions, scope, educator roles and capabilities.

  • Learning design from a process perspective, design habits of mind and the use of learning design tools.

  • Exploration of diverse theory-informed and conceptual frameworks to inspire and support robust learning design decisions. Indicative examples include sustainability and digital capabilities frameworks, learning ecologies, online engagement frameworks, and the conversational framework.

  • Collaborative approaches to learning design and co-creation: interdisciplinary actors in collaborative design and their roles, characteristics, processes and conditions for productive collaborative design and co-creation with learners.

  • The intricacies and role of learning and teaching modalities (e.g., blended, hybrid, online) when designing for learning.

  • An ecological view of the factors (both enablers and barriers) influencing educators' and professionals' learning design decisions.

  • Evaluation of learning design decisions and the limitations of the 'design' perspective in higher and professional education.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Learning design pitch 30
Coursework Design rationale of a unit of learning and teaching 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes.

The summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • Learning Design Pitch (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5)

Participants will present and justify their learning design decisions for a unit of learning and teaching of their choice. This unit can be a module, a week's worth of learning and teaching, a CPD programme, or a short course in any modality (online, blended, hybrid, in-person) that is meaningful to them. Participants can choose to base their design on a real-world example from their professional practice or take an experimental approach to create a new, yet realistic, unit of learning and teaching for the purpose of this assessment. The presentation should include clear and coherent learning design decisions with convincing educational rationales. Participants will usually present orally and synchronously, but upon prior agreement with the teaching team, can create and include media such as a video or podcast. Following each participant's presentation, there will be a Q&A session in which they will address questions from peers and/or the teaching team.


  • Design rationale of a unit of learning and teaching (LO1-LO5)

Participants will use the same unit of learning and teaching they chose for assessment part one (learning design pitch). They will develop their design rationale in full, including underpinning values, the use of relevant literature and frameworks to inform their decisions, and any novel and creative ideas that have emerged. They will explain the decision-making processes and contextual influences that shaped their design decisions. This assessment consists of two parts: (1) a written design rationale and (2) a reflective account of participants development through summative assessments one and two, along with areas for future professional growth. As part of this assessment, participants are also strongly encouraged to develop and use a visual representation, sketch, or mind map of their learning design and/or a build/part-build version of their designed units.


Formative assessment:

This module will consist of a main formative assessment task in which participants will be asked to critically evaluate a short course's learning design. Subsequently, they will present their evaluation to their peers and the teaching team in a seminar and receive feedback. This formative assessment task serves as a foundation before participants progress to design a brand new or redesign an existing unit of learning and teaching for their summative assessments. It will enable participants to adopt a learner's perspective when reviewing learning and teaching as well as apply the conceptual and theoretical frameworks explored in this module to make informed judgments and recommendations (LO4). In addition, participants will practice the art of constructive and clear critique of other people's learning designs through the short presentation they will perform for this task. They will use the summative assessment rubric to critique the learning design, familiarising themselves with key assessment criteria.

Formative feedback:

Participants will receive ongoing verbal and written formative feedback from peers and the teaching team throughout the module. They will actively engage in a variety of guided learning tasks that are designed to directly feed into their summative assessments. They will share their work in seminars and digital learning spaces as an opportunity to learn from each other and expand their thinking. The approach of the module is participatory and collegial; therefore, all activities and interactions enabled through this module will support participants' continuous feedback on ideas, designs, dilemmas, and practice challenges. They will be also provided with one-to-one support by the teaching team as per participants' individual needs. Importantly, participants will receive peer and tutor feedback in assessment part one which they can then apply in assessment part two to further enhance their learning designs as well as reflect on their professional development and future practice aspirations.

Module aims

  • Facilitate participants' critical understanding of the role of design for learning in their practice as applicable to their disciplinary or professional context.
  • Enable participants to explore diverse contemporary theoretical and conceptual frameworks in a range of influential domains to inform their design decisions. These include, but are not limited to, the role and integration of digital capabilities, sustainable development attributes, values and knowledge and ecological frameworks.
  • Empower participants to take multiple perspectives when designing for learning and develop a reflective stance of how different levels of influences (e.g., individual, team, institutional, national, global) shape their decision-making.
  • Facilitate the development of participants' resourcefulness and resilience by reflecting on their own practice and future aspirations, providing constructive feedback, as well as receiving and addressing peer feedback to enhance their professional practice.
  • Engage participants with learning design processes, methods and tools to support their learning design and evaluation practices.
  • Provide participants with opportunities for experiential learning by designing learning and teaching environments, critiquing samples of real-world learning designs, presenting and justifying their own designs in a safe and constructive learning environment.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically examine a wide range of contemporary theoretical and conceptual frameworks to inform and justify learning design decisions. CKPT
002 Identify and critically discuss values, learning design needs, challenges and systemic influences to shape design decisions and enhance pedagogical practice. CKPT
003 Design learning, teaching and assessment in informed ways to foster high-quality learning. CKPT
004 Evaluate learning designs and provide constructive feedback and recommendations for enhancing learning, teaching and assessment. CKPT
005 Effectively present and communicate ideas and design decisions, clearly, critically and coherently through oral, written, or multimodal mediums. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enable participants to investigate a range of contemporary literature, theoretical frameworks, novel pedagogical possibilities and challenges in learning design within higher and professional education. Participants will start by reflecting on their current values and practices and be prompted to interrogate the relevance and value of the theoretical perspectives and ideas presented in the module for their teaching contexts. Through providing a grounding in diverse learning design approaches and practices, participants will develop a holistic and informed understanding of how to design pedagogically robust learning environments in which their students can find themselves immersed and enabled to learn. The learning and teaching strategy is also designed to enhance participants' practical skills, such as using digital tools for design and professional presentations, while also developing their working effectively with colleagues from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.

