VicePhec 2019


Variety in Chemistry Education / Physics Higher Education Conference (VICEPHEC) is a national conference that brings together educators in chemistry and physics to discuss and share developments, ideas and good practice in learning and teaching at tertiary level.

This year we are pleased that VICEPHEC will be hosted by the Schools of Physics and Chemistry at the University of Bristol, on August 22nd and 23rd 2019.

The conference is open to academics, researchers, teachers and postgraduate students as well as those with an interest in chemistry and/or physics higher education (such as A-level teachers interested in supporting students’ transition into university).


The main conference (Thursday and Friday) provides opportunities to hear from educators and researchers about their work, either through short-and-snappy oral bites or the more detailed lecture series.

There will also be a poster session for delegates to present and talk about their work in a more relaxed and informal setting, and workshop sessions for you to get stuck in to some active learning. And, there’s our ‘Labsolutely Fabulous’ session where people can share their fantastic new laboratory experiments with the community.

Finally we have three plenary sessions spread across the main programme, focusing on Physics, Chemistry and Higher Education.

Conference dinner

Will be held on the evening of Thursday 22 August at Brown’s restaurant.

Visit the VicePhec 2019 Page for further details, programme updates and to register!



Assessment in higher education conference

Assessment in Higher Education Conference 2019

This event will be the seventh international Assessment in Higher Education conference. This research and academic development conference is a forum for critical debate of research and innovation focused on assessment and feedback practice and policy. The themes for our 2019 conference will invite a wide range of papers, practice exchanges and posters. Themed poster presentations, accompanied by a short pitch from the authors, have been a particular strength of the conference and have encouraged networking by delegates.

Keynote Speakers

Phil Dawson: Associate Professor at Deakin University

Bruce Macfarlane: Professor of Higher Education at University of Bristol


More Good News For Education And Pedagogy Researchers In SSL!

BILT Fellow Jenny Lloyd updates us on the latest from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law. 

For those in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law who have an interest in education and pedagogy, it’s been a pretty good couple of years.  For the last two years the Faculty has sponsored an Education and Pedagogy conference that has drawn together academics and professional staff from across the Faculty to debate, discuss and disseminate developments in research in education and pedagogy and also in its application.

Feedback for last year’s event ‘Evolution or Revolution’ was really positive. The conference appeared to strike the right balance of academic papers, practical workshops and key note speakers whilst the exhibition provided the space to discuss ideas and network with colleagues with shared interests.  Building upon this success we will soon be issuing a call for papers for the 2019 conference on the theme of ‘Space, Time and Education’. This theme was chosen because it hoped to encourage contributors to think about space and time in all of its dimensions – from the physical constructions of teaching rooms and buildings to the liminal space that so often initiates or inhibits creative change. From the perceptions of time, users of time, temporal constructions of time (i.e.the academic day/year) to historical reflections and implications of working in academia in modern times.  We are also keen to encourage creativity in the formats that contributions might take. Abstracts outlining academic paper presentations are always welcome but if contributors wish to run workshops or communicate their ideas using other media, we would certainly welcome the proposal.

However, that is not our only good news! Something that is particularly exciting is that, following the success of the last two conferences, our proposal for a Faculty Research Group (FRG) in Education and Pedagogy has also been approved. We are thrilled at this development as this has the potential to not only build on the legacy of the previous conferences but has the potential to provide the pipeline of papers and workshops for the forthcoming one. The primary vehicle for this pipeline will be a set of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that provide networking opportunities and support for academics and professional staff with shared interests and who are interested in the co-creation of research.  Feedback from last year’s conference suggested that there was interest in the following areas:

  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Digital Technologies and Blended Learning
  • Learning Theory
  • Employability Skills and Graduate Attributes
  • Designing Learning
  • Space and Time
  • Student Engagement and Transition

Calls for interest and an announcement about a launch event will be sent out soon so watch this space. In the meantime, if you are interested in being a member of the FRG in Education and Pedagogy and/or would be like to be a member of a SIG contact me at  and I will add you to the mailing list.


‘Evolution or Revolution? Teaching in Uncertain Times’: Second Annual Pedagogy and Education Conference

On Tuesday 26th June, we attended the second annual Faculty of Social Sciences and Law Education and Pedagogy conference in the School of Education. The conference’s title was ‘Evolution or Revolution? Teaching in Uncertain Times’ and asked us to question the changing landscape of higher education in the UK and abroad.

Paddy Ireland, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, opened the day with a reflective lecture on the changes he has seen since he started teaching in the 1970s. He mused on the increase in student numbers and their expectations, as well as the expectations of academic staff. He believes that we have moved from elite to mass education, with the student as the consumer and universities increasingly being seen as businesses, rather than what they ultimately are, which is educational institutions. Paddy welcomed the theme of the conference and asked us to be brave – what we teach will not always be what the students want; that we have to show commitment to our subject, as well as a commitment to teaching. We must prepare to be innovative and give though to education. He believes we must balance measures such as the REF, TEF and NSS with the importance of spending time thinking about what we are doing and maintaining a passion for our subjects.

There were a number of sessions to choose from throughout the day covering topics ranging from a the BME Attainment Gap to Clinical Legal Studies. All the sessions we attended were outstanding but, to save you a ridiculously lengthy post, have summarised just two of the sessions below.

Our mid-morning session was a 40-minute lecture delivered by Paul Howard-Jones, which looked at the connection between brain development throughout history and the way we learn. This was a highly stimulating lecture and provided us with an accessible insight into the way we engage, build on and consolidate new information. He highlighted studies he had undertaken, in which learners who were given ‘rewards’ for correct answers showed improved memory and attention, whilst learners suffering from anxiety were less likely to learn as their working memory was taken up, reducing the ability to process information. Questions from the audience asked what, if any, impact technology had on the brain (it does – it is making us be able to process more yet remember less) and whether there truly is a difference between female and male brains (there is – but culture has a far bigger impact on behaviour differences). The lecture left the audience enthused to learn more, at which point Paul handed out flyers for the book the lecture was based on – ‘Evolution of the Learning Brain (Or How You Got To Be So Smart)’.

The afternoon’s keynote was a lecture from BILT’s Director, Alvin Birdi, who (somewhat accidently) tied in his lecture with Paddy Ireland’s opening musings, highlighting the difficult balance between freedom and state intervention. He delivered a ‘critique’ of Bristol Futures, in which he wove literature, educational philosophy and history into a neat, 50-minute lecture on the intellectual underpinning of the ‘Bristol Futures’ vision.

He split his animated and exciting lecture into five key areas: context (in which he introduced the concept of intellectual freedom vs. state intervention/ government funding), history (conflicts between conservative and utilitarian purposes of university), protheses (universities as a way to supplement society’s needs and how  universities reflects society), eyes (highlighting how we need ‘blink’ to ensure that we are seeing and hearing properly; that we are effectively reflecting on our practice), and ways of educating (students looking at and working across different disciplines; solving real-world problems while gaining knowledge from scholars), concluding that Bristol Futures was marrying an imbalance we have seen in universities for the past three hundred years – a balance between intellectual freedom and intervention from the state, by providing students with the opportunity to explore difference areas, which, in turn, creates an awareness of civic and global responsibility and resilience to challenges.

The day highlighted the need to explore and innovate in teaching practice, placing knowledge and students at the heart of all we do. Alvin’s lecture ended with a quote from Derrida, and is fitting to consider for the conference theme as a whole:

Beware of ends; but what would a university be without ends?

(Derrida, 1983: 19.)