Curriculum Enhancement Internships 2020/21: Inclusive Practice Projects

Funding was made available to support a number of Curriculum Enhancement Student Internship projects during 2020/2021.  The emphasis was on the development of diverse, inclusive and accessible curricular and pedagogies to enhance provision for all students, with specific emphasis on those from underrepresented groups.  Projects were undertaken by staff and students working together on a range of topics.  These included: developing accessible and inclusive learning resources from media archives;  exploring inclusive practice in relation to in-class participation; collating resources in support of decolonising the curriculum; and developing inclusive practice in relation to hidden disabilities and neurodiverse students.  In some cases, projects ran in collaboration between academic departments and professional service teams, such as Student Advice and Wellbeing, Library Services and Student Advancement.

For further detail on any of the projects please contact the Project Leader or Liz Clifford.

Inclusive Practice

The evaluation and implementation of an inclusive and diverse Student Wellbeing Journal university wide

Project Leads: Ange Garden, Nicky Hirst, Claire Hennessy and Avril Rowley, School of Education

Project Team: Rebecca Gee, Vanessa Caddick, Bernadette McGrath, Student Advice and Wellbeing, Dominic Hope-Smith, Sharon Burns, Jac Fitzpatrick and Alex O’Driscoll Grimster and Heather Reid (MyWellbeing School Australia)

A previous curriculum enhancement bid developed the Online Wellbeing Journal as a preventative strategy rather than as crisis support (Guild HE Wellbeing in HE, 2018) and aligned with the Mental Health First Aid (Youth) qualification offered as an extension of the curriculum within the School of Education.

The journal reflects the Active Blended Learning philosophy by including bespoke introductory and grounding meditations for each month to offer students motivation as they forge forward with their virtual engagement with their studies.

Invitations for reflection in the journal also offer private spaces for students to engage in a non-threatening way and the signposting to the NHS App ensures access to current support and research which helps to validate the currency of journaling for wellbeing:

  1. Connections with other people
  2. Physically activity
  3. Learning new skills
  4. Giving and sharing with others
  5. Paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

The anticipated outcomes for students from this latest project focused on a dedicated university wide launch of the School of Education Wellbeing Journal for September 2021. The journal required some rebranding for a university wide roll-out and the editing process included more visual representations of our student population, to reflect realities and people’s lived experiences.

The potential impacts for students were multifaceted and based on the many components within the School of Education Wellbeing strategy and included reviewing the design of the journal with consideration of the images in the journal taking on board any constructive feedback. The students worked with university marketing to consider the intertextuality between the visual images, text and messages imbued within the journal.

  • A reframing and normalisation related to journaling and engaging with the Student Wellbeing Journal and bespoke LJMU interactive meditations.
  • Student engagement and retention. We are aware of additional pressure from students in terms of their mental health and wellbeing and have put several wellbeing strategies in place as previously outlined; something that we will continue to address through the University’s Continual Monitoring and Evaluation process.
  • A commitment to knowledge exchange with a strategic overview in terms of recruitment, retention and future employability. The initiative of the Student Wellbeing Journal and our wider Wellbeing Toolkit for students that we have put in place this year have created a wide range of placement / project openings for our students as well as opportunities for research through combined collaboration, partnership and practice.

Social Media

@WellbeingmattersLJMU (Instagram and Twitter)

Hidden disabilities and online learning: How can we make blended teaching more inclusive?

Project Lead: Dr Stewart Chidlow, School of Computer Science and Mathematics

Project Team: Charlemagne Blyth, Keren Coney (Student Futures), Vicci Boyd (School of Sport and Exercise Sciences), Laura Knowles (JMSU), Joel Petrie (Student Advice and Wellbeing), Joel Roberts (Student Advice and Wellbeing)

Subject Area: The project was not subject-specific


The project team had noticed that since the majority of teaching had moved online in March 2020, many students with a declared hidden disability were really struggling with their studies, whilst other people with hidden disabilities were thriving in an online environment. In addition, recent studies have shown that there has been a significant decline in many students’ health and mental wellbeing during the current pandemic. This is highly likely to mean that many students at LJMU will have an undeclared hidden disability and may lack the support that they need to complete their studies.

Project Aims

The aims of the project were:

  1. To investigate students with hidden disabilities experience of online learning to enhance the quality of online learning offered by LJMU.
  2.  To identify how academics can provide a more inclusive online learning environment by adopting new ideas to improve the quality of online resources and teaching sessions.


A survey was completed by 90+ students within LJMU who had either a declared or undeclared hidden disability. The responses identified good teaching practice that had enabled student learning, and poor practice that had created barriers to learning. As a result, the project team have created a list of recommendations that will be disseminated to teaching staff across LJMU over the coming months.  It is hoped that this will lead to the creation of more diverse online learning resources and environments that will help students with disabilities find the process of blended learning easier in the future.  Among the recommendations were the following:

  • Staff to include their typical working hours in email signatures so that students know roughly when to expect a reply
  • Support Services and Disability Co-ordinators (DISCOs) to be introduced during induction events
  • More of an introduction to lecturers so that students can feel a better connection to teaching staff

The project team comprised staff and students from the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Student Futures, the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Student Advice and Wellbeing and JMSU.  The team is keen to continue work in this area with a potential future focus on enhancing provision for students with autism.

