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Writing learning outcomes

This section aims to assist you in:

  • writing learning outcomes in a way which will promote appropriate learning strategies and forms of assessment.
  • presenting module and programme specifications in a manner consistent with the QAA’s approach to discipline audit.

Grammatically, a learning outcome comprises:

  • An active transitive verb (or verb phrase).
  • An ‘object’ of the verb.
  • A qualifying clause or phrase which provides a context or condition.

For example:

Active verb



Contribute to

the manufacture of products

which meet customer need


financial advisory services

to individual customers

It is recommended that ‘knowledge & understanding’ and ‘abilities’ are presented as follows:

a.  ‘Knowledge & Understanding’ – including:

  • Knowledge of substantive material.
  • Understanding of theoretical perspectives, concepts and issues.

             Note that expressing knowledge and understanding in terms of learning outcomes is problematic as such outcomes are difficult to measure – see Write ‘knowledge & Understanding’ learning outcomes .

b.  ‘Abilities’ - including

  • Subject Specific Skills,subject based practical/professional skillssuch as information retrieval, the ability to apply knowledge in different situations, using laboratory and workshop equipment to generate data.
  • Cognitive skills, intellectual skillssuch as the ability to analyse problems and to propose solutions, the ability to think critically.
  • Transferable skills, or key skills such as learning to learn, communications, C&IT skills, reflection, teamwork, negotiation.