Perceptions of personal development planning in sociology and social science: the Scottish higher education context

James Moir, Catherine Di Domenico, Stephen Vertigans, Philip W. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the United Kingdom (UK) it has been just over ten years since personal development planning (PDP) was proposed by the National Commission into Higher Education (Dearing 1997), and, since then, it has become a central feature which has been put into operation across the sector. This has come about as the result of an awareness that in a globalised education and workplace market, students will need to be more competitive in developing and marketing their academic and other skills. Nowhere is this more keenly pursued than in the Scottish higher-education system which has adopted a quality-enhancement approach. In this context, PDP is viewed as crucial ‘added value’ aspect of students’ higher-education experience.However, whilst the basic principles of PDP are generally accepted, there is something of a paradox, for at a time when education and work are becoming more globalised, students are being encouraged to look inward at themselves in order to become more self-determined. Yet, setting aside what may be for many sociologists their inclination to be sceptical of such individualist notions, it is therefore possible to view PDP as a paradoxical outcome of an increasingly globalised world. This paper considers this paradox by drawing upon an empirical study that highlights these tensions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalEnhancing Learning in the Social Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


Cite this