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  • Isla Bailey

The RED Awards for Beginners: A Complete Guide

Life as a student has its own challenges before you even consider seeking out your dream career at the end of your degree. Navigating this hive of activity, on and off-campus, is daunting for every student: is there a way to begin preparing for the post-university job market, even with zero knowledge of the route you’d like to follow?

Picture the scene: you’re completing a degree in a discipline you have always wanted to learn more about, and throw all your energy into your studies alone - and nothing else. Fast forward three or four years, and graduation day is just around the corner! Where did all that time go? Did you spend that time wisely - gathering work experience, exploring new extracurriculars, developing employability skills, broadening your education, or none of the above?

Panic not, for enrolling on a RED Awards scheme can dispel a surprising number of these concerns - some of which you may not even realise you had. The truth is, it’s never too early to start adding to your experiences outside of your degree. In fact, employers will applaud your display of initiative for taking some simple steps to show you’ve had more out of university than just a diploma.

Solving these problems could save you a great deal of stress in your future job search. This is where the RED Awards can be of help to you, no matter how far along you are in your course.

Which RED Awards are on offer?

To start off with a brief history lesson, the Reading Experience and Development Award was originally set up in 2010, to help students boost their general employability skills and learn as many new skills as they wanted. This evolved into a suite of awards as described down the page. This award is split into 35 Experience Hours (consisting of part-time work, volunteering, internships, or work-shadowing) and five Training and Development Hours (workshops and training courses separate to your degree – a minimum of two of these hours should be dedicated to these). Development Hours (workshops and training courses separate to your degree – a minimum of two of these hours should be dedicated to these).

The RED Sustainable Action Award is inspired by fulfilling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which target improvements for the environment, education, world peace, and more. The 40 hours in this award are assigned to three separate components. Time must be spent in the ‘Acquire’ component, where you seek out to develop your knowledge on your choice of sustainable topic. The second component is ‘Act’, where you will take action to combat issues related to sustainability, perhaps through any relevant volunteering or paid work. Thirdly, the ‘Articulate’ component requires you to put what you have learned into practice and inspire others to do the same. This could be through producing written work, a blog post, short video, podcast, or anything else you can think of! Please note that you will be required to link your activities to relevant UN Sustainability Goals, so it is a good idea to have these to hand.

Lastly, the RED Global Engagement Award is designed for those wanting to develop their understanding of the ‘wider world’, regarding different cultures, faith groups, global problems and issues relating to diversity. Again, there are three components across which you will split your 40 hours. The ‘Global Awareness’ stage is where you will develop your understanding, through workshops, training courses, or opportunities that allow you to interact with another culture in some way. The ‘Global Action’ section encourages you to use a global or cultural link to gain experience, potentially through related volunteering, paid work, or even studying abroad. You then reflect on your experiences through the ‘Global Understanding’ stage, through a written or spoken format. Please note that the work you produce for this stage will not be published without your permission.

How can a RED Award be of help to you?

Completing an award is a fantastic way to bulk up your CV and experience portfolio during your time as a student at Reading, but don’t just take our word for it! Here, two students highlight how their award helped them to best stand out from the crowd:

I first got introduced to the awards by my academic tutor, who was aware I was already working part-time as a lifeguard. It was because of this, I could back-date my hours to the first day of enrolment and log 34 hours towards the award. I later volunteered at my primary school, helping in a reception classroom during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Not only was this time extremely rewarding, I also got to catch up with my old teachers and develop my communication and problem-solving skills - which are still a stand-out feature on my CV today. […] I am confident that without these crucial learnings and networking opportunities, I would not have secured my dream marketing placement at Johnson & Johnson.”

- Millie Foreman, 4th Year Business & Management

“I quelled much of the stress I had about imminent job applications through the stress management and perfectionism workshops run by the Careers Team. I learned new skills on how to compose CVs, cover letters, and how to manage my new workload. It’s never too early to begin building up the experience sections in your CV, with the Awards being a fantastic way to have new skills under your belt before you even think about job applications. […] Best of all, you can complete the RED Awards on your own terms and in your own time, and still have plenty of time to keep up with your studies.”

- Isla Bailey, 2nd Year Microbiology

What types of activities will count towards the different awards?

For some ideas about the types of ways you could spend your time on each award, feel free to consult the table below, or view a non-exhaustive list by navigating to the correct sections on the RED Awards webpages.


