Teaching & Learning


Gaining an insight into industry in the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Dr Virginia Calder shares why the institute’s first masterclass series for postgraduate students was identified by a recent Internal Quality Review (IQR) as best practice.

UCL Imstitute of Ophthalmology

12 August 2016

As Senior Lecturer and Graduate Tutor (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) Dr Calder facilitates an optional series of nine one hour masterclasses ran for the first time this academic year (2015-16) for all Master’s students at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Around 40 students took part in the classes, which were designed to bring students in touch with:

  • academic professionals from across the institute
  • academics from other UCL departments
  • experts from industry
  • experts from local institutions such as Moorfields eye hospital.

To give as many students as possible the opportunity to attend, the seminars were held outside of students’ study time over the course of a term.

An opportunity for students to meet the researcher and experts

The lecture-style classes began with a presentation detailing the expert’s own research and personal experience of working within the field which was then followed up with a more informal roundtable discussion about these topics.

Students were able to explore the presenter’s research in more detail as well talk about general professional development topics specific to the industry, including networking and career development. Many students valued the opportunity do this within a semi-structured academic setting.

To enable students to make the most of the time, they were encouraged to review the expert’s research in advance of the masterclass and to prepare questions for the roundtable discussion, giving each student the chance to ask specific questions of their own choosing.

Getting an insight into professional life

Many students found it highly valuable to gain an insight in to the professional context of their Master’s degree during the course of their studies.

They were also able to share these insights with their peers and institute staff, thereby building an approach to professional reflection and dialogue right from the start of their careers.

Feedback has shown that students feel they are benefitting from the opportunity to attend and hear from industry experts in non-assessed informal seminars.

The masterclasses are a new approach within this discipline which, typically in Higher Education, focuses on formal approaches to professional development. The masterclasses have been created to bring out elements of the Connected Curriculum, UCL’s approach to research-based education, including creating an inclusive research and learning community and engaging students as partners in their education.

Dr Calder said, “As the industry changes, developing professional awareness and honing related skills have become more valuable to employers. Opportunities such as the masterclass series takes students beyond the research and gives them an insight in to professional development through experts’ personal experiences.”

From the academic year 2016-27, the masterclasses will also be offered to all postgraduate students across Faculty, including UCL Ear Institute and UCL Institute of Neurology.