Meeting the current challenges: the humanities and employability, entrepreneurship and employer engagement

Date: 23 October, 2009
Location: Woburn House, 20 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9HQ
Event type: Conference

Location map | Programme

Keynote address: Humanities and the Economy: the challenge of engagement

Professor Sir Deian Hopkin (Chair, Higher Education Progression Board, Department of Children Schools and Families)

The question of student employability has rapidly risen up the agenda in the past few years at both departmental and institutional level. Whilst students of humanities disciplines develop the intellectual skills and attributes widely sought by employers (e.g. critical thinking, time management, constructing arguments, and intercultural and communication skills), teachers of humanities subjects in higher education can find it very challenging to help their students articulate these skills and attributes to themselves and to future employers.

Demonstrating that the study of the humanities creates economic, social and cultural value has particular poignancy in the present economic climate. Organised by five humanities subject centres and the Routes into Languages programme, Meeting the current challenges is a one day conference aimed at teachers of humanities in higher education seeking to enhance the employability of their students. The conference aims to share good practice across humanities subjects.


  • Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
  • English Subject Centre
  • Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies
  • Art Design Media Subject Centre
  • Routes into Languages

Workshop fee

There is no charge to attend this event for employees and postgraduate students of publicly funded UK higher educational institutions and other institutions with a subscription to the Higher Education Academy. The fee for employees and postgraduate students of private institutions/organisations and non-UK institutions is £40.
Lunch will be provided. We reserve the right to charge a £50.00 non-attendance fee.

Travel bursary

A travel bursary is available for this event.


Download programme (Word file, 112Kb)


Parallel sessions

Embedding employability into the curriculum 1

Chair: Jane Gawthrope

Embedding employability in english at MMU

Linnie Blake and Lucy Burke, Manchester Metropolitan University

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 1.35Mb)

The employability agenda is often perceived with a degree of suspicion by those working in traditional academic and non-vocational disciplines such as English Studies. The English Subject Centre describes “a commonly held view within our subject community that employability is another demand on scarce time and that it cannot be a significant priority.” (1) Arguments against ‘employability’ are often founded upon the perception of a conflict between the academic quality of a programme and a skills-based or vocational agenda. The argument is that embedding employability represents a dilution or “dumbing down” of properly academic content.

However, despite the prevalence of this kind of view, there is no doubt that employability is a priority for our students and that we have an educational and ethical obligation to produce graduates with the skills and expertise required by employers. This presentation will discuss the ways in which the Department of English at MMU has responded to the employability and employer engagement agendas.  Our aim has been to develop an employability strategy that enhances our commitment to widening participation, social inclusion and personal development within an academic framework which seeks to maintain high academic standards and intellectual challenge in a subject specific context.

The presentation will discuss the ways in which we have embedded Personal Development Plan (PDP) and skills based units at all three levels, introduced mentoring and developed partnerships with institutions and employers outside the university, specifically Manchester Academy in Moss Side. In terms of the latter partnership, from October 2009 we will run a pilot scheme in which our students will be working with pupils at the academy to support a specialised reading programme. Our ultimate aim is to integrate this kind of work-based learning into an academic unit that explores theoretical, critical and literary work on education, language and literature and thus brings together experiential learning, self-reflection and a critical engagement with ‘traditional’ academic materials.


Teaching the language of employability to classical civilisation students 

Charlotte Behr, Roehampton University

Presentation (Word file, 88Kb)

This paper will report on the strategies developed by the Classical Civilisation BA programme team at Roehampton University to embed employability into the curriculum without compromising its academic content and rigour. The rationale behind the work placement module will be explained, as will our use of non-traditional forms of teaching, learning and assessment to train skills that are particularly relevant for the workplace, including group work, oral presentations and web design. There will be a particular focus upon our most recent initiative in enhancing employability: the introduction of ‘leadership certificates’ for students who volunteer for extracurricular activities. The leadership training consists of a reflective diary under tutorial supervision that encourages students to reflect constructively on their role as – for example – mentors, sport captains and student ambassadors in outreach activities. We shall report on how the diary not only raises the students’ awareness of their particular abilities but also enables them to learn a ‘language’ that they can use in job applications.

