"Learning is doing, not merely practice in preparation for something else that is real."

Prof. Hasok Chang

Students using microscopes in a lab

Research-led learning

UCL is increasing opportunities for undergraduate students to take an active part in research-led learning. There are a number of ways in which undergraduate students can be exposed to research including:

  • Learning about others' research (research-informed learning)
  • Learning to do research (research skills and methods)
  • Learning in a research mode such as enquiry-based learning

Departments at UCL have been using the 'directed community' approach, where students are encouraged to take ownership of their own individual research projects but are supported and guided by research-active staff (for examples, visit the 'Case studies' section). This benefits students as they learn from the real-life experiences of their teachers and are supported throughout their own research experiences as they gradually gain more independence.

Professor Hasok Chang, formerly of the Department of Science and Technology Studies, has written an in-depth paper on his experience of creating a 'directed community' mode of teaching at UCL entitled 'Turning an undergraduate class into a professional research community'.

Benefits to teaching staff

Encouraging students to conduct original research is beneficial to teaching staff as well as students. For example:

  • It improves the quality of students as they gain confidence and motivation
  • Students give higher scores to teaching quality in satisfaction surveys
  • Greater emphasis on building a research culture means better equipment and an increase in training and staff development in order to maintain high teaching standards
  • High-quality teaching of research-led projects is encouraged and recognised through grants and awards
  • UCL's commitment to research excellence attracts and retains the very best teachers and international academic staff, exposing teaching staff to a high-calibre network group

Examples of teaching-research integration in action at UCL

To read about what colleagues around the university have been doing, visit the Teaching and Learning Portal's 'Case studies' section.

The research/teaching relationship

In this video, Dr Nick Grindle, Schools-Facing Teaching Fellow for SLASH, discusses the relationship between research and teaching and the difference between research-led and research-based teaching.


To find out more about research-led learning, contact one of the CALT teaching fellows for your school:

  • BEAMS (School of the Built Environment, Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences): Dr Jason Davies (j.p.davies@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 1991; internal extension 41991) and Dr Jenny Marie (j.marie@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 8334; internal extension 48334)
  • SLMS (School of Life & Medical Sciences): Dr Rosalind Duhs (r.duhs@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 1673; internal extension 41673) and Dr Teresa McConlogue (t.mcconlogue@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 5941; internal extension 45941)
  • SLASH (SSEES, Laws, Arts and Humanities, Social and Historical Sciences): Dr Nick Grindle (n.grindle@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 8282; internal extension 48282) and Dr Paul Walker (paul.walker@ucl.ac.uk; 020 7679 1666; internal extension 41666)

Page last modified on 30 apr 14 14:00

Tell us about the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in your department: email teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk