Name: Matthew Johnson (

Discipline/Subject: Politics/International Relations

Institution: Lancaster University

Title: Integrating and embedding outreach, recruitment and employability in Politics curricula

Overview of programme of outreach:

In the context of £9,000+ tuition fees, the Government’s employability agenda and growing concern for defined career development strategies among young people, there is a need for Politics programmes to enable prospective students to appreciate the value of political study and existing students to demonstrate the relevance of their degrees to employers. Without communicating the implications and relevance of Politics the subject and the skills derived from studying within Politics the discipline, Politics departments may face recruitment difficulties that those in, say, the natural sciences, vocational subjects or the ascendant Business Management, may not. To address these recruitment and employability pressures, I have created a Politics/IR programme that integrates outreach, Widening Participation, recruitment, undergraduate study and employability activities.

The programme, which is oriented around the deployment of a third year module, PPR389: Politics Employability through outreach, and targeted engagement with schools in the North East of England. This has shifted our Departmental approach towards intensive, long-term engagement with schools to manage the transition from school to HE, preferably to Politics at Lancaster, but HE in general failing that.

PPR389 focuses on the development of key employability skills through completion of three assignments aimed at fostering employability: a 3 minute piece to camera explaining politics to A Level students; an EPQ Mentoring and Feedback Programme for local EPQ students working on social science projects, and a role play scenario for use in schools.

The outreach programme has been grounded in the following pedagogical events and resources:

  • New Political Minds Summer School, providing a 3 day series of workshops delivered by PhD students to A Level students
  • Role play scenarios, some developed by PPR389 students, at partner schools involving students from over 30 schools
  • Radicalisation Engagement ‘Research in a Box’ five week module for nationwide use by Secondary Schools addressing the Prevent agenda in Citizenship and Personal Social Health Education classes as well as other subjects
  • Rethinking Disadvantage ‘Research in a box’ five week module on WP for nationwide use by Secondary Schools addressing the WP agenda in Citizenship and Personal Social Health Education classes as well as other subjects.
  • YouTube archives of material for the two Research in a Box projects drawn from an international, interdisciplinary participatory project, ‘A Cross-Cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness’ and PPR389 assessment presentations
  • Question Time-style event with key commentators on ISIS, such as Fatima Manji, Channel 4 News correspondent, Noel Guckian CVO OBE, Former Ambassador to Oman, Carla Power, a New York Times journalist specialising in radicalization, at Fuse Media Centre, Prudhoe, Northumberland

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

KS4/5 students from OFFA targeted schools and sixth form colleges, postgraduate employers

Links to resources:

Politics/International Outreach:

PPR389: Politics Employability through Outreach:

Radicalisation Engagement KS4/5 Outreach Module:

Rethinking Disadvantage KS4/5 Outreach Module:

New Political Minds Summer School:

A Cross-Cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness:


Name: David Walker (

Discipline/Subject: Politics

Institution: Newcastle University

Title: Teaching and the Employability Agenda

Overview of programme of outreach:

I run a year-long stage 2 module in Politics called POL2096 Politics Work Placement. The work placement module aims to:

  • demonstrate how skills gained through academic study can be applied in work situations
  • assist with developing longer term career plans
  • provide the opportunity to recognise and record the development of workplace skills
  • facilitate personal development in a non-university setting
  • develop students who can independently self-manage, proactively interact and ethically apply their knowledge and skills in a work-related context

The module offers students the opportunity to undertake work-related learning in a variety of different environments, allowing students to enhance their employability and personal enterprise skills as well as contributing towards meeting the aims of the host organisation.

The module was designed with the intention that both the host organisation and the student gain from it. For students it is an opportunity to enhance employability skills and to get a taste of political theory being translated into practice. For hosts it is an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on the organisation and, ideally, to have a completed piece of work at the end which can be utilised.

A range of placements are offered to the students to cover a variety of interests and so it is hoped that they find a project that is a good match.

The work placements all have a broadly political theme, and in a sense are ‘applied politics’. More often than not the work undertaken will involve research that will benefit the host organisation.

Students join the module at the start of semester one and are able to some extent to balance their work for the module across both semesters. Students complete a minimum of 70 hours of work with the host organisation spread over at least 10 weeks.

I wish to examine employability and work placement modules in Higher Education through some reflections on creating subject-specific work placement modules and promoting employability and transferable skills. How can we enhance employability and integrate work experience into our degree programmes, and how do these connect with higher education outreach?

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

Charities, NGOs, Politicians, businesses

Links to resources:

POL2096 Politics Work Placement: