School of Social and Political Science

Graduate Attributes


Building your employability

Every student is unique. The quality, depth and breadth of your experiences while at The University of Edinburgh will help you to develop characteristic attributes that set you apart from your peers.

Throughout your time here, you'll be developing academic knowledge and also professional soft skills.  Soft skills are also known as 'transferable' skills because you can use them across a range of different sectors and situations.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills influence how you work and connect with other people. Soft skills include things such as:

  • effective communication
  • time management
  • working in teams
  • creativity
  • networking
  • problem solving  

Employers look for candidates who offer both academic knowledge and a strong transferable soft skills.

Taking time to focus on your skills development during your degree will ensure that you are a competitive and employable candidate in the graduate job market.

Graduate Attributes Framework

The Graduate Attributes Framework provides a list of important skills that you should develop during your degree.

The Graduate Attributes Framework is made up of two parts:

  • Mindsets: how you think
  • Skills: how you 'do'

Read more about the Graduate Attributes Framework on the dedicated Graduate Attributes website:

Graduate attributes homepage

The Mindsets
Enquiry and Lifelong Learning

University of Edinburgh graduates seek personal and academic learning that makes a positive difference to themselves and to the world around them.  Inspired by their exposure to world-leading research, they are innovative and lifelong learners.

Mindset: Enquiry and Lifelong Learning

Aspiration and Personal Development

University of Edinburgh graduates draw on their initiative and experience to expand and fulfil their potential.  Making the most of a confident and reflective approach, they take personal responsibility for pursuing their goals and opportunities to grow.

Mindset: Aspiration and Personal Development

Outlook and Engagement

University of Edinburgh graduates draw on the quality, depth and breadth of their experiences to engage with the communities and world around them.  With an informed international perspective, they seek to contribute positively, ethically and respectfully.

Mindset: Outlook and Engagement

The 4 Skills Groups

All Student Development Office (SDO) workshops and training opportunities are mapped to the Graduate Attributes. This will help you to identify which workshops are most useful for you.

By the time you finish your degree, you should have demonstrable experience of each of the skills listed below. You can use these examples during interviews.

Skill group List of skills
Research and Enquiry
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical thinking
  • Knowledge integration and application
  • Numeracy and big data
  • Independent research
  • Digital literacy
  • Handling complexity and ambiguity
  • Critical thinking
Personal Effectiveness
  • Leadership
  • Planning, organising and time management
  • Professional/situational awareness
  • Effective team working
  • Assertiveness and confidence
Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
  • Ethics and social responsibility
  • Self-awareness and reflection
  • Independent learning and development
  • Creativity and inventive thinking
  • Decision making
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Verbal communication and presentation
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Written communication
  • Influencing and negotiation skills
  • Social media
Student category
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