Professional Course

University Diploma in Clay Studies

Course details

Course code


Course level

Level 5

Course credits

60 credits

Next course date



1 year part time


Distance learning, Enterprise Centre

Course description

The distinctive nature of this programme is represented by the flexibility of its design and delivery. Its construction and innovative modes of delivery recognise the diverse and dispersed nature of not only the industry itself, but the potential student body it will serve. Due to the geographical spread of the industry, manufacturing sites and offices are often remote and isolated. Technical and operational staff very often spend a significant proportion of their time working outdoors, can be transient (with seasonal working activities sometimes playing a part) and they may also find that they are suddenly re-located, in some cases abroad. The provision offered within this programme of study, has had to evolve to meet the needs of such learners: taking advantage not only of traditional teaching and learning techniques, but utilising the most advanced learning technology for teaching, learning, supervision and assessment.

Key Characteristics

The programme enables the following opportunities:

  1. Equips learners for shortfall in international, national and local development needs
  2. Develops the learner’s knowledge and understanding of the Mineral Products sector and the context in which they operate, including global and environmental influences
  3. Prepares individuals to be operationally effective in management positions in the Mineral Products industry by providing them with the tools to achieve this, a strong theoretical base and a range of skills relevant to today’s business practice
  4. Enables a learner to develop their intellectual breadth and be able to make integrative links across the various areas of their organisations
  5. Develops knowledge and skills to enable a leader/manager to be responsive to change
  6. Increases capacity to learn, both on the programme and as independent lifelong learners following completion of the programme
  7. To act as a role model, with responsibility for those in senior positions
  8. Provides an academically rigorous and challenging programme of study aligned with the QAA Qualification Framework enhancing critical and reflective practice
  9. Provides flexible learning opportunities in a diverse environment that widens participation.

Structure, certificates and assessment

This module provides the learner with an underpinning knowledge of the techniques used to identify potential sources of clay for use in a range of clay products.

It will cover the areas of practical and scientific knowledge required to understand the environmental and geological factors that can have an impact on the development of a clay extraction site at the appropriate level within the clay technology industry.

It will consider the methods and techniques used to investigate and evaluate a potential source of clay, including site survey and site investigation methods. It includes the study of the ways of describing the characteristics and classification of clay, including laboratory testing and terminology used in site investigation reports.

This module provides the learner with an underpinning knowledge of the methods and techniques used to extract, stockpile, process and mould clay into a form that is ready for drying and firing as a clay product.

It provides an understanding of the issues and constraints associated with crushing and size reduction of clay lumps and particles. The module will review the various processes used to prepare the clay so that it can be used to produce clay products in a safe way that also respects the environment. It includes the methods that can be used to adjust and modify the characteristics of the processed clay and includes how the moulded clay can influence the dimensions and shape of the finished clay product. It includes a study of the techniques used to control the forming process.

The module will offer knowledge of how surface treatments can be used to create particular surface characteristics and properties in the finished clay product. The module also provides an understanding of how surface finishes can be used to provide resistance to specified ground conditions and end-use environments.

This module provides the learner with an underpinning knowledge of the techniques used to dry and then fire clay products.

It will cover the areas of practical and scientific knowledge required to perform at the appropriate level within the clay technology industry and provide the knowledge and understanding of the drying and firing processes that produce different types of clay products and the influence of drying and firing techniques on their characteristics.

It will consider the methods used to prepare (set) dried and formed clay products before they are fired and an understanding of different methods of removing moisture, including the rate of drying and associated process controls. It includes the study of the of the range of techniques and equipment used to fire clay products, including the chemistry and economics of firing; the economic operation of kilns; statistical process control techniques; and safe operation in a way that complies with pollution controls.

The module will offer an awareness of the published product Standards that define the characteristics of finished clay products, including the control of product conformity and an understanding of the methods used to stack and pack finished clay products in a way that is appropriate to the method used to deliver it to the customer. The module also examines the management of customer requirements, including quality management systems and an awareness of environmental aspects.

This module develops the operational, business and financial knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the effective management of a mineral products facility.

This includes an understanding of the human implications of running a successful business. The module also recognises the importance of communication (written and none written skills), people and values in developing a positive workplace culture. Furthermore, the concepts and principles of asset management are introduced to develop skills in relation to performance measurement and monitoring.

To meet with modern day challenges students are also provided with the fundamentals of building a sustainable business and the concept of cyber security. Additionally, for apprentices this module supports and develops completion of the e-portfolio required for End Point Assessment purposes.

This module brings together the learner’s knowledge of the industry gained from the programme and asks them to offer a detailed discussion of a problematic area and locate it within the wider context of current academic and professional thinking as presented in the literature and within the context of the area of the Mineral Product industry in which they work. Learners will be expected to demonstrate the ability to diagnose an organisational issue, to present this issue in a coherent manner, and to draw conclusions from their reading, personal analysis and workplace experience.


*Module not available as an option until September 2023*

How you will learn

The programme is influenced by the principles of work-based learning. As such a flexible range of teaching and learning methodologies are used relevant to particular groups or practices. For example: 

At undergraduate level, the emphasis is on fostering independent learning, whilst providing a supporting environment in which to study at higher level. One of the key aims of any undergraduate programme is to produce an independent learner capable of properly managing their time and resources to identify issues, decide how to collect and analyse evidence and reach reasoned evidence based conclusions, and to subsequently present this information via various methods of communication (written and oral).

Indicative methods of assessment include activities such as: 

These indicative approaches will be used to test attainment of knowledge and understanding as well as skills and capabilities thereby promoting ‘deep learning’.

Entry requirements

The programme has been designed to appeal to a wide audience.

  1. Operational managers, assistant managers and supervisors within the industry who have significant experience but limited qualifications, who wish to improve their level of competence within the industry.
  2. Graduate employees who already possess a degree in a related subject (e.g. mining engineering or geology), but who need to specialise in the sector.
  3. Employees from industry suppliers/manufacturers who would like to gain knowledge of the sector in order to better serve their specific industry clients.
  4. Consultants who would like to gain knowledge in a wider sense within the mineral products environment in order to support the service that they provide.

The following broad criteria applying for entry:

Fees and funding

UK/EU students

International students

Optional modules

*These fees apply if you’re starting this course between September 2023 and August 2024. We recommend you check fee details with us though, as they can change.

How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply directly to the University

Contact us

Clay Studies 01332 591066 (option 6)
Jon Austin 01332 597772

If you want to find out more about studying a short course, please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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