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Enhancing and evaluating student-led activities to support the development of industry-ready graduate attributes

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

About the Project

The continued advancement and competitiveness of UK Engineering depends heavily upon the ability to recruit and retain highly qualified graduates with a mindset for continued professional development. To facilitate this, UK universities’ Engineering faculties supply thousands of highly qualified Masters and Bachelors’ level graduates every year to global industry, so improved graduate skills that are industry-ready have the potential to provide industry with significantly enhanced benefits from UK academic engineering. While the technical abilities of UK engineering graduates are high, employers often express dissatisfaction, eg through surveys by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with advanced skills relevant to research and innovation, such as business, market and customer awareness, self-management, multidisciplinary teamwork, and the ability to think and act creatively and innovatively. The recent Perkins report (BIS, 2013, see [1]) emphasised the need for HE to supply increased diversity of skills in engineering to maintain UK’s internationally leading engineering position.
The project will focus, for concreteness, on the discipline of Chemical Engineering, but will include comparative study of other Engineering subject areas; and will focus on Strathclyde as an exemplar, but again include comparative examination of other key UK institutions. The pedagogical basis of how research and innovation skills are currently provided by university teaching and learning at undergraduate and postgraduate levels will be explored, utilising a combination of data acquisition and in-class ethnographic research methods. By examining student and staff activity across the range of learning scenarios from lectures to workshops and detailed projects, a clear, critical model of how activities, formal and informal, lead to knowledge and skills development that benefit research and innovation will be determined. In parallel the project will probe industry’s needs and awareness of research and innovation skills and how these can be boosted through graduate skills, making use of relationships with Strathclyde partners across a wide range of sectors including food & drink, oil & gas, environment and water, advanced technologies, pharmaceuticals, and others. By pedagogically understanding current skills provision in the curriculum, and comparing with industrial needs, the research will identify potential improvements as well as significant current strengths and underlying principles that can be built upon.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

Funding Notes

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates will be eligible to be considered for a University scholarship.

Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.


[1] project will suit a student with a background in education, social sciences, psychology or engineering with an interest in educational research.

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