Phase 1

Experience (min. 35 hours)

  • Paid work – Campus Jobs, RUSU, Reading Internship Scheme, My Jobs Online

  • Internships (not relevant to degree – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme)

  • Insight days

  • Work experience/shadowing

  • Volunteering (minimum of one hour) – Reading Voluntary Action, Course Rep, PAL Leaders, STaR Mentors, Society committee member.

Phase 2

Training & Development (five hours)

  • Careers workshops (My Jobs Online) – recommendation is to spend at least two hours on these.

  • Life Tools workshops

  • LinkedIn Learning

  • FutureLearn

  • Blackbullion

  • Study Advice

  • Maths Support

Phase 3

RED Award completion session (excluded from 40 hours)

  • Given three short online tasks to complete.

  • Instructions are emailed on the first day of the completion session you join.

  • You are given a week to complete this, but it shouldn’t take longer than one hour.


Phase 1

Acquire (part of 40 hours)

  • FutureLearn courses

  • LinkedIn Learning courses

  • UN SDG Learn

  • Thrive Mentoring (if mentor has sustainable link)

  • Workshops

  • Conferences/summits

  • Webinars

Phase 2

Act (part of 40 hours)

  • Paid work or internships linked to sustainability – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, Reading Internship Scheme, Campus Jobs.

  • Volunteering – RUSU, Green Volunteers, Student Eats Garden, Reading Voluntary Action, Our Fairtrade Auditing, Doing #UoR Bit app activities

Phase 3

Articulate (excluded from 40 hours)

  • Blog post

  • Short video (3-4 mins)

  • Content creation for Our social media pages

  • Speaking at in-person events/ community gatherings

  • Running a discussion group

  • Running a stand at campus fairs


Phase 1

Global Awareness (part of 40 hours)

  • Careers workshops (My Jobs Online)

  • FutureLearn

  • LinkedIn Learning

  • Institute-Wide Language Programme (IWLP) – this should be further study outside of any credit-bearing modules.

  • Language apps e.g., Duolingo

  • Thrive Mentoring (if mentor has global/cultural link)

  • Webinars

  • Conferences

Phase 2

Global Action (part of 40 hours)

  • Paid work or internships linked to global/cultural theme – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, Reading Internship Scheme, Campus Jobs, Student Ambassadorships…

  • Volunteering – RUSU, Modern Foreign Language Club, Buddy Up scheme, Once a Month project, fairtrade auditing, STaR mentoring, Reading Voluntary Action

  • Study abroad – outside of credit-bearing modules

Phase 3

Global Understanding (excluded from 40 hours)

  • Blog post

  • Short video (3-4 mins)

  • Content creation for Our social media pages

  • Speaking at in-person events/ community gatherings

  • Running a discussion group

  • Running a stand at campus fairs

Please note for each award you will need to complete a reflection and evaluation of the RED Awards scheme which takes no longer than ten minutes. For the RED Sustainable Action Award and Global Engagement Award, this will be after your final stage. For the RED Award, this is done prior to the completion session.

On completing one or more of the awards, you will receive a digital certificate and it will be recorded on your diploma supplement annex.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are the RED Awards open to everyone?

A: Yes, anyone studying any type of degree programme can complete the awards if they’re enrolled as a student at the University of Reading.

Q: Which award is best for me?

A: This depends on where your interests lie and which skills you would like to develop. For general employability skills, the general RED Award is a good starting point. For those wanting to develop their networking skills, general awareness of diversity and immerse themselves into other cultures, the Global Engagement Award is a great fit (especially if you’re an international student). Likewise, those wanting to make an impact on the sustainable way in which the University and local community is run, the Sustainable Action Award also has its merits. In short, each award is valuable in its own way.

Q: Is there a deadline for signing up to and completing any of the awards?

A: No, you enrol onto and complete the activities related to your award in your own time and at your own pace. If, for example, you start an award in your first academic year and don’t complete it, you will be able to carry it on over your next year, or whenever you have time. Any activity completed between your date of enrolment and the date of your course finishing will count, so this can include any work you do outside of term time.

Q: Are some of the awards ‘better’ to do than others?

A: No award is more important than another, each carries the opportunity to develop a unique set of skills and knowledge. The only difference is the themes they are based on, but none is more important or relevant than the others. In short, each award is worth completing!

