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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:

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


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  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.

The student self-assessment tool has been developed and is called Your UCC Graduate Attributes and Values Compass [GAP Compass]. A cohesive narrative and bespoke visual identity have been created for the GAP Compass (which integrates all five graduate attributes and five values). This strong concept and brand will strengthen students’ identification with the GAP Compass and the suite of learning activities and resources that are signposted within it. A Project Steering Group has been created with membership from technical, academic and professional services colleagues to inform and support the roll out of this Action, in particular the technical embedding of the GAP Compass into the students’ journey. The pilot phase iincluded 201 students from all four Colleges and across UG and PG cohorts (taught and research) who completed the GAP Compass instrumentation pilot and provided feedback. The next phase of the pilot will involve extensive user experience testing with the intention of integrating the tool into  postgraduate registration in January, April and July 2022 with large scale integration for the core registration event in Autumn 2022.


Assessment of work placements, fieldwork, 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. A Thematic Review of Work Placement, conducted from June to October 2020, by an International Advisory Panel proposed 14 recommendations (including some specifically on assessment of work placements) and the outputs and implementation of this review will support delivery of this Action. 


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 example is module OT 1004 where Learning Outcomes have been updated to explicitly mention the development of graduate attributes.

This Action has input to the development of the University’s new Curriculum Management System, Courseleaf, and all five graduate attributes and values have been built into phase 1 of the project which focuses on module level. At this level, Programme Coordinators will be invited to map the graduate attributes and values to module descriptors and provide short exemplars to evidence and describe the alignments. The intention is to build on these new elements incrementally and to move towards aligning the module learning outcomes and programme learning outcomes with graduate attributes and values in a later iteration of the platform.

We have unertaken an extensive mapping of the Chemistry degree programme to the five graduate attributes and five values and have developed 10 posters with chemistry themes illustrating how the programme offers opportunities to its students in nurturing and developing each attribute and value as they transition through university. This work has been undertaken as part of an undergraduate finaly year project and is an excellent example of co-creation between students and staff and a great exemplar of how the graduate attributes and values can be appropriated and made relevant to a student’s personal learning experience and programme of study. 


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. A number of transdisciplinary digital badges which actively promote the acquisition of the graduate attributes and values in a very focussed way are offered and delivered through the Skills Centre. These include:

The Skills Centre is fully aligned to the graduate attributes and values and offers a transdisciplinary space for students to reflect and develop their academic skills of the traditional classroom. Through practical Skill Centre learning resources and tools such as the Assignment Calculator and the Success Zone, students are empowered to think and act independently and creatively, with integrity, respect, resilience, compassion and ambition.


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. [Completed]

The Success Zone which is hosted on Canvas, the university’s Virtual Learning Environment, is co-governed by the Skills Centre and the Graduate Attributes Programme and is available to all 22,000+ students, each student being automatically enrolled so that all Transition Through supports are at their fingertips. It is a virtual hub to support student’s development of skills to support their study skills and academic success and a space and place where they can reflect and develop their thoughts autonomously. Students are being supported in self-directed learning, and are being empowered to become self-regulated, self-directed, reflective learners, harnessing their creativity and imagination, to become more work and world ready.

The Nurturing Bright Futures programme is hosted on the public version of Canvas and is a six module course that has been designed to equip pre-entry students with the information they need as they prepare to transition into third level education. It creates a space for students to undertake self-reflective exercises and stimulate conversations - with their friends, family, teachers, Guidance Counsellors, and also with themselves - to optimise their university-readiness.  This course is all about empowering pre-entry students to make informed decisions about their subject choices, degree choices and future career paths, and providing opportunities to cultivate their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills. The tiny acorn to a mighty oak symbolism in the bespoke Nurturing Bright Futures logo (see below) speaks to how we nurture our students' talents, helping them to develop and mature into mighty oaks whose fruits help the environment around them flourish.


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 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

Leas-Uachtarán agus Cláraitheoir/ Deputy President & Registrar

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