Teaching Qualification in Adult Education (TQAE)



Admission is suspended for 2015

1st in Scotland for Education The Times Good University Guide 2014

1st in Scotland The Guardian University Guide 2015

4th in the UK The Complete University Guide 2015

The independent Complete University Guide for 2015 has rated the School of Education, University of Stirling as fourth in the UK as a provider of Education programmes and for its research in Education.

The Teaching Qualification in Adult Education (TQAE) has been developed for tutors, trainers, development or support workers who deliver formal or informal learning or training programmes across the Adult Education sector. TQAE is open to colleagues in community learning and development; community-based adult education; adult literacy and numeracy; workplace and work-based learning; further education; health care, police and emergency services; trades union education, third sector or voluntary sector; independent schools; museums and libraries; private training providers and prison education, and staff from other relevant organisations or areas.

The Teaching Qualification in Adult Education provides a professional teaching qualification for staff delivering education and training in Adult Education in Scotland, the UK and in Europe.

The course explores the diversity that exists in the traditions, theories and practices of education across the differing areas of Adult Education and requires students to critically examine these differing aspects, using their learning to understand, inform and shape their own teaching practice. The coursework and assignments will require students to engage critically with both theory and practice and then apply their learning to their own teaching context.

Key information

  • Degree type: BA
  • Study methods: Part-time, Campus based
  • Duration: one year
  • Start date: June
  • Course Director: Jim Bradley
  • School: School of Education

TQAE Secretary University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467934 www.stir.ac.uk/education

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What makes us different?

The University of Stirling is one of the three Scottish universities endorsed by the Scottish Government to offer the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) course. The TQFE award is the premier award for teachers in the further education sector in Scotland. This expertise in training teachers is informed by our excellence in educational research and it is from this strong base that the Teaching Qualification in Adult Education has been developed.

The School of Education at the University of Stirling is the only education department in Scotland to offer a professional level teaching qualification which focuses exclusively on adult education.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Applicants will normally hold an HND or equivalent qualification and be working in a paid or unpaid capacity in the post 16 education sector.  Applicants must also have amassed at least 120 hours in a teaching, training or tutoring role prior to undertaking the course.

All TQAE candidates must have a core skills profile of SCQF Level 6.


English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course is taken over the academic year and comprises three modules at SCQF Level 10 worth 120 points. Applicants must hold an HND or equivalent to enter the course and on completion will graduate with a BA in Tertiary Education with Teaching Qualification in Adult Education.  Applicants applying for the course must be working in post 16 education sector, in a paid or unpaid capacity, and have amassed at least 120 hours of teaching, tutoring or training  practice in the twelve months prior to their entry to the course.

You will complete the following three modules:

  • The Principles and Practice of Adult Education: enables students to establish an understanding of the principles of adult education and then examine how these principles impact on their practice. The focus of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to explore and recognise this diversity of influences and help them establish a fuller understanding of the place of theory and practice in adult education. Students from different adult education traditions will research and examine the range of practices making up the sector and consider whether a common framework of understanding of principles, theories and concepts for the field is practicable and desirable. It will also help students develop an understanding of the diverse approaches to the design, development and delivery of adult education provision. In this way this introductory module provides the prerequisite knowledge and understanding for the remainder of the course.
  • Teaching and Assessment: focuses on the theory and practice of curriculum design, learning delivery, assessment and course evaluation. Adult education courses, in particular, focus on the concept of a learner centred provision and the negotiated curriculum. This module will enable students to explore and examine theory surrounding curriculum development, learning and evaluation, allowing them to develop their own programme development, management and evaluation knowledge and practice. The module is classroom based and will be assessed through coursework.
  • Workplace Practice in Adult Education: enables students to reflect on, and demonstrate, their practice and how the skills and experiences gained through the first two modules has impacted on and informed their practice. The students are required to undertake a work-based project which will demonstrate effective practice in one of the following five areas: Support and Guidance in Adult Education; Diversity and Inclusion; Learner Success and Progression; Determining Quality in Adult Education Programmes: Developing, Designing and Managing an Adult Education Provision. Successful students will be eligible to progress to the Master of Education course at the University of Stirling.

Delivery and assessment

The course is full-time and consists of three modules offered over one calendar year. The first module is offered in mid- June at the University of Stirling. The second module takes place over the autumn semester and third module is a work-based practice module which requires on campus attendance for one day. Students will undertake the rest of this module in their own workplace with tutorial support being offered online or by telephone. Additional on campus support days can be arranged if required by the students on the programme and this will be subject to negotiation to ensure that these days take place at a mutually convenient time.