This module adopts a flipped learning approach. This means, participants will engage with readings and activities in their own time to allow flexibility and deep engagement. Every two weeks, synchronous seminars will offer a platform for participants to come together as a community of practice, reflect on the module content, exchange their experiences, and participate in further individual and collective activities to expand their learning.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Guided learning through watching videos, reading articles, exploring resources, and completing scaffolded tasks that facilitate the application of theory to participants' design practice and contribute to their development in relation to the assessments.

  • Synchronous seminars that engage participants in various learning activities such as analysis of case studies, sharing reflections and challenges, presentations, and whole and small group discussions on key topics. These activities encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas, drawing from the diverse perspectives and experiences within the participant group. Seminars may serve as simulations of learning design professional practice that is central to higher and professional educational roles: for example, participants may be required to critique a selected learning design, and/or to present their own learning design. This approach enables participants to develop a critical and informed approach to learning design, practice their presentation skills, and enhance their ability to give and receive constructive feedback.

  • Independent research and study, encouraging participants to identify personally relevant themes, deepen their knowledge, work independently and engage in reflection and self-evaluation of their practice.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: GCAM019

Other information

The MA in Higher and Professional Education is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Digital Capabilities, Employability, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Resourcefulness and Resilience and Sustainability. This module is designed to allow participants to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Digital capabilities: The theme of digital capabilities permeates contemporary educators¿ design and teaching practices in multiple ways and thus, it has a critical role in this module. Participants will engage with digital capabilities frameworks to identify their personal development needs as well as actively consider how to design learning and teaching activities to foster their students' digital capabilities, as applicable in their disciplinary/professional contexts. They will critically examine the suitability of various digital technologies and learning modalities for their specific teaching contexts. Through this module, they will also explore learning design tools that can support their design practices and be encouraged to visually represent their ideas and designs using these learning design tools and/or mind-mapping applications. Both summative assessments are designed as such to enable participants to use digital tools to create a visually appealing and coherent oral presentation, video, or podcast (assessment part one) and provide copies of their learning designs (assessment part two), elevating their digital capabilities. Participants will also be encouraged to use digital note-taking applications for capturing their reflective insights and collaborative tools for sharing ideas and experiences with their peers which can act as models in their own teaching practice and increase their professional and study productivity.

Sustainability: Participants will be encouraged to investigate a range of sustainable development frameworks, including the 17 sustainable development goals, UNESCO¿s eight key competencies for sustainability, and the inner development goals (transformational skills for sustainable development). These frameworks will stimulate participants¿ thinking by increasing their awareness of the key dimensions of education for sustainable development. Participants will be prompted to critically examine the relevance, significance and complexity of integrating key themes and principles of these frameworks in their learning design practices. As part of their summative assessment, they will be asked to articulate how they considered and integrated sustainability in their own learning designs. This module will also provide multiple opportunities for participants to develop key competencies for sustainability such as systems thinking, anticipatory thinking, collaboration, and self-awareness. For example, participants will engage with systems and critical thinking on learning design as they will be asked to articulate how they brought the macro (i.e., consideration of wider context influences including global, sector-wide and institutional), meso (i.e., module-level design and influences from various stakeholders) and micro (i.e., teaching session or individual activity level designs) elements of learning design together into a cohesive design process. This module will include case studies and scenarios centered around co-creation and collaborative design with diverse stakeholders and communities. These will be situated and discussed within the context of several sustainable development goals (e.g., G4: Quality Education, G10: Reduced Inequalities, and G17 Partnerships).

Employability: Design is a key responsibility of educators who should possess relevant competencies and knowledge to effectively enact their role. It is a key part of a variety of other professionals who are responsible for teaching and professional development activities including digital learning professionals (e.g., learning designers, learning technologists, media producers) who support educators' learning design practice and design for learning themselves. A core component of this module is to enable participants to develop evidence-informed, critical and creative approaches to learning design which is desirable by employers in various educational settings. Participants will engage with established practices and emerging themes such as education for sustainable development, interdisciplinary collaborative approaches to design which can make them stand out from other candidates. They will be equipped with both theoretical perspectives and practical skills to support their practice as educators, designers and emerging educational leaders.

Global and cultural capabilities: Participants will actively contribute to a range of learning tasks individually and as part of small groups, including providing and receiving feedback at various stages. Participants may come from diverse cultural, educational, professional and linguistic backgrounds, which can offer valuable insights into collaborating with and giving feedback to colleagues from diverse backgrounds in a respectful and professional manner. They will also investigate and discuss in more depth collaborative approaches to design and unpack the benefits, experiences and complexities emerging when working with stakeholders who may have different priorities, perspectives, expertise, and aspirations, which can be key for their professional practice.

Resourcefulness and resilience: Through this module, participants will reflect on their current practice and identify specific areas of professional development scaffolded by the exploration of relevant frameworks (e.g., digital capabilities, productive habits of mind and skills for learning design). They will share and discuss these with their peers and the teaching team to allow for ideas exchange and collegial support. As part of their assessment, participants will capture their reflections on how they integrated peer and tutor feedback, navigated personally identified challenges and identified areas for future enhancement in their practice. This module will also foster participants' ability to adapt and respond to new and evolving circumstances, including new educational developments, institutional rules, and diverse student needs, all while remaining open to diverse perspectives.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Higher and Professional Education MA 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.