What is required and why
Every course is required to describe what personal and professional attributes and skills students will strengthen as a result of studying the course. When done well, this information helps students understand:
- what skills and abilities are required in order to do well in the course; and
- how taking the course will support their broader development, complementing the subject knowledge gained.
Where this information is captured and available
This information is captured via the Course Creation, Approval and Maintenance (CCAM) software and is made available in the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study (DRPS), and in PATH, the University’s online interactive programme builder.
How to write the graduate attributes for your course, including examples
The graduate attributes in course descriptors do not need to be complicated, but they do need to be clear, specific and meaningful. The guidance below will help you identify and describe the graduate attributes for your course.
|What do students need to perform well?||Consider what skills or abilities your students will need in order to be successful on the course. These could be a combination of skills they will already have and will need to use, and skills they will develop during the course itself.|
|What attributes do your learning outcomes and assessment plans contain?||
Review your learning outcomes and assessment plans to identify what skills they contain. Although some may be about knowing, understanding or technical/physical skills, many will be about more widely-applicable skills.
For example, verbs such as ‘analyse’, ‘evaluate’ and ‘create’ immediately relate to analytical skills, evaluation, and creativity.
|Which degree programme attributes does your course support?||
All degree programmes have a range of accompanying attributes they expect to develop in their students, relevant to that discipline. For the degree programme(s) associated with your course, which attributes does your course support, albeit perhaps at a less advanced level?
External reference point: Each degree programme is expected to take account of the relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Statement. These statements define the academic standards that can be expected of a graduate, including sections on the skills they should be able to demonstrate at the end of their studies.
Internal reference point: Each degree programme is required to specify its graduate attributes in the Degree Programme Specification (DPS) – these are available in the DRPS.
|Align with the level of your course||
Every course has a defined Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level. This determines how advanced and complex the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes should be at a specific level.
Review the SCQF descriptors to determine the appropriate level of skills and attributes for your course. SCQF Characteristics 2 to 5 cover a range of skill types. However, please note that you are not limited to only using the skills explicitly mentioned in the SCQF.
|Make the relevance to the discipline(s) clear||
Context is key. Rather than simply describing a generic skill, contextualise the skill to your setting. This allows students to see the relationship between the skills and your discipline(s), learning outcomes and assessment methods, and gives them valuable evidence of using these skills.
Helpful starting points: The QAA Subject Benchmark Statements and any Degree Programme Specifications (DPS, available in the DRPS) associated with your course should provide a range of the contextualised skills and attributes expected of graduates from these degrees. When offering a interdisciplinary course, you likely draw on a few different Benchmark Statements of DPS entries to inform your approach.
|Simple and clear structure||
Highlight the generic skill and accompany it with a description contextualised to your course. This will help your students recognise the wider applicability and value of the skills developed and used in your course, and build their confidence in these areas.
|Link to the University’s Graduate Attributes||
Locate each skill under one of the University’s seven Graduate Attributes headings. This will help students build a more coherent picture of their overall development, seeing the links between the skills and attributes developed across their courses and experiences.
Research and enquiry:
Share your course’s graduate attributes upfront, not only in the course description, but also at the start of the course, to help support your students’ success, development and self-awareness.
For example, if you outline your course’s learning outcomes in your first lecture, also share the graduate attributes your students will need to be successful in the course and will strengthen during it.
If you would like to discuss the graduate attributes for your course, how these are articulated or supported, please get in touch.