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Enhancement of Final Year Projects

CETL-AURS is funding a number of initiatives in different disciplines to enhance final year projects. In some cases the impetus for these initiatives has come from employers nationally identifying certain skills gaps amongst current graduates. In other cases the projects are encouraging students to become aware of, and conduct active research on, the museums, archives and collections at their disposal here at Reading, adding knowledge and value to University collections.

Current Projects

In the Department of English and American Literature we are funding a project to maximise the use of the Special Collections in Undergraduate Dissertations.

The University has extensive holdings of rare books, publishers' papers and individual author archives whose full potential in undergraduate teaching and research has yet to be realised. The project has two aims:

  • to create an on-line library on Blackboard of previous dissertation topics, and collect exemplars of high-quality dissertations; and
  • draw up an outline list of new topics that realise the use of the Special Collections as material for undergraduate dissertations. These are not specific dissertation titles but bullet points of available information for students and the relevant archival details for them to be able to generate their own title and hypothesis. These will be built in to a seachable database and made available to Part 2 students as they choose their dissertation.

The project will run from April 09 to March 10. For further details contact Peter Robinson or Guy Baxter

Completed Projects

In Plant Sciences our project:

  • created a bank of template research designs for various kind of botanical, biomedical, pharmaceutical and nutritional degree students' final year projects.
  • enabled the use of the whole school's plant resources in the Harris Garden, the experimental grounds and glasshouses, and preserved speciments in the herbarium.
  • evened out the supervision workload amongst staff.

The creation of the bank of well-designed and supported projects should ensure that students have a positive experience carrying out their research projects, and gain a wide range of skills.

View Contact: Julie Hawkins

Chemistry with Forensic Analysis

This project provided Part 3 students with the opportunity to experience research in forensic analysis first-hand and obtain an in-depth understanding of modern analytical techniques. This is achieved by students undertaking forensic mini-projects in one of several fields. Our project has:

  • created a dedicated microscope laboratory providing students with the opportunity to develop laboratory skill pertinent to their field;
  • provided team-working opportunities as students work in teams to carry out the mini-projects.
  • enabled independent open-ended study.

View report Contact: Matthew Almond


Typography students complete a dissertation relating to the history, theory and practice of typography and graphic communication. The sorting and re-housing of the collections have led to heightened awareness of their availability to students and their potential for dissertation research.

Our project has:

  • encouraged students to exploit the School's large resource of sound archives and use oral history as primary source material;
  • created a fully searchable archive of recorded interviews.

View Current Report Contact: Mary Dyson

Zoology and Wildlife Ecology

Zoology and Wildlife Ecology students have the opportunity to undertake research projects in taxonomy, biodiversity and applied ecology through the Centre for Wildlife Assessment and Conservation (CWAC). CETL-AURS has funded a fully-equipped teaching and research laboratory for undergraduates engaged in fieldwork and students work closely with staff during their projects. The aim is to develop a student-led symposium and an e-journal to disseminate student research findings. Contact: Graham Holloway