Vice-Chancellor's Education Awards 2020





Enter Vice-Chancellor’s Awards 2024

The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for 2024 are now open for nominations.

What was previously five separate groups of awards has now become a University-wide celebration for staff across Oxford, with 11 categories in strategically important areas. 

Find out more and enter on the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards page.

Nomination deadline: Monday 19 February 2024.

The text below references the winners for the previous Vice-Chancellor’s Education Awards in 2020. As of 2024, these awards are part of the Oxford-wide Vice-Chancellor’s Awards.

New in 2020, the Vice-Chancellor’s Education Awards celebrated high-quality education across the collegiate University - recognising new and innovative approaches to teaching, and the steps being taken to further students' educational experience at Oxford.

The winners of these awards demonstrated valuable projects that have a positive impact. They are also excellent examples of collaboration within Oxford and further afield. The University is constantly innovating in education for the benefit of our students and the wider collegiate University and these awards give us the chance to recognise this excellency.

Introduction from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education, Professor Martin Williams

It has been my great privilege to witness the work colleagues across Oxford are doing to push the boundaries of education. In my role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education I have seen first-hand the positive impact these initiatives have on our students and I am pleased to be able to shine a light on the significant contributions to educational innovation and enhancement that these award-winners bring to the University.

Congratulations to the winners of the Education Awards 2020, each of which show a variety of skill, innovation and application that benefits our learners. Below is an animation briefly explaining each project:



The Introduction to Computer Programming course takes life-science students with very mixed experience and backgrounds and gives them the skills and confidence to be able to start doctoral research secure in the knowledge that programming is now a task they can do, should they care to.   

The course has proven so popular that previous students have requested to come back and teach subsequent cohorts. These lecturers are encouraged to "own" the material they're teaching and develop and expand it so that each year examples are clearer, practical sessions are more relevant and lectures more coherent and useful. 

Images of some early computer parts. At the back: core memory (tiny tiny doughnuts of metal woven onto wires). At the front: A punched card

The greatest success of this course has been broadening students' horizons to such an extent that some choose to pursue computational research topics which, given their previous research experience and successes in other areas, they would not even have considered prior to starting the course.   

Judges' comments

"This clearly-articulated project demonstrates a strong underlying educational rationale. The panel were particularly impressed with the powerful use of students learning with peers, and the previous students returning as demonstrators. There was an impressive case made for student impact. The panel noted that other groups at Oxford or elsewhere could benefit from knowing more about this project and hope that the team will continue sharing their work more widely. "

life sciences team

Some of the teaching staff involved in the project ((L-R) Mr Thomas Pak, Mr Samuel Aroney, Ms Simona Della Vale, Dr Lydia France, Dr Eoin Malins, Mr Matthew Raybould, Dr Istvan Huszar, Ms Emma Bluemke, Carlos Outeiral)

Project members

Dr Eoin Malins, Module designer, lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Dr Istvan Huszar, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Felipe Moser, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Ms Emma Bluemke, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Ms Naomi Cannell, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Fergus Imre, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Dr Joseph Bluck, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Thomas Pak, Lecturer and laboratory demonstrator 

Ms Heather Jeffery, Laboratory demonstrator  

Dr Lydia France, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Henry Lloyd-Laney, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Matthew Raybould, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Nicholas Hall, Laboratory demonstrator 

Ms Simona Della Valle, Laboratory demonstrator 

Ms Kinga Zielinska, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Carlos Outeiral, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Charles Hill, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Jiewon Kang, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Florian Störtz, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Evan Roberts, Laboratory demonstrator 

Mr Samuel Aroney, Laboratory demonstrator 

Project summary

Classics in Communities promotes and encourages the teaching of Latin and Ancient Greek at primary and early secondary level in UK state schools. Bringing together primary, secondary, and HE level teachers; the project helps to create and develop sustainable networks of educators committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise. The project is founded on two key principles: training and research.

classics in communities logo

The team provides information and guidance about teaching approaches and methods, classroom resources, and other support to introduce the teaching of Latin and/or Ancient Greek in schools. They run training days that cover the basics of Latin and Greek and consider how these ancient languages can be taught successfully as part of the 21st Century languages curriculum.

Classics in Communities is also conducting a research study to investigate the impact that learning classical languages has on children's cognitive development. This study began in 2015 and publication is due in 2021.

Judges' comment

"This was a very persuasive entry, which clearly demonstrates how workshops for school teachers have succeeded in developing skills in teaching Classics. It demonstrates a positive impact and the panel commend the research which allows for this impact to be tracked and monitored. Congratulations to the team on the successful collaboration between staff at Oxford, including colleagues within the Ashmolean Museum, and schools."

ahh with book

Project members

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Research Fellow in Classics Education, Faculty of Classics 

Dr Mai Musie, Public Engagement Manager, Bodleian Libraries 

Emma Searle, Administrator and PhD student, Faculty of Classics

Clare Cory, Education Officer - Secondary and Young People, Ashmolean Museum

Dr Thomas Mannack, Reader in Classical Iconography, Faculty of Classics

SmashMedicine is an evidence-based educational technology platform that allows students, doctors and faculties to collaborate and produce high-quality content in the form of multiple choice questions. Combining multiple learning modalities with artificial intelligency and gamification, the team enhances the student experience by making learning fun. The project aims to improve student wellbeing by giving positive online feedback and integrating humour to reduce stress and anxiety. 

