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Projects for PhD students to enhance the input of discipline specific research into the undergraduate or postgraduate taught curricula.

These projects are for postgraduate research students at any time of the year. This aspect of StudentShapers is for PhD students interested in enhancing the curriculum at undergraduate or taught masters level by enhancing the contribution of research and new advances in the discipline into these curricula. 

Through the Learning and Teaching Strategy, the College aims to deliver a world class research based education, in line with our position as global leader in STEM research. Acknowledging the fact that scientific endeavour is fast moving, these projects provide an opportunity for PhD students to contribute to the translation of new research into our taught curricula.  For PhD students aspiring towards an academic career path, a StudentShapers project also provides a professional development opportunity to become involved in educational development work beyond normal Graduate Teaching Assistant opportunities.   


Any PhD student who has already undergone (or is in a position to undergo) GTA training, would be welcomed to apply.  PhD students should also consider attending the Graduate School’s professional development programme in teaching as appropriate for the project.  It would be expected that the project would be agreed upon with your Supervisor and they would be your main staff partner for the project, or another teaching academic in your research area.  The Staff partner would typically be the lead on the delivery of the area of the curriculum to which the project contributes.  

The work should also be convivial to the department's Curriculum Review outcomes and activities. Additional GTA work should not be undertaken during the project, so an extension of programme deadlines would not be given for project participants. 

The PhD student proposing the project would be supported with an additional bursary of £230pw. It would normally be expected that around 2 days a week is then spent on educational development work during the duration of the project (between 4-8 weeks in length); however different models of work would be considered if it were convivial to the project. T4 visa holders therefore remain eligible on this suggested model of participationAdditional GTA work would not normally be expected to be undertaken during this time, and the project should deliver long-lasting educational development linked to the individuals’ research area into the curriculum.  Consumables are not normally included within the bursaries StudentShapers provides.  Please discuss with your department whether they are able and willing to fund this aspect of your project if necessary.

Proposals can be made at any time and a decision on successful bids will be made on a termly basis, with the project normally expected to be completed by the end of the following term.  StudentShapers is distinct from other initiatives within Imperial in that it is a co-creative process for both staff and student.  Project proposals should be developed in partnership with staff but the final project proposal should be made by the PhD student partner. 

PhD students will also need to request that their supervisor submits a statement in support of their project proposal prior to the termly deadline via the link above. Any project proposals without a supporting supervisor statement will be rejected.

What are the Benefits?

For research students:
  • An opportunity to engage with teaching and education at Imperial beyond the opportunities of GTA work
  • A way of considering how your discipline expertise can have value to the taught curricula at Imperial
  • A professional development opportunity to expand your experience and gain an insight into educational activities for academics
  • An opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding of educational practice
  • An opportunity to partner with your supervisor or staff member in a non-research capacity
  • Additional evidence to support an application for Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, through the Imperial STAR framework

For staff:

  • An opportunity to partner with PhD students in a non-research capacity and develop educational practise at Imperial
  • A method of attracting funding for educational development work into your department
  • An opportunity to work closely with students that are educationally 'closer' to end-receivers of the work
  • A way to ensure that teaching is up to date and maintains a basis in recent and current research  

Developing a project

Please consider the following during the development and before submitting a proposal:

  • Have you considered the timeframe expected for your project?
  • Have you considered the expected budget? (Please note: consumables are not normally included within the bursaries the StudentShapers provides.  Please discuss with your department whether they are able and willing to fund this aspect of your project)
  • Have you already undertaken GTA training? 
  • Have you had approval to proceed from your Supervisor?
  • Does the project have the support of staff and student peers?  As StudentShapers is designed to have a positive and lasting impact upon the Curriculum, it is valuable for both Staff and Students to have discussed the direction of their project with their colleagues - this may involve liaison and feedback from the Academic Rep Network
  • Has the expected impact of the project been outlined, and how will the impact be assessed?
  • PhD Student Bursaries for a project are normally paid at £230 to reflect a time commitment of around 2 days per week, averaged over the course of the project

Assessment Criteria for Proposals

Project proposals will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Planned timetable for the work
  • Resources requested; funding proposal is cost-effective
  • The project has an appropriate rationale for its inception; this rationale may be based on (but not limited to):

-          Student feedback

-          Education theory/literature

-          Industry liaison

-          Evidence from Curriculum review or other education enhancement work taking place in the department

  • The project should have a clear relationship to current research activities in the discipline and result in increased exposure of taught curricula to this research
  • The project adopts the guiding principles of partnership
  • The project outcomes are clearly defined and should result in changes to learning and teaching that align with the Learning and Teaching Strategy and link to current research at Imperial
  • There is long-term sustainability and impact of the proposed innovations
  • The evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of the project is robust
  • Achievements in learning and teaching of PhD applicants, and/or demonstration of an ongoing commitment to developing professional practice in teaching within higher education

After the project has concluded

Submission of a project report form (which can be downloaded from the sidebar) is a prerequisite of receiving StudentShapers financial support; this should be completed with one month of the project concluding.

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