Course Writing And Development

External Studies course that teaches you how to write a course that engineers effective learning. Approaches to education are variable, and development of any course should maintain focus on both aims and delivery method.

Course CodeBGN107
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Course Writing is a Skill that is always in Demand

Writing a course is not the same as writing a book or an article. It involves communicating a learning pathway. Course documentation is a guide to learning. This guide may be intended for use by a student; by a teacher; or perhaps both.

ACS Staff have experience with writing more than 1,000 courses, and have delivered courses to over 100,000 people mostly by distance education; but also in face to face situations. This is the experience we bring to help you develop your skills in course writing.

Study course writing here and learn from our experience. 

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Bases for Education
    • Approaches to Education
    • Teacher Centred Learning
    • Student Centred Learning: PBL, Experiential, Montessori, Self paced learning
    • Specialist or Generalist Education
    • Competency Based Training; CBT
    • Homework
    • Delivery Modes
    • Issues For Learning; Lifelong learning, Foundation skill development, Reinforcement
    • Problem Based Learning; characteristics of PBL,Why PBL, Benefits of PBL, PBL Problems, PBL project stages
    • Education Contextualisation
    • Trends, Ethics, Equity
    • Establishing Course Aims
  2. Course Writing Methodologies
    • Developing Courses
    • Course Outlines
    • Curriculum Documentation
    • Study Notes
    • Continuous or Periodic Course Review and Development
    • Identifying Needs; student perspective, educators perspective, family perspective, community and industry perspective
    • Identifying Resources; student and teacher
    • Writing Aims, Competencies and Assessment Criteria
    • Writing Course Notes
    • Writing Practicals
    • Writing for Clarity and Understanding; principles of good writing, structuring the course
    • Coding Courses
    • Flexible Delivery
    • Applying Strategies for Flexible Delivery
    • Course Components; Assignments, Exercises, Brainstorming, Buzz Groups, Demonstration, Discussion, Case Study, Guest Speakers, Laboratory Work, Lecture, Mutual Lectures, Practical Workshop, Project, Tutorials
  3. Level of Study
    • Determining Appropriate Level of Study; Quantitative and Qualitative Factors
    • Descriptors
    • Duration
    • Assessment
    • Levels of Training; eg. varying certificate levels between UK and Australia
    • Lessons and lesson plans
    • Determining level required
    • Identifying student needs
    • Allowing for different modes of study
    • Structuring a lesson
    • Timing a lesson
    • Evaluating and improving a lesson
    • Levels and kinds of Language
    • Language of learning, and Professional language
    • Determining level of Training
    • Skills and Training Objectives; Competence
  4. Curriculum Documentation
    • Scope and Nature
    • Examples
    • Structure and Layout
  5. Course Materials
    • Introduction
    • Teaching Resources
    • Learning Resources
    • PBL Project; Develop a new course with minimum use of limited resources: financial and other.
  6. Course Material Creation
    • Developing knowledge
    • Applying Knowledge
    • Reflection and Review
    • Developing Skills
    • Innovation and Flexibility
    • Types of Support Materials; documentation, visual elements and illustration, technical aids
    • Factors to Consider when Writing Support Materials
    • Writing for Distance Education; Problems and Solutions
    • Writing a Question
    • Dealing with Practical Aspects of Education
    • Clarity and Consciousness
    • Improving Clarity
    • Understanding Causes of Confusion
    • Ways to Write Concisely
    • Differentiating between Guidelines, Instructions and Procedures
    • Correspondence Course Structure
    • Writing PBL Documentation
    • Handouts
    • Visual Materials; Illustration, Charts
    • Audio Materials, Recorded Presentations
    • Digital Technology; Educational Applications for Digital Technologies
    • Multimedia
    • The Internet
  7. Reviewing and Updating Courses
    • Change and Inertia in Education
    • Policies and Procedures to Support Change
    • How to Review a Course
    • Procedure for Changing an Established Course
    • Procedure for Maintaining Currency
  8. Recognition and Accreditation
    • Who can Provide Education
    • Universal Recognition; Is it Possible
    • Scope of Endorsement Systems
    • Recognition and Qualifications
    • What is Accreditation
    • The Value of Accreditation
    • Accreditation Myths
    • Recognition and Accreditation Systems
    • Trends
    • Who accredits or recognises what
    • Secondary, Vocational, University Education
    • Industry Training Boards
    • Accreditation Authorities
    • Other Forms of Recognition
  9. Application and Implementation
    • Delivering Classroom Based Courses
    • Session Organisation
    • Delivering Practical Courses Outside a Classroom
    • Delivering Distance Education Courses
    • Customising Distance Education
    • Assessment and Evaluation
    • Purpose of Assessment
    • Formulative, Cumulative and Sumative Assessment
    • Assessment Policies and Procedures
    • Marking Guidelines for Assignments