By using CrowdSourced learning, students can learn from each other as well as the faculty. This collaborative, student-centric approach promotes deep learning and broadens student differential diagnostic libraries. The generated content can be used to provide students with high-quality formative material, a problem regularly encountered by faculties. SmashMedicine also provides doctors with a useful tool to continue their professional development. 

The SmashConcept not only applies to medicine but can enhance the student experience across a number of different subjects in Oxford and beyond. 

SmashMedicine is being accelerated by the Oxford Foundry’s L.E.V8 Accelerator and OXFO Covid-19 Action Plan.

Judges' comment

"The team are to be congratulated for this ambitious, international project, which has immense potential for extension across other knowledge-intensive subjects, such as engineering. The collaboration between colleagues at Oxford and internationally, for example with the Medical School in Barcelona, is a particular strength. The panel hopes that in time the team might consider preparing a submission for national awards, such at Advance HE’s Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence (CATE)."

Project members

Dr Benjamin Harris, Lecturer St Anne's College
Mr Matteo Di Giovannantonio, DPhil Candidate in Oncology, University of Oxford
Professor Mark Middleton, Head of Department of Oncology, University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford Cancer Research UK Centre
Dr Kenneth Fleming, Ex-head of the Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College and International Director, Royal College of Pathologists
Professor David Harris, Emeritus Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford
Alex Feyler, Manager at Oxford Foundry, University of Oxford
Rosie Freer, Graduate Medical Student, University of Oxford
Marek Sklenka, BA candidate in Physics, University of Oxford
Professor Antoni Trilla, Dean of the Medical School, Universitat de Barcelona
Professor Carlos Robalo Cordeiro, Dean of the Medical School, Universidade de Coimbra
Professor Pierre Gillois, Professor of Blended Learning, Université Grenoble Alpes

Project summary

The three traditional branches of chemistry (inorganic, organic and physical) have generally been taught independently of each other. Here in Oxford, these divisions were exacerbated with teaching laboratories housed in three separate buildings. With the connected, interdisciplinary nature of research in chemistry in mind, the team sought to create and implement a unique and cohesive practical programme to strengthen the links between the branches. The teaching was also expanded to include computational, biochemical and analytical techniques.

Image of a man in a chemistry lab

Designing the new course enabled the team to forge interdisciplinary collaborations particularly with Biochemistry and Physics, showcasing chemistry as the central science. The opening of a single facility to house practical chemistry in October 2018, presented the opportunity to implement this revolutionary strategy.

Wherever possible, students experience multiple approaches to solving a particular problem, which draw techniques and ideas from across the traditional chemical disciplines.

A woman and two men in a chemistry lab making notes

Judges' comments

"This project demonstrates originality within its discipline. It has clear impact upon students’ learning and also has considerable potential to inform lab teaching in related disciplines. Congratulations to the team on the effective collaboration between technical laboratory staff, academic staff and central TEL colleagues, which has enabled the project to very successfully meet its objectives."

A group of students in a chemistry lab conducting experiments

Project members 

Dr Malcolm Stewart, Director of Teaching Laboratories

Dr Andrew Worrall, Deputy Director of Teaching Laboratories 

Dr Craig Campbell, Departmental Lecturer in Practical Chemistry 

Dr Sam Cahill, Departmental Lecturer in Practical Chemistry

Dr Simon Hibble, Departmental Lecturer in Practical Chemistry

Dr Patrick Bergstrom Mann, Manager of Analytical Suite

Ms Louise Hutchinson, Senior Chemistry Technician

Ms Charlie Farrell, Senior Chemistry Technician

Project summary

Voices in the Gallery is a joint project with students from Oxford Spires Academy and the Ashmolean Museum to explore new ways to share a range of voices and viewpoints about objects in the Ancient Near East.

This project resulted in a co-created a set of films made with young people from Eritrea, South Sudan and Syria, all students from Oxford Spires Academy.

Ashmolean Voices In The Gallery by Ian Wallman.

Ashmolean Voices In The Gallery by Ian Wallman Photography

The films explore how ancient objects have different meanings which resonate across time and place. Using audio recordings from conversations shared during museum and school visits, they explore the shared learning between students and a curator around objects from the Ancient Near East collection.

The films reveal new voices and viewpoints from diverse backgrounds, giving visitors new and surprising insights into the contemporary relevance of ancient objects. Through this project the Museum discovered innovative and new ways of working and the students were given a sense of belonging at the heart of the Museum and have films in which they take great pride. The results were shared widely by BBC Radio Oxford, at school and on the Museum's website

ashmolean voicesinthegallerybyianwallman 4634

 Ian Wallman photography

Judges' comments

"High quality outputs including the broadcast standard video, interview and photography set this entry apart. In particular making powerful use of learners and staff as co-creators, genuinely changing the way the museum’s objects are exhibited. The panel feels there is wide applicability for this project’s approach across the museum sector, and hope that the team might consider sharing their work widely in the future."

ashmolean voicesinthegallerybyianwallman 4459

Ian Wallman Photography

Project members

Clare Cory, Learning Officer: Secondary & Young People, Ashmolean Museum

Paul Collins, Jaleh Hearn Curator of Ancient Near East in the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean 

Students from Oxford Spires Academy, co-creators of content

Flora Fergusson, Teacher, Oxford Spires Academy 

Melanie Tuck, Teacher, Oxford Spires Academy

Elaine Austin, Teacher, Oxford Spires Academy

Penny Boreham, Radio and Video Producer 

Ian Wallman, Photographer 

Simon Owen, Video Editor



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