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Course Design Blueprint

What is research-informed learning?

At the University of Suffolk we are committed to enhancing the link between research and curriculum. Through planned learning experiences we can ensure that students learn through participating in research and enquiry at all levels of their course. Research-informed learning and teaching involves positioning dialogue between staff and students to one of partnership whereby students become more engaged with their learning.

A research-informed curriculum enhances the student learning experience in a variety of ways:
  • Students connect with researchers and with the institution’s research./li>
  • A through-line of research activity is built into each course which encourages students in think deeply about the nature and practices of their own research.
  • Students connect academic learning with skills for the workplaces and enhances the student experience of real-world issues.
  • Students learn to produce outputs for different audiences.
  • Students develop employability, digital, and networking skills.
Research-informed learning and teaching involves students learning through enquiry within their disciplines and places emphasis on developing skills of research and fostering a research culture. Learning experiences should be planned throughout the curriculum and designed to ensure students are exposed to research content and activity during their time at university. Research-informed learning and teaching may be promoted in the following approaches:


Research-led teaching Research-led teaching describes how existing research underpins curriculum content and students are taught research findings in their field of study. This might be our own research findings or the outputs of others. Learning experiences should be designed to ensure students are exposed to research content in different ways to provide meaningful and deep learning experiences. 
Research-oriented or research-tutored teaching Learning experiences should encourage students to ask questions, learn about the suitability and application of different methodological approaches in their discipline, and apply specific scientific methods to solve issues in their disciplinary and professional context. 
Research-based teaching or teaching-led research Students should learn about a subject through a process of inquiry, analysis and dissemination appropriate to their discipline. This is beneficial for students' meta-cognitive, disciplinary and professional development. Teaching-led research happens when the curriculum is designed so that students learn through activities which contribute to departmental research projects, simultaneously learning for themselves and processing real-world projects. 

  • Build-in opportunities to design research strategies and projects, collecting and analysing data and discussing and presenting research findings.
  • Include current research findings and issues regularly in your teaching, for example, by regularly updating the curriculum content to include cutting edge research and identifying the key questions being explored by current research in the field. Encourage students to bring new research about your subject to the classroom.
  • Provide opportunities for students to acquire research methods and skills, for example, by building small-scale research activities into group work or analysing data from existing ‘real world’ projects.
  • Involve your students in research activities, for example, by offering research placements to students or encouraging students to attend research seminars by visiting researchers or alumni.
  • Promote undergraduate research through publishing student work in newsletters or student focussed journals, putting student work on websites and exhibiting your students’ work at conferences or university events.