Designing Assessment for Neurodiverse Students in Civil Engineering and the Built Environment to meet Professional Body competency requirements.

Project Lead: Sian Dunne, School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment

Project Team: Claire Trantom (Student Advice and Wellbeing), Denise Lee, Sandra Ferreira Neves, Grace Annobil

Subject Area: Civil Engineering and Built Environment

This project targets Neurodiverse students who typically make up between 5 and 6 percent of the student population. The term neurodiversity usually refers to a range of conditions often associated with the term Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD).  Neurodiversity represents cognitive diversity – the way we think, act, and communicate.  Our neurodiverse systems are biased towards specific skills and challenges. 

Many of the assessment methods adopted on Civil Engineering and Built Environment programmes seek to evidence skills around communication and team working and therefore students are asked to participate in group work and presentations to meet learning outcomes. This and other assessment challenges may limit those with SpLDs in achieving these learning outcomes as the assessment methods do not allow for or consider neurodiversity.

People with a SpLD may experience a difference or difficulty with particular aspects of learning. More specifically, cognitive functioning describing multiple mental abilities, including learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making and attention. Neurodiverse people need to be able to engage in a neurotypical world, although most of them mask and do not disclose their condition, adding in other mental health issues such as anxiety to their disability. Under the UK’s Equality Act (2010) neurodiversity is a protected characteristic, if it has a substantial long-term impairment affecting day to day activities.

In addition, the ambition of most students on accredited degree programmes is to gain some form of professional body recognition post-graduation. Many of the attributes to become Incorporated or Chartered requires demonstration of good communication skills, leadership skills, management skills and confidence, neurodiverse people regardless of their technical ability and intellect may not fulfill these requirements.

This project aimed to gain a deeper understanding of assessment methods most preferred by neurodiverse students and how students with neurodiverse conditions may navigate professional body requirements. The project also looked at levels of disclosure and if more needs to be done in this area.

The main project output consists of a 30 minute recorded presentation which outlines neurodiversity, a review of the types of assessment used within CBE and presents the results of a survey to students on assessment methods linked to neurodiversity. The presentation highlights the main outcomes of the survey and includes some recommendations for academic staff when considering assessment methods. Lastly, the presentation includes future considerations for further work within this area.  The presentation has been shared with staff within the School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment.

The presentation which includes detail of findings and recommendations can be accessed here.

Equality diversity and inclusion ally project for the Pre-Registration Nursing programme

Project Lead: Joanna Lavery, School of Nursing and Allied Health

Project Team: Diana Anane Tabiri, Sheree Desson, Leanne Johnson, Alice Cabrillana Cruz, Jahena Begum, Nicola Morrell-Scott, Sharon Riverol, Sarah Yearsley, Christine Roberts, Emma Johnston-Smith

Subject Area: Nursing

The rationale for this work was to understand the experiences of students who were on the pre-registration Nursing BSc (Hons) programme who were in a minority group and to understand their experiences as a student.

The aim was to build a more diverse culture within the pre-registration nursing programme which would translate to a better experience for students within these minority groups. Another rationale for this work was to ensure that student voices were heard from these groups and to recognise that students regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or recognised disabilities were all entitled to a university experience that was valuable for their learning and achievements in future professional practice. Widening participation within higher education is of particular significance to close the gap and encourage opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, (Fernando and Kenny, 2021)

Project activity included exploring students’ experiences through focus groups to underpin development of an EDI pack that will support students in navigating to services of relevance to them within LJMU.  Groundwork was also undertaken in relation to creating and sustaining an EDI ally role within nursing cohorts.  The proposed EDI ally role will require further discussion with the programme leads because plans to incorporate such a role must fit within the remit of the school and have a support structure in place for the allies recruited. The role must be clearly defined to enhance the student experience without blurring the boundaries of support already available for students.

Project outcomes are leading to a greater understanding within the team of the lived experiences of students from a range of backgrounds and this is informing both academic as well as professional practice.  Consideration is also being given to how the experience and understanding gained from this project might inform the support given to students on clinical practice placements.

Teaching a broader journalism: developing the resources to embed inclusivity and diversity in the Journalism curriculum

Project Leads: Frances Yeoman and Polly Sharpe, Liverpool Screen School

Project Team: Kitty Cooper, Paddy Edrich, Hannah Rees

Subject Area: Journalism/Sports Journalism

This project had three key strands:

  1. to build a bank of practical teaching resources that draw on diverse examples of best journalistic practice
  2. to develop a bank of literature to help diversify the more academic and theoretical dimensions of our degree programmes
  3. to produce a practical, hands-on ‘Diversity and Inclusivity Reporting Guide’ for our students

In the course of teaching practical modules on our BA and MA journalism programmes, lecturers frequently present students with broadcast clips, text articles and other materials from industry. The project team became increasingly conscious that the professional experience of the department’s teaching staff means that these teaching materials are predominantly drawn from mainstream outlets, which research shows remain dominated by London-based, white middle-class journalists and accordant news values.

The three interns worked with the research team to identify several areas of diversity, such as disability, ethnicity, sexuality, mental health and class. Focussing on these areas, they then worked to develop a large ‘database’ of material which broadly falls into these (and other) categories. Some of this is journalism (text, online and broadcast) ABOUT these issues; some is produced BY journalists who are from more diverse background themselves. The idea is that tutors can draw on this bank of resources to help support their teaching, working to diversify and ultimately de-colonise our curriculum. The interns went through the same process with course reading lists, identifying more diverse journal articles and textbooks.  In addition, a list of recommended guest speakers was proposed.  This came as a result of feedback from our current students that our speakers tended to perpetuate an impression that the industry is a ‘closed shop’ and not open to people with demographic backgrounds that mirror their own in terms of class, race, gender, geography, disability and other characteristics.

