Writing Course Aims and Learning Outcomes

What is the difference between Aims and Outcomes?

Aims tend to focus more on the intended results of teaching (what the teacher does), outcomes tend to focus more on the intended results of leaning (what the student does).

Aims describe what the teacher intends to achieve, outcomes state what it is that the learner should achieve.

Course Aims

Course Aims are statements that describe the overarching intentions of a course. They should try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the course?
  • What is the course trying to achieve?

Course Aims should not try to describe what students will be able to do by the end of the course – this is what the Course Learning Outcomes are for. Course Aims should be brief and concise, and provide students with an idea of what they can expect from the course. Good examples of Course Aims might be:

  • Encourage individual, creative approaches to all forms of graphic design
  • Develop a critical understanding of the historical and theoretical debates relevant to Fashion Design and its wider cultural context
  • Increase students’ confidence in their artistic practice and their confidence to take risks
  • Develop an understanding of the architect in society and of the professional practice of architecture

Course Learning Outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes are statements that describe the knowledge and aptitudes that students will have achieved and can reliably demonstrate upon successful completion of the course. Course Learning Outcomes should give students a clear idea of the knowledge and aptitudes that they are expected to develop during their course.

UCA courses use three broad categories of Course Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge: these should describe the areas of knowledge that students will be expected to acquire by the end of the course. Example might be:
    • Knowledge of and critical engagement with the practical, historical, cultural and professional issues which impact on the Fashion industry
    • Knowledge of the wider sector, governmental and legislative contexts and the impact of these on your professional practice
    • Knowledge of ways of thinking and practicing that are specific to the discipline

Understanding: these should describe what students will do during the course in order to develop their knowledge. Examples might be:

  • Understanding through reflective engagement with historical and contemporary debates and issues in Photography
  • Understanding through undertaking research designed to inform their artistic practice in the area of Graphic Design
  • Understanding through critical evaluation of forms of communication, media and culture, how they have come into being, and their impact on the contemporary landscape of Advertising

Application: these should describe the technical and transferable skills that students should be able to demonstrate by the end of the course. Examples might be:

  • Application of the underlying concepts and principles of Advertising to your own creative projects
  • Application of theoretical concepts of Fine Art to your own professional practice
  • Application of professional attitudes to teamwork and self-directed work
Subject Benchmark Statements for Art and Design

Subject Benchmark Statements for Art and Design

Well designed Course Learning Outcomes will:



When writing Course Learning Outcomes you should make reference to:

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

Aligning Aims and Outcomes

Course Aims should should be aligned with and informed by the School Aims, and provide a framework that can be used to inform the more detailed and specific aims of each Unit of the course.

Alignment of Course Aims and Outcomes

Alignment of Course Aims and Outcomes

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