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Developing Enquiry techniques and resources

As students work their way through their degree programmes, they need to spend more time developing their critical and analytical thinking outside of formal classes, and good student-centred support materials can contribute to their learning. CETL-AURS funded a variety of projects that allowed staff to be innovative in re-designing individual modules and programmes, and to develop good student-centred resources for undergraduates to use for independent study.

We funded projects in:

  • Law
  • Real Estate and Planning
  • Typography
  • the Museums and Special Collections
  • Agriculture and Management
  • Biological Sciences
  • Zoology
  • Interdisciplinary


In the School of Law staff used CETL-AURS funding to create an Enquiry-Based Learning exercise for Part 1 students, incorporating a client-focused research project that simulates the real-world legal research activities required in a practice-based situation. The exercise:

  • engenders independent research skills amongst Part 1 students;
  • encourages students to recognise the centrality of research activities to legal and associated careers;
  • develops wider student-centred and autonomous legal study skills;
  • assists in the embedding of 'careers-consciousness' within the academic programme at Part 1; and
  • helps a group of students outside the UK HE sector to become familiar with the approaches to research that are expected of them as part of their Reading degree.

Real Estate and Planning

The School of Real Estate and Planning also developed an Enquiry-based module for Part 1 students through CETL-AURS funding. The module comprises of a set of integrating projects that develop students' research skills, enabling them to actively acquire knowledge, address questions and make connections between the various elements of the programme. The project-based module incorporates a large element of collaborative learning and provides students with a high-impact experience that will excite and motivate them, and enable them to become much more active in their own learning.


The Department of Typography houses the University's Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design collections, including several ephemera collections of world-wide importance. CETL-AURS funding was used to revise modules within their Part 2 and Part 3 provision to provide greater opportunities for hands-on learning through the use of collections.

  • in the mandatory Part 2 module History of Graphic Communication a new printing workshop was created, bringing together all the equipment necessary for students to participate in practical demonstrations of all the major printing processes.
  • a new Part 3 module in Ephemera Studies was developed that enables students to use and handle the ephemera collections as part of their studies. It allows students to study documents first-hand and undertake self-directed research.

Read the summary of the Part 2 module Hands-on Learning and Practical Designing - module development in Typography and the Part 3 module Hands-on Learning: Creation of a module in Ephemera Studies in Typography.

The Museums and Special Collections

The University's Museums and Special Collections, including the internationally renowned collection of objects and archives at the Museum of English Rural Life, are an under-utilised asset with enormous potential to contribute to teaching and learning. Students had not previously had the opportunity to conduct original research within museums-based modules. CETL-AURS funded a post to develop collections-based teaching, creating new generic museums and material culture studies modules.

  • Analysing Museums Displays (Part 1 module)
  • Public Understandiing of the Countryside (Part 1 module)
  • Object Analysis and Museum Interpretation (Part 2 and Part 3 modules)
  • Museum Theory, History and Ethics (Part 3 module)

Agriculture and Management

CETL-AURS funded two web-based projects that sought to help students develop high quality research skills. Each website was designed for specific student groups to provide clear and practical guidance about the process of conducting research in their discipline. The websites help students to:

  • recognise how specific research questions or projects relate to broader ideas and debates in their academic field;
  • formulate original and achievable research questions;
  • appreciate the approaches available to researchers, and identify the most appropriate methodology for addressing a specific question;
  • obtain a clear understanding of some of the key methodological approaches widely adopted by scholars, such as quantitative methods and statistical analysis, designing and developing case studies and collecting and analysing qualitative data; and
  • develop an appreciation of both the strenghts and limits of various methodological approaches as well as an awareness of research ethics.

Each website contains podcasts, worked examples, exercises (with answers), help sheets and quizzes.

Visit the Agriculture website Engage in Research