Finally was the development of a practical, hands-on reporting guide. We believe this piece of work will offer our students an invaluable insight into how they can make their journalism both diverse and inclusive; areas which are of great significance in the industry today.

MA Writing: Writing, Inclusion and Diversity

Project Lead: Professor Catherine Cole, Liverpool Screen School

Project Team: Jenny Dalton, Chandana Das, James Davidson, Louise Rimmer, Michael Whiting

Subject Area: Creative Writing

In recent years, Creative Writing staff who teach on the MA Writing have attempted to include a wide and diverse range of materials in the curriculum.  With recent developments, such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, bringing sharper focus to matters of privilege, representation and inclusion, this student-led project offered a wider range of perspectives on how well the current curriculum and recommended writers reflect the multiculturalism and diversity of the writing community.

Utilising their experiences of the course, as well as feedback from other course members, the student team undertook a review of the curriculum, pre-course entry information, as well as workshop activities and reading lists and made a number of recommendations for consideration by the programme team.  Recommendations related to:

  • Implementation of more comprehensive pre-course entry communication with students to identify course-related prior experience and interests
  • Incorporating into the programme a greater diversity of set texts with an emphasis on contemporary and genre texts and reducing the number of Euro-centric texts
  • Inclusion of workshop activities that draw on myths from around the world, not only Anglo-European
  • Specific suggestions for guest speakers representing a greater diversity of backgrounds
  • Clearer guidance on assignment expectations and greater support for students in developing critical writing skills
  • Guidance on workshop activities including how to manage sensitive material and developing students’ skills in offering and receiving peer feedback
  • Extending the vocational aspects of the course with opportunities for engagement with local groups and schools; greater industry input from publishers and agents; as well as a stronger focus on writing for digital media

Recommendations are informing current programme content and delivery, and will also support programme re-validation.

Understandings and Perceptions of Inclusive Practices for In-Class Participation in Physical and Online Learning Spaces

Project Lead: Dr Jude Towers, School of Justice Studies

Project Team: Imane Abi Safi, Dr Heather Panter, Dr Lizz Peatfield, Dominique Walker

Subject Area: Policing/Police Studies

This project was borne out of observations made over the past few years in formal teaching environments and from in/formal feedback from students and tutors about the practices around student participation in formal teaching environments.

Student participation in formal learning environments, such as lectures and seminars, has a constantly evolving history, in research and in practice. As we move to a more learner-centric model across HE and actively seek to improve diversity among our student body (and staff), we can embrace the opportunity to continue evolving the concept and practice of inclusion. However, we need to recognise the unwritten rule that students who will speak up in class, ask questions, “participate” risks excluding students who are unable to engage in this manner for a variety of reasons.

As we increasingly value critical thinking and communication, in-class participation is becoming a more important part of the learning experience. This project focused on trying to better understand how students and tutors understand and engage with the practice of in-class participation.

The project findings include:

  1. A better understanding of how students understand and engage with the function and practice of their participation in formal learning spaces;
  2. The identification of student understandings of in-class participation and how this practice enhances learning;
  3. A better understanding of how tutors understand and engage with the function and practice of student participation in formal learning spaces.

The project has highlighted a number of issues, that the team is eager to unpick further and to start to look at practical ‘solutions’ to. For example, the student focus groups emphasizing of the social connections made through in-class participation was surprising, so we are now thinking about how to foster this and enable it to be supported. The necessity of scaffolding participation has also been brought to the fore and we need to think about how to do this for individual cohorts, collectives and individual students.

Further student-led research is planned in this area as part of an Advanced Research Skills module.  This will be run over several years and enable data to be collected from multiple cohorts.

Simulated e-learning

Project Lead: Janet Williams, School of Nursing and Allied Health

Project Team: Diana Tabiri Anane, Sam Woolford and Mark Murphy

Subject Area: Nursing

Simulation-based education is now an essential part of health care curriculum, as this teaching method can allow learners to experience a wide variety of simulated scenarios, whilst practicing in a safe environment, reflecting and correcting any errors without adverse consequences to real patients.

An e-Learning simulation uses simulated scenarios to prepare learners for real-life situations. Whilst allowing increased accessibility and flexibility for where and when our students wish to learn. In addition, having the opportunity to develop simulations that reflect our rich and diverse population.

Therefore, within the Faculty of Health we want to develop more simulation scenarios that reflect the society we live in. Such scenarios will enhance and complement the curricular further by increasing students’ awareness of other peoples cultures, values and beliefs and the implications for healthcare provision, whilst also offering more flexibility for when students wish to learn and increasing learning ownership.

Through this project student interns supported the development of a number of scenarios which will be filmed and utilised within the Pre-Registration Nursing programmes.  Scenario content is being designed to give greater representation to underrepresented groups, both staff and patients, within healthcare provision.

