What is required and why
Every degree programme is required to describe the graduate attributes students will develop as a result of completing the degree. When done well, this information helps students understand:
- what attributes are required in order to do well in the degree and to what level; and
- how taking the degree will support their broader development in terms of both skills and mindsets, complementing the subject knowledge gained.
Where this information is captured and available
This information is captured in the Degree Programme Specifications (DPS), and is available in the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study (DRPS), via the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree Finders and elsewhere.
How to write the graduate attributes for your degree programme, including examples
The graduate attributes in Degree Programme Specifications (DPS) 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 degree programme.
|What skills and mindsets do you expect graduates of your degree to possess?||
Higher education should be a transformative experience for students, developing their skills and abilities, shaping the way they think, their attitudes and behaviours.Describe the skills and mindsets you want graduates to possess as a direct result of completing your degree. These should be outcomes of the experience, rather than necessary precursors.
|Internal reference point: How would you translate the University’s Graduate Attributes Framework to your degree?||
Review the University’s Graduate Attributes Framework and consider what each part means in your context.
The University’s Graduate Attributes Framework describes the skills and mindsets all our students should have the opportunity to develop in broad and generic terms. Degree programmes should describe these attributes in discipline-specific ways – what skills and mindsets will students develop and need on your programme?
|External reference points: What attributes do relevant external reference points indicate for your degree?||
Review the external reference points relevant to your degree to identify the graduate attributes they highlight. These may include:
Subject Benchmark Statements: All degree programmes are 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 and attributes they should be able to demonstrate at the end of their studies.
PSRBs: A range of accredited degrees must also comply with Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements, which generally also specify the attributes that must be developed in order to retain accreditation.
Employer expectations: When developing a degree, it is important to consider the employment market your graduates will be entering and what relevant employers will be seeking from your graduates. The Careers Service can assist you in identifying relevant employer expectations. In addition, the Careers Service has researched literature on the future of work and produced a summary of the skills and mindsets needed.
|Align with the level of your degree||
Every degree has a defined Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level. This determines how advanced and complex the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes should be.
Review the SCQF descriptors to determine the appropriate level of skills and attributes for your degree. SCQF Characteristics 2 to 5 cover a range of skill types. However, please note that you are not limited to only using the attributes explicitly mentioned in the SCQF.SCQF
|Make the relevance to the discipline clear||
Context is key. Rather than simply describing a generic attribute, contextualise it to your discipline. This allows students to see the relationship between the attributes and your discipline, building their understanding of what it means to be a graduate from your degree, and gives them valuable evidence of using these attributes.
Helpful starting points: The QAA Subject Benchmark Statements provide a range of the contextualised skills and attributes expected of graduates from associated degrees.
|Simple and clear structure||
Highlight the generic skill and accompany it with a description contextualised to your degree. This will help your students recognise the wider applicability and value of the skills developed and used in your degree, and build their confidence in these areas.
|Link to the University’s Graduate Attributes||
Locate each statement under one of the seven headings from the University’s Graduate Attributes. This will help your students:
Research and enquiry:
Personal and intellectual autonomy:
Choosing between the headings: The Graduate Attribute headings necessarily overlap and sometimes an attribute can be located under more than one heading. If so, decide which heading it is most closely aligned with. This will often depend on how the attribute is described and what is emphasised. The Graduate Attributes Framework gives examples of skills that typically live under the different headings.
Completing the DPS template: Additional guidance on completing the Degree Programme Specifications (DPS) template is available on the Academic Services’ website.
Share your degree’s graduate attributes upfront, not only in the degree description, but also at the start of the year. This will help support your students’ success, development and self-awareness.
For degrees running over multiple years, repeating this at the start of each year can help students better recognise their progress and understanding the more advanced attributes expected at this new level.
If you would like to discuss the graduate attributes for your degree, how these are articulated or supported, please get in touch.