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Teaching and Learning

Graduate Attribute 4: Knowledge of a Discipline


Knowledge of a discipline is defined as "command of a discipline to enable a smooth transition and contribution to professional and community settings (SCU Graduate Attribute 4)."

This Graduate Attribute describes the capability of demonstrating comprehensive and considered knowledge of a discipline. It enables students to evaluate and utilise information and apply their disciplinary knowledge and their professional skills in the workplace.

Strategies and Approaches

Examples of how knowledge of a discipline is integrated into the curriculum can be found in the clinical assessments of Health & Human Sciences School units, and school based practicums in the Education School units.

These supervised assessments are learning places where students are given the opportunity to act as neophyte professionals and to sharpen their knowledge and workplace understandings. The role of the supervisor in providing feedback and guidance is critical. It helps develop the confidence and awareness of the importance of solid knowledge of a discipline.

A further example is the exercise of Grand Rounds found in senior Health & Human Sciences based units where students present case studies to peers and supervisors. Students describe the case, the diagnosis, the challenges, the treatment, the conclusions and the learnings they drew from their experience. Questions from peers and supervisors require students to be secure and confident in their knowledge of the discipline.

A Bachelor of Nursing assessment requires students to achieve 100% in a numeracy exam. Building upon tutorial and laboratory activities students must demonstrate their ability to accurately interpret and correctly calculate intravenous medication orders. This assessment is a critical indicator of their development of knowledge of a discipline.

The table below highlights how this Graduate Attribute relates to unit learning outcomes, and demonstrates relevant learning strategies.

Learning Outcome and Knowledge of a Discipline (GA 4)Assessment Task Examples

Learning Outcome- develop creative and effective responses to Human Resource problems in a broad range of contexts.

Case study:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the core unit concepts and processes that relate to the design of an appropriate behavioural intervention

Learning Outcome- explain economic, legal, social and cultural issues in the use of information.

Short written response:

  • To answer this scenario question, explain the terms used, why this scenario is important, and include evidence of correct legal examples

Further Reading

There have been several projects investigating graduate attributes, their integration and applicability in university curricula and teaching practice.


Understanding academic staff beliefs about graduate attributes project (B Factor) 2009

This study found that staff acknowledged the importance of Graduate Attributes but had a lack of confidence about how to integrate them into teaching practice in a meaningful way.

Increasing institutional success in the integration and assessment of graduate attributes across the disciplines by identifying academic staff beliefs about graduate attributes

The National Graduate Attributes Project (GAP) 2009

This project reported on the critical role of academic understanding of graduate attributes, and how this is essential to effective incorporation.

Integration and assessment of graduate attributes in curriculum

A National Teaching Fellowship on Assuring Graduate Capabilities: Evidencing levels of achievement for graduate employability fellowship 2011

This fellowship, led by Bev Oliver, looked at capabilities (attributes) and developed a range of resources to ensure graduate capability. This was followed by Good practice Report: Assuring Graduate Outcomes (2011).

Assuring Graduate Capabilities