Tackling digital exclusion and encouraging inclusivity

Project Leads: Ester Ragonese, School of Justice Studies, Dr Anne-Marie Bartlett, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Paul Owen, Liverpool School of Art and Design

Project Team: Neil Brooklyn, Amina Mwande, Britney Harrison, Grace Woodhead, Lydia Hardman, Georgia Marriot-Smith, Steven Mearns, Andrea Stables, Katerina Diakou, Amber Blair-Keys

Subject Area: Disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies

There were two distinct but connected aspects to the project and all interns, whilst working as a collective to develop insight and resources, also worked predominately on one of the two aspects of the project. The first element was led by Anne-Marie Bartlett and involved the interns developing a questionnaire that was e mailed to both staff and students across the faculty. The student questionnaire focused on: experiences of learning online; elements that students would like to be retained or discarded moving forward; and the support they felt they needed.  For staff it focused on: their understanding of digital exclusion, their understanding of learning needs online and the training and support they feel they need. In addition, the interns conducted a literature review and completed the process of gaining ethical approval. The second element was led by Paul Owen and involved the interns developing three mood boards based on their research that captured how the outside world saw LJMU, the sourcing of authentic imagery to reflect the faculty and LJMU more broadly and how the students wanted this to be/visualized. Throughout the project there were weekly virtual meetings where the interns came together, presented their work/updates, engaged in discussion and set plan for the week to come. These were facilitated by Ester Ragonese.

Outputs from the project include:

  • Moodboards x 3 that detail the above three areas and provide insight from a student’s perspective on how LJMU and the faculty of APSS would like to be seen or should be seen to encourage inclusivity
  • An inclusive design powerpoint that provides guidelines and hints and tips for staff on how to structure and organise presentations (audio and visual)
  • Inclusive design tips PDF
  • Findings from the two questionnaires

The above are all available on the APSS Shared Teaching and Learning Practice Canvas Site. They have also been circulated to FMT for discussion and dissemination through schools. In addition it is the intention to hold a faculty event that allows staff to discuss all of the projects in more detail.

What’s Your Story?

Project Lead: Sarah Maclennan, Liverpool Screen School

Project Team: Paula Baines, Katie Goody, Molly Riches, Emily Kilgannon, Katie Collins, Adam Rohan, Catherine Hampton, Hannah Davis

Subject Area: Student interns were from Creative Writing but stories were gathered from staff and students across the institution

Drawing inspiration from the Humans of New York project, this project collected and curated stories from current and former students, academic and professional support staff detailing their educational journeys.  Stories were created through words and pictures and have been collated for display with the hope of providing greater visibility to the diversity within the staff and  student body.  An intention is that images along with narrative will be displayed within buildings to aid students’ sense of belonging and identity.

Students worked individually with a drop in with staff organized every 10 days.  Students learned from each others’ approaches to creating a connection with the interviewee and drawing out stories and anecdotes. The project team was not as diverse as we would have liked but they made a big effort to contact and interview a very diverse range of staff and students across the university.

The project has emphasized that our staff and students have rich, varied and diverse backgrounds that are rarely featured in promotional material. This diversity is something to be celebrated and we don’t do enough of it. The holistic view of a person moves us beyond the (sometimes tokenistic) approach of picking out a particular characteristic - i.e. gender, age, religion or skin colour. The stories elicited were truly inspirational. For example:

  • The VC who ‘wasn’t doing well at school, just wasn’t interested’ until his love of sport was identified as the way to connect him to learning.
  • An academic in Social Science who revealed ‘My father worked harder than anyone else and yet he was paid less than someone with a cushy office job. I advocate for social issues that are dear to my heart’.
  • The Drama student who said ‘I knew from day one I wanted to be a star. In Liverpool, the arts are centre stage - exactly where I want to be. It’s a place I can express myself to the fullest extent.’
  • The Forensic Psychology Academic who said ‘I work with people on licence. Sometimes hope is all these people have,’

It is important to continue this project and create other strands with the purpose that students see reflections of themselves (or older versions of themselves via the staff stories) in images or experiences so they/we feel less isolated or alone, and are inspired, challenged, and acknowledged. Such images can help create a campus identity of diverse individuals bound with a shared desire to learn and our common humanity.

Developing and embedding a range of outdoor interventions with under-represented groups to enhance wellbeing and engagement with the natural environment.

Project Leads: Dr Avril Rowley, School of Education; Dr Caroline Brett, School of Psychology

Project Team: Bernadette McGrath (Student Advice and Wellbeing), Sara Singh, Ben Cochrane, Leonardo Venturini

Subject Area: cross-institutional

The government agenda for exposure to natural environments to offer a balance to the increasingly urbanised and mechanised society has become a national imperative.  This has been amplified by statistics about young people’s diminished exposure to natural space.  LJMU students predominantly come from the new iGeneration (born 1995+) who have moved away from the use of natural environments throughout their childhoods to become more reliant on technology and social media. As the exposure to nature has been shown to enhance individuals’ mental and physical wellbeing, academic achievement and occupational attainment, the current generation of students attending university are at a distinct disadvantage to those from previous generations.

Amidst this growing awareness of the benefits of exposure to natural spaces there is evidence that BAME, LGBTQ+ and APP groups are alienated from these landscapes and spend less time outdoors than their counterparts.

Better access for all students, but especially BAME, LGBTQ+ and APP students, to outdoor natural spaces has been prioritised by LJMU’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, and is reflected in the LJMU Access and Participation Plan (2020-21 to 2020-25) and the LJMU strategic vision and values. 

