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Teaching and learning initiatives at Manchester

Research into teaching and learning is a valued aspect of what we do at Manchester.

Staff have a high success rate for gaining funds to develop their teaching (see the projects below). As a result, our courses are constantly updated and we offer an exciting learning environment for students.

Centre for Innovation in Pedagogy

This initiative is led by four academic across the Faculty:

  • Hannah Cobb (SALC)
  • Federico Cugurullo (SEED)
  • Patricia Perlman-Dee (MBS)
  • Paul Middleditch (SOSS)

Currently in its early stages, the CIP aims to act as a community for academics interested in pedagogy, with a representative in as many schools possible.

An important part of our work will involve direct collaboration with eLearning technologists in developing pedagogic research and in supporting colleagues to use innovative pedagogic teaching and learning methods.

In turn the CIP will foster a rich environment for pedagogic research which will, in turn, impact on the teaching at Manchester through encouragement for adopters of our innovations.

Learning through research

Learning through research is at the heart of our practice. This was recognised in 2014/15 when we were successful in a bid for a grant of £500 from the Learning Through Research fund to develop a project for extra-curricular research by our undergraduate students.

Entitled "Visible Diggers: Researching Learning Through Research", the project was led by then Level 2 students Matt Hitchcock, Stephanie McCulloch and Liya Walsh, along with Dr. Hannah Cobb.

The project aimed to capture the views of UK archaeology students surrounding their experiences of fieldwork and conducted an online survey of to explore this.

The grant enabled the students who conducted the research to join the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) as student members and to attend the CIfA conference where they exhibited a poster and gave a paper.

Their research will be published as an article in CIfA's The Archaeologist publication in early 2016, and subsequently the students have been invited to speak at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in Bradford in December 2015.

"Enhancing experience and employability in Archaeology": Learning enrichment fund modules

We are very proud of our recently developed suite of employability based online learning modules created as part of the project "Enhancing experience and employability in Archaeology".

These modules were compiled following a £1899 grant from the University’s Learning Enrichment Fund and cover careers in archaeology, specific skills using Adobe Illustrator and GIS, risk assessment writing and report writing.

They have been employed in specific lecture courses such as ARGY20502 Fieldwork, Practice and Interpretation, ARGY30502 Fieldwork, Practice and Interpretation and the MA course Archaeology: Past, Present and Future, as well as used by students writing postgraduate and undergraduate dissertations and long essays.

They have also been distributed to students by academic advisors, and employed and circulated by students in the Archaeology Society.

Furthermore, the resources have been praised as best practice by the Careers Service and the Teaching and Learning Office, and as a result we were invited to give a paper about these resources in the Faculty Teaching and Learning Showcase in July 2015.

Archaeology, conflict zones and reconstruction

The project was launched in 2013 to encourage a deeper understanding of the socio‐political role of archaeology, and the social responsibility of archaeologists, addressing global issues of conflict and re‐building, cultural heritage, and identity.

It focuses on embedding sessions within a range of courses, and works through engaging students in study and discussion of media and current events. Funded by £2,000 from the Faculty of Humanities – Social Responsibility in the Curriculum Fund.

Archaeology Skills Passport

This resource was developed through a Teaching Development Grant from the Higher Education Academy in 2009/2010 and has been so influential that it has been adopted by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for all new student members, and has formed the basis for a commercially produced model of the passport for the profession, sold by the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources.

We use the skills passport as part of the assessment of undergraduate fieldwork in the course ARGY20502 Fieldwork, Practice and Interpretation. However it is also excellent for student employability, encouraging them to record their specific and transferrable skills for future use in job applications.

We have published about this resource in the following article:

  • H. L. Cobb, D. Connolly and P. Richardson. 2014. A passport to the past: developing an archaeological skills passport. The Archaeologist 93: 8-13.

CEEBL: The place of finding. Enquiry-based learning in archaeology

The act of discovery underpins the excavation of every find, whether it emerges from the soil, is discovered in an archive or recorded through oral history.

Yet this excitement can be hard to capture in a lecture room! This project, funded by a grant from the CETL Centre for Excellence in Enquiry Based Learning, has re-embedded the excitement of discovery into the Archaeology degree, through innovative teaching methods which place the student at the heart of the learning experience.

Initiatives include a multi-media 'CSI' style murder mystery on 'The Ice Man', live 'pop-quiz' events using innovative technologies, a Public Enquiry debate involving improvised role-play, fieldtrips to experience 'Life in the Iron Age' at Castel Henllys, Wales, as well as a creative archaeological workshop at the Blackden Trust: home of the internationally important author, Alan Garner.