Work Based & Integrative Studies MA
2017 - 2018
Master of Arts
Work Based & Integrative Studies
Work Based & Integrative Studies [MA, MSc, MBA]
University of Chester
University of Chester, and the University College Isle of Man.
The programme is delivered at the Chester and Warrington Campuses. The client-centred nature of this programme also requires that individual modules be delivered at sites determined by clients' needs. For example, current delivery sites include Arrowe Park Hospital. The programme is also delivered by our partners at the University College Isle of Man.
A number of our WBIS approved studies routes are supported primarily at distance.
Work Based and Integrative Studies
Full-time and Part-time
Distance, Residential and Open, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)
This is negotiable within stated parameters, though a full Master's degree would most typically take between 2-4 years.
Business and Management
Centre for Work Related Studies
No benchmark characteristics have been published for this programme except with regard to the WBIS MBA award where QAA guidelines for postgraduate Business & Management programmes apply (see Section 27 below). Other programmes are designed to embrace relevant subject benchmark statements or relevant occupational standards and equivalents delineating specialist practice areas, where appropriate.
Not currently applicable.
Work Based and Integrative Studies Postgraduate Module Assessment Board.
Tuesday 1st May 2012
WBIS is a framework designed to accredit work based and work related learning in HE. Its name reflects the nature of the framework itself: 'work based' because it allows students to access academic credit for their experiential learning at work; 'integrative studies' because students are typically able to integrate relevant taught modules (from the University's 'bank' of modules) into their negotiated pathway of learning. These pathways of learning can be negotiated by individual students or by organisations on behalf of cohorts of students.
The WBIS framework and its programmes specifically aim to:
provide access to learning opportunities which promote personal and professional development undertaken for academic credit and/or personal need;
enhance students' workplace practice through application of the knowledge and skills gained through their degree programme and elsewhere;
enable students to gain recognition for their relevant prior learning, whether experiential or certificated;
deliver coherent, meaningful, approved studies routes which give participants the opportunity to negotiate their learning, plan their study routes and achieve their desired outcomes;
facilitate reflective practice and develop knowledge and understanding of its underpinning theory;
develop the skills and knowledge appropriate to the field(s) of learning within approved studies routes and reflect academic development in those fields;
work with businesses and organisations who seek staff development and CPD opportunities through higher education;
make use of the widest learning resources available, as appropriate, for module achievement.
Subject specific knowledge and understanding will be developed in the context of modules negotiated as part of the student's pathway, including the customised, subject specific, taught work related modules situated within the pre-validated templates. Across the programme students engage with the principles and practices of work based learning - self review, work based skills and processes, work-based research methods, project design, implementation and evaluation, self-critical reflection. Application, reflection and modification of practice are informed by practice-based and professional expertise.
Specifically, students will be able to:
1. Develop coherent lines of discussion and argument related to the field of practice/subject area concerned from relevant sources.
2. Consider critically the appropriateness of sources and their application to work-based practices, ensuring that any unpublished sources are used in both a critical and accessible manner.
PG Diploma, as above plus:
3. Formulate ideas and arguments which demonstrate innovative or original ways of thinking and doing in their area of professional practice/subject area.
MA/MSc/MBA, as above plus:
4. Undertake practitioner research work (e.g. experimental, experiential, reflective) in their field in such a way that is planned, implemented and evaluated with due regard to appropriate modes of enquiry and evidence.
Self Review & Negotiation of Learning, and Skills & Approaches for WBL only map to the PG Certificate PLOs, ie PLO 1 & 2.
All other Level 7 WBIS modules map to (or potentially map to) PLOs 1-3, ie the PG Certificate and Diploma, except the Triple NELM which only maps against the MA/MSc/MBA through PLO 4, above.
Intellectual and cognitive skills will be developed through generic framework modules and those designed with subject and practice-based content specifically for the programme. Intellectual and cognitive skills will be developed through analysis and reflection on the work-based and work-related learning experiences which are central to the programme.
Specifically, students will be able to:
1. Contextualise their role within the workplace and review critically their own perspective on the world of work.
2. Review and critique the current knowledge base underpinning specific areas of work and demonstrate extension of work-based (tacit) knowledge.
3. Review critically approaches, methodologies and practices used in the workplace and identify how these might be enhanced.
4. Review published literature and demonstrate how current working practices might be informed and enhanced by relevant research and/or contemporary developments in best practice.
