Graduate attributes

Graduate attributes

Graduate attributes refer to the additional skills and attributes developed through degree level study, beyond the core subject knowledge covered by the curriculum. 

In addition to academic knowledge and professional skills, QMU awards will help graduates to develop personal attributes that will aid them in their future life, whatever career choices they make.

QMU's Graduate attributes policy can be downloaded here.

Over-arching principles

  • All awards of QMU will include the academic content expected for that subject. The depth and complexity of knowledge will be appropriate for the academic level of the award.
  • Degrees that relate to a profession or a particular field of employment will include the skills and knowledge needed to work in that field.
  • Whatever the area of study, QMU has a commitment to support learners in the development of Graduate Attributes that will aid them in their future life, and allow them to make a positive contribution to society.


  • Graduate Attributes should be a meaningful expression of our aspirations as a University, reflecting our values and the role of graduates in society;
  • Graduate Attributes should provide a facilitative framework and not be viewed as an administrative hurdle;
  • Graduate Attributes refer to the added value that flows from study at QMU, not the baseline expectations for learners entering programmes of study;
  • They should be articulated in language that is easily accessible and understood by all key groups including students, academic and other staff, employers;
  • Graduate Attributes should inform the design and delivery of all programmes within QMU, but there will be flexibility in the way in which these are expressed, implemented and recorded. This is to allow the language used to describe these Attributes and approaches to implementation to reflect subject and profession-specific contexts;
  • The same framework of Graduate Attributes should cover both undergraduate (at SCQF Level 10 and below) and postgraduate. The way in which programme teams apply the Framework will be flexible to the context, location and level of learning;
  • The implementation of Graduate Attributes must take into account issues of parity. Where Attributes are addressed directly within curricula there should be no problems arising, but where Attributes rely on extra-curricular activities staff need to be mindful of differential access to opportunities (e.g. students with caring or work commitments may have fewer opportunities to engage in voluntary activities).

The full list of attributes is below, along with further explanation for each attribute.

Active Learner

Investigative and curious

  • You are willing to ask questions and don’t automatically accept statements of fact without evidence.
  • Where there is a gap in knowledge or a question is unanswered, you have the skills to investigate.
  • You are confident in your ability to find information, making use of library and digital literacy skills, and understanding which sources of evidence are the most reliable.

Critical and analytical

  • You have the ability to evaluate an argument critically, challenging the inferences and assumptions lying behind it and relating it to existing knowledge in the field.
  • When you have to deal with a large amount of complex information or evidence, you have the skills to synthesise it, see patterns and come to conclusions based on the data.

Lifelong learner

  • You are committed to lifelong learning and keen to develop new skills as you need them.
  • You are able to identify gaps in your own knowledge and take steps to address them.
  • You adapt to new circumstances and ways of working and change your practices accordingly.


Personal Growth

Resilient and adaptable

  • You are able to cope with setbacks and maintain your self-belief.
  • You don’t fear failure but treat it as a learning experience.
  • You are open to change and can think on your feet as circumstances evolve.

Self-aware and critically reflective

  • You have a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses and how to get the best out of yourself.
  • You reflect critically on your own actions and seek to make continuous improvements.
  • If you have made a mistake you are willing to acknowledge it and learn from it.

Effective communicator

  • You are able to communicate verbally and in writing, adapting your style to suit different audiences and situations.
  • In discussions, you can introduce your opinions in ways that add value to the conversation without diminishing others.
  • You recognise the need to listen actively in order to understand other people’s concerns and viewpoints.

Emotionally intelligent

  • You understand how to work with others effectively, and how to build relationships of trust.
  • You recognise other people’s emotions and know how to respond appropriately.
  • You contribute positively to creating supportive networks that enable others to flourish.

Career progression

Ready to apply skills and knowledge

  • You understand how to apply your subject-specific skills and knowledge to real life situations.
  • You are able to make connections between academic theory and the real world context.

Ethical and professional

  • You understand what is expected of you in terms of ethical and professional behaviour.
  • You take responsibility for your own actions and behaviour.
  • You recognise the boundaries between the personal and the professional and what that means for the way you interact with people at work.

Independent and willing to seek guidance

  • You are capable of working independently without supervision.
  • You take responsibility for your own work and will act proactively to address issues as appropriate.
  • You can manage your workload effectively, understanding which activities to prioritise in order to meet deadlines.
  • You recognise the limits of your knowledge and will seek guidance when needed.

Collaborative team member

  • You understand your role within a wider team and take responsibility for your contribution to meeting common goals.
  • You assist others in the team by sharing your knowledge and expertise.

Making a difference

Creative problem solver

  • You are able to identify and analyse problems, coming up with innovative solutions.
  • You are willing to experiment and also to reflect critically on the success of new ideas, in order to make further improvements for the future.

Willing to lead and innovate

  • You are willing to challenge received wisdom and find better ways of doing things.
  • You are ready to take the initiative and take on new responsibilities.
  • You have the confidence to take the lead and persuade others to your viewpoint.

Advocate of sustainability and social justice

  • You recognise the need for social, economic and environmental sustainability and factor that into decision-making.
  • You appreciate how your actions relate to wider society and their possible impact in terms of equality, inclusion and social justice.
  • Where relevant, you stand up for people who are vulnerable or marginalised.

Inclusive and respectful of difference

  • You appreciate that people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures and welcome the value and richness that this brings.
  • You are willing to take steps to learn more about cultures and beliefs that are different from your own.
  • You seek to involve people from all cultures and backgrounds in your work and decision-making.

Shaping a better world - locally and globally

  • You understand how you and your work relate to the local, national and global context.
  • You are aware of how wider agendas and political decisions can affect your local area or professional life.
  • You have the skills and confidence to contribute to shaping a better world.

Graduate Attributes QMU



Last updated August 2022