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Graduate Framework

Develop valuable skills and be who you want to be. Broaden your horizons. Shape your dreams. Plan your future.

Be ready for the world with Newcastle University

Being a student at Newcastle gives you access to unique and life-changing experiences. Not only will you be a graduate of a Russell Group university, you’ll have experiences to remember, skills to demonstrate and stories to share.

You can develop graduate skills from all parts of your life. Your studies, extracurricular activities and volunteering are just some of the opportunities available to develop your skills and prepare you for a successful future.

We want you to leave higher education feeling empowered, creative, and ready to take on the world. We have created the Graduate Framework to help you identify and develop the key skills and attributes that can shape your future.

The Graduate Framework will help you to:

  • recognise the skills and attributes you already have and identify those you need to develop
  • reflect on your experiences and the value you are gaining from them
  • find further opportunities to develop your own set of attributes

Our students have gone on to do some amazing things. Many of our alumni are at the forefront of sectors as diverse as digital technology, finance, and fine art.

Discover below what each of the 12 skills mean and how you can develop them while you’re at Newcastle.


Being collaborative is all about working well with others to achieve a shared goal. This means taking on a role within the team, sharing responsibilities and contributing ideas.

Collaboration requires strong communication skills, flexible working, and managing conflict.

This skill features among the top competencies valued by employers. While individuals bring their own strengths and skills, most graduate roles involve being able to work well with others.


Confidence is about believing in yourself and having trust in your abilities, qualities and judgement.

It’s having a balanced view and accepting yourself: taking pride in your strengths and achievements, while also recognising your flaws.

Confidence often doesn’t come naturally. It’s something most people have to learn and work on to improve.

Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong

Peter T. McIntyre

Creative, innovative & enterprising

This skill is about using your imagination to create and develop original methods or ideas. It’s about being good at thinking of and doing new and sometimes challenging things.

You can be enterprising whether you work for yourself or for someone else. It involves being resourceful, showing initiative, taking calculated risks and looking for ways to improve and develop things. Employers value people for their ability to solve problems, identify opportunities and see things from different perspectives.

These skills can all be learned - by asking questions, trying new things, experimenting, exploring, and using your imagination. You don’t always have to come up with a brand-new, original idea. Many innovators take existing concepts or approaches and turn them into something new or improved.

Critical Thinker

This skill is about questioning information, evaluating it and considering whether it is accurate.

As a student, you need to be able to think critically about the resources and information you use. It’s not accepting what you read or hear at face value. You need to ask the right questions when reading the work of others and weigh up different arguments and perspectives. Use evidence to help you form your own opinions, arguments, theories and ideas.

Employers also need critical thinkers in the workplace. You need to be able to analyse information, to help you effectively diagnose problems, identify possible solutions and make balanced decisions.


People who are curious want to know more. They’re interested in the world and society around them: how things work, what motivates people. They like to learn and explore, and are constantly asking ‘why’?

Employers often look for applicants who have a strong desire to learn, solve problems, ask questions and who are open to change.

I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

Digitally capable

Being digitally capable is about being able to learn, work and live in our increasingly digital society.

There’s a lot more to this than being able to use certain software. Technology is taking a much bigger role in both our personal and professional lives.

Jisc’s Digital Capability Framework sets out six main elements of digital capability, which are to be:

  • productive and proficient with ICT
  • information, data and media literate
  • able to create, research, problem-solve and innovate digitally
  • able to communicate, collaborate and participate digitally
  • able to learn and develop digitally
  • able to manage your digital identity and look after your wellbeing in a digital setting


Being engaged is all about taking part and making the most of opportunities - whether that’s being fully committed to your degree or being actively involved in extra-curricular activities.


Being future-focused is about thinking about the future, anticipating obstacles and planning ahead. It’s keeping up-to-date with changes and developments, responding to key trends happening across the world and being able to prepare and plan for the future.

People who are future-focused are keen to learn, update their knowledge and can recover from setbacks to help them achieve their goals.

Globally and culturally aware

Employers are increasingly looking for students and graduates who can work and communicate in a global environment.

Having this ability means you can:

  • appreciate and respect cultural differences and perspectives
  • communicate and work with people from different countries and backgrounds
  • understand how world issues, whether economic, environmental and political, can affect society and people’s lives on a local and global scale

Reflective and self-aware

Being reflective and self-aware means understanding yourself: your motivations, values, skills and strengths. It’s also about identifying and recognising areas you need to develop and how you can improve.

Having this ability means you can:

  • critically assess your own knowledge, values, qualities, skills and behaviours
  • reflect on your experiences and learn from them
  • clearly recognise your own strengths and weaknesses
  • be confident in articulating your skills and abilities to others
  • see yourself as others see you

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.



Resilience is about your ability to deal with and bounce back from problems and setbacks. It’s learning through failure, as well as success.

Resilience is about being able to face your challenges and to persevere when things don't go as well as you'd planned. It also involves accepting responsibility for your mistakes and being able to move on and adapt.

You are not expected to be superhuman. Sometimes one of the best actions you can take is to ask for help.


As a resilient person, you can focus your thinking and take control of each situation. You become more able to work out what needs to be done and make best use of those around you to get there.

It's important to know the limits of your resilience and ask for support if you need to.

You need resilience most when:

  • something is making you unhappy or stressed
  • you need to adapt to a new situation or challenge
  • you feel that the only way to solve your problems is to drop out

Socially responsible

Social responsibility is about making sure that your impact on others and the environment is positive rather than negative.

Being socially responsible involves undertaking activities which would directly benefit society or the environment. Prepare to question, challenge and change unethical practice.

The University’s Student Charter sets out how you can be socially responsible at university.