Engaging employers 1

Chair: Erika Corradini

Engaging employers in module design and delivery

Jane Stapleford, Leeds Metropolitan University

Media graduates often find difficulty in securing initial jobs in the competitive media sector because they lack media-related work experience. Work-related experience is needed to provide the ‘foot in the door’ necessary to build and use contacts and to hone relevant employability skills. At Leeds Metropolitan University the Employability Office, careers service and cultural industry employers have collaborated to create an innovative and compulsory module for Year 2 of the BA (Hons) Media and Popular Culture course. The module simulates relevant work experience and has three inter-related elements. Firstly, students undertake a real work project assigned by a media professional (from public relations, radio, TV documentary, web design etc), Secondly, students investigate and develop a personal career strategy for a role of their choice; and thirdly they engage in a reflective element focusing on the personal and professional learning from the first two elements.

As well as developing an insight into a particular career role and the transferable employability and entrepreneurial skills required by employers, students gain valuable contacts with actual employers. The presentation will describe the development, delivery and outcomes of this module and will demonstrate ways in which these ideas can be adapted for any course.

Resources to enhance employability in the HE classroom: the creating future-roof graduates project

Ruth Lawton, Birmingham City University

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 356Kb)

The aim of the project is to create resources which will help students identify and prepare for critical incidents which, according to employers, epitomise the major problems that newly qualified graduates encounter when they start work in the ‘real world'. Our focus is on simulations of workplace situations that are typically difficult to describe as they involve complex or emotional issues.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) Briefing 2007 said employers find most graduates are unprepared for employment and that employability skills are perceived by employers as more important than subject specific skills. We conducted interviews with employers, students, graduates and academic staff to understand the individual perception and / or experience of ‘graduate employability’. From this we identified 8 topics for support. The resources we created are all being evaluated as classroom tools across multiple subject areas using a variety of media and feedback suggests they enable students to experience and discuss issues that are usually difficult to simulate in a classroom.

The session will include an opportunity to see and use some of the resources.

Making the case for humanities

Chair: Lisa Lavender

Jobs for philosophers: Why philosophy graduates are so employable

George MacDonald Ross, Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 428Kb)

To the popular mind, the study of philosophy could hardly be more remote from vocational training. In a sense this is true; but paradoxically, many of the intellectual skills and attributes which employers say they want are developed better through philosophy than through training that is more explicitly geared to employment. These skills include logical reasoning, independence, clarity of thought and expression, creative imagination, seeing things from different points of view, thinking outside the box, handling uncertainty, and taking an ethical approach to decision making.

The main reason why philosophy, along with other arts and humanities disciplines, is superior in this respect is because it is much easier to encourage independent thinking where outcomes are open-ended and truth is contested, than where teachers take their students through a progressive pathway of accepted truths to be learned and highly specific skills to be acquired.

Nevertheless, this goal is not always fulfilled, and philosophy graduates can be surprisingly bad at articulating what they are good at. Much needs to be done to ensure that philosophy is taught in such a way that students really do think for themselves, and that they can present themselves as independent thinkers when they apply for jobs.

Languages for business and employability

Linda Cadier, University of Southampton

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 868Kb)

‘The ability of all European citizens to understand and use a wide range of foreign languages is central to the Union’s effort to develop a more dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy, and to increase the number and improve the quality of jobs available’. EU ‘Lisbon strategy’, 2000
With reference to the latest CBI Education and Skills Survey, 2009 that reported that UK firms place a premium on staff who can communicate in a foreign language, this paper will discuss what languages, and what volume and level of expertise and skill, are required by society and the current economy? To understand what the UK stands to gain by increasing our language skills, languages for academic advancement, personal lifelong learning and enrichment, export, internationalisation, inward investment, the 2012 Games, tourism and languages to support the UK’s increasingly multicultural and multilingual workforce will be considered. Finally with regard to employability and a Hobsons’ Graduate Survey reporting that only one-third of UK graduates are confident enough to go abroad to work, compared to two-thirds of their counterparts in other European countries, how are language graduates are perceived by UK employers, and what skills in which languages, in particular, are valued most highly?

