Imperial College London

StudentShapers: Imperial launches collaborative student-staff education hub

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Teacher and students talk in a laboratory

Imperial College Union has joined with the College to promote opportunities for students to contribute to researching and innovating education.

StudentShapers’, launched today, will provide a hub for staff and students to explore opportunities to work together to transform learning and teaching at the College.

The partnership will enhance the learning experience by fostering collaboration, with the end results being incorporated back into students’ curriculum. Students will be provided with financial support and expert advice to support them taking part in research and ensure projects have as high an impact as possible.

Dr Mike Streule, Director of StudentShapers said: “Staff and academics working with students as partners across both teaching and research has been proven to yield greater innovation.

“The College’s Learning and Teaching Strategy provides an excellent platform to develop the StudentShapers scheme and facilitate working with students as partners in education. Partnering with students in both curriculum development and educational research will further ensure a world-class educational experience for our students into the future, and recognises the great talent and expertise that our students can offer to projects.”


StudentShapers participants can adopt one of two themes; either a project to enhance learning and teaching through curriculum redesign or innovation, or a project to research and investigate an aspect of education at Imperial.

  • Curriculum development projects

    A curriculum development project is an opportunity for undergraduates or postgraduate taught students to become involved in educational development work in partnership with a member of staff. Placements usually take place over the summer vacation and a bursary is offered to support students.
  • Educational research and investigation projects

    These projects are intended to rigorously assess the effects of new teaching methods; they may also investigate an aspect of teaching or learning that would promote change or investment in a particular area of teaching.

Pilot Programme

On 28 September, following the pilot run of the StudentShapers programme participants were invited to attend a lunch in order to meet their fellow StudentShaper teams. Staff and students talked about their involvement and were eager to learn more about their findings.

Dr Emma Dell and Dr Laura Patel, both from the Department of Chemistry, enlisted the help of students for a review of the undergraduate Chemistry curriculum. Dr Dell said: “I think this is a great initiative. We are able to hear the students’ voices and tailor things to their point of view.” Dr Patel added: “The students provide different perspectives than staff.” They both hope to continue to involve students in their learning through the programme.

Second year Chemistry student Chen Dai spent six weeks with the team reviewing the curriculum. This involved summarising learning outcomes for different modules and reviewing recordings of lectures to see the level of interaction between the lecturer and students. Talking about her experience, she said: “Taking part in the StudentShapers programme has been very beneficial. It has allowed me to find out more about the course structure, which may help me to make better choices in the future. I would definitely recommend taking part, it’s been an amazing experience.”

Imperial College Union and StudentShapers

StudentShapers has been developed by the College in collaboration with Imperial College Union, and will work closely alongside the Academic Representation Network. Academic representatives identify and represent student views, and provide a feedback mechanism between staff and those that they represent on issues relating to academic student experience.

When planning a StudentShapers project the College recommends that staff and students discuss the rationale for their project with their local academic rep, who may be able to provide background information or support.

Deputy-President (Education) of the Imperial College Union, Alejandro Luy, said: “StudentShapers provides an exciting and unique opportunity for students at Imperial to get fully involved in the improvement of their own educational experience, and is a fantastic example of what is possible when Imperial College and Imperial College Union work together.

"The StudentShapers team consists of members from both organisations, and the scheme wouldn’t be what it is today without the collaborative decision making that was made possible through our strong partnership. I believe that our students will embrace StudentShapers, using it as an opportunity to develop themselves and make a positive impact in the process, and that we will see many examples of best practice produced as a result of the partnerships that it will foster.”


Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications and Public Affairs

Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications and Public Affairs

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