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Providers work closely with organisations outside the sector to give students authentic, structured opportunities for learning in a workplace setting. This Theme provides practical advice on the formal agreements, design, information and monitoring pivotal to effective provision in this area. It is also relevant to higher education apprenticeships.

UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance: Work-based Learning

Publication date: 29 Nov 2018

Expectations and Practices for Work-based Learning

Guiding Principles

  1. Work-based learning courses and opportunities are designed and developed in partnership with employers, students and other stakeholders (where appropriate) and contain learning outcomes that are relevant to work objectives.
  2. Work-based learning consists of structured opportunities for learning and is achieved through authentic activity and is supervised in the workplace.
  3. Work-based learning opportunities are underpinned by formal agreements between education organisations, employers and students. 
  4. Education organisations and employers consider any specific issues in relation to the workplace environment and deal with them appropriately, including informal agreements where appropriate.
  5. Work-based learning is delivered through a meaningful partnership between students, employers and the education organisation.
  6. Work-based learning opportunities enable students to apply and integrate areas of subject and professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to meet course learning outcomes.
  7. Parties understand and respect the respective roles, responsibilities and expectations of the education organisation, employer and student, and appropriate training and support is provided where required.
  8. Education organisations and employers acknowledge individuals have unique needs within the education organisation and in the workplace, and collaborate to ensure opportunities are inclusive, safe and supported.
  9. Work-based learning opportunities are designed, monitored, evaluated and reviewed in partnership with employers.


  • Cooper, L. Orrell, J., & Bowden, M. (2010) Work integrated learning: A guide to effective practice. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Helyer, R. (2015) The work-based learning student handbook (2nd edition). Macmillan
  • Mezirow, J. (2009) Transformative Learning in Practice, USA, Jossey-Bass

Web resources


  • Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, Emerald
  • Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
  • Studies in Higher Education
  • The Journal of Work-Applied Management
  • Journal of Further and Higher Education
  • BERA Review of Education


  • Ahlgren L., and Tett L. (2010) Work-based learning, identity and organisational culture, Studies in Continuing Education, Vol 32, No. 1, pp17-27
  • Siebert S., and Walsh A. (2013) Reflection in Work-Based Learning: self-regulation or self-liberation? Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 18, No.2, pp167-178
  • Brodie P., and Irving K. (2007) Assessment in Work-Based Learning: investigating a pedagogical approach to enhance student learning, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 11-19
  • Costley C., and Armsby P., (2007) Work-Based Learning Assessed as a Field or a Mode of Study, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp21-33