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A Systematic Literature Review of Research into Interventions in Higher Education to Assist Students’ Career-related Decisions

This systematic literature review, commissioned by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), provided an analysis of research evidence relating to curricular and extra-curricular interventions that influence the career-related decision making, learning and progression of students and graduates. The literature review identified evidence focused on student/graduate career decision-making and the interventions affecting and supporting student/graduate career trajectories; with a particular focus on those factors affecting this process (including changes in higher education policy and practice). The literature review question was:

What curricular and extra-curricular interventions appear to assist students and graduates to make career-related decisions, engage in career learning/development and progress towards entry into the labour market?

with a sub-question:

What social, economic, or demographic factors appear to impact upon career decision-making, career learning and occupational progression?

The particular focus of the systematic literature review focused on:

  • First, transitions made by individuals of specific relevance to the higher education context (entering higher education for the first time; making the transition through undergraduate education either into some form of post-graduate or post-experience education and/or then into the labour market) together with the career decision-making processes undertaken as part of these transitions and the career related interventions to which they have access.
  • Second, the overarching issues that both impact on these transitions and transcend them, including: age, gender, ethnicity, family relationships, socio-economic and environmental factors.

Particular emphasis was placed on the role and impact of interventions designed to support individuals at key points of their transition into and through higher education in career decision-making and learning. This ensured that research evidence on learning from both formal and informal settings was taken into account and that the concept of ‘career-related’ could be problematised.

The overall aim was to ensure that a robust evidence-base was established to inform the design of the Core and Subsidiary studies, which were commissioned by HECSU in parallel with the review. To achieve this, the methodology for the literature review was based on an approach developed by the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) at the University of London (see EPPI-Centre, 2002). A range of published literature in career-related research was reviewed and reported on, together with the identification of omissions in previous research and recommndation for further research questions.


Bimrose, J., Barnes, S-A. & Brown, J. (2005) A Systematic Literature review of Research into Career-related Interventions for Higher Education, Manchester: HECSU.


Project duration: 2005

Project team:

Jenny Bimrose

Sally-Anne Barnes

Alan Brown

Michael Orton

Jamie Brown



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