The project has the potential to increase the uptake of opportunities to participate in natural space interventions to support mental and physical wellbeing.  These activities will include:

  • Forest School/Bushcraft activities
  • Growing Projects – raised vegetable beds, ‘adopt a pot’ scheme, LJMU in Bloom.
  • Forest Bathing/mindfulness workshops
  • Wellbeing journaling workshops outdoors.

The main outcomes from the project thus far have been:

  • Ethical approval granted to go ahead with the study.
  • An online survey of attitudes towards outdoor activities for wellbeing created for circulation with students across the university.
  • Interview protocols set up for online interviews with BAME/LGBTQ+/APP students across the university.
  • Contacts made with relevant JMSU societies and representatives to reach BAME/LGBTQ+/APP groups of students.
  • Development of a range of promotional materials for natural space/natural environment interventions that are relevant to and representative of BAME, LGBTQ+ and APP students.
  • A social media presence for SAW natural space/natural environment interventions which is relevant to BAME, LGBTQ+ and APP students.

The research tools devised will be used with this year’s cohorts of students to ascertain the barriers faced by BAME/LGBTQ+/APP students when participating in outdoor interventions to improve their wellbeing.  The findings will be used to inform the Student Advice and Wellbeing (SAW) approaches to future interventions to ensure that these groups feel included and comfortable to make full use of the SAW wellbeing offers.  Improved wellbeing will impact positively on the levels of engagement, retention and achievement of BAME/LGBTQ+/APP students.

Student interns were able to:

  • Give an insider view on the issues/barriers faced by BAME/LGBTQ+/APP student when participating in outdoor activities for wellbeing.
  • Gain access to students for interview from their own cohort/teaching groups.
  • Use their existing expertise in developing questionnaires and interview protocols to enhance the project tool kit.
  • Develop recruitment materials that were relevant and attractive to the target groups.
  • Offer a new perspective to the project not already considered by staff.

Findings from the research will also feed into the initiatives taken up by the LJMU Climate Emergency Estates subgroup about how the campus grounds and facilities can be optimised to engage all students in outdoor interventions and facilities to improve their physical and mental health.

Decolonising the Curriculum

Curriculum Enhancement Internship Funding also supported a number of projects that were directed towards decolonising the curriculum as part of developing more inclusive and diverse practice. These projects included curriculum audits undertaken across a number of programme areas. Summaries of all these projects are included here. For further detail on any of these projects please contact the Project Leader (details in the summaries) or Liz Clifford.

Faq Items

EDIpedia Part 2: Developing an accessible and expanded repository of STEM scholars from under-represented groups

Project Leads: Dr Phil Denton, Faculty of Science and Dr Anna Law, Faculty of Health

Project Team: Shayan Gavam, Gabby Perminaite, Sara Singh, Deshan Premasiri, Ellie Glover

Subject Area: STEM disciplines

This project builds on intern work undertaken in 2019/20 to create EDIpedia; an online repository of profiles of scholars from underrepresented groups who have contributed to the development of STEM-discipline knowledge. Teaching staff are encouraged to refer to EDIpedia so that these pioneers are explicitly cited when allied subject content is taught in class, raising students’ awareness of the diversity of contributors within STEM and presenting a wider range of role models that both staff and students may identify with.

During 2020/21, EDIpedia was hosted on a temporary platform that does not fulfil accessibility requirements and is not linked from the main LJMU website. Moreover, although nearly 180 profiles were originally developed, it was recognized at the time that some STEM scholars worthy of inclusion had been overlooked, including those from psychology. To address these concerns, the EDIpedia part 2 project had two principal aims:

  • To transfer the existing site to a new and accessible platform developed within SiteCore and in cooperation with IT Services,
  • To create profiles for additional STEM scholars and expand the range of disciplines to include branches of psychology beyond sports-related fields.

Students researched and developed the content for the website which has now been launched and includes 300 profiles covering all the STEM disciplines delivered at LJMU. Alongside the website, it is hoped that the profiles might be utilised in other ways as part of making the University’s public spaces more welcoming to all.

Leading from their experiences of undertaking the project, one of the students had a blog published.

Decolonising the Curriculum in English Literature

Project Leads: Dr Kate Walchester and Dr Filippo Menozzi, School of Humanities and Social Science

Project Team: Olivia Barkley-Quinn, Anna John, Laura Keegan

Subject Area: English

This project formed part of the process of expanding the diversity of our undergraduate cohort in English Literature and developing our curriculum. Using the basis of the existing Level 5 ‘Postcolonial Writing’ Module, interns worked with staff to develop and enhance materials from the module pertaining to an International Field-Trip which will form a part of the updated module in the re-validated programme, as well as creating materials for core modules at Level 4.  Future cohorts of students will engage with these materials through Canvas.

Additional materials were developed into sessions showcasing the ‘Decolonized English Literature’ curriculum we offer at LJMU for dissemination in Outreach and recruitment meetings including the 2021 Year 12 Summer School.

Working together with Level 5 and 6 students outside the curriculum has been a wonderful and very productive experience. The online context worked well and enabled us flexibility in organising meetings and sharing progress.

