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Connectivity – Bath Spa University

A transformative learning journey with Bath Spa University enables connectivity

Students are connected with their future careers through developing their academic and employability skills, and their confidence;

Students are challenged at the forefront of their disciplines through the connection of curricula with research, professional practice and knowledge exchange activities.

Key topics:


How far do you agree with the following comments?

  • My students are connected with their future careers through developing their academic and employability skills.
  • My teaching and learning activities make the most of connections with research, professional practice and/or knowledge exchange activities.


It is important that students are supported to develop their employability skills, and that programmes embed this approach throughout. This helps prepare students for entering an ever more competitive job market. 

Bath Spa University places high priority on student employability. The first of Bath Spa University's graduate attributes is:

  • "Employable: equipped to flourish in the global workplace, able to work in, and lead, teams"

The UK Higher Education sector likewise expects that institutions will prepare their students for the world of work. For example, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications expects that students completing Level 4:

  • "Will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment" (p.21)

National exercises such as the Graduate Outcomes Survey monitor student employment after graduation, and this feeds into league tables and university guides.

Bath Spa University's Careers and Employability team have eight principles for embedding employability into the curriculum in meaningful ways (requires BSU login):

  1. Work experience and experiental learning
  2. Industry, employer and alumni engagement
  3. Authentic teaching and assessment
  4. Employability skills and graduate attributes
  5. Career management skills
  6. Enterprise and entrepreneurial education
  7. Value of employability in the curriculum
  8. Reflect, articulate and plan.

Authentic teaching and assessment

Authentic teaching/learning is an approach which focuses on students exploring real-world problems. Focus is on applying understanding and learning to a context, and the development of practical skills. This may draw upon the students' past or current experiences, or may make connections to future sectors of employment. 

This approach helps students to develop their flexibility and practice their ability to apply their understanding to a context. Students can be more motivated where the context is interesting or relevant to them. The real-world connection also often mirrors real-world work, and so can help simulate elements of employment.

This approach may include case studies, problem-based learning (where learning focuses upon students exploring a problem), project-based learning (where students learn through undertaking a project).

Some resources are:

Authentic assessment is considered in depth in the Creativity section.

Skills development and LinkedIn Learning

Throughout their studies, students will need to develop and employ various academic and specialist skills, as well a wide range of "soft skills" (such as presentation skills, interpersonal skills, planning skills, etc.). These are essential both for engaging deeply with your discipline, as well as useful for their future employment.

LinkedIn Learning (LiL) can work as an effective co-tutor to support you in your teaching. All Bath Spa students and staff have free access, and it provides a searchable database of thousands of professionally produced video-based courses to help students. Using LiL in your teaching can take several forms:

  • Soft skills: LiL can be a useful co-teacher for things outside of your primary expertise (e.g. soft skills). For instance, if you are teaching a module which asks students to give a presentation, some students may value LiL support in presentation skills or combatting presentation anxiety.
  • Technical skills: LiL features a range of courses on technical skills, ranging from Python to the Adobe Suite.
  • Employability skills: LiL consult with hundreds of employers to plan the courses they develop. They have focused their recent developments on the three most popular catagories of skills targetted by employers: communication and collaboration, understanding of technology, and the ability to learn quickly and effectively (e.g. self-directed learning).

Some resources are:

Enterprise and entrepreneurship education

Entrepreneurship education is an approach rapidly gaining popularity in UK Higher Education. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) defines enterprise education as:

  • “The process of developing students in a manner that provides them with an enhanced capacity to generate ideas, and the behaviours, attributes, and competencies to make them happen. It extends beyond knowledge acquisition to a wide range of emotional, intellectual, social, cultural and practical behaviours, attributes and competences, and is appropriate to all students. These are all underlying factors that can enhance employability prospects as well as be taken further
    through Entrepreneurship Education.” (p.9)

The focus of this approach overlaps with authentic teaching. Students should learn by being given problems to solve, and a focus should be on generating creative and innovative solutions which deliver some kind of value (e.g. economic, cultural, social, etc.). This can help develop skills and awareness valued by employers.

Some resources are:

Help at Bath Spa

Academic Skills (ASk) provide support to students on academic skills.

Careers and Employability provide support to staff and students on careers and employability.

Further resources

Linking teaching to research, professional practice and/or knowledge exchange

Making meaningful links between teaching, research, professional practice and knowledge exchange can add significant value to curricula. Different disciplines will traditionally make deeper links between different ones of these elements.

Research and scholarship
  • “The implications of bringing research and teaching together within academic communities of practice mean that students would be treated as the adult people they are, with something valuable to contribute as well as to learn.” Brew (2003, p.16)

Studies suggest that students and staff value curricula which develop meaningful links between teaching and research/scholarship. Courses can be perceived to be more up-to-date, more stimulating and enquiry-led. It can help learners to experience a scholarly environment and add richness to this community through their inclusion. However, these links do not occur inevitably, and need careful and purposeful attention to help them flourish.

Healey (2005) suggest four main ways of including research in the curriculum, with the suggestion that a balanced curriculum will contain elements from all four categories. These are based on two main dichotomies: 1) whether students are principally an audience or participants in research, and 2) whether the focus is principally upon research content or research processes and problems.

  • Research-led (audience & content): Students explore the content of research (e.g. tutors share new research findings)
  • Research-orientated (audience & processes): Students are told about research processes and problems (e.g. tutors explain different research methods or issues of epistemology)
  • Research-tutored (participants & content): Students use the research content in their work (e.g. students critique a research publication)
  • Research-based (participants & processes): Students engage with the processes involved in their own research (e.g. students conduct an enquiry-based project)

Problem-based and enquiry-based learning are related concepts and are considered in depth in the Creativity section.

Some resources are:

Professional practice

Links between teaching and disciplinary professional practice have traditionally been "taken for granted" in many practice-based disciplines, but are now an emerging focus in thought. The term "pracademic" was first coined in 1999 by Volpe and Chandler, but has recently grown in popularity - this being a HE tutor who has dual identities and expertise in both academia and the professional practice of their home discipline.

Some resources are:

Knowledge exchange

The Office for Students states:

  • "Knowledge exchange a process that brings together academic staff, users of research and wider groups and communities to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise."

This is a two-way process. They often see members of the university community move "outside" to create links and partnerships with industry, charities and organisations, often in order to have wider impact beyond Higher Education. Those beyond the university can benefit from the university's ideas, research, resources, and so on. The learning from these links can also be brought back to inform the development of university curricula. As well as larger scale links, they can also work at the level of the individual - for example by establishing student work placements.

Some resources are:

Help at Bath Spa

The Teaching Expertise Development team provide support to staff regarding developing links between teaching, research, professional practice and knowledge exchange in the curriculum.

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