University of Westminster Learning and Teaching Excellence Awards

The University of Westminster Learning and Teaching Excellence Awards recognise and reward individuals and teams who have made a positive impact on the quality of students’ learning experiences at the University. Awards are available for both staff and students.

The call for nominations for staff awards is now open. For the 2017/2018 academic year up to 13 individual of £1,000 and 3 team awards of £3,000 will be made.

For 2017/2018 there are general awards, as well as specific categories of awards including:

  • Sustained excellence
  • Early career (broadly understood)
  • PhD student
  • Leadership
  • Community engagement and collaboration
  • Cross-Disciplinary learning and teaching
  • Working in partnership with students

Nomination process:

Nominations for the awards are now open and will close on Thursday 29th March at 5pm, with the winners announced in April. Award winners will be celebrated at the Annual Learning and Teaching Celebration Event in May 2018.

Nominations must be submitted online by Thursday 29th March at 5pm at:

In addition to some information about the nominee, you will be asked to answer the following questions:

  • Please outline the specific contributions the nominee has made to learning and teaching and/or student experience at the University of Westminster (max. 500 words).
  • Please detail the specific impact the nominee’s contributions have made to the University of Westminster (max. 500 words).
  • Please provide any further information that will help the panel assess this nomination (max. 500 words).

Please remember that award panel members come from a range of backgrounds and so nominators will need to explain the nominee’s context and why their work is significant to their field.


The Awards are open to any staff at the University of Westminster who have responsibility for teaching and/or supporting the learning of students registered at the University. This includes academic staff, PhD students and all staff from Professional Services. Team applications should include students as members.

Benefits and expectations of an award:

  • Awards are intended to be used for professional development, and to further the impact and reach of your work. Funds can be spent on anything that will enhance these aspects, which may be study visits, conference attendance and networking opportunities, support for research and evaluation related to your teaching, IT or other equipment, books etc.
  • Westminster Learning and Teaching Excellence award holders will be profiled on the Centre for Teaching Innovation’s web pages with a brief summary of the work, and a photograph (at your discretion).
  • Award holders are expected to contribute to Westminster Learning Communities, sharing good practice and working with colleagues (in-Department and more widely across the University) to develop and innovate.
  • Additionally, each year the University supports up to three people to make an application to the National Teaching Fellow (NTF), as well as a team making an application for the Collaborative Teaching Excellence (CATE) scheme. Applicants to these schemes must be HEA Fellows (any category). Winners of the Westminster Learning and Teaching Excellence Awards may wish to consider applying for a National Teaching Fellowship or a CATE.

If you have any question about the awards or about the nomination process please contact the Centre for Teaching Innovation

2017 Awards

Lara Rettondini – individual award for innovative use of live projects (Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment)

Lara is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and works in the Department of Architecture. The application she put forward for the Award focused on a number of pedagogical developments and teaching quality enhancements that she has introduced in the BA Interior Architecture and in the MA Interior Design and her commitment to developing outreach activities to enrich the students’ experience, such as live projects. She also showed significant engagement in supporting colleagues develop as community of practice around learning and teaching.

The application reviewers were impressed by the ‘transformative impact for both students and colleagues’ in the work described. One example is the project that Lara organised building on her relationship with the Victoria and Albert Museum, which started as a workshop for the cross-departmental Playweek and further developed into an extra-curricular project, working to a brief from the curator of 20th Century and Contemporary Furniture and Product Design, to make a proposal for the 20th Century Gallery. Through getting involved in this project a very diverse range of MA students could work collaboratively to achieve a common objective in response to specific requirements from an external organization and within a defined timeframe. In this project, students developed teamwork aptitude at the same time they were learning about their subject. The feedback and comments from the V&A curators gave students a sense of accomplishment, pride and confidence.

One of the participant students commented: ‘This was an amazing experience. I am certain that all the members of the group are as thankful as I am for this project initiative that represented enrichment to our academic experience at the University’.

IT Training Team (Kevin Lawley, Jemma Perrin, Charles Glancey) -Team award for creative approaches to developing talent though IT training

The work put forward for the award showed the impressive impact of the team, from scheduled sessions organised through faculties and departments to support software knowledge and explaining its potential applications, through to enabling students to gain internationally recognised IT qualifications that significantly enhance their employability. Their achievement is best described by Andrew Griggs, Country Manager – UK | Prodigy Learning.

The training team at the University of Westminster are one the most active, progressive and supportive Testing Centres for vendor productivity and employability skills that Prodigy Learning works with. The team are one of our most successful testing centres within our Higher Education clients. Their success is seen via a high pass rate for both Adobe ACA and Microsoft MOS certification which has resulted in students from the University regularly finding places in the finals of our student competitions. The competitions for MOS and ACA see the top 20 students from across the UK (by exam score) invited to finals days at both Microsoft and Adobe’s respective Head Offices where they compete to become the UK Student champions. The University has accounted for nearly 50% of the finalists in the last two Adobe competitions and had the UK Adobe Champion (Will Clarke) in 2015. Will went on to represent the UK and the University at the Global Championships in Dallas, Texas.

The team is in high demand to speak at Prodigy-sponsored events and other universities who are looking to begin similar training programmes, including the 2017 BETT show at Excel, London.