Assessment is 100% coursework. This coursework will involve a combination of written assignments, case studies and work-based observations. Normally the observations and assessments carried out in the workplace will be graded on a pass/fail basis.


  • The Principles and Practice of Adult Education
  • Teaching and Assessment
  • Workplace Practice in Adult Education

Recommended reading

  • Brookfield, S, (1986), Understanding and facilitating Adult Learning, Milton Keynes, Open University Press
  • Derrick, J, Field, J, Howard, U, Lavender, P, Meyer, S, Niussl von Rein, E, and Schuller, T, (2010), Remaking Adult Education. London, Institute of Education
  • Ecclestone, K, (2002), Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education, London, RoutledgeFalmer
  • Hillier, Y. (2002) Reflective Teaching in Further and Adult Education, London: Continuum
  • Illeris, K, (ed), (2010), Contemporary Theories of Learning, New York, Routledge

Modes of study

Full-time, one year.

Find out more


Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

The course is offered both as a campus-based and work-based provision. Students will undertake the first module over three days in June of each year. The second module is then offered over four on campus days in the autumn Semester. In addition, for this module students will require to undertake two observations of their practice which will be carried out by members of the School of Education or their appointees. Finally, in the spring Semester students will then undertake a work-based module which will require one day's attendance on campus and off campus support as required.    

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


1st in Scotland for Education (Guardian Good University Guide 2015)

1st in Scotland and 4th in UK for Education (Times / Sunday Times League Table 2014)

The independent Complete University Guide for 2015 has rated the School of Education, University of Stirling as fourth in the UK as a provider of Education programmes and for its research in Education.

Study abroad opportunities

It is not possible to study abroad during this course


The School of Education through its expertise in teaching, research, scholarship and practice has developed the Teaching Qualification in Adult Education award to meet the specific needs of those who deliver learning and teaching in the adult education, vocational education and training and post compulsory education sectors. The course is suitable for all adult educators who deliver informal, non-formal, formal and accredited learning programmes or provisions.   

We are the only university in Scotland, and one of the few in the UK, with the expertise to be able to design, develop and offer the Teaching Qualification in Adult Education. The School already offers the Teaching Qualification in Further Education which is the premier teaching qualification in Scotland for those who work in the further education sector. This further adds to our reputation as one of the leading providers of adult education qualifications in the UK.  

The School of Education at the University of Stirling has strong links with the adult education sector through its partnership working, both national and international and its research and scholarship activities, being the number one department in Scotland and number forth in the UK for educational research.  The School underlines its commitment to adult education by offering the Access to Degree Studies course which enables mature adults with no entry level qualifications to progress to degree level study.

The School has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the theory and practice of adult education. The Teaching Qualification in Adult Education award has been developed by staff with a wide range of experience as both practitioners and researchers in adult education. In addition, for those in Scotland, we are looking to gain General Teaching Council of Scotland verification for TQAE,our aim being to enable those who gain the TQAE award to teach in the further education sector without having to gain the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) award. 

Academic strengths

The TQAE course is delivered by staff that are both research active and have teaching expertise in the adult education. This enables the Teaching Qualification in Adult Education course to have a specific practice focus but with a strong research base. The School boasts some of the leading academics in adult education such as Richard Edwards, Mark Priestley and Tara Fenwick who are known internationally for their work in post-compulsory education. Allied to this are the scholarship and practice skills, knowledge and expertise of the staff who deliver TQAE, which makes it one of the leading post-compulsory adult education teaching qualification courses in the UK and in Europe.    

Our staff

Jim Bradley BA (Hons)

Jim Bradley is a Senior Teaching Fellow within the School of Education and the Course Director for the Teaching Qualification in Adult Education.  

Jim is a former Senior Lecturer in Adult Education in a further education college and before that was an Adult Learning Worker with a community education service. His main expertise is in student progression and student transition and he also has a particular interest in the provision and practice of learning and teaching within adult education.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This teaching qualification offers those working in the adult education field a unique opportunity to undertake a blended course of learning which draws on their existing knowledge and skills, and through critical reflection, discussion and access to current theory develops and enhances their teaching practice in Adult Education. The TQAE course focuses on theory-informed practice, recognising the value of both in the development of effective professional practice. Delivered by experienced staff in the adult education field, the course has been developed to enhance the professional practice of those currently working within adult education a specific teaching qualification that suits the needs of the post compulsory sector and further develop the quality of adult education provision, generally.


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

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