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Unit information: Management Reflection and Development in Practice in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Management Reflection and Development in Practice
Unit code EFIM20031
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Beck
Open unit status Not open

Students choosing this option will need to engage with the Professional Liaison Network to ensure a placement. Attendance and attainment at Level 4 will form part of the entry requirements.


Students will be required to commit to their placement for the duration of TB1 and TB2.

School/department School of Management
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This placement unit aims to bridge the gap between academic learning and the ‘real world’ of work. It will do so by focussing on the two key and interrelated concepts of learning and employability. The first half of the unit (TB1) will take a critical look at learning, including different theoretical approaches utilised in academic debates of work-placed learning (from behaviourism and cognitivism to adult and social learning theories); distinctions between formal and informal work-based learning; and provide methodological insights into the ways in which work-based learning has been researched.

In the second part (TB2), the unit will highlight the implications of power relationships at work for learning (structure vs. agency/bounded agency) and consider as well as critique standard and social constructions of employability, before considering the nature of graduate jobs, trends in graduate employability and issues relating to overqualification, underemployment and/or unemployment.

The unit will encourage students to develop a critical understanding of key concepts and offers them a grounding in labour market analysis, differentiating clearly between the supply side orientation of labour market policy and the realities of demand side developments. Although the discussions will be based on broader issues and trends, students will be invited to reflect upon their own employability, considering areas of strength and will support the use of personal development plans that students should already be familiar with to address areas of potential weakness. At the same time, the discussions will allow reflection of the fallacies surrounding ideas of ‘perfect CVs’ and the guarantee of being employable.

Depending on the specific context of their placements, students will be encouraged to engage in dialogue with their placement organisations about the conceptualisations of work and employability. Ideally, this will result in longer-term partnerships between these placement organisations, the School of Management, the Professional Liaison Network, Careers Services, and the University as a whole, thus supporting the ambition of becoming a ‘civic University’ that is tied into a close, local network of a range of public, private and third sector organisations.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of key labour market trends and themes and be able to reflect upon how these might apply to their own learning, employability and skill development.
  2. The ability to evaluate and apply relevant critical and social theories of work, employment and employability to a 'real life' context.
  3. The ability to analyse a given work context and identify the transferable skills currently required to function effectively in such an environment.
  4. To reflect upon their own employability, identify potential areas of strength and formulate a strategy to address areas of potential weakness.
  5. The ability to manage an ongoing relationship with an employer or voluntary organisation.

Teaching details

Teaching will consist of a mix of large and small group sessions in two blocks (approx. 5 sessions each in TB1 and TB2), combining traditional and blended learning approaches. Each session will take 3 hours and include aspects of:

  • Pre-session activities such as: addressing threshold concepts online (e.g. via their blog) or completing a worksheet either individually or in groups;
  • Short periods of traditional lecturing
  • Breakout into group work, e.g. tables arranged according to the type of work/volunteering/role undertaken
  • Extended ‘lectorial’ sessions where students have time to explore questions, interrogate personal experience and exchange learning with other students
  • At the end of each session, learning points will be identified and key actions for next session set. These will form the basis for the reflective diary/blog content and lay the foundation for the next pre-sessional activity.

Formative Assessment required for credit

Online Blackboard Blog (ILOs 4 and 5):

Ongoing diary, to be submitted as a blog on the Blackboard site for the unit. Each student will be expected to add a 300-word reflective statement each month, responding to prompts from the unit director which will encourage considerations of their experience of employment / volunteering. This element will be assessed on a pass/fail basis. To pass, a minimum of 6 monthly statements need to be completed.

In case of failure to complete (sufficient) blogs: the unit director will set a reflective essay (1500 words) on an aspect of the unit (e.g. formal vs. informal (work-based) learning or power relationships at work).

Attendance at the work placement will contribute to assessment on a pass/fail basis. A minimum of 80 hours across the year need to be completed. Should the placement fall through due to action on the part of the organisation offering the placement, it will be possible to pass a student on the grounds of extenuating circumstances.

In case of failure to undertake the placement (usually if the student is at fault): the unit director will set an extended essay (3000 words) on a case study organisation (to be determined by the unit director but aimed to be comparable to the intended placement organisation).

Ongoing formative assessment will be provided via two main formats. First, the diary / blog entries will be read regularly, with informal but written feedback provided to individual students. Second, during the lectorials, students will be asked to talk about their experiences in the placement organisation as well as about their pre-session activities. In doing so, they will be able to demonstrate some of the graduate attributes that they identify as part of their learning objectives (ILO3). Immediate, verbal feedback will be provided as part of each session. In addition, it is likely that through group work and joint activities during the lectorials, there will be elements of peer review and feedback.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment: Coursework (2000 words) (100%) (ILOs 1, 2, and 3)

2000 word analysis (100%) of the employability requirements and/or work-based learning strategy for the workplace or volunteering position the student is working in. The analysis will need to draw on the theoretical concepts covered in the unit as well as the reflective blog that the students need to complete as formative assessment. Should the placement fall through due to action on the part of the organisation offering the placement, an alternative, organisation report assignment will be available.

In case of failure: the unit director will set a revised essay question in relation to the placement organisation (or case study organisation if an extended essay was undertaken instead of the placement).

Reading and References

Beck, V. (2015) Learning providers’ work with NEET young people, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 67(4): 482-496.

Beck, V. (2014) Employers’ views of learning and training for an ageing workforce, Management Learning, 45(2): 200-215.

Bishop, D. (2008) The small enterprise in the training market, Education + Training, 50(8/9): 661–673.

Boud, D. and Garrick, J. (eds) (1999) Understanding Learning at Work, London: Routledge.

Brown, P. and Hesketh, A. (2004) The Mismanagement of Talent. Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy, Oxford University Press.

Duckworth, V. and Cochrane, M. (2012) Spoilt for Choice, Spoilt by Choice. Long-term Consequences of Limitations Imposed by Social Background, Education + Training, 54(7): 579–591.

Eraut, M. (2004) Informal learning in the workplace, Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2): 247–273.

Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2004) Young people as teachers and learners in the workplace: Challenging the novice-expert dichotomy, International Journal of Training and Development, 8(1): 32–42.

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Malcolm, J., Hodkinson, P. and Colley, H. (2003) The interrelationships between informal and formal learning, Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(7/8): 313–318.

McQuaid, R. and Lindsay, C. (2005) The Concept of Employability, Urban Studies, 42(2): 197-219.

Moreau, MP. and Leathwood, C. (2006) Graduates' employment and the discourse of employability: a critical analysis, Journal of Education and Work, 19(4): 305-324.

Roberts, S. (2013) Gaining Skills or Just Paying the Bills? Workplace Learning in Low-level

Retail Employment, Journal of Education and Work, 26(3): 267–290.

Tomlinson, M., & Holmes, L. (2017) Graduate Employability in Context: Theory, Research and Debate, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Other resources

'Leading journals in the field, including Education + Training, Journal of Education and Work, Journal of Workplace Learning, and Management Learning.'