PG Diploma, as above plus:
5. Illustrate appropriate analysis and synthesis of concepts and/or protocols used in one (work-based) context and demonstrate their effective application in another.
MA/MSc/MBA, as above plus:
6. Demonstrate high-level logical thought, interpretation and application in work-based research settings.
Self Review & Negotiation of Learning, and Skills & Approaches for WBL only map to the PG Certificate PLOs, ie PLOs 1-4.
All other Level 7 WBIS modules map to (or potentially map to) PLOs 1-5, ie the PG Certificate and Diploma, except the Triple NELM which only maps against the MA/MSc/MBA through PLO 6, above.
Work-based, professional skills and processes are central to the programme. Learning outcomes which focus on practical skills will be specified in the taught module descriptor or Negotiated Experiential Learning Agreement as appropriate. Practice and professionally based skills e.g. for nursing, teaching, business, IT, etc. will reflect specific vocational areas and may be specified within modules. Practical skills and professional competencies will be assessed within the workplace by Associate Tutors, appointed by the Centre for Work Related Studies, Professional Development, who are demonstrably competent to make the assessment based on their qualifications and experience.
Specifically, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate the qualities and skills necessary for career progression, professional and personal development in their area of practice, necessitating the exercise of personal responsibilities and the ability to make strategic decisions.
2. Relate relevant practical and professional skills to an academically rigorous course of study in a way which can create positive impact within their organisation.
3. Make and critically justify complex business/organisational decisions.
PG Diploma, as above plus:
4. Apply and adapt a range of appropriate models, tools and techniques to manage the processes of information collection, validation, critical analysis and interpretation of workplace activity.
MA/MSc/MBA, as above plus:
5. Use a systematic approach to plan and undertake a substantial independent investigation that challenges and adds to the body of knowledge in their field of enquiry / area of professional practice.
Self Review & Negotiation of Learning, and Skills & Approaches for WBL only map to the PG Certificate PLOs, ie PLOs 1-3.
All other Level 7 WBIS modules map to (or potentially map to) PLOs 1-4, ie the PG Certificate and Diploma, except the Triple NELM which only maps against the MA/MSc/MBA through PLO 5, above.
Written and verbal communications skills (e.g. written report or essay and when giving formal presentations) are integral to the programme and relate intrinsically to the areas of professional practice concerned.
Specifically, students will be able to:
1. Communicate a range of complex ideas that relate to both personal CPD opportunities and practice knowledge.
PG Diploma, as above plus:
2. Demonstrate a mastery of professional communication skills in their field of practice.
MA/MSc/MBA, as above plus:
3. Communicate practitioner research findings with clarity and precision so as to meet both academic and professional requirements, as necessary.
Self Review & Negotiation of Learning, and Skills & Approaches for Work Based Learning only map to the PG Certificate PLOs, ie PLO 1.
All other Level 7 WBIS modules map to (or potentially map to) PLOs 1-2, ie the PG Certificate and Diploma, except the Triple NELM which only maps against the MA/MSc/MBA through PLO 3, above.
This negotiated programme is modular in structure. Students may elect to complete the full Master's degree or to exit the programme with one of two intermediate awards: i. a Postgraduate Certificate or ii. a Postgraduate Diploma. WBIS approved studies routes are usually negotiated in relation to the client's work-based development needs and specialist areas of practice. Approved studies routes may be designed to feature WBIS modules alone, or a blend of these plus discipline-specific modules selected from those offered by other Faculties within the University.
Module selection: Modules selected as part of approved studies routes must be at the appropriate level and modular pre-requisites are recognised in the usual way. To ensure coherence of approved study routes, only modules related to the field of working practice and/or the negotiated award title of the participant, will be permissible.
Students on individually negotiated routes will complete an Approved Studies Learning Agreement (ASLA) in consultation with their Personal Academic tutor. This will be submitted to the WBIS programme team for approval, and reported to the University’s Work Based and Integrative Studies Approval Panel.
Specific pre-validated, Level 7 modules have been written for the programme and these generally relate to the need to help students plan and contextualise negotiated programmes of work-based and work-related learning. These modules typically form the key components of a WBIS negotiated route and include:
Self Review and Negotiation of Learning, where students engage in a process of personal review and then negotiate an outline learning pathway (‘approved studies') based on their personal and professional development needs. This is typically the first module a student will take on their WBIS study route, enabling them to engage in the process of programme planning.
Skills & Approaches for Work Based Learning, a module which is designed to help prepare the ground for work-based experiential learning and the accumulation of academic credit for this purpose. It is typically taken after the Self Review module.
