In the School of Social Science, we help students engage with a range of experiences that have a proven impact in developing employability, such as internships, volunteering, and work-based project courses.


Employer-led interdisciplinary Project ED3537

ED3536 Group PhotoThis 30-credit course provides the opportunity for third year students to work in small groups to undertake a consultancy project posed by an SME, start-up business or charity. It provides a fantastic opportunity to build students’ capabilities, develop their professional learning, and enhance their transferable skills in a real-world context. Projects are wide ranging and include social media marketing, devising educational resources, sustainability ventures, and corporate social responsibility initiatives. This combination of project-based learning combined with on-campus workshops offers students an opportunity to engage with authentic, interdisciplinary, and collaborative learning, while also affording community partners opportunities to address significant needs. The course was recently awarded a University teaching excellence award.


Work Experience: Employability Skills Development ED309A

This novel 15-credit employability course is designed for 3rd year students who have secured a placement, internship, or volunteering activity during the summer period. During the course students undertake a range of reflective assessments to have their experience formally recognised as part of their university learning. These assessments are designed to help students reflect on their wider skills and attributes development, and to relate their work experience to their longer-term career goals. To be eligible to undertake this course, the internship, placement or volunteering role must be approved first by the School.

Here’s a short captioned video case study from Mailie Besson, MA (Hons) International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies student about her learning and professional development on the internship course.


Learning from Work ED1521

This is a first year, 15-credit, second-half session employability course, which is delivered over the period January to April. The course provides students with the opportunity to use their volunteering activities or part-time job to count towards their academic learning. As part of the course, students undertake a 5 day or equivalent (approximately 35 hours) experience within the 12-week duration of the course, which is approved before the course starts. Course content includes both practical weekly in-person sessions with reflective elements, covering topics such as presenting yourself across a range of workplace settings, social and ethical workplace issues, and personal effectiveness in the workplace.


For further information contact: Dr Stuart Durkin, Director of Education, School of Social Science ( stuartdurkin@abdn.ac.uk) and Dr Joy Perkins, Educational & Employability Development Adviser, Centre for Academic Development (j.perkins@abdn.ac.uk).

Student experiences from the Working Together: Employability for Arts & Social Sciences Course

Mailie Besson

Mailie Besson, 22, French/Scottish

MA Honors student – International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies

Recently I have had the opportunity to work as an intern at the University of Aberdeen on the TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment) programme being piloted by the Schools of Natural and Computing Sciences and Social Science. This experience has been extremely beneficial for myself as well as for my colleagues. Being able to provide my perspective, as a student, to the ongoing projects happening in the institution is a privilege

I was fortunate to meet Joy Perkins and Stuart Durkin whilst enrolled in the “Employability for Social Science Students” course. Thanks to this wonderful course, which allowed me to build my employability skills and confidence, I accepted the internship offer presented to me by Joy Perkins. I had not previously known it was possible to have paid internships within the University of Aberdeen. To my delight to process of becoming an intern was quite simple and speedy!

Photo of Mailie Besson.

I am currently working for the Centre for Academic Development as well as with the Schools mentioned, alongside a fellow student intern. My role in this internship was originally to carry out research in order to gather foundational data for TESTA, growing in the heart of the University. I am now working alongside head figures of the University, in a student/staff partnership

Most importantly, this internship has proven to be extremely valuable and beneficial to me. Working with the University of Aberdeen has broadened my skills, boosted my professional and personal confidence, as well as provided me with a great sense of accomplishment.

I have developed employability skill such as researching, auditing, creating marketing material, presenting, virtual teamwork, delegating tasks, improve my time-management skills and verbal & written communication skills. The list could go on. Not only has this internship enhanced abilities that I will be able to use in many future professional settings, it has also allowed me to broaden my interests and areas of expertise. Never having previously had an intense interest in education, I now have a large amount of experience and knowledge on a new topic. In my opinion, diversifying your knowledge and skills is always positive.

Additionally, working alongside staff and lecturers at the Centre for Academic Development, as well as the two academic schools, has given me insight to the workings of the institution. Understanding staff perspectives and seeing their efforts to create a positive, encouraging and nurturing environment for students at the University of Aberdeen has changed my vision of the University as a whole. I feel as though my efforts in this internship are tangible achievements which will have ongoing positive consequences on student life, as well as my own.

The internship opportunities at the University are a valuable gift, which would be a shame to overlook.

Shaun Cameron

Shaun Cameron

12 November 2021

The following is a an interview with Shaun Cameron, a Senior Honours student in Politics and International Relations who recently completed the module; 'Working Together: Employability for Arts & Social Sciences'.

Why did you decide to pick the ED3536 course, Working Together: Employability for Arts & Social Sciences?

I decided to study ED3536 after speaking to an older student who had recommended studying the course due to their own experiences whilst completing a project for the course. As such I was keen to develop my own project-related skills and enhance my business understanding.

What did you enjoy about the ED3536 course?

I thoroughly enjoyed various aspects of the course including the opportunity to act upon skills developed in previous lines of work to complete a project with a business. Furthermore, I was able to establish a new working relationship with a company which related to the industry which I plan to enter after my degree. The course also enabled me to develop new skills surrounding virtual working. These skills will allow me in the future to be better prepared for an online working environment.

What benefits and outcomes have occurred for you as a result of completing the ED3536 course?

As a direct result of completing the course I have secured a graduate placement position with the company I completed the course project for. The company in question is an engineering outfit who I developed a fantastic working relationship with throughout the duration of the course. Additionally, the benefits of the course include enhancement of skills such as communication, working to deadlines and teamwork.

What advice would you have for other students looking to build their employability at University?

I would advise other students to take every opportunity available to them in respect to courses such as ED3536 as things such as placements, graduate jobs and further development opportunities can come because of impressing companies who take part in courses such as this. I would also encourage students to actively look for placement opportunities during summer months to enhance employability. And I would advise attending career fairs to maximize networking opportunities.