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Independent Work-based Learning

Module titleIndependent Work-based Learning
Module codeGEOM403
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Geoff Main ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module is an independent work-based project that is tailored around a professional project of relevance to sustainable development and environmental sustainability. It is designed to be shaped around your particular interests and professional background, complementing and extending your current and future professional skills and opportunities. You will be responsible for initiating contacts and setting up your project, with the option of arranging a placement within the Environment and Sustainability Institute’s extensive network of business and organisational partners. Although independently led and self-directed, you will have access to support before and during the module from a placement officer and careers office staff, as well as the module convenor and an assigned tutor.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Experienced managers and professionals are often responsible for developing and implementing major policy or institutional projects, or for undertaking research into a professional issue. The Independent Work-based Learning module provides you with the opportunity to reflect upon such a piece of work in a work-based context, with the benefit of academic direction. The module aims to enable you to develop project management and evaluation skills through conducting a review of relevant case studies and written materials, evaluating the development and implementation of the project, and reflecting upon the personal learning that has been undertaken. The work will normally be undertaken within an 11-week timeframe, either within term 1 or term 2, and remote working is possible. The precise form of the assessed output will reflect the nature and aims of the professional placement, framed with guidance of the module coordinator and stated explicitly in your proposal.

The module will help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of independent skills in strengthening employability potential, especially through the application of critical analytical and professional consultancy skills to a range of contemporary challenges in sustainability and environment. The module will enhance especially the skills of project planning and the practical application of ideas and theory from relevant policy and academic literature. The field of investigation selected may relate to research specialism of a staff member but is more likely to relate to your specific work-based interests, perhaps relating to the field in which you intend to develop your dissertation research (for example, working with a business, charity or non-governmental organisation).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Offer critical discussion and explanation of a substantial work-based project within the broader framework of academic studies of sustainable development

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 2. Identify, analyse critically and evaluate relevant case studies and literature
  • 3. Demonstrate clear, critical and analytical reasoning to support the development of the work-based project
  • 4. Apply effective skills in designing and managing the practical and academic aspects of your research and your learning needs, accessing the appropriate support and resources as required
  • 5. Develop and use clearly reasoned arguments to explain, critique and evaluate the work-based project in which you have been a significant player
  • 6. Use reflective practice to explore, identify, evaluate and record your learning process

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Work independently, organising and maintaining own programme of study to meet employer and academic deadlines
  • 8. Apply research skills to practical work-related issues
  • 9. Develop skills of analysis, evaluation and synthesis
  • 10. Use of reflective practice to explore and identify learning needs for own future development
  • 11. Use IT skills to produce a document to a standard and format acceptable to your organisation

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This will be determined by your proposal and your employer’s requirements and will be designed to meet both professional and academic needs. The following are common elements to all students:

  • Initial meeting with module leader; formative assessment of CV
  • Negotiation of work placement with organisation and submission of programme of work (1500 words);
  • Individual meetings with assigned academic tutor(s) to discuss programme of work;
  • Attendance at monthly seminars, and assistance in coordination of speakers and topics
  • Presentation of proposed programme of work to all students on the module;
  • Work placement;
  • Meetings (as required) with academic tutor and completion of assessments.

Assessment may take a range of (virtual and real) formats and media types. Examples include: a poster; an essay; a business plan; a website; a film; an exhibition; a learning journal; a fieldwork diary. The assessment must be submitted in both electronic and hard (paper) format.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Indicative scheduled contact time, introductory module meetings and individual meetings with module tutor
Guided independent study90Independent study and reflection; preparation of assessments
Placement50Approximately 50 hours work-based placement activity


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
CV2 sides A46Oral
Project proposal outlining the programme of work to be undertaken during the work placement 1500 words1-5Written and oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay, report, or other agreed material, equivalent to 2000 words, resulting from the work-based project, in a format determined by the requirements of the student’s company/organisation602000 wordsAllWritten and/or oral
Reflective and evaluative account of your learning process, including an appraisal of the final written assignment401500 wordsAllWritten and/or oral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay or reportEssay or reportAllAugust Ref/Def
Reflective and evaluative account Reflective and evaluative account AllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to resubmit the original assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Boud, D. and Garrick, J. Eds (1999) Understanding Learning at Work. London, Routledge.
  • Eraut, M. (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence. Washington DC, Falmer Press.
  • Moon, J. (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice. London, Routledge.
  • Stephenson, J. Laycock M. (1993) Using Learning Contracts in Higher Education. London, Kogan Page.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Work-based learning, independent, professional knowledge

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date