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Transferable skills

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science, in consultation with the Colleges, has identified the ways in which undergraduates and graduates can acquire and develop certain skills and attributes ('transferable skills') throughout their university career.

As well as enhancing academic performance, these skills can be used beyond students' university careers and are highly valued by employers. You are encouraged to make use of the opportunities afforded to you to develop those attributes which will stand you in good stead in later life.

As a guide, the University and Colleges have agreed jointly that all undergraduates should graduate with intellectual skills, communication skills, organisational skills and interpersonal skills. Further skills, such as foreign language skills, research skills, computer literacy and numeracy will also be useful to varying degrees for particular career paths.

The following are examples of how skills might be developed by an undergraduate or graduate student in History and Philosophy of Science in each of these categories. The list of possible activities is not exhaustive.

Intellectual skills

Such as:

  • Intellectual initiative
  • Critical reflection
  • The ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information
  • The ability to extract key elements from complex information, including listening in a discerning manner
  • The ability to identify and solve problems
  • The ability to select and apply appropriate methodologies
  • The ability to assess the meaning and significance of information
  • Analytical, evaluative and critical thinking
  • Estimation of the relevance of information
  • Discriminating between opposing theories
  • Forming judgement on the basis of evidence
  • The ability to engage in lateral thinking, openness to creative thinking
  • The ability to marshal arguments coherently, lucidly and concisely

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Preparing for and learning in lectures
  • Preparing for and participating in supervisions
  • Preparing for and writing essays
  • Preparing for and participating in seminars and classes
  • Preparing for and writing University examinations

Communication skills

Such as:

  • The ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently, logically and concisely
  • The ability to present material orally in a clear and effective way, including sensitivity to listeners' perspectives
  • The ability to present written material clearly and effectively, including sensitivity to the reader's perspective
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to think quickly on your feet

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Writing essays and dissertations
  • Participating in supervisions and seminars
  • Giving presentations on research in seminars
  • Participation in competitions: the Department has a range of prizes open to students, details of which can be found in the undergraduate and graduate handbooks
  • Organising and performing in plays and rehearsed readings
  • Membership of committees, for example the departmental Monitoring Committee and College JCRs
  • JCR involvement
  • Negotiating the use of Department and College facilities
  • Writing funding applications (University trust fund and College awards)

Organisational skills

Such as:

  • Self-direction
  • Self-discipline
  • The ability to take initiative
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Management of time and resources

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Organising one's own work programme and particularly ensuring that supervision assignments and dissertations are completed on time
  • Managing extra-curricular activities to ensure that they complement and do not detract from course-related activities
  • Understanding the Tripos structure, Lecture List and timetable and being able to use the information; choosing options
  • Membership and officership of committees and societies
  • Organisation of events: entertainment, lectures, excursions, society events
  • Participation in open days, Festival of Ideas, Science Festival etc
  • Participation in debates
  • Keeping to deadlines set by the Department (submission of dissertations, titles and abstracts)

Interpersonal skills

Such as:

  • Working creatively and flexibly with others
  • Adaptability
  • Formulating and meeting team objectives
  • Interacting successfully on a one-to-one basis
  • Respecting different viewpoints

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Developing co-operative learning skills in supervisions
  • Participating in class and seminar discussion
  • Membership and officership of committees
  • Interaction with a wide range of people, cultures and disciplines
  • Participation in College and University politics
  • Negotiating use of College and Department facilities
  • Membership and officership of societies
  • Participation in sporting, drama, musical and debating activities
  • Standing for election to membership of the Department Board, College committees and bodies
  • Acting as a member of Department committees, College committees and student bodies
  • Acting as a student mentor/friend

Research skills

Such as:

  • Bibliographic skills
  • Practical skills
  • Palaeographical skills
  • Writing and presentation skills

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Use of University, Department and College libraries
  • Use of the University, Department and College library catalogues
  • Ability to find, read and critically analyse scholarship
  • Ability to produce, review and re-write own work
  • Use of the Department and College computing facilities
  • Use of electronic resources
  • Use of the internet
  • Research skills courses
  • Writing essays and dissertations
  • Ability to sift material and locate relevant or important aspects efficiently

Foreign language skills

Such as:

  • Reading primary and secondary materials in other languages
  • Speaking/conversing in a foreign language
  • Writing in a foreign language

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Ancient Greek and Latin classes for non-classicists
  • German classes from the Pressland Fund (for Natural Sciences students)
  • Translation for coursework
  • Reading scholarship in other languages
  • Membership of language clubs and societies
  • Conversation with students from other countries in the Department and College
  • Opportunities to attend courses and take diplomas/certificates offered by the University
  • Use of the Language Centre

Computer literacy

Such as:

  • Use of word processing
  • Use of spreadsheets and databases
  • Use of the internet and email
  • Facility/aptitude for programming

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • IT and research skills course
  • Use of College and Department computing facilities
  • Use of College and Department websites for gathering information on courses, events, deadlines, timetable
  • Using the internet for research
  • Using email for communication with other members of the College and University
  • Use of the University, Department and College library catalogues
  • Use of electronic resources such as JSTOR
  • Using mailing lists and news groups to post or gather information
  • Word-processing essays and dissertations
  • Designing databases for dissertation research

Numeracy skills

Such as:

  • Knowledge and use of statistical techniques
  • Basic financial transactions

May be developed through University and College activities such as:

  • Statistical analysis of data as part of dissertation research
  • Involvement in financial activities of clubs, societies and committees
  • Preparing comprehensive budget breakdowns for trust fund applications
  • Managing budgets for student society activities

Other information

If you would like more advice about acquiring these kinds of skills, contact your Director of Studies or Course Manager.

To find out more about transferable skills see the University's Skills Portal.

With thanks to the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic for providing a framework for this document.