Research-inspired and inquiry-led learning and discovery

Strategic Aim 3: Research-inspired, Inquiry-led Learning and Discovery

I. To provide the opportunity for every student to learn with world-leading researchers

II. To extend the opportunities for students to learn in innovative ways through their own research and inquiry

Politics and International Relations: The Research Toolkit in Politics and International Relations

This module equips students with knowledge and experience of research methods in preparation for their final year dissertation. This is achieved by providing theoretical and practical training in research, leading to the completion of a group project in the form of a consultancy-style report to a brief set by local organisations. The projects have included topics such as the housing crisis in Falmouth and ethical clothing, allowing students to develop their skill at research whilst seeing how such methods can be applied to broader issues outside of academia.

POC2083 – Dr Cristiana Olcese

Anthropology: Ethnography Now

The opportunity to develop a truly individual piece of research is integral to giving students the chance to learn through their own inquiry. In this module, students create their own ‘mini-ethnography’, whereby they are given free rein to develop their own topic and research questions, undertake appropriate fieldwork and analyse their findings to develop their own piece of research. Students are required to reflect critically on their research process, and the choices they made as a researcher. This ability to be reflective and critical is fundamental to the development of students as inquiry-led learners.

ANT2002 – Dr Katharine Tyler

Biosciences: Research Skills and Bioethics

The world of the researcher is dominated by grant applications, peer review and public speaking. This assessment gives students a chance to prepare for a future in research by not only putting together an industry standard proposal, but taking part in a peer review of their fellow students’ applications. Once the proposal has been peer reviewed, students must make their case to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel consisting of academics and industry representatives. This gives the budding researcher an insight into the process from both sides - understanding the mind of the reviewer will place them in good stead for their own applications and future careers. From viva voce to conference talks, the ability to present and defend one's work to peers and experts is key to success in academia and industry alike.

BIO2071 – Dr Mark Ramsdale
(See also Group project with 'Dragons' Den' presentation: BEM2023/3018 – Dr Holly Henderson)

Biosciences: Journal Clubs

This method of assessment requires students to present their own lecture to the class, delivering a detailed presentation and critical analysis of the literature on a selected topic of recent, cutting-edge research. The lecture is supplemented by a question and answer session and class discussion, enabling students to learn through both their own initial inquiry and further dialogue with their peers. The ability to engage critically with literature and research is essential for both final year dissertations and further study, and the skills gained from presentation and subsequent class discussion are invaluable to future careers. Although abundant across Biosciences, a notable example occurs in 'Ecology of Environmental Change', where a topical task titled 'Anti-Fake News Club' encourages students to engage with media representation of research. Students assess the credibility of research claims, evaluate the impact of the articles and introduce the topic discussed, building on their ability to be critical thinkers and researchers.

BIO3037: Ecology of Environmental Change – Dr Robert Wilson

Biosciences: Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Collaboration is an integral part of the University's research ethos, and an innovative way of highlighting this is through research seminars. In this Biosciences module, students attend weekly seminars offering insight into cutting-edge research. These are followed by workshops with guest speakers, providing students with an opportunity to interact and network with experts in the field. The ability to synthesise this research is also assessed, with students writing short abstracts to communicate the speakers' research to a wider audience.

BIO3131 – Dr Kelly Moyes

Classics: Dialogues of the Past

In this module, students are required to create their own artefact, bringing to life an historical event, time or place of their choosing. The challenge of an open brief requires students to research broadly, looking for an area to focus on and then research more deeply once a subject has been identified. Choosing a medium with which to convey the subject, and express the results of the student's own research, requires a strong understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of media.

Past projects have seen a range of artefacts being produced as varied as poetry, a comic book, a tapestry fully functioning ballista. By allowing students to be creative, the module provides a truly innovative opportunity for students to learn about the past through their own inquiry.