Academic Skills for Work Related Study, which focuses on helping students engage with academic processes and conventions, including writing essays and reports, and how to reference consistently.
Designing Practitioner Research, which helps students prepare for research projects in the workplace, being mandatory for all students on full Master's degree programmes. Master's students would usually take this module just before the significant research project which finishes a full M.A., M.Sc. or MBA programme of study.
Exit Review & Forward Planning - typically taken by students at the end of their WBIS approved studies pathway, this module encourages students to reflect on their programme of study as a whole, look at how they have developed personally and professionally, and then plan for future opportunities and career progression in the light of this.
In addition, two types of pre-validated ‘template' module exist within the WBIS post-graduate programme:
Negotiated Experiential Learning Modules(NELMs), which give credit for work-based experiential learning and project work. Learning is driven by workplace practice and experiences and students customise generic learning outcomes with their own, specific ones negotiated with their tutor, also having the opportunity to negotiate appropriate module assessment. The negotiated elements are captured via Negotiated Experiential Learning Agreement (NELAs).
WBIS Work-Related Taught Modules. These specialist taught modules are commissioned and designed on a collaborative basis by organisations and individuals working with the University, and are aimed at increasing vocational knowledge and competence in specific areas of study. They exist as generic ‘templates' which can be specifically customised at each level of study. Organisations, students and other interested parties may negotiate the content, assessment and learning strategies. The customised versions of these template modules are presented to - and authorised for use by - the University's WBIS Approval Panel.
In relation to the above, the validation of the WBIS framework allows the University's WBIS Approval Panel to authorise:
(i) customised versions of the WBIS Taught Work-Related Modules to meet the student's / client's needs
(ii) negotiated approved studies, which may include the types of module listed above, plus modules from relevant, existing validated programmes offered elsewhere within the University (the University of Chester bank of modules)
A link to the list of customised modules approved by the WBIS Approval Panel is in section 31.
A summary of the framework modules available and their codes is given below :
Awards and credits available
(FHEQ Level 7)
Normally, IS7001 Self Review and Negotiation of Learning.
IS7 022 Designing Practitioner Research is a core module for those undertaking a research-based Negotiated Experiential Learning Module.
IS7 002 Skills and Approaches for Work-based Learning (20 credits)
IS7 023 Exit Review and Forward Planning (20 credits)
In addition to the above, students may, through negotiation, elect to include modules selected from the University's FHEQ level 7 module bank which are appropriate to the student's WBIS approved studies route.
Note: students may include a single, 20 credit, FHEQ level 6 module within their approved studies route (the rationale for this is stated above).
See section 24c
Programme Award Titles and Component Modules.
The usual criteria relating to the quantity and level of credit will determine the exit awards:
degree awards: the title M.Sc. or M.A., will be conferred according to the same general criteria operating across the undergraduate Combined Honours framework, where the major discipline across the modules studied dictates the title; in the case of WBIS, all credit counted towards the relevant award shall be taken into account. In the situation where individual modules are undertaken that have no distinct Arts/Science focus (such as, on occasion, experiential learning modules which may cross-cut disciplines) then the appropriate title of awards relating to the profession concerned will be the germane factor in the case of this particular credit (e.g. for students working in the field of nursing these modules will be counted as Science, or for a student who is a public sector manager, Arts). If, across an approved studies route, the nature of the exit award is for any reason in doubt, then the default degree award will be an Arts one.
degree awards: in the case of the MBA award, where a student negotiates a programme that includes all of the following aspects : markets, customers, finance, management of operations, communication & information technology (CIT), business policy and strategy and pervasive issues in strategic business management, the final award will be Master of Business Administration (Work Based & Integrative Studies).
named approved studies: Where the Programme Team negotiates approved studies leading to an award with an individual student or with a client or partner institution involving a cohort of students, the award will be appropriately named and subject to final ratification by the University’s WBIS Approval Panel: e.g. M.Sc. Mental Health Nursing (Work Based and Integrative Studies). Award titles must relate to the student’s area of working practice and the modules which make up the approved studies route leading to the award must offer coherence.
intermediate awards of Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma will be available.
