Higher education policy is creating a culture of expectation that students should have a value-added experience or ‘learning gain’ (BIS 2015; 2016) that takes them forward into further study or graduate level employment on completing their degree. The book is written in response to this changing landscape and the emergence of ‘real world learning’ in higher education. Up to this point, real world learning has established itself in primary and secondary education as a means for children to develop confidence and self-esteem in the compulsory education curriculum (Laur 2013; Lucas & Guy 2013; Maxwell, Stobaugh & Tassell 2015, 2017). Real world learning is now positioning itself in higher education academic programmes that are ‘applied’ where the need for an agile and authentic curriculum takes precedent (Marris, 2018). It seems critical that real world learning, like other areas of academic development and pedagogy within higher education, is scrutinised and debated. To date, very little is written on real world learning in higher education apart from a focus on project work (Boss, 2015). The ethos and branding of real world learning needs to be clear to both students, who are studying courses described under this banner, but also for academics who are designing real world curricula from a currently under researched position. The book questions whether higher education curricula that links to work experience or applied examples, are only accessing part of the potential of real world learning to help students learn both in their immediate and long-term development. The book has taken an approach aimed at addressing the areas found to be missing within the current literature. It critiques real world learning across the wide spectrum of both the curriculum and extracurricular activities. A cross-disciplinary approach draws on expertise from business, health, fashion, sport, media, sociology and geography. Thirty-six contributors from 16 universities have shared their own expertise in wider collaborative chapters on real world learning. While the book draws mainly on examples and case studies from new/modern UK universities, they are applicable to all vocational and professional degrees and will have resonance internationally. International evidence of real world learning in practice is drawn from the USA, Bangladesh and Australia. The book is divided into three parts that focus on different influences on students’ real world learning experience. The first part, ‘emerging responses in real world learning’, examines the broader application of real world learning across university ethos and policy. The second part, ‘moving learning into real world practice: extending student opportunities in higher education’ reflects on the impact of students’ direct experience of practicing in a real-world setting. The third part, ‘future higher education direction: engaging real world learning through innovative pedagogies’ analyses the use of learning strategies, such as reflection and technology, on students’ experience of real world learning. As well as demonstrating the scope and creativity that add value to students’ real world learning experiences, each chapter is supported by case studies that demonstrate how applied pedagogy can work in reality. The book is informed by those directly involved in transforming students’ experiences into real world learning opportunities and the aim of this edited collection is to showcase credible real world higher education initiatives in context, and to provide both a theoretical justification for real world learning and applied case studies. The book is underpinned by a mixed method primary research project, conducted by the editors (September 2018 to May 2019) exploring the concept of real world learning. The authors of the book are all participants in the first phase (qualitative) of the research to further clarify real world learning in higher education. The results of this phase of the project will inform the introduction of the book to contextualise the other chapters.