Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS)

Certificate of Higher Education / Diploma of Higher Education / Foundation Degree / BA (Hons) / BSc (Hons)

The University of Chester's flexible Work Based and Integrative Studies programme is tailored to provide academic recognition of learning undertaken primarily in the workplace. Our programme start dates are in September or April, and other times may be possible by negotiation.


Warrington Campus Open Day

Come to our Open Day on Saturday 21st October to find out more about this course.

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Our programme is ideal for those who recognise the potential of learning through work and who are prepared to assume a high level of responsibility for their own learning.

Learners can access taught elements at workshops or online and at distance but it is possible that programmes could primarily (and almost exclusively) entail work based projects, if so desired.

Note: * Undergraduate: Students on the WBIS programme are all classed as part time students and are given between 1 year and 7 years to complete, dependent upon the agreed award title.

Why study this course?

Benefits to the learner

  • Learning tailored to needs of employment and/or personal interests
  • Opportunity to develop skills
  • Gain credit for prior learning
  • Academic support throughout the programme
  • Programme can be accessed via distance-learning


WBIS is a flexible framework for the accreditation of work-based and work-related learning. The framework offers a range of awards from undergraduate Level 4 up to - and including - Master's level. 

Typically, it allows participants to negotiate their own pathway of learning related to their area(s) of working practice, and to choose a relevant award title. 

Some students on WBIS undertake a programme that has been in large part negotiated in advance with their employer. These are cohort negotiated programmes such as the WBIS ‘Foundation Degree in Government' (FDiG) Civil Service programme.

What qualifications are on offer?

There is an undergraduate modular programme with the following structure:

Level Credit total Award
Level Four 120 credits (6 modules at Chester) Certificate of Higher Education
Level Five 240 credits (12 modules at Chester) Diploma of Higher Education/Foundation Degree
Level Six 360 credits (18 modules at Chester) BA/BSc degree

More courses like this:

For more courses like this one, please see our Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which carries significant funding advantages, and Management and Leadership or Business Foundation Degree.

The modules given below are the latest example of the curriculum available on this degree programme.  Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to change from time to time as part of the University’s commitment to curriculum enhancement.

What type of modules are available on this programme?

Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL). This is where someone has been on a course previously that carries Higher Education credits and which is relevant to their programme. For instance, they may have previously taken a Foundation Degree or completed a module with the Open University. This credit can then be brought in to their programme and count as part of their pathway.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). This is a way in which the WBIS programme is extremely helpful, as it is designed to help participants gain recognition for their previous learning, in the workplace, ‘on the job'. Most participants on WBIS are able to make significant claims for prior experiential learning, and one of the most important tasks at the outset of the programme for students and tutors to engage in is to determine the extent (and likely evidence for) APEL claims. Normally, Chester regulations allow up to half of an entire award to be claimed through accreditation of prior learning (whether APEL, APCL or a combination).

Taught modules. We offer a wide variety of taught WBIS modules which can be an important source of work-related learning. These taught modules are either delivered with initial group sessions or are based on online resources you can study at distance (occasionally a mixture of the two). News of forthcoming taught modules with workshop elements are posted up on the WBIS portal, and a list of modules supported online and suitable for distance learners can be found on this WBIS portal too - though when you register for one of these make sure you tell the module tutor when you are about to start. It is also possible to take taught modules offered elsewhere within the University (e.g. from the School of Health, the Business School, etc) should they be available and fit your programme of study. If you are interested in this option, speak to your personal tutor.

Negotiated Experiential Learning. Like APEL, this is about learning experientially, ‘on the job', as opposed to in a lecture theatre or seminar room, but this time with regard to current or future learning rather than learning that has already happened. Negotiated Experiential Learning Modules (NELMs) give participants the freedom to negotiate their own learning outcomes in topic areas, and the method of assessment too. Often, this type of learning takes the form of a work based project and students use the outputs and artefacts generated on the job as part of their assessed work.

Programme Structure:

Most students begin WBIS with Self Review & Negotiation of Learning (or an equivalent) and plan their programme from this point on with a degree of freedom and flexibility, though after Self Review has been completed it may be the case that employers have arranged for students they are sponsoring to undertake certain other modules which can also be regarded as mandatory.

For participants on fully negotiated programmes, we recommend that Skills and Approaches for Work Based Learning should follow Self Review if the participant has little previous experience of work based learning in an academic setting. This module is designed to give students the wherewithal to be a successful work-based learner on the programme, with the ability to undertake work based projects and experiential learning at work more generally, for the purposes of academic credit. This module exists at all levels.

We also recommend participants take our Designing Practitioner Research (DPR) module if they are planning a research project of some kind. DPR  prepares you for undertaking research at work and exists at undergraduate Level 6 and at Master's level. Students nearing the end of their Master's level on WBIS are required to take DPR and then their 60 credit research NELM to finish off their programme.

This is negotiated with the tutor teaching the module but can involve; a portofolio of work, an assignment, a presentation, a dialogue assessment, storyboard or a combination of the forms of assessment mentioned above.

*There are no written examinations.

Most students on the programme wish to either progress and develop within their present career or change their career pathway.

By choosing a work-based, flexible, negotiated learning framework, students choose a programme relevant to their specific needs.


For further information please visit:


There are no formal entry requirements for undergraduate programmes, although determination, commitment and self-direction are needed.

Course Combinations:

Combinations are possible providing they concur with your programme pathway and award title and are agreed by the WBIS Programme Team.

Contact us

For details about your course or your application please get in touch.


“It’s (studying) given me back my confidence and self-esteem. I’d recommend learning through work to anyone, at any time of life. It’s study with a purpose.



"Because I am working full time and balancing lots of other things, the big plus is the flexibility. Also I am able to take ownership of my learning and have the degree tailored to my specific requirements.”


General Information