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Course Design Blueprint

Employers


All courses should be designed with the intention of enabling students to progress in to highly skilled employment (see the discussion on access and participation plans). While for some courses the route from graduation to such employment is a natural progression, for other courses this progression is not so apparent.  In both situations it is important that course teams work with employers to ensure that the progression into employment is made easier through the design of the course's content and learning, teaching and assessment approaches.

When course teams have developed meaningful relationships with employers, this can bring in significant gains for the course and for the students.  Employers have an intimate knowledge of current trends and issues, and how their sector operates and is developing. 

Where courses do not have a clear employment progression pathway, they are encouraged to work with the careers team and their colleagues in the Business Engagement team.

Consultation

The expectations for, and roles taken in, employment are continually evolving.  It is important that the University's courses' aims and learning outcomes accurately reflect this where there is a clear articulation between the courses and particular career paths or vocations.  Involving employers and their representative groups in the development and refinement of a course's overview and rational can help ensure that the course is or remains up to date and relevant. Further conversations on course and module learning outcomes can further confirm the appropriateness of course designs to the current, and expected employment landscape.

Employers will also be invaluable in providing a vision of the current trends in their sector - identifying which technologies are in use, are being adopted or set aside, and any new or emerging aspects of practice or theory that should be considered for inclusion in the curriculum (or any that are no longer pertinent or have been displaced or rejected).

Skills and attributes

As explored in the Skills and Knowledge section, the University is developing a set of graduate attributes that have been informed by consultation with employers. Where possible, discussion with employers will enable the course team to explore the relative importance of these attributes to the intended career paths of their students, and to gain a deeper insight on how the attributes would usually be employed within pertinent employment settings.  This can then inform both delivery of the attributes within the curriculum, and also help the course team design their learning activities and assessments to ensure students are afforded opportunities to deploy the skills in meaningful contexts and to address authentic situations.

Delivery and assessment

While academic staff will be best versed in the approaches appropriate for learning and teaching within their course, employers will be familiar with the more professional approaches that students will need to adopt following graduation.  Being aware of these, and the demands for continuing professional development, particularly when associated with professional accreditation, might inform the approaches to independent learning and career development that is integrated into the course.  Similarly, where there is an expectation that students will need to engage with certain types of assessment to enable them to progress in the course's intended career path, the assessment strategy of the course should seek to prepare students for their engagement with these.

Involvement in learning, teaching and assessment

The input of employers can be a powerful element of course learning and delivery.  Employers can provide input to sessions, provide illustrative case studies, and mentor students through their studies or through individual projects (such as through involvement within Problem based learning).  The involvement of employers in course delivery and learning activities needs to be thought through carefully - both the employers and the students need to see the value of any planned interactions.  Consider what it is that employers have to give to students to inform their learning: it is probably their experience and professional outlook that is of most value to students, helping students gain deeper, contextual and critical understanding of their subject as it is applied in an employment context.

As explored in the Assessment section, the involvement of employers in assessment processes can bring an authenticity to students' assessment, provide an external voice from which students can gain critical feedback and guidance, and enable students to demonstrate employability skills and attributes in manner that they can employ within future career development and job seeking activity.  Examples of how course teams in the University have involved employers in the past include:

  • using case studies and problems provided by employers as the basis for assessment and project work.
  • engaging employers as clients for student groups, requiring the students to work, individually or in groups, with the employer to agree and meet task criteria and constraints.  Involving the employers in making judgements on the quality of the final student submissions adds further authenticity and can benefit students' learning.