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Post Graduate Diploma

Department of Health Sciences Education is offering a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Professional Education. The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town offers an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Health Professional Education. The courses cover current thinking, practice and research in the field of health professional education.

Students critically engage with relevant theories related to teaching, learning, assessment, curriculum development and course design in relation to their practice. A strategic goal of the programme is to contextualise health professional education within escalating health disparities and declining resources. We use the Primary Health Care Approach as the policy framework to assist health professionals to participate in the transformation of the health system.

  • Admission requirements

    To be eligible for consideration, an applicant shall:

    1. have an approved qualification in a health sciences or related profession;
    2. be registered with a relevant professional body where appropriate;
    3. have teaching, facilitating, tutoring or clinical supervision experience in an academic or healthcare context; 
    4. be proficient in English, both written and spoken;
    5. have basic computer literacy;
    6. have reliable and continuous computer access and internet connection;
    7. have submitted, where applicable, a letter of support from his/her employer granting the applicant study leave for the weeks requiring block attendance and undertaking to provide support to enable the applicant to complete assigned tasks and assignments within the work context;
    8. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).  Applicants who have relevant certificates or diplomas of training in the health field, but not at the HEQSF level of a three year degree (7), and who have experience of teaching health workers and health professionals, may be considered on the basis of RPL.  They are required to submit a prescribed personal portfolio of evidence reflecting, amongst others, their teaching and/or facilitation experience, past attendance of relevant courses for which certificates or diplomas have been attained, and evidence of critical thinking skills in writing and reading.  Support for completion of the portfolio will be available and, if selected, support will continue as necessary;
    9. We strongly recommend having at least six months teaching experience, in a health care context, to gain the most benefit from the programme. 
  • Target group

    All lecturers and clinical educators who have an approved qualification in a health sciences or health or related profession and teach health sciences students, for example:

    • Doctors
    • Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists
    • Audiology and Speech Therapists
    • Radiographers
    • Human nutritionists
    • Biokineticists
    • Dentists
    • Psychologists
    • Paramedics
  • Purpose of the qualification

    The programme, based on adult learning principles, will enable the participants to become a critical, self-directed, lifelong learner. The educational methodology encourages critical engagement with relevant theories related to teaching, learning and assessment.  The courses cover current thinking, practice and research in the field of health professional education. A strategic goal of the programme is to contextualise health professional education within Primary Health Care to enable health professionals to participate in the transformation of the health system

    Exit level outcomes

    On completion of the programme participants will be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

    • Explain how you might advocate for service delivery and education that is supported by a Primary Health Care Approach
    • Critique teaching, learning and assessment processes and motivate for research-led or evidence-based change.
    • Exercise leadership through innovation in health professions education, theory and research.
    • Facilitate student learning within all learning contexts, including contexts that are challenging, complex and resource constrained.
    • Critically reflect on the role and practice of clinical educators in evaluating their own teaching and student learning.
    • Critically appraise theoretical and research literature related to health professions education and make sound judgements based on best practice in selecting teaching and assessment methods.
  • The programme

    The Faculty of Health Sciences offers a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Professional Education to enable working health professionals to reflect critically on theories of learning in relation to the practice of teaching in the classroom, clinical context and community, and to assist in ensuring that health professionals are competently prepared to meet the health needs of the country. Course participants’ knowledge and skills in health professional education will be strengthened in the areas of teaching and learning, practice, assessment and course design and curriculum development within a Primary Health Care led curriculum and health system.

    The interdisciplinary programme draws on theories of adult education, teaching and learning in higher education, health sciences education and approaches to health service delivery.

    The programme consists of 3 compulsory courses:

    • Teaching and Learning Theories in Health Professional Education
    • Learning and Teaching Practice
    • Assessment in Health Professional Education

    Choose one of the following electives:

    • Curriculum Development and Course Design OR
    • Academic literacy for Heath Professional (NOT available in 2022)
    • Technology assisted learning & teaching (NOT available in 2022)

    (Electives will only run if significance number of students choose this option)

    Compulsory courses

    Semester 1

    HSE4000F Course: Teaching and learning theories in health professional education 

    This course introduces students to teaching and learning theories applied to the clinical context within a higher education framework. This is achieved through critically examining participants’ own learning and teaching experience and theories of learning and teaching relevant to the clinical context.  At the end of the course students will be able to critically reflect on their own teaching and facilitation of learning in practice and reflect on the learner and teacher roles in various educational and organisational contexts; critically appraise the theoretical approaches underpinning teaching and facilitation of learning in the clinical context; demonstrate an understanding of how organisational change impacts on teaching and learning; demonstrate an understanding of appropriate research methods to enable critical appraisal of quantitative and qualitative research findings on teaching and learning.

    HSE4001F Course:    Learning and teaching practice 

    This course aims to critically review the range of teaching methods appropriate to teaching and facilitation of learning in the classroom, community and/or clinical context within a Primary Health Care- led curricula and health services, and further develop skills in the various teaching methodologies. It includes teaching and learning methods; evidence of best practice; designing and structuring teaching and learning activities; integration of the Primary Health Care approach into teaching; providing feedback; group dynamics and effective facilitation in small group and one to one learning.

