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Unlocking career success: the Swansea University Career Development Course

10 Jan 2024 | Zdravka Kamenova Contributor to "Unpacking the 3Es – a national perspective" - commissioned by HEFCW, Zdravka Kamenova, unveils the transformative Swansea University's "Career Development Course", offering students a powerful pathway to career success.

"Discover how this innovative course equips students and graduates for the competitive job market..."

Swansea University's Career Development Course (CDC) is a unique course designed to empower students in a competitive job market. Created in response to student concerns about their futures, the CDC is more than just a typical course—it is a versatile toolkit that thoroughly prepares students and graduates for the job market's demands.

What sets the CDC at Swansea University apart? It adds an element of fun and interactivity to learning. Using multimedia components, interactive exercises and quizzes, the CDC keeps students engaged. Beyond landing a job, it equips students to navigate their career journey and challenges. This program aligns with employers' needs, ensuring students are job market-ready. It seamlessly integrates with academic courses, whether in chemistry, history or business, providing valuable career support.

Key highlights

The CDC's success story begins with collaboration. Key players in this initiative include careers consultants, academics, curriculum design experts, and, of course, the students. The CDC development was quite an adventure; it went through planning, development, implementation and evaluation stages.

The course is packed with features that make it stand out. Firstly, its seamless integration into academic modules, making it accessible to students across various disciplines. It's tied to academic module marks, motivating students to engage.

Another feature of the CDC is its flexibility. It is customisable to suit individual academic subjects, making it a versatile tool for educators to tackle specific gaps in career learning by selecting the most appropriate units. Plus, it's not a one-size-fits-all offer; careers staff and academics join in to deliver complementary taught sessions that align with the course's learning objectives. The flipped classroom style of teaching we employ also saves time and offers scalability, making the learning process dynamic and efficient.

The CDC is recorded on students' Higher Education Achievement Records, recognising the value it adds to their academic journey. And if students are eager to get a head start on their career development, the course is also available outside of the curriculum via Canvas, so they can complete it independently and at their own pace in English or in Welsh. There's a higher-level achievement (Advanced CDC) up for grabs for those who complete 10 or more units of the course covering various career-related topics, such as CV and LinkedIn, career options and resilience.

The CDC stands out through its holistic approach, encompassing the 3 Es: Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, and Employability. It goes beyond the employability skills, delving into the cultivation of entrepreneurial and enterprising skills through a dedicated unit. Personal reflection is integral, alongside practical competencies for career success like psychometric tests and interview prep. Students also apply their knowledge through other hands-on activities, group projects and real-world simulations. This approach aligns with AGCAS UK Curriculum Design group recommendations, ensuring students maximise their educational journey.


Let's look at some of its impressive outcomes: since its launch in August 2020, over 9,300 students have completed the CDC. It's not just popular; it's making a significant impact. Preliminary results show that nearly 84% of surveyed students who completed the course are in graduate-level roles in Engineering and Technical, Healthcare and Nursing, Information Technology and Software Development, Manufacturing and Industrial, and Freelance and Self-Employment. Notable employers include Mott McDonald, PWS, NHS, English Heritage and BAE Systems, amongst many. More importantly, students aren't just learning; they are taking action with many reporting making tangible moves toward their careers after finishing the CDC, such as revising their CV, applying for internships and securing a job interview.

The CDC has played a significant role in sharpening students' awareness of the diverse selection methods used in the professional world. The School of Psychology at Swansea University also assessed the impact of integrating the CDC as an authentic assessment in a mandatory Year 1 Psychology module. In a research study led by Dr Martyn Quigley, the findings were quite telling: 80% of students who completed the course took positive steps toward their careers and had greater awareness of employer selection tests, emphasising the benefits of embedding employability as a summative assessment.

Academics are also quite pleased with Swansea University's Career Development Course (CDC). It's been dubbed as the tool that equips students for success in any career they choose. Gavin Bunting, Director of Employability for Science and Engineering, praises the CDC for its structured approach and high student engagement. "The course is great, I am happy with the engagement from students and having it on Canvas gives it a clear structure."

In the world of academia, where theory often takes centre stage, the Career Development Course at Swansea University is rather practical, as recognised by a local graduate employer commenting, "The course provides graduates with an introduction to self-learning and CPD important for long-term career development."

What's next

What's on the horizon for the CDC at Swansea University? We are all about continuous improvement, actively seeking feedback from students, academics and employers to keep making the course even better. Plus, we are tapping into the wisdom of alumni who have been through the CDC, gaining insights into its long-term impact. Collaborations are in the mix, not just within the University but with other institutions, professional bodies and industry partners, sparking innovation and cross-institutional learning.

We are not stopping at employability; the focus is on career wellbeing, resilience and mental health support, because a healthy mind equals a successful career. Get ready for more research into the CDC's long-term effects, shared through publications, conferences and workshops.

As the job market evolves, the CDC will keep up, incorporating international perspectives and global employability skills. So, there's lots to look forward to, and we are making sure our staff stays on top of their game through ongoing professional development. Exciting times ahead!


Zdravka Kamenova is the Careers Consultancy Services Manager at Swansea Employability Academy, Swansea University.

'Unpacking the 3Es – a national perspective', a Case Study Series commissioned by HEFCW 2023 and edited by Stuart Norton and Andy Penaluna was published on 10 January 2024.

You can read the first contributory blog by Professor Kathryn Penaluna, UWTSD, here.

Find out more about Advance HE's work in Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education.

Employability Symposium 2024: Distilling The 3Es: ‘What works – and what doesn’t’ 

This event on 25 April will provide a space to discuss and share latest practices in embedding employability among a network of peers. Find out more.


We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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