Your Future: Occupational Awareness Module

Dr Catherine Douglas

School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering


What did you do?

Developed an occupational awareness module called ‘Your Future’

Who was involved?

• Catherine Douglas (Module leader, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)
• Helen Atkinson (Career Service)
• Laura Brown (Enterprise section within Careers Service)
• Sue Spencer (Combined Honours, HASS)

How did you do it?

All the form filling and admin needed for new module obviously 😊.

The aim was to enhance students’ awareness of roles that they could go into; enhance their employability for their ideal roles through reflecting on, and developing, their skills; and also enhance their resourcefulness (a.k.a. resilience).

In addition, as students will be presenting detailed information about careers of interest to other students on the degree, I wanted this information to be of benefit to as many students as possible, as even resources such as ‘Prospects’ does not have much detail of the vast range of niche roles available to graduates from our discipline (the module was piloted with BSc Animal Science students). So the idea was to cascade the information across the degree programme through a conference including peers in stage 3 but also the other stages to enhance all students awareness of possibilities open to them, in order that they could choose relevant modules / experience to position themselves for those careers. We switched to recordings with the pandemic looming, and will be sticking to this in future. These recorded presentations have already been used in induction week and enrichment week as a valuable resource (extracts available).

The module consisted of an assessed element: in-depth research into a career of personal interest this included PhD’s and a research career.

There is also a compulsory element which included four different aspects that the students had to engage with, captured in a reflective log. The elements were:

1. To complete a skills audit and engage in at least one form of continued professional development
2. Trial a new activity to promote mental well-being
3. Update their CV and get it checked also engage in interview practise
4. and to work with their peer mentor

The module consisted of five formal lecture sessions;

1. The introduction
2. Skills audit and preparing for interviews (Helen)
3. Enterprise and the gig economy (Laura)
4. The world of work and well being (Sue)
5. And, stick to what you’re good at, I did a session on failure

From then it was drop-in sessions; updates from the students and the mentoring programme of suggested activities (the stress bucket activity, interview preparation, practicing the presentation).

Did it work?

Yes. Colleagues, particularly Careers Service endorsed the investigative and networking approach to understanding careers. Personal tutors moderated the marking and were impressed by the quality of the presentations, which gave them wider appreciation of graduate destinations and a greater insight into their tutees. I was pleased that it ran as I hoped and students bought into the module (after all it was their future).

Although not excessively evaluated, the students appeared to value the opportunity to do the module: student comments included that they would never have engaged with careers had it not been for this module and they’re so pleased they had (the module gave them the space and forced them to help themselves); they felt it enhanced confidence reaching out to people in industry and doing practice interviews; it was a good initiative to introduce the importance of well being and looking after yourself and this should be more throughout the degree (I could have copied the genuine comments but I would have had to have the students permission and it’s just too much paperwork at the moment – so you will just have to take my word for it 😊)

Did it meet elements of the graduate  framework?

Yes, many, many elements and through additional tweaks, it meets the QAA new charter for education for sustainable development launched 2021. In SNES, particularly animal science, sustainability is embedded in the curriculum, but there are still opportunities to boost it in other modules and raise its profile.

Colleagues can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.

If you’d like to know more please do get in touch 


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