The undergraduate students in our degree programme come from a wide range of countries and communities. After noticing apparent trends in attainment gaps during the course between certain demographic groups a preliminary study was undertaken which showed that these gaps are indeed significant. In 2020 we secured funding to conduct research on this subject, initially in Physics, and then further on throughout College, and in 2021 formally commenced the Strengthening Learning Communities project. The broad aims are to investigate the extent of awarding gaps between demographic groups, plus those students with protected characteristics, research the causes of any such gaps and implement targeted strategies in pedagogical and pastoral practices within the College to improve the university experience for all students and ensure parity for all. The project is a collaborative venture between the Department of Physics, the Centre for Higher Education, Research and Scholarship (CHERS), and the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC).

If you are interested in the project and want to discuss then please contact the Principal Investigator, Mark Richards. You can also find out more in this interview with Michael Fox about the project.

Student collaboration

Student collaboration forms an essential part of the SLC project. More information on the different projects that have been undertaken with students as co-researchers can be found in our dedicated Student Collaboration pages.

Selected conference presentations and symposia

  • Centre for Academic inclusion in Science and Engineering (CAISE) Launch Keynote Speech - Mark Richards, Queen Mary University of London, 2022.
  • What does a physics student need to do to succeed? - Amy Smith at ViCEPHEC 2022.
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion – does social justice from the top trickle down? - Michael Fox at ViCEPHEC 2022 and also presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers Conference 2022 in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Exploring women physics lecturers’ teaching choices and decisions - Jessie Durk, Student Shapers Symposium: Imperial College London, 2022.
  • Beyond participation: Sense of belonging and the impact of the physics stereotype for women in STEM - Amy Smith, (invited symposium), University of Leipzig, Germany, 2021.
  • Sense of belonging and the impact of social norms for physics students - Amy Smith, (invited symposium), Physics Education Research Consortium of Graduate Students [online], 2022.
  • Attitudes and norms in physics and their impact on behaviour and authenticity  - Amy Smith, ESERA Summer School, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, 2022.
  • Beliefs and norms in physics and their impact on behaviour and authenticity - Amy Smith, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, 2022.

Research publications


Meet the Team