PostGraduate 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.

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 OR
  • *Technology assisted learning & teaching
    Note: Electives will only run if significant number of students choose this option


Semester 1

HSE4000F Course: Teaching and learning theories in health professional education

This course introduces students to teaching and learning theories applied to the broad health sciences context within a Primary Health Care led health system, and 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 health sciences, clinical and practice learning context. It includes critical appraisal of relevant theories, e-learning, research evidence as well as the impact of organisational change on teaching and learning. The main theories covered in the course are experiential learning theory, cognitive constructivism and social constructivism, situated learning theory focussing on learning in a community of practice and connectivism as related to e-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.


*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 are addressed. It includes educational theory; approaches to curriculum development; models and principles of course design; course evaluation instruments; the hidden curriculum; and the relationship between health sciences curricula and health service provision, OR

*HSE4005S Course: Academic Literacy for health professional education

The 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 or how the structure of the writing informs the function. Students will then learn how to teach and support academic literacy development in their own students, OR

*HSE4006S Course: Technology assisted learning and teaching

This course enables students to evaluate educational technologies suitable for use within health professions education. We cultivate an understanding of the advantages, disadvantages and opportunities for utilizing technology in teaching and learning. This is done through critical engagement with emerging technologies.

Note: * 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.

Full- time studies imply:
If completing the PG Dip full-time, you will complete all 3 compulsory and one elective 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 including one of 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.

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.

Admissions 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.   

On completion of the programme students will be equipped to:

  • 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.

Closing date for applications: 31 October 2017