International collaboration and engagement

Chair: Heather McGuiness

HEI engagement with international organisations: a case study of collaboration between trainers and employers

Helen Campbell, European Commission and Svetlana Carsten, University of Leeds

Word Slides (PDF File, 2.22Mb)

The Universities Contact Group is part of the International Annual Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publications (IAMLADP) and its Working Group on Training (WGT). IAMLADP, originally set up by the UN some 30 years ago, currently represents all major international organisations (IOs) and is the forum for the Heads of the Language and Conference Services of these organisations. Its secretariat is in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It meets once a year to discuss issues affecting all IOs, such as the status of the language professions, quality management, performance indicators, new technologies, shortages of skills, training and other related issues.

Between Annual Meetings, three Working Groups and their Task Forces undertake specific time-bound activities according to their mandates. IAMLADP and WGT are vigorously promoting co-operation with universities as they fully understand that training in language skills and recruitment starts at universities. The last decade saw many IO staff taking retirement - in some cases the careers of senior staff went back to the 1960s. The shortage of skills and linguists has become acute and is likely to become more so in the next decade. English-mother-tongue linguists are in particularly short supply. Therefore international organisations are looking into ever closer link with universities. IOs are seeking recruits and are ready to provide expert advice on curricula, hands-on training of students in needed skills and work experience, while the universities are now increasingly offering training courses to the staff of language services of the IOs. The aim is to pool IO in-house resources and expertise and to promote and organise training initiatives at the lowest possible cost, both among IOs and in cooperation with universities.

UCG is the only forum bringing together international organisations and university representatives. Currently it counts 16 members from 14 HEIs (who in turn represent HEIs and networks of their countries and regions) plus 21 members from 19 international organisations in Europe, America, China and Africa. Its purpose is to facilitate cooperation between HEIs and the IOs. The presentation will give an overview of the main achievements of such cooperation in the last five years and will discuss future plans.

Adapting the common european framework to enhance language graduates’ employability

Marga Menendez-Lopez and Doris Dippold, University of Surrey

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 841Kb)

More than ever, language degree programmes in the UK are under pressure to justify their relevance for the world of work. This is despite the growth of provision and demand for non-specialised language programmes and the fact that language graduates have a very good employability record. At the same time, language degree programmes have the reputation of only teaching linguistic skills, but not transferable skills that are of relevance for the professional world and enhance students’ employability.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a generic tool that features mainly can-do statements of linguistic skills such as listening, pronunciation etc. While other aspects of communicative competence are occasionally touched upon (e.g. presentation skills), these are not regarded as a separate strand of competence, are not altogether very prominent and not consistently mentioned at every level of the CEFR.

In our presentation, we show how we have adapted the CEFR within an oral language module in the undergraduate degree programme at the University of Surrey. As a result, the module objectives include linguistic competence, but also actional, discourse and sociolinguistic competences (Celce-Murcia et al. 1995). These competences, in particular actional competence (e.g. complaining and criticizing) are essentially the communication skills that employers seek in graduates.

Parallel session 2

Embedding employability 2

Chair: George MacDonald Ross

Enhancing employability through undergraduate history teaching

Keith Vernon, University of Central Lancashire

Word Presentation (Word File, 40Kb)

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 132Kb)

This paper considers the ways in which the employability agenda is being addressed by UCLan historians at each level of provision in the programmes they offer and within the context of the skills-based approaches to learning and teaching that they emphasise. Particular consideration is given to the unique suite of second-level modules they have devised that provide insights into the concerns and nature of history-related careers; to the long-established community history module that engages students in historical projects working in association with external clients; and to work placements that mainly take place in local museums. The rationale underpinning the range of approaches offered is examined, along with the possibilities and challenges that arise. The session will be illustrated by examples of employability-orientated work UCLan history students have undertaken, raising issues about the value they place on engaging with employability matters and of how far they are aware of the employability skills they have developed during the course of their historical studies.