FHEQLevel 7 - Master's Level After admission to the programme at Level 7, the student or employer-client negotiates a WBIS approved studies pathway of either three, (Postgraduate Certificate) six (Postgraduate Diploma) or nine modules (M.A., M.Sc. or MBA). Successful completion of the relevant number of modules will permit a student to exit the programme with : i. a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits, 3 modules - minimum 40 credits at Level 7, maximum 20 creditsat Level 6) ii. a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits, 6 modules - minimum 100 credits at Level 7, maximum 20 creditsat Level 6) iii. a Master's Degree (M.A./M.Sc./MBA) (180 credits, 9 modules - minimum 160 credits atLevel 7, maximum 20 credits at Level 6).
As this is a programme of work based learning, full student anonymity with regard to assessment is not possible.
This is not currently relevant, though future developments are likely to involve alignment of particular WBIS routes with Apprenticeship Standards, such as the Level 7 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (pending).
It will be usual for candidates undertaking study at FHEQ Level 7 to have a first degree in any discipline together with requisite professional experience. In certain circumstances, candidates without a first degree but with high level professional responsibility and experience may be admitted directly to Level 7 study on the provision of evidence demonstrating their capability of study at this level. This will typically take the form of an interview, requiring them to provide evidence of their Master's Level cognitive skills and abilities as applied in the workplace (such as critical evaluation, strategic thinking and decision-making, etc). Where a candidate seeks entry to postgraduate study without professional experience a first degree normally achieved at second class honours or above will be a requirement. Through the initial Self Review module students will be encouraged, if appropriate, to seek credit for prior learning (including prior experiential learning) through the University’s APL processes and procedures.
In respect of the MBA (WBIS) entrance, students may not transfer into this programme after initial registration and they must also satisfy a mandatory requirement of an honours degree in an appropriate area and a minimum of two years appropriate management or business experience.
There are no benchmark characteristics specific to this programme except in respect of the MBA award (see below). Programmes are designed to embrace subject benchmark statements or relevant occupational standards or equivalents which delineate specialist practice areas where appropriate.
For the MBA award, Subject Benchmark Statements apply. Under QAA typology the MBA is defined as a type 3 career development level 7 programme requiring significant relevant work experience.
The MBA (WBIS) is firmly grounded in work based and action based learning and this is demonstrated by its learning methods and the experience of the teaching team of academics and practitioners. Many of the teaching team hold professional qualifications in addition to academic qualifications.
The MBA (WBIS) can be negotiated within the parameters set by the benchmark, and culminates in a substantial Project / Dissertation via a Triple NELM. This major piece of work gives the student an opportunity to demonstrate and comply with this QAA benchmark and also enhance their own career development within a working environment.
With direct relevance, the QAA MBA benchmark from 2015 states:
"3.11 Type 3: Graduates will have been able to ground their new knowledge within the base of their professional experience. They will be able to reflect on and learn from that prior experience and thus be able to integrate new knowledge with past experience and apply it to new situations. They will be able to challenge preconceptions and to remove subject and functional boundaries so as to handle complex situations holistically. They also have particular strengths in analysing, synthesising and solving complex unstructured business problems. In addition to being able to communicate their findings, they will have developed the leadership skills to implement agreed solutions effectively and efficiently.
3.12 For generalist programmes (types 2 and 3), graduates are able to collect relevant information across a range of areas pertaining to a current situation, analyse that information and synthesise it into an appropriate form in order to evaluate decision alternatives.
Within the broad framework of organisations, their external context and management, graduates will gain knowledge and develop understanding in most of the following areas:
Markets - the development and operation of markets for resources, goods and services.
Marketing and sales - different approaches for segmentation, targeting, positioning, generating sales, and the need for innovation in product and service design.
Customers - customer expectations, service and orientation.
Finance - the sources, uses and management of finance; the use of accounting and other information systems for managerial applications.
People - strategic and operational HRM, meeting future organisational requirements, people development, HR systems.
Leadership and management of people within organisations - leadership, organisational behaviour and motivation.
Operations - the management of resources and operations including the supply chain, procurement, logistics, quality systems, and project management.
Information systems and business intelligence - the development, management, application and implementation of information systems and their impact upon organisations; knowledge management.
Communications - the comprehension and use of relevant communications for application in business and management, including the use of digital tools.
Digital business - the development of strategic priorities to deliver business at speed in an environment where digital technology is reshaping traditional revenue and business models.
Business innovation - creativity, entrepreneurial behavior and enterprise development.
Strategic management - the development and implementation of appropriate strategies within a changing environment, risk management and issues of compliance.
Globalisation - growth of international business, inter-cultural perspectives."