    Semester 2

    HSE4002S Course:    Assessment in health professional education

    In this course students will be exposed to an overview of various assessment approaches, purposes, methods and debates, focussing on changing trends in assessment. This includes concepts, approaches and debates associated with assessment; the selection, alignment and design of assessment; assessment blueprints; integrating the Primary Health Care approach in assessment; research methods and online assessment.

    Elective courses

    *HSE4003S Course:   Curriculum development and course design

    This course examines the relationship between course and curriculum design, implications of the various models for student learning and the complexities of health professional curriculum development, particularly within the context of a Primary Health Care led curriculum. In addition, ways of improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom, community and clinical context are addressed. At the end of the course, the student should be able to explain the underlying educational theory, values and beliefs of different approaches to curriculum development; describe the apply models, principles and elements of curriculum and course design; plan and design, or critique, a course or module, demonstrating links to the broader programme or curriculum; construct a well-designed course evaluation instrument, critically appraise the value and limitations of course evaluations; discuss the complexity in achieving alignment between curriculum, course planning and implementation; explain the hidden curriculum and identify an instance thereof in the programme or course in which he/she is teaching; and appreciate the complexities of the relationship between health professional curricula and health service provision.  OR

    *HSE4005S Course:   Academic Literacy for health professional education

    This course aims to enable students to critically examine disciplinary modes of communication within their field in order to identify meaningful themes and features, for example: disciplinary conventions; what is valued in the writing; and how the structure of the writing informs the function. At the end of the course the student should be able to critically engage with the theory of the traditional model and approach of academic literacy and the more contemporary view, which is informed by the academic literacy requirements of their own discipline; evaluate scholarly texts and other disciplinary modes of communication to identify meaningful themes and features of the disciplinary discourse and be equipped to enhance student understanding of core content, by explicitly teaching and supporting the development of academic literacy skills within the discipline, through purpose-designed teaching activities and assessments. OR

    *HSE4006S Course:   Technology assisted learning and teaching

    The course aims to enable students to evaluate educational technologies suitable for use within health professions education. It investigates which technologies and teaching approaches would be appropriate in a technology-enhanced teaching and learning environment. At the end of the course the student should be able to critically engage with the discourses around the use of technology as an important element in present day curriculum design, demonstrate an understanding of how different types of technology can be used for various teaching and learning activities and critically engage with the practical aspects of technologies in teaching and learning.

    *(Each elective will only run with a minimum of six students. For any elective chosen by less than six, those students will need to join another elective with a sufficient number of students.)

  • Duration and delivery

    The duration of the programme is 1 year full time or 2 years part time. Delivery is via a distance learning mode with three one week on-campus contact block periods, and a 32 week off-campus component. This consists of self-study with readings, weekly interactive sessions through Vula (our Sakai based e-learning platform, similar to Moodle, Blackboard and Web-CT) unlimited interactive peer sessions, working on and submitting assignments, completing structured reflective tasks on the application of the theory to practice. The self-study component contains structured tasks relevant to each participant’s work context. These tasks will form the basis of the assignment for each course. Practical workplace experience consists of participants drawing on their present work situation and applying theory to their work situation. Assignments are based on actual work situations and on implementing change to current practice. Therefore, it is essential that you are teaching presently, whether it is classroom, laboratory, clinical or community based.

    Full- time studies imply:

    If completing the PG Dip full-time, you will complete all 4 courses in the one year, as described above and write the final integrated examination (HSE4004S) at the end of the year. You should expect to spend 17 hours per week on readings and activities.

    Part-time studies imply:

    If completing the PG Dip part-time, you will complete 2 courses in the first year (HSE4000F and HSE4002S) and two courses in the second year (HSE4001F and HSE4003/5/6S) and write the final integrated examination (HSE4004S) at the end of the second year. You should expect to spend 8.5 hours per week on readings and activities.

    The only face-to-face block periods for 2022 are as follows:

    January: Monday 10 – Saturday 15 (Full-time and Part-time)

    June: Monday 6 – Friday 10 (Full-time and Part-time),

    November: Monday 7 – Friday 11 (All students registered for HSE 4004S)

    This course is largely an interactive, online distance learning course, with regular weekly activities to complete.

  • Programme fees

    See accompanying pdf, page 89, for the fees for 2021 if you are a South African citizen. SADC and international students see additional information regarding fees in section 5 pages 18-26.



Programme convenor

Lunelle Pienaar, Education Development Unit (EDU), Department of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences,

University of Cape Town, Observatory, 7925

Contact us:

Contact us via email: HPedu-pgdip@uct.ac.za     Or

Telephone: Ms Lunelle Pienaar    |   Tel: +27 21 406 6827

PG Dip HPE Administrator   |   Tel: +27 21 650 5426


How to apply: (Applications open in April and close at the end of October)

Apply online http://applyonline.uct.ac.za via University of Cape Town’s website

Contact the administrator if you have any difficulties you may have with your online application on +27 650 5426 or HPedu-pgdip@uct.ac.za..