Embedding employability within subject delivery

Roberta Anderson and Mimi Thebo, Bath Spa University

In the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries at Bath Spa University, employability learning is embedded within subject delivery. Although the learning outcomes remain stable across the School, the approach and method of delivery vary widely from subject to subject. Informed by the work of Bath Spa’s CETL, Artswork, the School's strategy recognises students' identification with their subject and asks each subject’s lecturing staff to develop approaches to employability that relate directly to the core values of their disciplines.

Staff in the School are evolving teaching and learning practices that encourage students to see their employability as another way of developing their subject knowledge and understanding the relevance of their discipline in society.

They work closely with Careers staff and Technical Demonstrators to co-deliver skills sessions to support students’ ability to take their knowledge and abilities into the wider world, both during their degree and as graduates.

In this session, Historian Roberta Anderson and Novelist Mimi Thebo give an overview of this strategy across the School, and show specific examples of delivery in History, Media Studies, Creative Writing and English Literature.

Module handbooks and lesson plans will be available, as well as open discussion about the challenges and advantages of this strategy.

Engaging employers 2

Chair: Debbie Flint

The UCH collaborative film project

Sarah Atkinson, University of Brighton

Word Presentation (PDF File, 588Kb)

In October 2008, all media staff and students at the University Centre Hastings (University of Brighton) were involved in a major film production to produce a promotional film for the Centre. The project was integrated into the media curriculum and the campus was transformed into a live film set over the course of three days. Devised and directed by the Broadcast Media course leader Sarah Atkinson, the film is an alternative take on traditional informational films of this kind. Scripted entirely by students in the first weeks of the course, using drama techniques, professional actors, professional crew members (as industry mentors to the student participants) and post production finishing, this was an innovative approach to the promotional film brief, and a unique opportunity to implement and practice simulational teaching and learning methods. These methods aimed to enhance student’s professional practice and awareness in a real-world industry environment.

The aim of this session is to share practice in relation to this experience, to explore ways in which simulating professional working environments within the Higher Education context can enhance and enrich student’s appreciation of professional practice, and improve their confidence and sense of their own employability.

A successful development of employability modules and consequent links with local arts organisations

Pete Atkinson, University of Central Lancashire

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 236Kb)

Through the Centre for Employability through the Humanities at University of Central Lancashire I have created a number of Realistic Work Environment Modules that are delivered at all levels of an undergraduate programme. These are designed to not only equip the student with skills necessary in the modern workplace, but also to encourage a ‘mind set’ that should assist the students’ mobility in the arts and cultural sector. 

The design of these modules has enabled me to work closely with local cultural providers who have been keen to offer our students work. Looking at one case in particular, this paper firstly observes how the module design gives students relevant skills and, secondly, how the development of a Year 3 Realistic Work Project module enables students to take these skills forward and interpret what they have learnt into producing work for a real client.

Supporting subject specific skills and careers

Chair: Lisa Lavender

Disciplinary activities at UCL

Phil Rowe and Anna Colls, University College London

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 2.08Mb)

UCL’s agreement with its Careers Service includes the undertaking to develop a programme of activities in each academic department to boost student employability and promote access to careers advice, information and guidance. This is planned and promoted in each instance by a UCL academic and a careers adviser. Below are three current examples in Arts and Humanities departments.

Year Abroad Programme Students’ Blog

The UCL Year Abroad Work Placements website is aimed at helping students, particularly studying languages, to source and prepare for work placements and includes students' contributions /reflections on their year working abroad, as well useful links and an embedded Twitter feed.

“A career in ruins”: Institute of archaeology

Afternoon event involving speakers from conservation, museums, commercial archaeology, academic archaeology and outreach, together with a careers adviser-led talk on transferable skills and CVs. Over 100 students attended and feedback from students indicated they found the event extremely useful.

History of art

Careers Adviser-led sessions covering “Gaining Voluntary Work” and “Finding Internships in Art-Related Organisations” precede a forum with a panel of external speakers and alumni talking about their work, representing galleries, museums, publishers, auction houses and conservation.

Employability projects in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Julie Gallimore, Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 288Kb)

This paper will focus on three skills and employability initiatives where the Centre has collaborated with students, employing organisations and departments to generate subject specific materials for its community.

