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Impact of Academic Research through Northumbria’s physical sciences, technology and engineering Outreach Activities on the uptake of STEM disciplines by young people (Advert Ref: FAC/EE/STRACHAN)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr R Strachan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This research project is focussed on evaluating the impact of the use of academic research and expertise as part of the university’s outreach activities on young people and their uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). STEM outreach at Northumbria University is concentrated primarily around ‘Think Physics’, an ambitious outreach project hosted at Northumbria University to address a fundamental threat to physics and wider STEM disciplines of gender imbalance (see www.thinkphysics.org). Only 21% of the national HE physics student population are female and this presents a challenge to the equality and diversity of the subject and its long term sustainability (IoP 2012a). There are similar or even lower percentages for the engineering and computer science disciplines. Think Physics seeks to address this challenge through a unique and innovative regional partnership that targets all stages of a child’s journey to higher education and beyond. It integrates the best of practice to date from previous outreach, widening participation and gender projects in the physics and STEM/SIV areas together with a partnership approach and the latest advances in technology (HESTEM (2013) Archer et al. (2012)). A strong element of the project is the link to the academic staff and their research activities at Northumbria University. These are being utilised by the project team to bring the STEM subjects alive for the young people. This will be by demonstrating the latest developments and practical applications of STEM disciplines and how these relate to the school curriculum and providing case studies of potential career paths, all aspects that have been illustrated to be of particular interest to females (IoP 2010, IoP 2012b). This PhD research study will concentrate on how these links to academia can impact on young people in terms of their interest and uptake of STEM (NCCPE 2013, RCUK, 2011). The main objectives are anticipated to be as follows:-

1. Establish criteria for evaluating impact of academia on young people and their uptake on STEM to date from the literature and previous STEM engagement projects.
2. Develop and implement data collection mechanisms for this criteria for the Think Physics project.
3. Analyse and evaluate collected data in terms of impact on young people and their uptake of STEM.
4. Determine impact of academia through Think Physics project on the uptake of STEM by young people and wider implications of this work for the sector.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
- Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
- Appropriate IELTS score, if required

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.

Deadline for applications: 18 July 2016

Interview date: 01 August 2016

Start date: 03 October 2016

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000).


2015 Davenport, C., Parents can’t answer everything children ask about science – and that’s OK, The Conversation, UK Edition, November 10 2015. Available at http://theconversation.com/parents-cant-answer-everything-children-ask-about-science-and-thats-ok-50419

2015 Dele-Ajayi, O., Strachan, R., Pickard, A., Sanderson, J., Girls and Science Education: Exploring Female Interests towards Learning with Serious Games: A Study of KS3 Girls in the North East of England, In: 9th International Conference on Interactive Mobile Communication, Technologies and Learning (IMCL 2015), November 19-20 2015, Thessaloniki, Greece.

2015 Strachan, R., Liyanage, L., Active Student Engagement: The Heart of Effective Learning. Chapter in Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Springer International Publishing, pp. 255-274.

2011 Strachan, R.,Liyanage, L., Casselden, B. and Penlington, R., Workshop on the added dimensions of multiple stakeholders in delivering learning” at the Community and Employer Engagement Conference on WBL at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) from 28-29 June 2011, Available at http://www.uall.ac.uk/uploads/UALL%20WBL%20conference%20proceedings%202011.pdf

2010 Strachan, R. Pickard, A, Laing, C, Bringing technical authoring skills to life for students through an employer audience, ITALICS (Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences), 9 (2), November edition. ISSN 1473-7507. Available at http://www.ics.heacademy.ac.uk/italics/vol9iss2.htm.
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