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Graduate qualities

Your educational experience is underpinned by graduate qualities that you will develop as you progress through your award course.

Graduate qualities


The University of Sydney’s graduate qualities will equip you for the contemporary world and stand you in better stead following graduation. They describe the disciplinary expertise you will develop and the broader skills you will need throughout your working life, which will enable you to move more easily between jobs as your career evolves. They will also help you to make positive contributions to society, both in the workplace and the broader community.

For undergraduate students, the graduate qualities cover capabilities in your discipline; critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork. Also continuous learning; and literacy across cultural, disciplinary and professional boundaries. If you commenced your course after 2018, the University will have embedded these qualities into your curriculum, so you will have the opportunity to develop them as you progress through your course.

There is a separate set of qualities outlined for PhD graduates. These graduate qualities cover cultural competence, interdisciplinary effectiveness, professional, ethical, personal identity, influence, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, information and digital literacy, inventiveness, engagement and project planning and delivery.

The nine qualities

Graduate quality Definition
Depth of disciplinary expertise Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.
Critical thinking and problem solving Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.
Oral and written communication Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.
Information and digital literacy Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.
Inventiveness Generating novel ideas and solutions.
Cultural competence Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.
Interdisciplinary effectiveness Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.
Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.
Influence Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

How the University chose the qualities

We asked employers what attributes they value in graduates and chose these nine qualities to reflect skills that employers will look for after you graduate. Employers felt that it was very important you have skills that complement, and help you apply, the discipline-specific knowledge you gained during your degree.

What this means for your classes

Not all the units of study you choose will develop the graduate qualities, but those that do will contextualise them for your particular discipline or specialisation. Your lecturers will explain, for example, the importance of being able to work effectively with people from cultures other than your own. They will help you use databases and other research tools to locate and use relevant information and they will give you an understanding of how to express and present your ideas and solutions to others in your discipline and beyond.

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Last updated: 14 October 2022

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