Creating a Decolonising the Curriculum microsite

Project Leads: Dr Kehinde Ross, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and Dr Nicola Koyama, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Project Team: Niamh Woodhouse

Subject Area: All

A microsite was created in order to increase awareness of the importance of decolonising the curriculum, initiatives across the university and to share good practice. As part of developing the microsite, we initially conducted a scoping project to gather information from all academic staff on examples of where decolonising the curriculum was embedded in teaching and research. Student feedback was sought to ensure that content was engaging and accessible.

The website includes suggestion for steps towards decolonising the curriculum, School and Faculty contacts, brief information on activities or plans within each School and infographics put together by the intern. This is supplemented by links to resources from other institutions.

The project will impact students by raising awareness about the importance of decolonising the curriculum and what is included within their own Schools and throughout the university as a whole. It also creates a place for staff to showcase what they have designed within their modules and assessments, to learn about approaches in different Schools and Faculties and provides a starting point of information and contacts for those beginning to address this.

The microsite will be updated as staff/the university develop new content, modules, assessment methods and curricula.

Contributions from the scoping project will be uploaded to a Canvas module on Decolonising the curriculum to further disseminate detailed examples of material internally to other staff.

Ethical approval was obtained for a text based analysis of contributions from the scoping project to investigate difference and similarities between approaches in different Schools and Faculties.

Embedding decolonising the curriculum material in tutorials and teaching material in core methods modules

Project Lead: Dr Nicola Koyama, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Project Team: Marine Duthil-McCarthy, Dr Robbie Rae, Dr Will Swaney and Dr Gareth Weedall

Subject Area: Animal Behaviour, Biology, Wildlife Conservation and Zoology

We created tutorial materials that increase student understanding of minority perspectives, bias and barriers in science and signpost potential support. We coordinated with core methods modules at L4, L5 and L6 on four BSc programmes (Animal Behaviour, Biology, Wildlife Conservation and Zoology) for teaching delivery in 21/22. Utilising tutorials will facilitate staff engagement as Personal Tutors deliver this material.

For the level 4 module 'Fundamentals of Scientific Research' the intern developed teaching materials and activities (to be delivered by the Module Leader) that introduce students to implicit biases and geographical publication biases in science. These are linked to topics covered in the module (critical thinking and the scientific literature).  The materials should give students an awareness and appreciation of these things at an important & early stage in their degree.

For level 5 students, the intern researched structural biases in the Biosciences employment market. From this, tutorial materials exploring data and statistics on pay gaps associated with gender, ethnicity and other protected characteristics were developed.

For L6 the intern collated and reviewed information on role models in science and designed a new EDI tutorial getting the students to think about ‘what is a scientist’. Students will be given a large selection of podcasts, TED talks, interviews etc from scientists from a large range of different backgrounds and discuss their thoughts on these interviews in the tutorial.

Next Steps

The next step is to integrate the materials into the L4 'Fundamentals of Scientific Research' module as activities linked to topics covered in lectures (critical thinking and implicit biases; scientific publication and reporting and publication biases).

The L5 tutorial materials developed in this project will be edited to be used in a Semester 1 tutorial in 2021/22 and beyond.

The new L6 EDI focused tutorial will be introduced this academic year (21/22) with the aim to broaden students’ minds about ‘what is a scientist’. In the future we could revisit this and evolve the tutorial so it becomes part of an assessment.

Decolonising the Academic Achievement Curriculum

Project Leads: Dr Casey Beaumont and Dr Rhian Wyn-Williams, Academic Achievement Team, Library Services

Project Team: Courtney Jones and Ellie Newton

Subject Area: Academic skills/learning development

For two years, the Academic Achievement team has been developing and centrally delivering (via Skills@LJMU) a learning development curriculum designed around inclusive and decolonised theory and practice. 

The aim of the project was to capture the student voice on the nature and effectiveness of the decolonised teaching and learning resources that form part of this curriculum. Student interns were recruited to develop and run student focus groups that evaluated a representative selection of Academic Achievement teaching and learning resources. The intended outcome was to use this student evaluation to inform and improve future decolonised curriculum and resource design within the Academic Achievement provision.

The project will impact on the student experience by informing lesson planning and resource design as these apply to both centrally-delivered and in-programme classes delivered by the Academic Achievement team. This is enabled by team engagement with both the positives highlighted by student review of their teaching and learning resources as well as the areas identified for development. Students are also now accessing student-evaluated decolonised learning resources via the Academic Achievement Canvas courses.

The student interns prepared a report which collated their findings from their initial research exercise and the focus groups they conducted. This has been used to inform future design of the team’s teaching and learning resources and possible future initiatives that aim to address issues raised by the report (e.g. provision of language support to Welsh students). One significant consequence of the students’ involvement in this project was the raising of awareness amongst the team; this helps to inform an increased interest in designing resources for diverse groups of learners. In combination with efforts to ensure resources are accessible, this serves to create a more inclusive learning development service and approach to teaching academic skills.

Decolonising the Curriculum Audits

Decolonising the Curriculum audits supported by Curriculum Enhancement Internships took place in four programme areas. The curriculum audits drew on a methodology developed and piloted by Ross Dawson formerly from the School of Humanities and Social Science, during a successful curriculum audit of the undergraduate English degree.

For further detail of how each was undertaken, the resources utilised to support the audit, and how outcomes are informing changes to the curriculum please contact the Project Leaders.

