Case studies

Case studies are a form of problem-based learning where students are usually presented with a real-life scenario or problem that needs to be solved. Students may be given all of the information up-front, or they may be given details in stages and asked to respond as the situation changes. Students are normally given starting points for research, but have to use their own critical research skills to gather data to solve the problems.

Using case studies is a good way to introduce group work, and allows students to learn by doing, and apply what they have learnt to a real-life situation.

Workload guide

Preparation time Medium Student workload Medium Marking time Medium

Literacies and skills exhibited

  • Identifying, posing and defining problems
  • Developing arguments, reflecting, evaluating, assessing and judging
  • One and two-way communication; communication within a group
  • Working independently and working within a group


  • Fieldtrips or visits to organisations or industries


Students can demonstrate their work in a variety of ways. Presentations or posters are useful for continuing the case study (in the real world, teams would probably present their findings/approach to a panel) and are also less time-consuming to mark and provide feedback. Reports or other written forms are also common.


See the poster, oral presentation or report sections for feedback advice on the method chosen.

Case studies

Problem solving through scenarios, UCL

Further reading

Assessment by case studies and scenarios, University of New South Wales


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

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