Case Study 3 - Curriculum design to improve graduate employment

Davis, Katherine

Impact Summary

In response to increasing global recognition of the significant contribution of Project Management (PM) to worldwide economic development, the curriculum changes I instigated and led changed the curriculum for many degrees offered by Kingston University. Kingston now offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees with embedded PM modules and training at FBSS, GISMA, Mumbai and the Computing and Engineering Schools with a total of 938 postgraduate and 312 undergraduates currently enrolled in training for 2020/1 modules and courses. My recognition of the changing job market influenced changes in our collaboration and engagement with employers that impacted on the curriculum content to include skills and knowledge relevant to today’s business need that later included embedding professional qualifications in the curriculum. The consistent rise in Kingston University ratings to reach the top 40 Universities in the UK is matched by the increasing student recruitment to my modules and courses and improvement in employment of Business School graduates. My courses attract a high number of BAME students for whom national graduate employment rates to high skilled jobs is lower compared to other ethnic groups. A positive Impact of this approach is the high employment figures for our graduates that goes against the national trend.

Key Achievements

  1. Project management is an integral part of the curriculum in courses across the Business, Computing and Engineering Schools and Faculties.
  2. A lively and active employer forum that I initiated and lead, ensures the curriculum remains relevant to business, gives a rich source of guest lecturers, who inspire students and enable a huge range of work experience and research opportunities.
  3. Nationally recognised, professional qualifications (e.g. PRINCE2, Agile) are embedded into the curriculum with no additional cost to students due to financial support from the Business School.
  4. The same modules are delivered by partner organisations with similar results.
  5. Quality standards have been consistent regardless of the organisation that delivers the modules through computer assessment, reducing subjectivity and a delivering an excellent standard that is recognised by external examiners and employers.
  6. The reputation of project management at Kingston University is endorsed by employers and external examiners reports.

Key Aims

The key aims of this work were to: • Include project management in postgraduate and undergraduate courses • Create an employment focussed curriculum to fulfil the needs of the changing job market • Give Kingston University the opportunity to contribute to developing academic leadership in project management


I established and lead a lively and active employer forum that ensures the curriculum remains relevant to business, gives a rich source of guest lecturers who inspire students and enables a huge range of work experience and research opportunities for Kingston University students and staff. I wrote and validated many modules including the first Project Management module for MBA BBM525 and designed courses that were requested by colleagues. I worked with the careers unit in the University to provide work experience opportunities for students, whether off campus or within the University, that reflects projects and situations that would be met in their working life, allowing students to build a portfolio of transferable and specialist skills. I negotiated with external and internal sources of finance to be able to offer our students national professional qualifications as part of their degree. I devised an assessment strategy that was simple to implement, allowed consistency across organisations that delivered project management modules. I mentored employer lecturers to understand the academic aims of the modules. I supported staff from partner organisations to deliver the curriculum.

Key Outcomes

Nationally recognised, professional qualifications (PRINCE2) are embedded in the curriculum with financial support from the Business School with no additional cost to students. The initial offer has been extended to include PRINCE2 Practitioner, AgilePM and Scrum. The impact of this initiative is demonstrated by data from 2015 – 2019: an overall MEQ score on BH5004 CIP of 4.59 and an average student attainment mark 71%. From 2019 to present, there are 34 modules with PRINCE2, Agile and Scrum embedded across modules used by different Faculties including the Business, Engineering and Computing Schools. In 2019/2020 2,791 students and a further 78 undergraduates and 152 postgraduates elected to take these qualifications. The employer forum is well supported and provides lecturers from industry in 2018/19 40 projects for work experience and to multiple staff and modules across the undergraduate and postgraduate spectrum. Students and notably BAME students are finding employment aligned to their graduate qualifications. Partner colleges view their collaboration with Kingston University positively and record excellent results partly due to my mentorship and assessment strategy. Degrees with project management and specialist project management degrees from Kingston University recruit strongly (e.g. MIBM – 300 students) and staff enjoy national recognition for their expertise (e.g. Strategy into Practice series, Leading to Grow Programme). Further, I have brought into the University four new members of staff with project management skills.

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