Personal and Transferable Skills

During your period of study in the Department you will gain much knowledge about the content of the different modules in your programme. But in the course of learning and understanding that content you should also acquire certain skills that can be used in other contexts. These are what are called ‘personal and transferable skills’, skills that go with you and may be applied in many spheres besides that of your academic programme here at Exeter. The Department is committed to the University’s policy on such skills, and thus to helping you prepare for the next stage of your career, e.g. employment, new job opportunities, or postgraduate training, very likely in areas not at all directly related to your Exeter programme. We are keen that our modules should enable these skills to be taught, learnt and assessed. Such skills will inevitably vary, given the diverse nature of the modules offered, but the intention and expectation is that, in the course of the degree, such skills will be instilled, developed, reinforced and tested. They are vital for personal development both in the academic sphere and in the future world of work.


The Department’s modules particularly help in developing the ability to clarify personal values in the face of competing and alien religious and moral concepts, ancient and modern; they help to set personal objectives and priorities not only in terms of the sensitive area of religious faith claims but also in terms of individual maturation and educational goals, and they are designed to assist the management of time and tasks by coordination of written and oral work. Finally they allow the student to evaluate their performance and progress informally by means of essays, tutorials and seminars.

Learning skills

The Department’s modules encourage the ability to learn both independently and co-operatively, particularly in terms of how to read and interpret texts, ancient and modern, in some cases in the original languages, and to apply a whole range of strategies and enlist allied disciplines, literary, historical, sociological and philosophical, to assist in the process of understanding. Various technologies are employed in learning languages, in acquiring IT skills for word processing, and in gathering information for essays and projects, and a wide range of skills is required and tested (analysis, synthesis, research, critical reflection, reporting back, dealing with criticism etc.). Different modules call for different types of learning strategies, individual, small group, or collective, and assessment methods also vary.


All the Department’s modules require and develop communication skills both oral and written in essays, projects, debates and seminars. Students are expected to take part in role-play, thus developing their ability to express themselves in various media and formats, some of which offer a degree of self-assessment. The abilities to develop rational and persuasive argument, but also to listen to the other, particularly in areas involving matters of faith and ethical issues, are highly prized and nurtured by many of the Department’s modules.


Some of the Department’s modules are better suited to develop the appropriate skills than others, laying on small group projects and co-operative work, but all incorporate some element of teamwork in terms of elements of co-operation and individual initiative, the organising and chairing of seminar presentations and debates. Such occasions allow some degree of negotiation, of defending one’s own values while respecting others.

Problem solving

Problem solving is a component in all our modules, if apparently more evident in some rather than others. Essays often pose problems to be solved, and written work in its various forms does require the ability to analyse, be it text, issue or argument; to approach problems in various ways and see them from unexpected angles, and to identify appropriate strategies to tackle them. Examinations are a useful tool in this area, setting new problems to be solved in a limited time and context that requires not just good memory and organisation of study, but also creativity and initiative. All such exercises involve some evaluation of the success of the strategies employed.


Finally, the Department’s modules, as indicated, require a certain level of data handling skills; written work requires the assembling and selection of relevant data from various sources, written and electronic, and the marshalling of appropriate arguments; languages require still other skills and techniques, and IT skills are paramount in that from an early stage essays have to be word processed. The various forms of assessment test these skills.