P4: Graduate Attributes

Priority 4: Facilitate students’ development of core values and graduate attributes

Priority 4: Facilitate students’ development of core values and graduate attributes

As a socially-minded, civically-engaged institution, our core values and graduate attributes are the bedrock of our student experience. Graduate attributes refer to the skills, knowledge and abilities of our graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, that are applicable in a range of contexts in their lives. Based on extensive consultation with stakeholders, the following core values and graduate attributes will be prioritised for the lifecycle of this Academic Strategy 2018 - 2022. The Priority Actions will be delivered through the Graduates Attribute Programme which was launched at UCC in September 2019. More information on this programme can be found here: https://www.ucc.ie/en/graduateattributes

A successful application to support this priority was made to the HEA Innovation and Transformation Programme 2018. The funding provided through this HEA scheme will support the development of a pilot Graduate Attributes Programme, which will be predominantly targeted at BA Arts students. Delivery of a suite of initiatives within the programme will focus on the different stages of students’ Transition In, Through and Out of the university. The overarching objective of the programme is to enable a successful student journey, which will prepare students for their future through three main projects.

1. Transition In initiatives will guide students into the right programme of study for them, whilst simultaneously widening access of under-represented cohorts and improving first year retention rates.

2. Transition Through initiatives will provide targeted supports, deliver skills training and develop graduate attributes that go beyond disciplinary content knowledge and can be applied in life-wide contexts.

3. Transition Out initiatives will prepare final year students to transition into professional environments, delivering on the ambitions of our Institutional Employability and Employment Guide.

This initiative will advance the development of students’ academic, specialist and technical competencies, equipping them with transferrable skills that can be applied in different environments. With a focus on developing core values and graduate attributes, these initiatives will integrate with the academic curriculum, taking a holistic educational approach to develop character, professionalism and the capacity for critical and creative thought. UCC graduates will be recognised as well-rounded, curious, self-aware, individuals who continually learn new skills, are open to new ideas, and make things happen.

Contact the Graduate Attributes Programme on:

Telephone: 021 4903127

Email: graduateattributes@ucc.ie 

Twitter: @UCCGrAttributes

Our progress illustrates the enthusiasm with which our graduate attributes and values have been championed and, more importantly, the opportunities that have been seized by staff and students across the University. We will continue to develop and expand our programme to equip future graduates with the necessary values and attributes to flourish in the years ahead. Given the global uncertainty relating to rapid technological developments in the world of work, compounded by the Covid-19 crisis, the assurance of the value of graduate attributes to employability and citizenship is more important than ever for our learners, our teachers and our university.

A series of short information videos have been produced to promote the Graduate Attributes Programme including a translation into Irish (watch video here) and Chinese (watch video here). An animated video has also been produced where students tell us more about each attribute and value and how these are enabling them to develop life wide and lifelong skills (watch video here). The most recent video explores how having a clear vision and a strong brain and mindset can help us to achieve our goals (watch video here). First “Made in UCC” series video, in partnership with the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences was created to support the transition to university for students in CK108 (watch videos here).  Staff, university-wide, have been exploring what the attributes and values mean to them and discussing opportunities to showcase how they could shape the culture and environment of the University whether within, alongside or outside the curriculum. A series of new Case Studies has been developed from each of these meetings and are now on our website www.ucc.ie/graduateattributes.  To support the recruitment strategy of the university, especially post-Covid19, the Graduate Attributes Programme is supporting students who are transitioning in with the production of a Virtual Reality Experience. Students will get to explore University College Cork online to see where they could be studying, living and socialising, and are able to walk through some of the university's amazing grounds on our immersive Virtual Campus Experience.  In addition, to support all actions of Priority 4, pre-entry students will get to prepare for the transition and realities of university life in the new Nurturing Bright Futures course which has been developed in collaboration with UCC colleagues. The course is hosted on Canvas (link here) and is designed to be interactive for students to engage with the material. It will create spaces for students to undertake self-reflective exercises and will stimulate conversations, with friends, family and Guidance Counsellors, to optimise university-readiness. By taking this course, students’ self-awareness and knowledge and skills will be strengthened which will help them make informed choices about their programme of study and will help them prepare for the transition and have better idea of what to expect in the next chapter of their journey, preparing them in advance to better realise Action 17 of the Academic Strategy.


