School of Business and Law

Inspiring journeys to work

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Module insight: Developing Practical Professional Knowledge

The Developing Practical Professional Knowledge module (ML315) on our integrated foundation year is set within the context of responsible enterprise.

This module supports learners’ professional development by highlighting the practical professional knowledge and understanding needed to succeed in today’s ever-changing world of work.

Learners are exposed to a range of contemporary issues – such as the climate emergency and gender equality – that provide a backdrop to raising their awareness of the skills and attributes demanded by employers. They focus on developing their employability, building a professional identity to help articulate their professional self, exploring the skills and experience required in a range of careers and industries.

The module also focuses on learners’ academic development, including independent enquiry, review of academic literature, research skills and reflective practice, encouraging them to identify links and similarities between academic and professional skills.

Employability: Preparing learners for practice

Learners are introduced to concepts of employability, responsible professionalism, and pre-professional identity development. They explore what employability means from a learner and graduate perspective, as well as from an employer’s point of view in order to identify where there may be differences in understanding what employability is.

Learners audit their own employability assets through SWOT analysis and the creation of a personal development action plan. This provides a scaffold for reviewing ideas of the “responsible professional” (Dowson, 2015) and how understanding employability from this angle links closely to responsible enterprise.

Tomlinson’s (2017) graduate capital model is used as a framework to help learners understand the different types of capital (e.g. social, identity, psychological) that are typically required of graduates and are encouraged to find opportunities within their course, School, wider university, part-time work and social activities to develop in these different areas. They then look at pre-professional identity development (Jackson, 2016) and explore the various transitions that take place throughout their university journey. This encourages them to go beyond a skills-based approach to employability and to explore the qualities, conduct, culture and ideology (Jackson, 2017) of their intended future profession/industry. At this point of the module, colleagues from the University’s mentoring scheme are invited to talk to learners about the benefits of working with a mentor to help them work on personal development action plans.

Societal impact: Business as a force for good

In exploring ideas of responsible enterprise, learners are able to discuss how contemporary contexts, such as Covid-19 or the climate emergency, impact on today’s workplaces.

Underpinned by the Graduate Attributes framework and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, learners begin to understand the potential positive societal impact they can have in their chosen field.

Reviewing recruitment and employment trends helps learners recognise shifts in the types of roles on offer, as well as the generation of newer roles such as Climate Legal Counsel, Sustainable Finance Officers or Net Zero Data Specialists.


Teaching about responsible enterprise includes a focus on inclusivity.

In this context, learners are introduced to gender inequality as a broad topic and then later look at the impacts of this within the workplace. Reasons for gender inequality are studied and the importance and ways of reducing it are discussed. In relation to the workplace, learners investigate aspects such as pay gaps, discrimination, impacts of childcare and the differences in time worked.

Learner success

Some learner reflections mid-module include:

  1. “Studying this course…has made me realise that responsible enterprise is a highly important part of my working life as not only can it affect businesses, but [also] employees as individuals.”
  2. “Responsible enterprise gives me a broader understanding of how I should commit myself during and after university.”
  3. “My knowledge of responsible enterprise will positively benefit my life as a business management professional…as I will be held accountable for the influence and impact the business has on the community it is part of.”
  4. “[Learning about] responsible enterprise has given me valuable knowledge and skills in ethical decision-making, sustainable business practices, and social and environmental impact assessments, preparing me to become a more effective and responsible business professional.”

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our Developing Practical Professional Knowledge module (ML315) meets the following UN global goals:

  • Quality education – standard four
  • Gender equality – standard five
  • Decent work and economic growth – standard eight
  • Climate action – standard 13

UN global goal: quality education - standard 4 UN global goals: Gender equality - 5 UN global goals: decent work and economic growth - standard 8 UN global goals: Climate action - 13

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AACSBcase studyDeveloping Practical Professional Knowledgeemployabilityinclusivitymoduleresponsible enterpriseSBLSchool of Business and Lawsocietal impactUN global goalsUN sustainable development goals

Zoe Cassell • April 19, 2023

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