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I find on some companies' websites that they use the word "disciplines" to mean different areas/types of jobs.

One of their job descriptions says "You will work across the company with other product groups, as well as across the aisle with other disciplines."

I look up the word discipline and the closest meaning I think is "a field of study" from Merriam Webster or "an area of knowledge or teaching that is studied at a university" from Longman. I can't find the meaning related to different types of jobs.

So why do they use it and why is there a separate profession section from the discipline section?

Cambridge dictionary (As Jim pointed out) uses a sentence "Our company actively recruits graduates for a wide range of disciplines including engineering, science, and business." But recruiting new graduate and recruiting professionals is different. If it is recruiting new graduate it is easy to understand the meaning of discipline as "an area of knowledge or teaching that is studied at a university" from Longman.

But the picture I attached is recruiting professionals so using discipline there is bit confusing to me.

discipline header. Options are: software engineering, program management, product design, product management, product marketing, technical program management

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    Hello, Qiulang 邱朗. No, I can't find this sense in any of the usual respectable free online dictionaries; perhaps OED picks up on it now. It's a broadened usage, from 'specific area of studies/knowledge' to 'specific area of expertise', ie 'specialism'. Apr 11, 2022 at 14:51
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    Cambridge has: a subject or a particular type of work: Our company actively recruits graduates for a wide range of disciplines including engineering, science, and business.
    – Jim
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:11
  • @Jim Getting old; missed that. Worth an 'answer': this isn't easily available from a single source. Apr 11, 2022 at 15:15
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    Collins has "If you refer to an activity or situation as a discipline, you mean that, in order to be successful in it, you need to behave in a strictly controlled way and obey particular rules or standards." This seems something that companies would believe about working in different areas, even if the impartial observer might be skeptical about how controlled and ordered they really are.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:33
  • Updated my question. They separate professions section from discipline section, which I also feel confused. But after reading all the answers and comments I begin to understand. Apr 12, 2022 at 1:40

4 Answers 4

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I believe the actual job titles would be in the "Role Type" section and "Discipline" in the example refers to fields (and subfields) of study.

"You will work across the company with other product groups, as well as across the aisle with other disciplines."

For example if your job is in the discipline of graphic design (e.g., you are commercial artist), you might have to work with a packaging engineer who works in the discipline of packaging design. Sometimes the name of a discipline and a job title may be quite similar, such as software/packing engineer(ing) and graphic design(er).

Discipline (n.)

A branch of learning or knowledge; a field of study or expertise; a subject. Now also: a subcategory or element of a particular subject or field.

1962 Lancet 13 Jan. 113/1 Sir Leonard Parsons..had been the first to draw into the paediatrics of his time other disciplines such as biochemistry and immunology.

1999 Independent (Nexis) 16 Apr. 22 Becky, regarded as the brightest prospect in British gymnastics started her sport at five... Her favourite (and best) discipline is the asymmetric bars.

2007 N.Y. Times (National ed.) 28 Jan. viii. 1/2 Duncan is a founder of the World Power Sports Association, which runs a national race series for snowmobile snocross, a discipline similar to motocross. (OED online)


The boundaries of what were once recognised as discrete design disciplines such as product, graphic, textile, and fashion design have been and continue to dissolve... P. Rodgers and C. Bremmer; Design School (2019)

Product design engineering whilst a relatively new engineering discipline, is gaining support with global distribution of curricula. These pioneering curricula integrate the traditionally disparate disciplines of industrial design and mechanical engineering to develop a creative 'next generation' engineering more adapt at the changing roles of product design and development. A. Silva and R. Simões; Handbook of Research on Trends in Product Design and Development (2010)

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    WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2022 -- wordreference.com/definition/discipline discipline n. 6. a branch of instruction or learning: [countable] "the disciplines of history and economics."
    – Greybeard
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:31
  • @Greybeard I thought the OP was asking about divisions finer than branches/fields of study like history and economics.
    – DjinTonic
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:33
  • Yes, I realised that, but you mentioned not being able to find a definition for the finer details and or within a profession and "a branch of instruction or learning" is vague enough to cover that.
    – Greybeard
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:35
  • @Greybeard I believe that was Edwin. But I agree with you, I have no difficulty understanding discipline as a finer division.
    – DjinTonic
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:41
  • @DjinTonic thanks for answering my question. I updated my question to show what it is in role type. Apr 12, 2022 at 1:35
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Cambridge Dictionary gives:

a subject or a particular type of work:
Our company actively recruits graduates for a wide range of disciplines including engineering, science, and business.

