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Creating access to primary sources

CETL-AURS aimed to maximise the impact of our rich Museums and Collections by allowing undergraduates, and others, the opportunity to use them during their time at the University of Reading, to encourage independent and critical thinking through engagement with primary research sources.

Projects focused on sorting, cataloguing and re-housing some of the University's unique collections, and on enabling the use of collections in teaching through purchasing state-of-the-art interactive teaching equipment such as smartboards, visualisers and microscopes. Our projects were based in:

  • Archaeology
  • Geoscience
  • Typography
  • Zoology


The Archaeology Department had a number of collections, such as replica Roman and Iron Age coins, pottery and lithics that needed sorting and enhancing to provide comprehensive resources for both teaching and project work. In Archaeology CETL-AURS funding was used to:

  • create a dedicated teaching space within which to keep collections, enabling more use of artefacts to be incorporated into teaching sessions;
  • install the latest visualisation technologies within the teaching space to enable even small objects to be visible to large groups of students;
  • expand the archaeology reference collections with genuine and reproduction material; and
  • develop teaching support materials to maximise collections usage within a wide variety of modules.

The microscopy facilities purchased through CETL funding are second to none in the UK in this subject.

Read the Teaching with material culture evaluation summary.


In Geoscience only a small proportion of the total collection of rocks, minerals, fossils and artefacts were being used in teaching because the collection was not properly catalogued or easily accessible. This CETL-AURS project made a much wider range of specimens available and so enhanced students' research skills by allowing them to identify recurrent patterns and themes. Funding was used to:

  • catalogue the teaching collection including minerals, igneous and volcanic rocks, sedimentary structures, sedimentary rocks and fossils;
  • catalogue, clean and re-arrange a significant part of the collections in the stores to make them accessible for teaching;
  • create an electronic database and interactive website for students to use.

Read the Access to the Fossils, Rocks and Minerals Collection evaluation summary.


The Department of Typography houses the University's Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design collections and contains internationally renowned archives. These collections had always been used in teaching but had become muddled, and with no electronic catalogue their use was limited. This project aimed to increase the range of artefacts that sudents could use by:

  • sorting, organising and creating an electronic catalogue for the collections;
  • installing archivally-sound storage facilities and re-housing the collections;
  • purchasing specialist equipment such as slide scanners, magnifiers, specialist storage materials, smartboards and laptops; and
  • creating a dedicated collections teaching space within the department where materials are easily accessible.

Read the Creating access to the Typography collections evaluation report.


The Cole Museum of Zoology provides University of Reading students with a world-class opportunity to gain taxonomic and curatorial skills, and the collections are also used to teach essential taxonomic skills. CETL-AURS funds were used to:

  • refurbish the museum, including buying new cases;
  • purchase new equipment, such as a state-of-the-art densitometer, ecological field equipment, laptops and reference books; and
  • encourage undergraduates to play an active role in the curation of the museum e.g. by developing exhibits and cases within the museum.

Read the evaluation report on accessing the Cole Museum of Zoology.

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