Graduate Attributes

What are graduate attributes?

Graduate attributes relate to the knowledge, skills and capabilities that the University seeks to give allstudents the opportunity to develop throughout their time at St Andrews. While the University is responsible for ensuring that opportunities are available and advertised, students are responsible for developing their graduate attributes. Students can log all their activities (curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular) on the graduate attribute platform. This allows them to track their skill development over time and build their personal graduate attributes skill wheel.


How can they be developed?

graduate attributes infographic

Graduate attributes can be developed through a wide range of student activities. This includes not only curricular learning but also co-curricular and extra-curricular activities such as training courses, work placements, involvement in student societies and sports clubs, volunteering and research assistantships. For many students, all three spheres of activity contribute significantly to producing their attributes. It is not expected that curricular learning alone will necessarily deliver all of the graduate attributes. Students will potentially use all three channels to enhance their attributes.

What will the benefits of a set of graduate attributes be to staff and students?

  • A shared identity and a language to describe the value of a St Andrews education
  • A common framework for academics, professional services staff and students for to utilise in thinking about programme and module specifications
  • Students can better articulate the skills they’ve developed at the University to employers through improving their appreciation of the full range of skills they are acquiring and the contexts in which this occurs
  • Graduate attributes can increase the aspirations of students and motivate personal development
  • Graduate attributes can better instil an appreciation for life-long learning and on-going professional development in students
  • Parents/Guardians and employers better understand and appreciate the skills students develop as part of the St Andrews student experience
  • Students can make more informed programme/module choices by taking graduate attributes into account
  • The attributes can help link student skill development activity to the University strategy
  • Students can make connections between, and see the value in, a balance of curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activity as part of their student experience



Graduate Attributes - definitions


Socially responsible

Socially responsible: Valuing integrity, ethical awareness, environmental sustainability, civic engagement, local and global good citizenship.


Valuing diversity

  • Diversity Awareness: Ability to appreciate multiple perspectives and see things differently, cross-cultural communication and understanding.
  • Effective team contribution: Managing tasks cooperatively to achieve collective goals through open communication and mutual support and accountability.
  • Inter-personal skills: Empathy, tolerance, honesty and respect, forming productive relationships.
  • Influencing and negotiation: Active listening, attending to others’ points of view, asking questions, persuading, managing disagreement, reaching consensus


Entrepreneurial mind-set

  • Creativity: Using imagination to formulate, design and develop fresh and innovative approaches; generate original ideas, concepts, solutions, arguments, proposals and new kinds of value by thinking independently and in new ways.
  • Confidence and adaptability:
    • ability to maintain flexibility: adjusting when circumstances, situations and environments change.
    • ability to cope with the unfamiliar: dealing with uncertainty and the unknown, navigating ambiguity.
  • Recognition of opportunities: Identifying potential ways to make new and different kinds of value, generating ideas for future work, making connections between unrelated ideas, scanning the horizon and visualising future possibilities, understanding the implications of current learning for helping with other problems and decisions.
  • Research skills and problem solving:
    • problem solving: formulate problems precisely, identifying key issues, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of alternative options and finding ways to work through the challenges.
    • critical thinking: question, challenge. and evaluate complex evidence, information and arguments and use of judgement in decision making.
    • analysis: constructing logical arguments and careful, coherent reasoning, breaking problems down into their component parts.

Leadership skills

  • Self-awareness and reflection: Seeking guidance and mentoring from others, reflecting on feedback, learning from mistakes and failure, identifying personal development needs and taking corrective actions.
  • Organisation:
    • ability to plan and complete a task or manage a project: identify goals, prioritise, handling workload, implementing a strategy.
    • ability to manage time and deadlines and cope under pressure: learning reliability, self-motivation and dependability in delivering punctually, multi-tasking, tolerating stress, anticipating pinch points and organizing appropriately. 
  • Resilience: Adopting a positive approach to cope with setbacks and perseverance in the face of challenges. Taking responsibility for maintaining health and wellbeing.
  • Leading others: Managing, guiding, coaching, inspiring, enthusing and motivating others, delegating, mentoring, supervising, teaching, giving feedback, building and maintaining effective relationships, taking initiatives and responsibility, taking risks, making positive changes.


Global outlook

  • Networking: Building and maintaining social connections and sharing information across cultures.
  • Commercial/Business awareness: Understanding market context, how organisations work, sector pressures, and client needs.
  • Digital literacy:
    • use of software: office, other menu-drive packages.
    • programming: specific coding skills (Excel, Python, Java, Mathematica, Matlab, mapping etc)
    • digital communication: through social media, podcasts, video.
  • Oral communication: Communicating clearly in public to a range of audiences and cultures.
  • Written communication: Communicating complex information and technical concepts effectively, concisely, cogently and accurately in essays, reports and projects.
  • Numeracy: Carefully and precisely generating, analysing, interpreting and presenting qualitative information or quantitative data.
  • Technical and specialist academic skills and disciplinary knowledge: Discipline specific skills.