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  • But it is easy to understand the disciplines in "recruits graduates for a wide range of disciplines" as ""an area of knowledge or teaching that is studied at a university" Apr 12, 2022 at 1:25
  • Yes, that’s why Cambridge chose that for its example.
    – Jim
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:18
  • What I mean was recruiting new graduate and recruiting professionals is different. While the picture I attached is recruiting professionals so using disciplines there is bit confusing. If it is recruiting new graduate as that sentence you quoted, it is easy to understand. Apr 12, 2022 at 13:32
  • Not that the example says ”for a wide range of disciplines” not ”with a wide range” This is because they are hiring for the disciplines they need within the company- the particular types of work they do and need.
    – Jim
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:18
  • Oh thanks. As a non-native speaker I saw that but I didn't realize that was the key difference! Apr 12, 2022 at 14:22
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OED defines discipline as a subcategory or element of a particular subject or field (also mentioned in DjinTonic's answer). So the examples in the image you have posted are each a subcategory of a broader discipline/field of study (such as engineering, design, etc.).

Hence, "Software Engineering" is a discipline of Engineering:

Software engineering is an engineering discipline that's applied to the development of software in a systematic approach (called a software process).

(From medium.com)

"Product Design" is a discipline of Design:

Product Design is a design discipline that focuses on developing solutions to human needs, wants, limitation and desires.

(From designcarlow)

"Product Marketing" is a discipline of Marketing:

Product marketing is a marketing discipline that focuses on the process of bringing a specific product to the marketplace.

(From directiveconsulting.com)

"Product Management" is a discipline of Management:

Management as a discipline refers to that branch of knowledge which is connected to study of principles & practices of basic administration.

(From managementstudyguide.com)

Marketing and Management are themselves disciplines of Business.

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  • Updated my question. They separate professions section from discipline section, which I also feel confused. After reading all the answers and comments although it makes sense now but I still feel they do it to make their job ads looks more "fancy" Apr 12, 2022 at 1:49
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All three of the answers so far and a number of the comments have been helpful. Nevertheless. It may be worth getting briefly into the etymology of it.

The Latin 'disciplina' is formed from from the verb disco, meaning I learn. Someone who learns from a teacher, a pupil, was called discipulus; what a discipulus learns can be called a disciplina. Before well into the twentieth century, the teaching of boys could be a brutal business. The great Roman Poet, Horace, refers to his teacher as "plagosus Orbilius ", immortalised by his brilliant pupil for his cruel teaching methods. Schooling and corporal punishment became disturbingly associated together and corporal punishment was not mage illegal in the U.K. schools until 1986. So it is not surprising that the word discipline should have given its name both to the knowledge and skills learned but to the brutal methods employed in imparting them.

At universities, the academic meaning of the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired and exercised continues because that is what their profession does. Even here, however, the use of the word discipline, compared to, say, subject, gives it an edge of rigour/self-control, coming from that other sense of 'discipline' associated with control by punishment.

For that reason it is not uncommon for secondary schools with aspirations to academic prestige to refer to subjects as disciplines

For that reason also, it is not surprising that some companies choose to refer to different departments as disciplines, combining as they do expertise/knowhow with seriousness and self control not inflicted by the brutal Whacker Orbilius.

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  • For all the answers, I learn most from your words "it is not surprising that some companies choose to refer to different departments as disciplines, combining as they do expertise/knowhow with seriousness and self control". Apr 12, 2022 at 7:02
  • @Qiulang邱朗 Glad to be of help.
    – Tuffy
    Apr 12, 2022 at 8:15

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