At annual registration, students will submit a self-assessment to determine the extent to which they have developed these values and attributes through their educational and life experiences. A digital application will generate a spikey profile, or computer-generated graph, that illustrates students’ starting point within each attribute and value. Students will be pointed in the direction of further ways to develop their core values and attributes, as relevant to their performance in the self-assessment.

In May 2020 a significant amount of research was done between the Graduate Attributes Programme and Dr. Mike Murphy, School of Applied Psychology to establish a series of brief questionnaires which allow for measurement of each of the UCC values and attributes as part of the Student Self-Assessment Tool. The purpose of the study presented was to develop items which might contribute to such questionnaires. The views of staff (Academic, Research and Support Staff) and Students’ Union officers were canvassed as to behaviours or characteristics which they felt reflected each of the values and attributes. Their responses were subjected to a qualitative analysis, and a series of potential questionnaire items were generated from the data.

A simultaneous project took place to procure a digital platform to provide the best supports for students as they transition through university.  In April 2020 the procurement process concluded and the tool “Potential.Ly” was selected.  Each student on completion of the self-assessment will receive an auto-generated feedback report (spikey profile) that will be personalised based on the responses given by the student for each question. The report will be configured with diagrammatic charts illustrating their level of competency across each attribute. The report includes feedback and next steps across each attribute and comprises an e-Portfolio to record personal achievements. Supporting the above of Potential.ly’s simple engaging interface is a sophisticated continuous learning and personal development platform that allows UCC to deliver unlimited questionnaires or diagnostics that connect with the resources, events, curricular and extra-curricular activities offered to students. Each student development is personalised based on what they do and how they are improving.  Potential.ly has inbuilt proprietary psychometrics to aid students in understanding their core strengths and opportunities for development. This activity will prove valuable for goal setting and development planning on which activities and learning will be undertaken in the 2020-2021 academic year.  In August 2020, Potential.Ly was successfully embedded into Canvas ready for full roll-out Autumn 2020.


Assessment of work placements, field-work, problem-based learning, group-work and other relevant learning activities that are guided by the Connected Curriculum framework will prompt students to explore new ways to further develop values and attributes.

This Action will ensure that students are prompted towards ways to further develop their core values and attributes, as relevant to their performance in the assessment. Continuous engagement with staff across the university is underway, with many academic programmes prompting students to explore ways of co-creating and embedding graduate attributes and values into their own curricula. Examples include the School of Pharmacy, School of Dentistry, BA (Hons) Economics through Transformational Learning, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, BA (Hons) Film and Screen Media and Cork University Business School. For example, in module EC3137 students completed their end of year conference “Begin, Belong, Become: Cultivating Creativity to Embed Graduate Attributes in UCC”.  An Academic Advisor to the Graduate Attributes Programme is now in situ, and will contribute to this Action in the Academic Year 2020-2021. Furthermore a Research Support Officer will be recruited to undertake research which will inform and influence the development of the Graduate Attributes Programme initiatives which will measure the impact of the various work packages.

This position will carry out research which will be evidence-based throughout its lifecycle.


Learning outcomes will be constructively aligned with the development of graduate attributes, as relevant to the discipline.

This Action will ensure that staff, through development and alignment of learning outcomes will have a central focus on preparing students for their future. Staff will be engaged and will integrate the teaching and assessment of graduate attributes within the student learning experience. Students will receive systematic support to better identify and develop to skills they need to better contribute to society and the labour force. Positive engagement continues between the Graduate Attributes Programme and academic programme directors to review Learning Outcomes. One such recent example is module OT 1004 where Learning Outcomes have been updated to explicitly mention the development of graduate attributes.


