The aim of the project is to increase our understanding of the
range of learning outcomes of an increasingly diverse higher education
system and to investigate how these are socially and organisationally
mediated. Social mediation refers primarily to the social mix of
students and the characteristics of the student culture and lifestyle.
Organisational mediation refers primarily to the principles underlying
the organisation of the curriculum (for examples, the boundaries
between different subjects and the links – formal and informal
- between academic knowledge and workplace and other sources of
The study will concentrate on students and graduates in three
contrasting subjects – biology, business studies and sociology.
For each subject, five study programmes will be selected to represent
the different social and organisational features in which the project
is interested. Students from these programmes will be investigated
at various stages during and following their undergraduate careers
with a focus on their conceptions of learning and personal and
professional identity. The results will be set within the context
of subject benchmark statements and programme specifications.
The wider applicability of findings from the initial three subjects
will be assessed in relation to a further group of subjects, again
taking a range of programmes with different social and organisational
The project team will work closely with the new Academy for the
Enhancement of Learning in Higher Education and with the Quality
Assurance Agency for Higher Education in order to ensure close
links with policy and practice. Employer inputs to the project
will be secured through regular presentations to the policy forum
of the Council for Industry and Higher Education.
The results from the project will provide knowledge about how
students should be assessed and how the curriculum should be structured.
There will also be implications for the ways in which educational
quality is assessed, how degree programmes are designed and benchmarked,
and how qualifications and other learning outcomes from a variety
of courses and institutions can be compared.