The negotiated nature of the programme requires that tutorial staff adopt flexible strategies for teaching and learning. A range of approaches is thus used depending on the focus of the module and the mode of delivery appropriate to the client group. Some examples are listed below:
Individual face-to-face tuition plus support and guidance via e-mail and telephone (e.g. Self Review and Exit Review and Progression, Negotiated Experiential Learning modules)
Blended Learning predominantly using a web-based VLE but with additional e-mail/Skype/telephone tutorial support (e.g. distance learning students negotiating their programme)
Group Workshops plus online and e-mail support (e.g. Designing Practitioner Research, Taught WBIS modules, Skills and Approaches to Work-based Learning)
Action Learning sets
Role play activities and analysis of case studies (Conflict Transformation)
The use of online discussion groups with certain client groups (WBIS Postgraduate Certificate in Regeneration.)
Students are supported and their progress monitored by:-
i. e-mail, Skype, phone and where feasible, face-to-face contact.
ii. formative feedback on assignments.
ii. publication of four assignment submission deadlines throughout the year.
iv. contact of fallow students by their PAT three times per year.
In the spirit of work-based learning, assessment within this programme is often negotiable within set parameters outlined in the module descriptors, allowing participants to present workplace artefacts (where appropriate), and negotiate forms of assessment that otherwise have relevance to the workplace.
Description of the range of assessment methods
Assessment and learning are seen as complementary and interdependent. Where modules allow students to negotiate individual assignments, these will be designed to assess all or some of the learning outcomes.
i. Modules specific to the WBIS programme.
A number of modules on the programme (e.g. Self Review and Negotiation of Learning, Exit Review and Progression Planning, the NELM modules) enable students to identify realistic outcomes and promote self-audit of intellectual and practical capability, and attainment of personal development through critical reflection. Students are encouraged to reflect critically on some of the following areas: relevant professional knowledge, current working practices, problem solving, analytical and decision-making skills, pro-activity, creativity, and their ability to relate theory to practice, personal transferable skills, sensitivity to people and events, emotional resilience.
The modes of assessment used on the programme will include for example: critically reflective essay, presentation, project report, dialogue interview, an experiential learning proposal, a work-based research proposal and, on negotiation, work place artefacts. Examples of such artefacts might include: a website designed by the student, a video or DVD produced by the student, company report, policy or procedure, a database and supportive training documentation developed by the student. The mode of assessment appropriate to and agreed in the the Negotiated Experiential Learning Modules, will be formalised in the Negotiated Experiential Learning Agreement (NELA). Formal examinations are not normally used as a mode of assessment within the WBIS accredited modules.
Re-assessment will normally be designed to assess the same qualities and learning outcomes as the original assessment. However the method by which these are assessed may be changed in order that students are given maximum opportunity to demonstrate their learning. This will be specified in the module descriptor.
ii.Modules selected from the UC module bank and integrated within the student's approved studies pathway: Assessment and re-assessment will conform to specification outlined in the validated programme and its module descriptors.
Level related assessment criteria: Assessment for all modules within this programme will conform to the generic FHEQ Level 7 descriptors, and the assessment criteria and methods published for those modules.
As WBIS is a programme which is designed to facilitate work-based and work-related learning, students following the programme are typically already in employment. Graduates who have already completed the programme indicate that the skills and abilities they have developed during their period of study have enabled them to reflect upon, and consider, their personal and professional development in some depth.
Career paths followed by WBIS students are hugely varied, though substantial numbers work in the fields of management, education, nursing, IT, services, administration and coaching.
WBIS students are encouraged, when appropriate, to undertake the Exit Review and Forward Planning module at the end of their period of study on the programme. This module enables students to reflect on their development across their entire WBIS programme of study and encourages them to plan for future career and personal development. Until recently, it was a unique module in Higher Education in the UK, and has since been adopted as good practice on similar programmes of negotiated work-based learning at other UK HEIs.
The WBIS programme fully embraces the University's Lifelong Learning and Widening Access and Participation agendas, being specifically designed to facilitate a negotiated curriculum that is tailored to the learner's needs and flexible in terms of both the mode and location of delivery, and of assessment. The programme is open to all students who meet the admission requirements specified in the relevant section above.
The needs of students with specific needs or disabilities are closely managed in collaboration with the University's Disability Support Service. A number of staff within the Centre have experience in supporting students with specific needs /disabilities.
A Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks will not normally be required unless, in completing a module(s), students are working with children or vulnerable adults. In the case of NELM modules, this issue will be discussed during negotiation of the Negotiated Experiential Learning Agreement (NELA).