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Determine an appropriate basis for developing a course to suit a given need.
  • Write course documentation and materials methodically and with clarity.
  • Explain differences between levels of study, particularly in post secondary education.
  • Write curriculum documentation for a course.
  • Identify and evaluate sources for course materials and support services for a course.
  • Plan and create a variety of course materials to support learning
  • Establish procedures for reviewing and updating established course materials.
  • Compare relative values of formal course endorsement systems.
  • Plan the implementation of a developed course


Courses can be developed in different ways, but commonly courses use written documents that define, describe, outline and detail the direction and contents of that course.
Three types of documents that are commonly used to develop a course are course outlines, curriculum documentation and study notes:

a) Course Outlines (or Descriptions)

These describe the course either as a whole, or by breaking it into its components (i.e. modules and/or lessons).

These documents are mostly used in the pre-enrolment phase e.g. for course selection or marketing. For less formal courses e.g. Adult education, hobby classes, the outline may provide a guide for teaching staff to follow as they deliver the course.

A course outline may be seen by both the student and the teaching staff.

b) Curriculum Documentation

These documents define what a course is, in every respect. Their purpose might be:

  • As a reference point to be used by anyone writing course notes, study guides, or even delivering lectures or practical sessions.
  • As a document to be submitted for accreditation purposes.

They are generally seen and used only by the staff of the school (teachers and administrators).

Curriculum Documentation can be costly to write, and even more costly to maintain up to date. In large education systems (eg. government accreditation systems) they are commonly written before anything else, and their development involves seeking and applying input from designated experts. For example, a curriculum advisory committee commonly sets the framework for writing this documentation then meets periodically with course writers to review their progress.

Curriculum documents are not always necessary, and if they are not required for accreditation, you should seriously consider the cost benefit to be had before deciding to allocate financial or manpower resources to this type of documentation.

c) Study Notes

These are documents such as text books, handouts, accompanying notes, study guides, work sheets or anything else which serves one or another of two purposes:

  • To provide a source of information or
  • To provide a guide or pathway for the student to follow.

Continuous or Periodic Course Development

The relationship between course development and time has almost always been assumed to have only one option, that being to develop a course, finish development and then deliver it.

Changes to the course have almost always been viewed as something to be done every so many years; the only variable being how often a major review would be undertaken.

There are, in fact, two options:

Periodic Review

Here curriculum documentation (or course outline if there is no curriculum document) is revised using a similar procedure to that used for its original development. Commonly it is reviewed by a committee and a curriculum writer who then makes alterations. The committee is then required to make any adjustments and approve the alterations. The time interval between such reviews is commonly (across the world) every five years.

Continuous Review

This involves seeking input routinely and continuously from teaching staff and/or students (and/or perhaps industry). The course might never undergo a major change at any one point in time, but it could feasibly be altered daily, weekly or monthly; irregularly and as the need is detected.

This approach would have been difficult to manage prior to the widespread use of computers, but in today’s world, it is relatively easy to change curriculum documents, course outlines or study notes, as and when desired.


Student Perspective

Students do not always know their needs. To know what is needed in a particular discipline, one first needs to understand that discipline. If a student does not understand the discipline, their understanding of their needs in a course will necessarily be limited. If they do understand the discipline, there may well be little reason for them to undertake a course.

Students will inevitably have wants and expectations that relate to a course they undertake. Every student is likely to have a different set of priorities and expectations, and those expectations are likely to change as they progress through the course.

What will have changed when a student comes to the end of a course?

Their Perceptions

The course should have enlightened them and, with greater understanding and awareness, they may appreciate needs they didn’t see when they started.

The World

The community, industry and the value of knowledge and skills can be very different at the conclusion of a course, compared with what it was at the beginning.

Educator’s Perspective

An effective educator needs to be empathetic, that is, they must have the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the student, not just while the student is studying, but also when they have completed the course.

Family Perspective

Parents and/or families want to see value for education.

Community and Industry Perspective

Community and employers are motivated by their work and profit (or in the case of government or non-profit organisations, achieving more value for the money spent). Some employers will be concerned with-long term benefits from training, but often employers only worry about the short term.


Over 4 decades in the education industry has taught us a lot about course writing. Let us teach you what we have learn.


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John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. J
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Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting his own firm. Gavin has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Gavin has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert.
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Freelance writer, businesswoman, educator and consultant for over 30 years. Adriana has written extensively for magazines including free living publications -Grass Roots and Home Grown; and has authored or co authored many books ranging from a biography
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