Does studying taught postgraduate management education increase students’ perceptions of their employability?

  • Clare Jones

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Rationale: Employability features prominently in the current lexicon surrounding higher education. What is evident in the literature is that employability has no single definition and has evolved from an economic interpretation of the ability to secure work, to a multi-faceted concept, including skills, self-efficacy and self-regulated learning. Higher Education Institutions are coming under increasing pressure to address employability as part of their portfolio, while operating in an increasingly turbulent and competitive environment. Much of the existing research into employability in Higher Education concerns itself with the undergraduate population. There exists little research into postgraduate employability. This study seeks to contribute to that gap by exploring whether postgraduate management education has an impact on students’ perceptions of their employability.

Research Methods: A sequential mixed methods approach was used involving two phases of data collection. Phase 1 was a survey of 450 students from two Universities’ Business Schools who completed a paper-based questionnaire. This quantitative data was analysed using SPSS. Phase 2 comprised follow-up interviews with 10 survey participants, following completion of their programme. The interviews were informed by the survey, and transcripts were analysed using NVIVO 10.

Findings: Survey findings from the whole research population (n=450) saw some differences in students’ perceptions of their employability following their engagement with the taught programme. Postgraduate education has a more positive impact on females’ perceptions of skills and self-efficacy than on males’ perceptions. Students with work experience perceive their
employability higher than those without work experience. Those without work experience perceive their skills and self-regulated learning higher after postgraduate education.

Discussion: The similarity in results in students’ perceptions between the data collection points suggests more could be done within the programmes to make a difference to students’ perceptions of their employability. Where differences do exist suggests opportunities for specific interventions, to enhance students’ perceptions.

Conclusion: Underpinning this work is the contention that increasing students’ perceptions of employability requires postgraduate education to enhance students’ perceptions of their skills, their perception of themselves as independent learners, and their perceived self-efficacy. Survey findings suggest postgraduate management education is achieving this aim in part, indicating opportunities for interventions to address this.
Date of Award6 Jul 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHelen Higson (Supervisor)


  • employability
  • self-efficacy
  • self-regulated learning
  • postgraduate education

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