Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Sinead Marian D’Silva

Photo of Sinead Marian D’Silva

The paradox of ‘developing’ employability: A study of Physics students’ engagement with their graduate prospects

Submission Date: January 2019

This research seeks to understand the ways in which undergraduate students in Physics negotiate their time at university to influence their graduate prospects, and potentially to observe the role of social and cultural aspects therein. It focuses on the agency of the individual in narrative form, and attempts to understand the structures (such as policy relating to the employability agenda) and practice associated with it, as well as the processes of interaction. The research uses a case study approach to delve deeper into practice and experience of the employability agenda as well as how students reflect on learning as well as their processes of preparation for the world of work, or any other chosen path following graduation.

Keywords: Employability, Higher Education, science and society, work and employment, youth transitions.


My background is in Sociology (BA) and Social and Cultural Geography (MA). I have worked on research projects broadly relating to access to information/knowledge and resources. Recent work has related to Curriculum development, Widening Participation, Black and Minority Ethnicity (BME) educational attainment (gaps), and employability in Higher Education. Previous work related to Community Engagement and Mobilisation with research on traditional markets, youth and environmental change, and child rights.

On a lighter note, I hold a diploma in Digital Animation, and another in Forensic Science.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

A bigger quest to be a social researcher. I felt that it was necessary to develop my capacity in order to ‘do’ critical work, making a PhD helpful if not important.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I am primarily interested in the impact of neoliberalism on access (or lack of) to resources and knowledge, how this transforms societies and institutions, and how it is negotiated. The employability agenda in Higher Education is one such site of change. I am also interested in social stratification and cultures of consumption.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

Once I've completed my PhD I hope to continue working as a social researcher, whether in academia or the social sector – preferably both.

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