For 20 years, Monira Ahmed had a rewarding career in the higher education sector. Her passion for helping students become in-demand graduates brought her from the University of Liverpool to the University of Central Lancashire, and now to the University of Birmingham, where she works as a Career Consultant.
“I’m passionate about working in the employability space, and the move to University of Birmingham was an exciting next step in my career,” says Ahmed. “I had heard about the amazing reputation of the Careers Network team, and I was indeed really looking forward to being part of the team. I have been based in the College of Arts and Law initially as a Careers Adviser, and have recently been appointed as a Careers Consultant.”
The Careers Network team is committed to helping students make informed decisions about their next steps — to great effect. University of Birmingham graduates are one of the most sought after by top employers like BBC, Accenture, British Council and Royal Shakespeare Company, according to the Graduate Market 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
College of Arts and Law students do not have to worry about landing a job after graduation. They have plenty of opportunities to add to their CV before they even complete their studies.
Once they opt for the 20-credit Professional Skills module — which combines a work experience placement and reflective assessment — they get to develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence for a minimum of 70 hours (10 days) between the months of June and December. Not only do they get to apply what they learn, they hone key professional attributes sought after by graduate employers, sharpen interview skills, build a professional network and gain a great reference. The reflective element lets students identify personal strengths, weaknesses, and development.
“I have gained much more confidence through being in a professional environment and realising the skills I am learning on my course can actually be put into a working context with real-life outcomes,” says one student.
Katrina Crouch, a BA English student, can attest to this. She completed a placement at Cosimo Art as a Content Marketing Lead, where she developed skills in SEO, copywriting, marketing, and design. “It boosted my confidence by undertaking independent tasks but also through receiving advice and feedback. Through writing regular blog posts, I developed a stronger writing voice and gained confidence in my work,” she says.
But College of Arts and Law students need not go far to take a positive step towards their future career. Experiential learning is embedded into the curriculum. For example, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences students can sign up for the Learning Entrepreneurial Skills and the Entrepreneurial Start-Up modules in their final year. Such modules teach them invaluable lessons on how to work in a team, develop and pitch their business plan, and explore the viability of their products.
The university spares no expense in preparing its students for the workplace — on top of these, the College of Arts and Law has subject-specific modules like Arts Management in Practice for Music, Translation in Modern Languages, Professional Communication in English and Research in Practice in Social Anthropology. Upon completion, students can progress to the Experience Arts Internship Scheme, which are essentially paid internships with local arts and cultural organisations.
In 2022, over 50 unique internships were offered to Birmingham students. They gained hands-on experience working in leading arts organisations in the West Midlands region, such as The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, PACKT Publishing Ltd and Birmingham Wire.
With such focus on helping students become in-demand graduates, it’s little wonder the university is known as one of the best places for study and research in the Arts and Humanities in the world. Recently, it climbed three places in the Times Higher Education 2022 rankings from 70th to 67th.
“We are delighted to see our status as one of the top institutions in the world recognised by the Times Higher Education rankings,” says Professor Andrzej Gasiorek, Head of the College of Arts and Law. “We are committed to excellence across our diverse range of disciplines, in both research and education. Our researchers explore what it means to be human through their work, and our degree programmes at every level are strengthened by our research.”
Students love this approach. “Studying Philosophy, Religion and Ethics allows me to explore Western philosophy and learn the concepts of world religions,” says Bryan Liu, a BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics student. “As an international student, I’ve received many kind pieces of advice from my professors and even the Head of School.”
As for Christiana Jasutan, a BA English and Creative Writing student, she chose to study English and Creative Writing because she would be taught by bestselling authors. “Throughout my degree, I have always felt really close to the contemporary literary scene,” she says.
If you seek high-quality programmes underpinned by inter-professional learning, consider the college’s undergraduate programmes that span the Classics, English Literature, Modern Languages and Cultures, Music, Philosophy and more. It is offering new programmes, such as the BA Digital Media and Communications and BA Film and Creative Writing, as well.