The Centre has been researching and developing subject specific employability resources for students and academic staff since 2002. The increase in popularity and consumption of these products is an indication of the real need amongst students and teachers for skills based materials particular to the discipline.   Case studies and employer competencies are used to illustrate how students from these subjects can map their learning onto employer requirements.

Building on these employability resources, the Centre focused its Employer Engagement project work on student values and social responsibility. This research produced a number of employer focused case studies from, for example, the Co-operative group, Fairtrade and Oxfam. As the project developed we wanted to explore the extent to which values are important to individuals, and how personal values interact with employer values. This resulted in case studies that highlight how students from humanities disciplines are using values to inform career decision making and influence their job seeking.

Recently the Centre has begun to research activity into the self employability of Theology and Religious Studies students in the UK. Results of an initial audit of self employability capabilities of students, suggest that further investigation of how they relate their subject skills to self employment activities and attract funding would be valuable to those who elect to manage their own business.

Working in and with schools

Chair: Heather McGuinness

Newcastle lead student ambassadors

Routes into Languages, North East Consortium

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 6.92Mb)

Central to the work of the Routes into Languages Regional Consortia are the Student Ambassadors. The focus of this paper is a case study of the Newcastle Lead Team of Student Ambassadors.

Student Ambassadors at Newcastle are recruited from all years of the UG degree programmes (with a sprinkling of PG students) and from the pool of Erasmus and International Exchange Students. They must undergo a rigorous selection procedure which involves both a written application and an interview, conducted by the Project Director, Project Manager, academic staff from the School of Modern Languages, administrative staff from Student Recruitment and Modern Languages Careers Advisors. Once selected, the students receive training locally, regionally and nationally in school work, relevant health and safety issues, events management, liaison with key stakeholders and team building. A lead team of eight Student Ambassadors is formed who work most closely and regularly with the Project Manager.

The paper will identify the range of skills and attributes required of the Lead Student Ambassadors, measuring these against the criteria John Canning adopts for defining ‘employability’ (see the paper Enhancing employability: A guide for teaching staff in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. (It will argue that the Routes into Languages Student Ambassador scheme provides a highly appropriate way of developing the student’s transferable skills and raising awareness of their employability.

Enhancing student employability through school placements: a case study of creative writing in schools for potential student teachers

Stephen Morton and Maggie Harris, University of Southampton

Word Presentation (Word File, 48.0Kb)

This paper assesses the impact of school placements for enhancing student employability, with reference to a case study of a third year English course taught at the University of Southampton.

In 2007/8 the University of Southampton initiated a new course for final year English students who hoped to train as teachers. With support from the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit and directed by Dr Stephen Morton in English, selected students attended seminars with writer Maggie Harris, a Guyanese writer living in the UK,  and undertook placements in Southampton schools and colleges. Using the focus of International Writing to widen the cultural perspective of both the student teachers and the children they would work with, one of the aims of the course was to give the students the opportunity to enhance their employability through the experience of creating suitable and adaptable material for school-children, classroom management, time-management, and building a working relationship with teachers. Even if students did not go on to become teachers, we contend that this opportunity gave them useful life-management skills, confidence and effective communication skills which they could take into similar fields of employment.

Parallel sessions 3

Working abroad

Chair: Debbie Flint

Professional placement provision with purpose

Valeska Hass and Pam Moores, Aston University

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 608Kb)

Aston has an outstanding record for graduate employment, for its pro-active careers service and high quality placements support. 70 % of undergraduates complete an integrated placement year. The emphasis on integration of work experience or study abroad within undergraduate degrees, and recognition of the importance of this experience through student assessment, extend across the entire University including the School of Languages and Social Sciences. 80% of Aston languages graduates entered graduate jobs in 2006 (see website) compared to a UK average of 60%.

This paper falls into three parts, tracing the School’s investment in placements, showcasing new initiatives in employer engagement, and assessing the importance of the transferable skills and experience acquired for employability.