Mohammad Khan, a BSc Multimedia Computing student won third place in the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) UK Championships in June 2016

Dr Ricardo Blaug, Dr Thomas Moore, and Dr Farhang Morady – Team award for their globally engaged curriculum in Politics and International Relations (Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities)

Left to right: Ricardo Blaug, Thomas Moore, and Farhang Morady

The work put forward by the team showed outstanding commitment to finding ways to ensure that the internationalisation of the curriculum is a lived reality for all students in Politics, International Relations and Development. Their approach is to imaginatively triangulate internationalisation of the curriculum, employability, and students as co-creators of knowledge, to enable their diverse community of students to thrive in a changing world through:

• Fostering learner autonomy through independent enquiry, developing student research projects and students as co-creators in an international environment, such as through the International Community Project  and the Democratic Education Network.
• Inspiring Westminster students to think globally about their changing worlds. This is achieved through dialogue and shared experiences across borders with students from partner universities in Turkey, Brazil, Peru, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. It is also achieved through innovative approaches to outward mobility, informed by principles of equality and access; – Facilitating global mobility for 200+ plus Westminster students,
• Embedding skills for global employability and professional resilience, using diversity as resource and a tool for problem-solving, and authentic learning as a foundation for professional capacity building in students.

The application reviewers commended the team, for “… their extensive engagement, globally, with international partners, and the sustained beneficial impact on students, the course, the university and in other institutions. It is clear that the learning experiences for the students will impact both professionally and personally beyond their student lives.”

The Sociology course team (SSH)- Team award for innovative curriculum

The team: Dr Dorrie Chetty (Course Leader BA Sociology & Criminology), Dr Adam Eldridge, Dr Umit Cetin, Dr Emily FalconerDr Celia Jenkins, Dr David Khabaz, Dr Ben Pitcher, Dr Naomi Rudoe, Dr Hilde Stephansen, Dr Francis Ray White (Course Leader Sociology)

Find out more about the Sociology Research Group.

The team’s approach to learning and teaching is based on their commitment to the students and delivered through critical pedagogy, which entails an active engagement in real world issues, creative use of external speakers and social media, and dissemination of the most innovative final-year dissertation work in a publicly available anthology.

The course is research-led, drawing in the team’s research expertise in areas including race/ethnicity, religion, migration, LGBTQ studies, and feminist pedagogies, while also proactively working through strategies to support learning across their widely diverse student group. Study skills and information literacy are fully integrated within core modules, including the use of assessment workshops to help students to develop their writing and critique. The course has a very active facebook page. The page has been in operation since 2012 and has nearly 300 followers.

The result is what one external examiner described as an imaginative, academically rigorous, demanding and exciting undergraduate learning environment (Neal, 2014). The success of their strategy is evidenced by NSS satisfaction scores consistently above 90% (100% in 2015) and a dramatic improvement of course ranking in the Guardian University League Tables from 81st in 2014 to 26th in 2016, placing the course second only to Goldsmiths among London universities.

The application reviewers found theirs to be “an exemplary application with compelling and impactful evidence to address all three criteria. The team should be congratulated for their commitment to teaching and learning and their students, and for the work they do to disseminate good practice within the university and beyond.”

From left to right: Adam Eldridge, Umit Cetin, Celia Jenkins, Dorrie Chetty, Naomi Rudoe, Emily Falconer, Ben Pitcher, Hilde Stephansen, Francis Ray White

Dr Alexander Bolotov, Dr Anastassia Angelopoulou, Dr Phil Trwoga and Mark Baldwin (Department of Computer Science) – Team award for innovative approaches to Mathematics provision

Phil Trwoga, Anastassia Angelopoulou, Mark Baldwin, Alexander Bolotov

This award comes as recognition of the team’s long-term efforts to transform and enhance the mathematics provision, as evidenced by the pass-rate on one core module rising from 53% to 87% over a period of six years from 2010-2016. Over the years the team has been involved into the design and implementation of 13 mathematics related modules at both UG and PG levels by bringing and reflecting constantly on their scholarship and research experience.

Mathematics is related to the wider context of computer science and software engineering. The team’s approach was to identify the ways to present core mathematical concepts that underpin the discipline in a ‘problem-based learning’ approach to enable students to access the abstract logic of mathematical thought-process. Various techniques were used here – group discussions and analysis of problem scenarios supported by use of video materials and mobile technologies in teaching mathematics. The team developed this process not only as a means to help students reformulate concepts that might have been only poorly formed in their earlier maths education, but also to build the practice of strengthening students ability of abstractions and abstract reasoning – which is the corner-stone of computer science and many other theoretical sciences. The approach also enables students to learn collaboratively with brighter students modelling thought- process for weaker ones and reduces dependence on tutors for one-to-one explanation and feedback.

The application reviewers were impressed by the transformative impact of team’s work for both students and colleagues. In particular, that the “application clearly demonstrates excellent practice, based on sound pedagogy, innovation in terms of synoptic delivery and the team’s focus on student-centred learning. The result of their work is outstanding, not only in terms of the marked improvement of the pass rate, but also in terms of students’ self-efficacy, as evidenced in the feedback…. The team provides an outstanding example of its impact on promoting and transforming the student learning experience with its discussion of the transformation of a core maths module.”