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Life Career Development


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Kate Mackenzie Davey
  • Tutors: Kate Mackenzie Davey, Sali Hallsworth, Janet Sheath
  • Assessment: a 2000-word academic essay and 1000-word reflective practice exercise

Module description

Careers are at the centre of the relationship between individuals, jobs, organisations and society. As increased diversity is recognised in careers, this module reflects changes in the ways careers are conceptualised, investigated and supported. One hotly debated issue in career studies is the extent to which people are experiencing more mobility generally, spending less time with one employer and making major changes in occupations throughout their working life. Although claims about such flexible careers are widely publicised, evidence from large-scale research studies suggests these changes are gradual. However, interest in precarious ‘gig’ work has increased.

Another focus is the importance of work in relation to the rest of life, including family roles and the challenges of maintaining a healthy balance including consideration of the role of older workers in the light of changes in retirement. In this module we encourage a critical examination of the barriers to career success experienced by diverse groups. The challenge for both scholars and practitioners is to understand and explain how careers are negotiated and to help individuals navigate their own careers and organisations to develop their people.

We begin by examining how we might define the term 'career' and discuss how social scientists in different disciplines have approached the study of careers. The effects of social, economic and organisational changes on individuals’ careers are outlined, and you are asked to think about your own career using concepts from the literature. We go on to explore a range of approaches to careers including:

  • the idea of fit including theories of occupational choice and career decision making, and outlines some implications of these theories for career management practice
  • models of adult development including work and non-work roles
  • career transitions and the outcomes of these, for example career success and satisfaction; you are also asked to consider career forms other than traditional careers in organisations
  • the impact of relationships, social networks and other interpersonal processes on careers
  • formal career support through mentoring, coaching and career counselling
  • the provision and practice of organisational career management interventions and ideas of career self-management
  • the impact of leaving work, underemployment and retirement.

Throughout the module we consider the relationship between theory and practice, providing exercises to support your own career reflections and career development.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will have had the opportunity to:

  • critically consider current employment context and labour market trends
  • discuss factors that affect occupational choice and career development
  • identify the developmental tasks and processes in adult life
  • explore the importance of a range of different relationships in career development
  • examine organisational approaches to career management
  • evaluate theories and models of career development
  • discuss the provision of career management interventions
  • challenge simple assumptions of success through merit
  • use career planning techniques to facilitate your own career development and that of others
  • critically reflect on the application of theory and research in your own career self-management.