  1. Record of excellence in language placements

Description of the wide range of options we offer, what we do and what this enables students to do. This section will cover preparation, support (online and face to face visits), assessment and achievement.
Extension of good practice to new developments in social sciences.

  1. New initiatives to engage employers in placement provision.

This section explores the creation of a dedicated brochure highlighting case studies and placement options which directly targets prospective placement companies.

  1. The purpose: Impact on student performance and employability

Research demonstrates that students who complete a placement year perform better in terms of degree classification and employability.
Benefits analysis, and what this means more broadly for the curriculum.

Residence/study abroad

Sarah Jeans, University for the Creative Arts

Word Presentation (PDF File, 8.92Mb)

The University for the Creative Arts is currently developing a dual award MA/MFA in Photography with the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India. This award, which has been developed with the assistance of a British Council/UKERI award, offers students the option to study for a semester either in India or the UK. One of the outcomes of this award is a joint UK/India exhibition of student work.
With backing from the Prime Minister’s Initiative 2 fund, 20 UK students spent a month studying at NID in 2008. In June 2009 13 NID students came to UCA to study—in each case students were set a photographic project that explored the local culture. As a result of these exchanges students’ horizons have expanded, several UCA students have returned to India to complete projects and so far two have returned to NID to under take Artist-in-Residence projects with related teaching at NID. The experience of this cultural emersion has had a significant impact on them - personally, artistically and critically as well as challenging their skills in communication and intercultural diplomacy – the experience has undoubtedly expanded their capacity for employment in future.
This case study explores the challenges to staff and students in developing this type of exchange, present a selection of their photographic work and references the effects that it has had on their employability.

Student volunteering

Chair: Jane Gawthrope

Paid and voluntary opportunities for modern languages students at the University of Southampton

Kirsten Pantry and Kate Thorpe, University of Southampton

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 21.7Mb)

This paper provides an overview of the range of paid and voluntary opportunities available to Modern Language students at the University of Southampton, focussing on case studies of three successful current projects:

The National Trust Translation Scheme - students gain real life experience of translation through online volunteering in supportive small groups.

Score in French – students work with young people to develop their linguistic and sporting skills, gaining experience of leading and managing groups as well as developing their own communication skills.

My Unispace – Languages E-Mentoring - enables those students interested in working with young people to work closely with students in Years 10-13, motivating and supporting younger learners.

Qualitative feedback has enabled a quality training scheme to be developed for each project, and these, along with the activities themselves, enable students to gain practical work experience and develop and evidence key employability skills including; team-working, time management, presentation skills and how to lead and motivate others. We will outline how these graduate attributes are developed across the three projects and show how we provide an experience our students can draw on when applying for jobs in an increasingly competitive graduate job market.

Aiming university learning @ work

Irene Bell and Margaret Berrie, University of Glasgow

Word Slides (PDF File, 316Kb)

The Aiming University Learning @ Work Project, a three-year strategic change partnership between the University of Glasgow (lead), University of St Andrews and Glasgow Caledonian University, aims to develop and embed work related learning in the undergraduate curriculum for students on non-vocational programmes, to enhance their long-term employability.
This workshop highlights the opportunities developed for the History and English Language Pilots, which have evolved from particularly innovative collaborations with voluntary organisations. In the former case this was a joint venture between the University Settlement, the Student Representatives Council and Glasgow Women`s Library, (GWL), to ‘Find A Solution’ for the Library. Students worked for GWL assessing the feasibility of a ‘map’ of archives and resources on women in Scotland, to inform subsequent funding applications. Others researched the archives of Kibble Care and Education compiling oral histories from former pupils for its 150 year anniversary celebrations. These valuable, subject-related activity ‘models’ have been adopted by the English Language Pilot, with students trained and working as volunteer tutors for Glasgow ESOL Forum and compiling oral histories on behalf of various voluntary organisations.  

