Teaching research nexus

Professor Dilly Fung and the Connected Curriculum

Dr Adam Longcroft (Deputy Head, Anglia Learning & Teaching) and Professor Dilly Fung (Head of Arena, at UCL) met in November 2016.

In the clips below Professor Fung explains the key drivers for the introduction of the Connected Curriculum, the key characteristics of the initiative, the benefits of the approach for students and staff, whilst reflecting on the implementation process and lessons learned. Early signs of ‘impact’ on student learning and the effectiveness of the curriculum in preparing students for the big global challenges we all face, are also discussed.

Professor Fung has led the development and implementation of the Connected Curriculum at UCL over the past 2-3 years. The Connected Curriculum is a distinctive and university-wide curriculum initiative that places research-based education at the heart of the student learning experience at UCL. UCL's President, Michael Arthur sees it as part of a wider effort to close the gap between research and teaching: 

At University College London, our top strategic priority for the next 20 years is to close the divide between teaching and research. We want to integrate research into every stage of an undergraduate degree, moving from research-led to research-based teaching.

The Connected Curriculum is about:

  • Educating through dialogue and active, critical enquiry
  • Creating an inclusive research and learning community
  • Making connections across modules, programmes and beyond the classroom
  • Creating assessments that mirror ‘public engagement’ in research
  • Equipping students to address interdisciplinary challenges
  • Exploring critically the values and practices of global citizenship
  • Engaging students as partners in their education, and as co-producers of knowledge 
  • Improving the experiences of both students and staff

Research-based teaching and learning includes staff sharing their own research with students. It also includes exposing students to different kinds of research materials and findings, giving them opportunities to learn about research methods and methodologies, and to actually undertake their own research as ‘producers’ of new knowledge. The intention is that research-related activity and learning infuse the entire curriculum at all stages. During the first few weeks at UCL, for example, all students engage in a ‘Meet the Researcher’ exercise, conducted in small team, where they investigate the research and publications of key members of the course tutor team, and present on their findings to their peers. This ensures that they get to learn about ‘how’ to research, whilst also gaining insights into key members of the teaching team they will be taught by.

The Connected Curriculum is an important experiment in curriculum design, and one which is being monitored – in terms of implementation – by a steering group and via the use of a 4-stage ‘benchmarking’ tool which can be found in the Connected Curriculum brochure.


An introduction to the Connected Curriculum (3:32)

Key features of the Connected Curriculum (6:19)

Meet the researcher (3:20)

Implications of the Connected Curriculum (3:02)

Early signs of the Connected Curriculum having an impact (2:32)

Connected Curriculum and graduate attributes (4:15)

Challenges in implementation (3:55)