Digital Badges and the Skills Centre will be optimised to facilitate student engagement with a breadth of learning experiences that will expose them to the critical mass of research expertise across all disciplines in UCC. Transdisciplinary approaches will be promoted in these activities, which will be designed to encourage an appreciation of differing disciplinary perspectives on grand societal challenges. [Completed]

This action will ensure that students are empowered to become self-regulated learners, and will engage in a breadth of learning experiences which address values like Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Resilience, and Ambition. The Skills Centre sessions, offered throughout the year to all students, across all colleges and levels are aligned to the graduate attributes and values and foster a transdisciplinary platform for students to engage outside of the traditional classroom. Transdisciplinary digital badges have been offered and delivered through the Skills Centre throughout both semesters. Avoiding Errors in Reasoning, Independent Thinking, SPEAK, Everyday Matters and Creating and Maintaining a Professional Presence online addressed all GAP attributes while fostering the GAP underpinning values. The development of the Tandem Reader programme will further offer opportunity for students to engage outside traditional classroom environment to work with other students developing academic communication across the disciplines.

From the Academic Year 2020-2021, a “Student Success Zone” which is being hosted on Canvas, the university’s learning and teaching platform is categorised according to the themes of the Graduate Attributes Programme (GAP). The GAP Framework also provides initiatives to be themed into “Begin, Belong, Become” and governance of the canvas space has dual responsibility of Graduate Attributes Programme and the UCC Skills Centre. This new online space will be available to all 22,000+ students from September 2020 and each student is automatically enrolled so that all Transition Through supports are at their fingertips.


A space for students to reflect and develop their thoughts and ideas will be established. This space will serve as an ideas lab, or house of thought, where students will be supported to advance their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills.

Students will be supported in self-directed learning, and will be empowered to become self-regulated learners, harnessing their creativity and imagination, to become more work and world ready. A new MakerMap project has begun, which focusses on creating best-practice guidelines for the usage of Makerspaces, including the new MakerSpace in the new Hub building. A completed Student Experience Showcase, presented in January 2020 facilitates students to develop thoughts, activities, initiatives and ideas while engaging with the offices and centres within the Student Experience remit. A presentation of posters and an interactive map was delivered in the Dora Allman Room in the new Hub building, and demonstrates how each unit is working in delivering initiatives that assist students daily aligning with graduate attributes and values.

In addition, an Online Hub has been created within the Student Success Zone on Canvas. This will serve as an ideas lab, where we deliver mobile-friendly, engaging courses. Our programme allows students to explore new teaching and learning resources, get ahead, or catch up. Courses can be accessed anywhere, from any device, at anytime!  A working group comprised of Graduate Attributes, Skills Centre, Student Experience, the Library— in partnership with Students’ Union and supported by IT Services convened to develop a Student Success Canvas Course. This Canvas course will serve as a centralized connection point to student success resources and avenues of support for UCC students.  The working group seeks to gather participation as it develops and pilots the Success Zone, beginning Autumn 2020 for all students. Governance of the Student Success Zone lies with Graduate Attributes Programme and Skills Centre.

Canvas usage is a critical driver to student success, and with our current dependence on virtual learning spaces the Success Zone provides a central source of quick resource connections, to further advance students’ curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills.


Lead sponsor: Head of College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, Chris Williams

Administrative Lead: Dr. Jennifer Murphy, Director of Recruitment and Admissions

Team Members:

  • Graduate Attributes Programme Manager
  • Academic Programme Managers
  • Administrative Co-Director, Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)
  • Centre for Digital Education
  • Head of Career Services
  • Information Services Project Management Office
  • IT Services
  • Key Academic Staff
  • Skills Centre
  • Procurement Office

Deputy President & Registrar

First Floor, West Wing, Main Quadrangle, UCC, T12 YN60