Online learning

Online learning

The TUC is at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to education and training. The aim is to enable all those at work to take part in and benefit from education. Online learning offers a convenient and effective solution to union representatives looking to develop their skills and knowledge.

TUC Education have developed a series of short, online, interactive modules on key issues useful to union reps.

See a full list of reps courses in the course directory.

About TUED Online Learning

All TUC Education's online courses are delivered through a web-based learning environment called Moodle. Group activities take place using an online forum, which learners can log into whenever is convenient.

Online courses are run in a similar way to classroom courses. They involve a mixture of discussion-based activities, workplace tasks and individual project work.
Online discussions are based around the activities and involve sub-groups of the class. They are facilitated by a TUC Education tutor.

Although reps are not required to log in at specific times, they do need to complete activities on a regular basis in accordance with a timetable set by the tutor at the beginning of the course. The courses cannot be completed independently.

For all TUC Education's online courses, we would expect you to:

  • study between five and seven hours a week
  • work with any groups you are asked to join
  • access the web and email at least three times a week
  • complete tasks, workplace activities and course work on time.

Online learning is especially suitable for union reps that need convenient and flexibly delivered training. To get the most from online learning you will need to be self-motivated, self-disciplined and organised.

Photo of people studying a computer

Application process

Union reps wishing to take a TUC Education's online course must complete the appropriate application form. Each course has a separate application online form which can be accessed via the course information pages.

You will receive an acknowledgement of your application by email within two weeks of submitting the form. The email will give details of the expected course start date.

Closer to the start date you will receive a college enrolment form which you will need to complete and return before the course begins. For some of the more advanced online courses, you will be asked to provide additional information of any previous training and you have undertaken and experience you have gained as a union rep.

Online courses are delivered by our network of Trade Union Education tutors based in further education colleges nationwide and run according to the college academic year. Core courses are delivered on a termly basis. Start dates for specialist short courses are advertised on each course information page.

IT Skills

No advanced IT skills are required for TUC Education online courses. All you need are basic keyboard and mouse skills. All reps are required to have completed a short online course, Getting Ready for e-Learning (GReL) in order to prepare them for online learning.

Getting Ready for e-Learning

All successful applicants to a TUC Education online course are required to take a pre-course module before beginning their course. This GReL module will help you understand the requirements and processes involved in online learning, familiarise you with the Moodle system and allow you to meet fellow learners.

Even if you have completed GReL on a previous online course, you may still wish to join the group before your new course as it offers an invaluable opportunity to meet and get to know fellow learners.

NB. The advertised start dates on course information pages are for the Getting Ready for e-Learning modules.


Group of people studying a computer

TUC Education accredits its online programme through NOCN with the Qualifications and Credit Framework providing clear national recognition of the quality of courses and the achievement of union reps. They are fully equivalent to their classroom-based counterparts.

Registration for accreditation is voluntary. There are no tests or examinations. You will build up a file which shows the work you have completed during the course. NOCN credits are awarded for achieving the learning outcomes for that course and NOCN will also issue a certificate on completion.

Credits can be built up over a number of years and are transferable throughout the country. They can be used to gain access to other courses in further and higher education. They also give unions and employers a clearer view of what reps have learned and are able to do after attending a TUC Education course.

Qualifications and Credit Framework

Union representatives taking a TUC online course will gain NOCN accreditation for units of qualifications that are held on the Qualifications and Credit Framework. The Framework will eventually hold all national qualifications. These units of accreditation can be built up to gain Awards, Certificates and Diplomas at various levels. Left is a chart showing qualifications, their levels and the number of credits needed to gain the qualification.

All units used on the TUC Education programme are mapped to the Scottish and Welsh qualifications frameworks. For further details contact your TUC regional education officer.

Credit framework

As the table shows, a learner gaining six credits at level 1 can use these to get an Award. Alternatively, they can save up the credits until they have enough to gain a Certificate, or transfer them to another qualification.

However, only certain combinations of credits lead to one of the three qualification types. For example, some qualifications are made up mandatory units along with a number of optional units; other qualifications consist entirely of optional units. TUC Education has developed four qualification routes for trade union reps that will help reps gain the right credit combinations in order to achieve Awards, Certificates and Diplomas.

Time off for learning

Union representatives who wish to attend TUC courses in working time should first ask their employer for time off with pay. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 give accredited union and safety representatives a legal right to reasonable time off with pay to attend courses approved by the TUC or their union.

Guidance towards establishing what constitutes reasonable time off can be found in the ACAS Code of Practice (pdf).

Studying online should not be considered a reason not to obtain agreement for paid release from work. Moreover reps that secure paid release to complete their training find their course more manageable and are consequently more successful. The law that says trade union reps are entitled to reasonable paid time off for education and training. This also applies to online courses, whether learning takes place away from work or in work, in your home, at a workstation or in a learning centre. Talk to your employer about what makes sense for you.

Representatives who find difficulty in obtaining paid time off to attend TUC courses should seek assistance from their senior union representative or full time union officer.

Course costs

All online courses are free for union reps from unions affiliated to the TUC.

See a full list of reps courses in the course directory.