Working across disciplines

Chair: Erika Corradini

Service learning in universities

Jacqueline Page, Roehampton University

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 844Kb)

Work based learning is popular with students. They enjoy the challenges they face when putting the knowledge they have gained at university into practice, and value the new skills they learn while on placement. Students appreciate the opportunity to gain valuable life skills and they perceive placements as enhancing their future employability. Yet few university programmes offer Service Learning Placement modules as part of their degrees. This paper aims to outline the rationale behind the Service Learning module currently on offer in the French programme at Roehampton University, and to describe the aims and objectives achieved by students who complete the module.  Further, it will outline the work the author aims to carry out within the framework of a Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) Fellowship in the coming year. This work will include creating a model for Service Learning Placements which other programmes and institutions might adopt and disseminating as widely as possible within the Higher Education community the benefits of Service Learning placements.

Developing transferable skills and enhancing employability: the use of liaison interpreting classes for business and languages students

Fanny Chouc, Heriot Watt University

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 976Kb)

The paper is based on the author’s experience as career liaison officer and as tutor for liaison interpreting in the final year of the IML (International Management and Languages) programme offered in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt university. First, the liaison interpreting exercise is explained and placed in the specific context of the IML course, to show how relevant it is with respect to the aims and objectives of the course as well as the demands of the current market. The teaching methodology is then explained in more details to show how this specific language task contributes effectively to the development of a variety of key transferable skills such as communication management, knowledge transfer, ICT skills and team work, and awareness of current issues on a global scale. The paper also refers to assessment arrangements and explores the ways in which the structured use of various forms of assessment, including tutor feedback as well as self and peer-assessment, can encourage students to develop constructive critical reflection and autonomous practices towards their own further development. The conclusion highlights the benefits of liaison interpreting as a way to boost employability for business and languages students by considering both the theoretical models which underpin the exercise as well as documented  experiential evidence from professionals and graduates.

Enhancing the employability of postgraduate students

Chair: John Canning

Being sharp: making the most of the postgraduate experience

Laura Tansley, University of Glasgow

Word Presentation (Word File, 64Mb)

Powerpoint Slides (PowerPoint, 584Kb)

Talk of the recession at a conference discussing employability is inevitable. But instead of examining the bleak outlook for graduates, this paper will discuss how vital it is for students to make the most of their postgraduate experience, and how eSharp, a postgraduate-run online journal, provides transferable skills essential for the workplace. eSharp is an international online journal for postgraduate research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and education. Based at the University of Glasgow and run entirely by graduate students, it aims to provide a critical but supportive entry into the realm of academic publishing for emerging academics, including postgraduates and recent postdoctoral students. Since its inaugural issue in 2002, ‘Magic’, eSharp has published 13 biannual issues and established itself as one of the UK’s leading postgraduate journals having an international peer review database of over 430 postgraduate students and gaining recognition through awards and grants and receiving submissions from around the world. eSharp currently has 20 board members divided into five teams: Publicity, Web Managing, Publishing, Finance and Training. This paper will examine the roles within these five teams in terms of the transferable skills board members gain from performing these roles during eSharp’s publication process and how eSharp helps to increase postgraduate’s employability.

Beyond the PhD: a new approach to careers and employability in the humanities

Julia Horn, University of Reading and Caroline Reynolds, University of Sussex

Word Presentation (Word File, 32Kb)

The Centre for Career Management Skills has developed a new careers web resource for postgrad researchers in the arts and humanities, Beyond the PhD
The site is the result of a unique collaboration between former arts and humanities PhDs, careers advisors, and web designers.

The site foregrounds the narratives of former PhDs, three to ten years after graduating, and visitors can listen to individuals telling their career stories and articulating the skills and attributes they developed as students. The site has been very popular with PhD researchers, and has been picked up and mentioned on many blogs and websites in the UK and across the English speaking world, with comments like:

Unlike many other careers websites, this is actually targeted at, and relevant to, this particular audience. (PhD student blog)

The site…offers a balanced and surprising selection of comments. It was great to hear people assessing all the options involved in staying in academia or going out into the 'real' world. This is a very comforting and encouraging website which I'll be dipping into over the next year or so. (Evaluation from PhD student reviewer)

This session will look at what has made the site ‘speak’ particularly to arts and humanities graduates and what can be learnt, and reused from this site, for initiatives involving undergraduate and postgraduate humanities students and employability, entrepreneurship and employer engagement.