CLA3267 – Dr Sharon Marshall

Medical Sciences: Medical Research Evaluation

This module has a strong focus on engagement with cutting-edge research. Students work within expert-facilitated groups to analyse a piece of emerging scientific research and contextualise it within wider literature. The students are also required to present their progress throughout the term, with the module culminating in debate and exchange of their findings. This is supplemented by 'Arena sessions' (in which students work with external visitors to consider treatment and diagnosis of disease) and interactive laboratory visits, discussing research and practice from the viewpoints of scientist, doctor and patient. Through these activities and integration of real-life experiences, the module facilitates shared learning and critical engagement with research.

CSC2013 – Dr Vrinda Nayak and Dr Reza Zamani

Psychology: Cognitive & Social Psychology Practicals I & II

This group of modules gives the students a choice between cognitive or social psychology research projects. The modules are paired - working in groups, students will design, implement and report on two projects across two terms. This innovative approach to module structure gives a good sense of continuity and development, allowing the students to grow as researchers by taking lessons from one project to inform the next.

PSY2209: Cognition Practical I – Dr Natalia Lawrence
PSY2210: Social Practical I – Dr Andrew Livingstone
PSY2213: Social Practical II – Dr Joseph Sweetman

Guest Lectures Across the University

The University places great emphasis on research and collaboration, both on campus and worldwide. This is integrated into undergraduate programmes, enabling students to engage with cutting-edge research across the wider academic community.

At institution-level, many modules feature seminars from academics across the colleges, incorporating relevant research being undertaken on campus into student learning. Examples include the input of Dr Matthew Hawcroft's global climate modelling research in to final year Geography modules the work on bioenergy of Dr Janet Cotter, formerly of Greenpeace Science, alongside Dr Dan Bebber, former Head of Climate Change Research at the Earthwatch Institute, on tropical climate change in Biosciences modules.

Many modules also make use of guest lecturers, providing students with the opportunity to hear from leading experts in their field outside of the University. These have included lectures from Dr Tom Duncan (Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand) on restorative justice in Theology, and also from Professor Mike Savage (London School of Economics) and Dr Paul Watt (Birkbeck University) on social issues in Politics.

Additionally, students benefit from the University's close links to world-leading local organisations such as the Met Office, Environment Agency and RAMM, enabling students to connect and network with experts and their research within the industry through tailored visits, talks and activities.

GEO3225: Climate Change and Its Impacts – Professor Stephen Sitch
BIO3037: Ecology of Environmental Change – Dr Robert Wilson
THE2199/3199: Theology and Criminal Justice – Dr Esther Reed
POC2083: The Research Toolkit in Politics and International Relations – Dr Cristiana Olcese
AHV1005: Inside the Museum – Professor Melissa Percival
BIO2096: Practical Skills in Field Ecology – Dr Fiona Matthews
HIH2002: Uses of the Past – Dr Freyja Cox Jensen

Student publications

The University of Exeter is committed to student engagement and creating internationally excellent education that can be described as partnership in knowledge creation in which our students study alongside our exceptional academics and postgraduate researchers not only to absorb knowledge and develop skills but to actively contribute to the creation of new knowledge and understanding of the world around us.

We want our students to learn with the creators of world-leading research. But more than this we want to extend the opportunities for them to discover and learn in innovative ways through their own research and inquiry in each and every year of their degree. Through all of our work our mission is to create supportive, challenging and inspiring communities of learning in which our students can flourish and succeed in readiness to cross another boundary to become graduates of distinction.

This partnership is evident when we look within the University and see our students work alongside our academics to generate genuinely new insights, advances and solutions in their chosen disciplines. We have recently asked our academic colleagues to flag published papers produced with student co-authors and contributors. Now we know that over the last few years, over 100 papers have been written with undergraduate and taught postgraduate students as well as over 400 with PhD students.

View a list of student publications on the Teaching Excellence website.

Academics with publications they wish to appear on this page should label these publications on Symplectic Elements. Guidance for labeling documets can be found on the research toolkit.