Students as Partners

3. Student Partnership in Research

There is a lot of discussion about the ‘teaching-research nexus’ but to extend the argument further, there is a need to ensure students are active participants in research which is embedded in their studies at UG or PG level, and not just recipients of their course team’s research interests (research-led, see below). A curriculum which encourages students to engage in research processes, and to work alongside our university’s world-class researchers, will engage them more actively in their learning and equip them more effectively for their futures (research-based and/or research-orientated, see below).

Healey has modelled the role students might have in relation to research and this is summarised in the figure below.

A focus on genuinely active learning, where students are seen as future colleagues, as partners and as co-creators of the curriculum, plays an important role in developing a range of important graduate attributes, both professional and personal, helping to build student confidence, ability to communicate effectively, and sense of an academic and specialist self.

various approaches to the relationship between teaching and research

From Healey, M (2005) Linking research and teaching exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning, in Barnett, R (ed) Reshaping the university: new relationships between research, scholarship and teaching. pp.30-42.


Genuine student-teacher partnerships lead to integrated academic communities and break down the divisions between teaching and learning, between teaching and research, and between universities and future employers.

Undergraduate research

We want our graduates to be experienced communicators of complex information: between disciplines, age groups and between experts and the wider community – skills that are crucial in today’s workplace and in the wider world.

Here are four ways to encourage your students to engage in real research:

  • British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR)

    Each year in the spring a two-day undergraduate research conference is hosted at a British University. All undergraduate students are able to apply and attend. For more information visit the BCUR website.

  • Dissertations for Good (DfG)

    DfG is an NUS initiative, to which MMU belongs, that brokers live, real, research projects and students seeking to undertake them.

    It is described in the DfG brief as:

    "DfG seeks to harness student coursework and dissertations for the benefit of society. We connect students with off-campus organisations to develop student research that helps progress goals and causes. For this programme, a dissertation for good is any piece of student work that contributes to the field of economic, social or environmental sustainability in a tangible way, producing a report that is useful for their partnered organisation."

    Further details can be found on the Dissertations for Good website.

  • Student-led research event in your department

    This may grow out of the curriculum and assessments if they are designed to focus on live projects, problem-based learning and activities related to employability or global impact.

    If your department does not yet have a student research conference consider encouraging a student to work with you in partnership. Another option could be to organise a poster exhibition in a communal area.

  • Submit research to an academic journal

    A number of academic journals are specifically designed for undergraduate research dissemination. A good place to start is the British Council of Undergraduate Research website.