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Graduate Attributes

Definition

‘Graduate attributes are the qualities, skills and understandings a university


community agrees its students should develop during their time with the institution.
These attributes include, but go beyond, the disciplinary expertise or technical
knowledge that has traditionally formed the core of most university courses. They are
qualities that also prepare graduates as agents for social good in an unknown future.’
(Bowden, 2000)

Graduate attributes are the academic abilities, personal qualities and transferable
skills which all students will have the opportunity to develop as part of their University
of Glasgow experience. (University of Glasgow definition)

View the University of Glasgow’s graduate attributes at:


http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_183776_en.pdf

Rationale
Provides staff with:
 A University-wide framework and common language for discussing skills
development with students
 An articulation of the value of teaching and assessing students’ transferable skills
and of supporting students in their longer-term development goals
 A clear statement of the added value of University learning and experience for
students’ longer term development and future employability

Provides students with:


 A tangible, outcomes-focused model to benchmark their own skills development
against
 A framework and vocabulary for articulating the value of their University experiences
to prospective employers and other key figures.
 Essential skills and competencies required to achieve career goals.

Implications for programme and course design


 Include employability-related learning outcomes
 Provide incremental opportunities within the curriculum for the development of skills
and graduate attributes, knowledge and understanding (MacFarlane-Dick, 2004)
 Encourage students to monitor their learning and development through each stage
and record this as part of personal development planning
 Include activities which support the development of student self-reflection and require
the demonstration/communication of acquired skills
 Build time into the curriculum for self-reflection (MacFarlane-Dick, 2004)
 Include opportunities for self-assessment (MacFarlane-Dick, 2004)
 Include assessment tasks which require collaborative work between students
(MacFarlane-Dick, 2004)
 Provide opportunities for work-based learning through well supported student
placements
 Use work placements to support the development of student confidence, self-
awareness and competence (MacFarlane-Dick, 2004)
 Invite guest speakers from relevant workplaces to contribute to the curriculum
 Build partnerships with employers (UCB, 2008)

Examples
University of Glasgow School of Geographical and Earth Sciences – Careers A-Z
http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/ges/careersa-z/

University of Glasgow College of Social Sciences


http://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/socialsciences/info/students/employability/

Resources
University of Glasgow, Graduate attributes
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/learningteaching/goodpracticeresources/graduateattributesem
ployabilityandpdp/

University of Glasgow, Learning and Teaching Centre links to good practice resources
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/learningteaching/goodpracticeresources/employability/

Teaching for Employability Audit Tool


http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id396_Te
aching_for_Employability_Audit_Tool.rtf

References
University College Birmingham (UCB) (2008) Quality Manual
http://www.ucb.ac.uk/downloads/policies-and-regulations/quality-and-curriculum-
development/quality-manual.pdf

Liverpool John Moores University (LMJU) (2003) Curriculum Design Guide


http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/lid/lid_docs/Curriculum_Booklet_2010.pdf

Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2004) Teaching for Employability Audit Tool,


http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id396_Te
aching_for_Employability_Audit_Tool.rtf

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (2007) Curriculum Design


http://www.mmu.ac.uk/academic/casqe/event/docs/curriculum.pdf