Faq Items

Project Leads: Dr Nicola Koyama and Dr Jon Bielby, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Project Leads: Dr Nicola Koyama and Dr Jon Bielby, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Project Team: Chelsie Hirons-Major

Subject Area: Biosciences degrees within Biological and Environmental Sciences

Our audit supplemented a prior staff audit that had used UCL’s inclusive curriculum health check as a basis for asking module leaders to identify current practice and what they will introduce to cover the checks in 21/22.

We audited the level of knowledge and interest in the student body on a number of aspects of decolonising the curriculum using an online questionnaire. Of around 900 students, we had responses from 117 students.  The role of the intern was crucial in providing a student perspective and in creating, designing and distributing the survey, analysing the results and creating follow-up resources (infographic based on topics identified in the results).

The main two outcomes of the project have been:

1) Student survey results: a baseline level of the knowledge, misconceptions and interest in decolonising the curriculum in biosciences students. This is highly valuable as it will allow us to:
a) track changes in these aspects (knowledge and interest) over time and;
b) tailor the content and delivery of EDI issues accordingly.

2) A set of infographics on different topics within Decolonising the Curriculum. These can be used for any programme within the biosciences, and with a minor number of alterations, even more broadly than that. Topics were (i) what is decolonising the curriculum (ii) privilege (iii) the attainment gap (iv) free speech vs harassment. They will be edited (for clarity) and made available during Induction.

Both of the above outcomes have contributed greatly to our (and the School of BES more generally) understanding of how we can develop more awareness of diversity issues and allow greater inclusivity and accessibility. The first step in delivering any kind of knowledge (in this case on decolonising the curriculum) is to assess the current state of knowledge and identify gaps that can be filled with the right level of information. This is of particular importance on a subject that can be as sensitive and important as EDI. Our surveys of the student body and resulting infographics are an essential first step in developing a more diverse and inclusive curriculum and pedagogical practices.

Project Lead: Dr Denise Lee, School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment

Project Lead: Dr Denise Lee, School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment

Project Team: Omoleye Ojuri, Giuliana Kyerematen, Fortune Dube, Yamange Premasiri

Subject Area: Quantity Surveying, Civil Engineering

The Curriculum Audit project was split into 4 stages:-

  1. Comparison of work being carried out in relation to Decolonising the curriculum at LJMU to other UK institutions.

  2. A survey of staff and students within the school to determine how well they thought LJMU were doing in relation to decolonising the curriculum. Focus group with students to understand how they felt the University could better improve its curriculum. 

  3. An audit of the Canvas material on two of the largest programmes within the School (Quantity Surveying and Civil Engineering) to identify any aspects of good practice relevant to Decolonising the curriculum.

  4. Development of Module leaders check list created to be used for staff preparing modules.

From the background review it was clear that only a few universities in the UK have directly looked into decolonizing STEM curriculums and making them more inclusive. 

From the questionnaire and the focus group sessions, we were able to understand the student views about the curriculum. Based on the popular responses from the participating students, most would prefer to have more engaging activities within the course, randomizing students and making student groups more diverse, to have a diverse variety of local and global lecture examples, coursework settings and case studies.

The creation of the module checklist is helping staff think about different aspects of decolonisation.

Further recommendations include:

  • A full review of the library collection beyond just the reading list texts should ensure that books by diverse authors/ with non-Eurocentric content are available through the library.
  • Promotion of what LJMU is actively doing to decolonize the curriculums within the university itself, as well as to prospective students.
  • Setting up regular student led focus groups to discuss their thoughts and feelings about the changes experienced as a result of this project’s outcomes.
  • Use University Open days as an opportunity to illustrate the diversity of the Civil and Built Environment.
  • Invite a greater diversity of Guest Speakers from within relevant professions to contribute to programme delivery, as well as arranging events for BAME alumni. 

Project Leads: Dr Shaqil Chaudary and Dr Neil Henney, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Project Leads: Dr Shaqil Chaudary and Dr Neil Henney, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Project Team: Lauren Hewitt

Our audit activity took place over a short time frame and included:

  • A review of MPharm module material on Canvas considering representation of people from different backgrounds including: BAME, White, male and female
  • A survey of students eliciting their perceptions on how the programme has represented and supported people from different backgrounds, identities and experiences
  • A survey of staff eliciting their views on the extent to which race and cultural diversity is a feature of current curriculum design and delivery.

Findings from both a staff and student survey, as well as the review of learning materials on Canvas have enabled some existing good practice to be identified, for example, the use of case studies, for use in workshops with students, depicting patients from a variety of backgrounds and how disease/illnesses might present in different populations. Due to timing of the audit, the survey did not draw as many responses as had been hoped.  In addition, the following recommendations are being taken forward as relevant into teaching practice for this year or as part of the MPharm revalidation and reaccreditation process:

  • Continue to build good practice in respect of representing diversity of patients in our teaching and resources, at least matching the demographics of the UK population but also looking beyond this to ensure sufficient exposure to a wide range of patient characteristics students may come across in future practice wherever they work in the world.
  • Ensure disease states/treatment options are considered for a greater diversity of patient groups, to reflect practice
  • Better support for mature students and overseas students to integrate fully with the cohort, particularly in group work.  There are key advantages to students learning from each other and broadening their understanding of how healthcare systems operate around the world
  • Use of inclusive language as standard in course delivery drawing on NHS inclusive language guidance for consistency.
  • Continue conversations with staff and students to identify and explore EDI issues openly with the aim of better understanding each other, the barriers we each face, and how we can try to overcome these together.
  • Training staff in EDI to fully support students
  • Enhance diversity of external speakers on the programme, both to reflect practice and to demonstrate role models for under-represented groups in the student population
  • Consider how assessments may disadvantage students whose first language is not English

Project Lead: Dr Tori Sprung, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Project Lead: Dr Tori Sprung, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Project Team: Dr Lee Graves, Dr David Tod, Cath Walker, Milly Blundell, Dr Ian Sadler, Libby Mitchell, Kamran Sheikh, Ellie Glover

Subject Areas: Sport & Exercise Science; Sport Psychology; and Sport Coaching

The full report detailing the audit process gone through and its outcomes is available here.

