Teaching & Learning


BAME Awarding Gap Funded Project: UCL BEAMS

Research and Race: Deconstructing the Matrix

Anna Parkin, UCL BEAMS

Project dates: April 2022 – March 2025


This project consists of the design and delivery of a faculty-wide 10-week optional module considering the intersection of race and research. The module will be delivered to three successive cohorts of students across three years.

The module offers an exploration of what knowledge is, how knowledge informs the way we understand the world around us and how the research method provides the tools to critique existing theories and create new knowledge. Race is the primary lens used to examine these topics, providing an overarching critique of the theory that only certain groups of people ‘belong’ in higher education (and the counter perspective that HE is for anyone with an enquiring mind). Context and examples provided will be related to the built environment where relevant, but in general will be broad and accessible to all students regardless of their specific degree course. In addition, positive role models from underrepresented backgrounds will be included to illustrate discussion topics where appropriate.

The project has three interconnected aims: to provide students with a sense of belonging within the faculty regardless of their background or chosen degree course; to provide students with an academic space in which to examine the impact of race on knowledge and the curriculum; and to inspire students to consider a career in research.

The importance of sense of belonging in academic motivation and achievement has been identified in numerous studies (Osterman, 2000; Newman, 1991, Goodenow, 1993b). Similarly, feelings of underrepresentation, isolation and being 'other' are associated with diminished wellbeing and negative impacts on meaningful learning (Freeman et al., 2017). The delivery of the module will encourage students to get to know each other through in-class team activities and discussions. This will help students form strong peer relationships and develop a sense of belonging amongst the cohort (Thomas et al., 2017),


Osterman K, (2000), Students’ Need for Belonging in the School Community. Review of Educational Research, 70(3):323-367

Newman R, (1991), Goals and self-regulated learning: What motivates children to seek academic help? In M. L. Maehr and P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Goals and self-regulatory processes, 151-184. New York: Academic Press

Goodenow, C. 1993b. Classroom belonging among early adolescent students: Relationships to motivation and achievement. Journal of Early Adolescence, 13, 21-43

Freeman, T.M., Anderman, L.H. and Jensen, J.M. 2007. Sense of Belonging in College Freshmen at the Classroom and Campus Levels. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75:3, 203-220

Thomas, L., Hill, M., Mahony, J.O., Yorke, M. 2017. What Works Student Retention and Success Programme. Supporting student success: strategies for institutional change: final report