Embedding Graduate Attributes into the Undergraduate Curriculum: Reflection and Actions


  • Susan Smith Leeds Beckett University




Curriculum, graduate attributes, reflective practice, reflective cycle, undergraduate curriculum


Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle is used as a framework to explore the institutional experience of embedding new graduate attributes (GAs) as part of a major refocus of all the undergraduate courses at Leeds Beckett University. One of the key components of this curricular refocus was the initial conceptualisation and embedding of three new graduate attributes.

The University’s three GAs are

i)        having a global outlook

ii)       being enterprising and

iii)      being digitally literate.

This paper focuses on the seven main interventions which were used to embed and foster their delivery in the refocused curriculum. The GAs run through each level of every UG course and prepare students for work and life through a variety of embedded intracurricular module-based, credit-bearing activities.

This reflective paper concentrates on the intra-module core curricular activity manifested by the GAs embedded in course and module learning outcomes and not students’ extracurricular activity even though this can be regarded as strengthening skills for life and the workplace (Bowden, Hart, King, Trigwell, & Watts, 2000). A combination of personal and colleagues’ reflections, evidence from surveys and analysis of actions are highlighted using Gibbs’ (1988) cycle as a framework to explore the process in a systematic way and assist in the illustration and analysis of some of our key interventions. This reflective account considers our successes (resources and building the digital literacy GA) and some of the surprising benefits (communities of practice) of this initiative. The paper also uses Hounsell’s (2011) and Barrie’s (2006) frameworks to deconstruct the curriculum change experience and offers structured reflection on some of the lessons learnt from the challenges, e.g. tight timescales, staff ownership and constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996).

Key future actions are noted; specifically the engagement of staff and students to address application/tailoring to disciplines and their specific course design issues.

Author Biography

Susan Smith, Leeds Beckett University

I am Head of Curriculum Review & Development, an academic post at Leeds Beckett University. I'm based in the Centre for Learning and Teaching, Leeds Beckett University. I am widely published.


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Reflective Analysis Papers