A colonial curriculum is an inaccurate curriculum, characterized by an unrepresentative, inaccessible, and privileged nature. Decolonising the curriculum is about being more accurate, more inclusive, and more interculturally responsive. It is not about forcing one ideological perspective on students.

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is an increasingly important focus for our School. We recognize that to truly embed EDI into the fabric of what we do, we need to focus our curriculum. The curriculum is, truly, the heart of our School and involves everyone; all our staff and students. As a project team, we agreed very quickly that this needs to be considered in three ways- i) what we teach, ii) how we teach and iii) how we assess.

In summary, the audit was undertaken by staff and students working together to develop two audit tools: a detailed audit tool; and a broader audit tool, as follows:

Detailed audit tool

The more detailed tool involved reviewing every lecture within each of the L4 modules to assess;

  • How many of the module staff and guest speakers were BAME, and how many were women?
  • How many images used in lecture slides were of BAME individuals, women and/or disabled people?
  • How many written case study examples included BAME individuals, women and/or disabled people?

Broader audit tool

For Levels 5 & 6, select information was reviewed from the key information section on each of the module’s canvas homepage for any explicit EDI content and each module was scored between 1-5 (1 being satisfactory-5 very unsatisfactory) for inclusion of EDI content.

Audit findings were followed up with focus groups and interviews with staff and students.  Module leaders were also asked to provide a brief description of current opportunities for the following aspects of decolonising the curriculum in their module content;

  • Diversifying the curriculum
  • Critical thinking
  • Discussing perspectives
  • Historical context
  • Bias, in real World outcomes
  • Active learning
  • Assessments

This enabled the team to contrast staff perspectives with the findings from the audit and thus assess understanding of EDI principles in teaching and decolonisation of the curriculum. As a side, it also provided teaching staff with an opportunity for reflection and consideration of this in relation to their modules.


The team have listed some preliminary recommendations below, however analysis of the data from the various audit activities is still ongoing.

1. Staff and speaker diversity

Due to the lack of diversity amongst current SPS staff, and the desire to not disproportionately allocate workload to staff who are from protected characteristic groups, we recommend that staff carefully consider external speakers, and utilize the opportunity to provide students with diverse role models.

2. Protected characteristics

The team recommends diversification of lecture content in the form of imagery and case study examples to include individuals from protected characteristic groups.

i. Sport England provides a free and accessible photo bank, which could be used to diversify imagery.

ii. An EDI checklist will be developed as a resource for all staff. We acknowledge that this will not aid in abating the root-cause of a colonial curriculum but will help staff who are time limited but want to make a conscious effort to incorporate EDI into their teaching practice.

iii. In this resource, the team plan to include a series of self-reflective questions in an attempt to encourage self-awareness.

3. Learning resources

We recommend the diversification of self-directed learning materials and specifically recommend the inclusion of podcasts, YouTube videos, documentaries and blogs. This recommendation would have two distinct benefits; i. to cater for different learning styles and thus promote inclusivity and ii. An additional opportunity to display inspirational and diverse figures to our students.

To ensure inclusivity, we recommend that all module landing pages include a photograph and full contact details for module leaders and associated teaching staff. Furthermore, the development of a ‘universal canvas template’ that considered inclusivity.

4. Syllabus

Syllabus change will be the result of sustainable and progressive change over time. This project is the first step our School is taking and is creating an honest and considered self-assessment of our curricula in relation to EDI, and the consideration particularly to ethnicity. The team are currently supporting the revalidation of five undergraduate programmes and utilizing these findings to diversity our curriculum and promote inclusion. With conscious and considered design, we aspire to implement module and programme level aims and learning outcomes to all of our programmes that relate to EDI. Furthermore, we will clearly map these to module learning outcomes in order to fully embed EDI as part of the subject specific content. This recommendation will support the endorsement of our programmes to the BASES undergraduate endorsement scheme, which requires students to "be able to self-reflect on academic, professional and personal attributes... [including criteria 5.1.4] Equality, diversity & inclusion".
5. Challenges

It is clear that there is a need for provision of EDI related training and/or interactive workshops. We suggest that these are embedded locally, for example in away days or staff forums to maximise engagement from staff.

We would encourage critical conversations in a clear/transparent manner. As a team, we will initiate this aim by a series of feedback activities that we have planned over the coming months. This includes, i.  a pre-recorded presentation from our student interns for all staff; ii. Whole school feedback at a staff forum, followed by Q&A and breakout group activities, with the opportunity for feedback and, iii) attendance from team members to programme team meetings.

Moreover, we hope that the provision of these activities facilitates elevated consciousness and self-awareness amongst colleagues which, in turn, will promote more empathetic delivery to those with different characteristics and identities.