Write ability learning outcomes

 Ability learning outcomes describe the skills it is hoped that students will gain and can be divided into:

Subject specific skills

Examples of appropriate verbs might include:


enquire, investigate, research, question, initiate, seek


illustrate, demonstrate, exemplify, apply, employ


originate, invent, conceptualise, create, solve, produce

Cognitive skills

These more easily translate into effective learning outcome statements and, of module, the language of the outcomes should refer to the substantive subject knowledge contained in the ‘Module contents’.

It is important, especially when matching the learning outcome to an appropriate assessment, to select the most suitable verb. Examples of verbs used in outcomes relating to intellectual ability might include:


state, list, name, record, indicate, recount, define, outline


discuss, clarify, recognise, describe, restate, explain


compare, contrast, distinguish, appraise, debate, analyse, examine, categorise


formulate, plan, design, develop, redefine, propose


assess, criticise, evaluate, appraise, judge, discriminate, estimate


make distinctions, achieve coherence, conceptualise, display ideas

Transferable skills

Examples of appropriate verbs might include:


express, précis, articulate, advocate, argue, present, justify, formalise, question, defend, examine, explain, summarise, illustrate


co-operate, interact, establish rapport, collaborate, listen, respond, participate,


direct, co-ordinate, arbitrate, guide, initiate, lead, motivate, direct

An example

Here is an example of how (part of) the ‘Module contents’ section of a module in English Language might appear:

  1. The basic principles of semiotic analysis with particular reference to the use of symbols and icons in human communication.
  2.  The basic principles of linguistic analysis with particular reference to sound (phonetics), grammar (syntax) and meaning (semantics).
  3. The phonemic transcription of English.

And the following shows how the substantive content contained under the ‘Module Contents’ heading might be reflected under the ‘Learning Outcomes’ heading of the module specification:

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

Cognitive skills 

Analyse visual and written material using the basic principles of semiotic and linguistic analysis.

Subject specific skills Judge the effectiveness of specific examples of human communication through application of basic semiotic and linguistic principles. 

Encode and decode English words and sentences using simple phonemic transcription.

Transferable skills

Demonstrate competence in group report writing.