Q: Is it like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award?

A: Not necessarily. There is no compulsory hiking element – unless, of course, you choose to. Some organisations will organise charity hikes or walks which may be completed as volunteering.

Q: What will I get out of completing the awards(s)?

A: Not only will you get a digital certificate and recognition on your diploma supplement annex when you graduate, you also gain many transferable skills to show examples of on your CV. You will also be able to gain credit for any extracurriculars and additional qualifications you have completed outside of your area of study.

Q: Do I need any prior qualifications, or need to meet any requirements before signing up to do an award?

A: No, all you need to do is be enrolled as a student at the university. Students from any discipline and any degree programme are welcome to complete the award.

Q: Can I complete more than one award?

A: Of course! We recommend completing one at a time, but you can transfer over 10 hours of activity between awards, providing it is eligible activity for the award you are transferring it into. This can help give you a head start if you decide to embark on another award pathway.

Q: How do I sign up?

  • Go to the My Jobs Online sign-in page

  • Select the circular ‘Pathways’ option

  • Select which Award you want to enrol on

  • Click ‘Start’

  • You can start uploading your activity and evidence straight away.

Q: What types of evidence can I use when logging my activity?

A: When you come to log your activity hours on your My Jobs Online pathway, each section will ask you to attach some form of evidence of completion. For paid part-time work, you may choose to upload a timesheet or payslip. For volunteering opportunities, you may include email screenshots with the organisation. Any online learning courses you complete will usually provide you with a certificate of completion. For careers workshops, slides will be provided at the end of the presentation for you to take a photo of, and similarly any emails registering your attendance are also accepted.

Q: How else can I find out about opportunities to help me complete my award?

A: Once you have signed up to an award through My Jobs Online, you will be put on the mailing list for a weekly newsletter during term time, which will highlight any opportunities available at that time. The RED Awards webpages are also a good place to start for ideas of the types of activities you can do. Not all opportunities are in-person; some are online and are usually flexible.

Q: What can I do when I’m not sure if a certain type of activity will ‘count’ or not?

A: If you come up with an activity not included on the online lists, you can double-check if it will be accepted by emailing Please do not feel that you must stick to these lists, we encourage students to pursue an activity which interests them the most!

Q: Who can I contact for assistance in completing my award?

A: The RED Awards team can be reached on the email address mentioned above and will be available alongside our Student Ambassadors throughout Welcome Week and at various points during term time. We usually have stands set up in communal areas such as the library foyer, café and at the fairs running during term time – details of similar events can be found on the My Jobs Online home page.

Q: Does all the activity I complete need to be in Reading?

A: Not at all – one of the best things about completing a RED Award is that you can do it from anywhere in the world.

Q: Can my placement hours count towards my RED Award?

A: Since a placement completed as part of your degree would be credit-bearing, it cannot go towards your award because it is not considered an extracurricular activity. If any form of internship or summer placement is to count towards your hours, it must not be related to or carry credits towards your degree.

Top Tips for Your RED Awards

To sum up, here are some key takeaways to make your RED Awards journey as smooth as possible:

  • Upload activity onto your pathway as soon as you have completed it – this is a good way of record-keeping as you go along, saving you the hassle of rummaging through paperwork and emails when it comes to submitting your pathway.

  • Use your award as a way of exploring the different societies, groups, and communities around Reading.

  • Do one of the awards as early as possible in your studies, to get plenty of experience and skills under your belt before graduation.

  • Attend one of the introductory sessions run by the RED Awards team – these are a great way to get an introduction to how the awards work and count towards one of your activity hours!

  • Tailor the activities you choose to the skills you want to learn or develop further. Want to improve your public speaking and communication skills? Look into student ambassador roles offered by the Campus Jobs team. Want to take on a position of responsibility to show off on your CV? Consider applying to be a Course Representative or become a society committee member.

  • The awards are a great way to gain some paid experience alongside your studies and rewards you for activities you may already be doing, such as a part time job or participating in student-led groups.

Online resources

FutureLearn & LinkedIn Learning – free, themed online courses available through the Global Engagement and Sustainable Action pages

Forage – virtual work experience

Contact us!

The RED Awards team, Careers, Carrington First Floor

Tel: 0118 378 8359

Facebook: University of Reading Careers

Instagram: uor_careers


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