Learning & Teaching Awards and Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award 2014-15


The aims of the Learning & Teaching Awards Scheme are to:

• provide a basis for recognising excellence in the provision of learning and teaching
• celebrate and publicise excellence in the provision of learning and teaching both within the University and externally
• identify good and/or innovative practice that can be disseminated more widely
• offer a means for individuals to further their work in learning and teaching

In addition, application for the Learning & Teaching Awards offers a vehicle through which individuals can build a profile of excellence in the provision of learning and teaching. This profile might be used as the basis for an application for a National Teaching Fellowship or other external award (holders of these awards will be able to include this accolade as evidence of professional standing within their own institution in future applications for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme), and/or to support progression in an academic career.


To apply for the award academic staff must first be nominated to apply by a fellow member of staff. See Application Process section below for more details

All academic staff who teach (lecturers and tutors) may apply for the award.

Applicants must be able to meet the following criteria:

• Able to demonstrate that they make a significant contribution to enhancing students learning experience and the quality of students learning
• Able to show evidence of sustained excellence in teaching. Applications can come from staff at any stage of their career as there are no categories of award based on staff experience. However, as applicants will be expected to show evidence of sustained excellence in teaching it is unlikely that a successful applicant will be in the first couple of years of their academic career
• Not previously been a Learning & Teaching award winner. However, previous winners of the award may apply again if they have significantly changed their role within the university and so are in effect submitting a new application. In addition any member of staff who has previously unsuccessfully applied for the Learning & Teaching Award may submit another application

Substance of the Awards

There will be 2 elements to the Learning & Teaching Awards:

• Four Awards of £500 each, one per Faculty. It is expected that one applicant from each of the four Faculties will win one of these £500 Awards. However if the Committee decides that none of the applications from a particular Faculty meets the criteria for the Learning & Teaching Awards, no award will be given to any applicant from that Faculty

• One overall Award of an additional £1000. The four successful faculty winners of the Learning & Teaching Awards will be interviewed and an overall winner selected for the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award


Three criteria will be used in the selection process. Each of the criteria will be given equal weighting in the assessment process and should therefore be treated as equally important. Unbalanced applications will be at a disadvantage. Successful applicants will demonstrate individual excellence and significant contributions to learning and teaching within the University of Surrey, but may also demonstrate how they have contributed to practice nationally and perhaps internationally.  

Criterion 1: Individual excellence in teaching and supporting learning

Applicants will be expected to provide evidence of enhancing and transforming the student learning experience commensurate with their context. They will have a transformative impact on their students.

This may, for example, be demonstrated by providing evidence of:  

• stimulating students’ curiosity and interest in ways which inspire a commitment to learning
• organising and presenting high quality resources in coherent and imaginative ways which in turn clearly enhance students’ learning
• recognising and actively supporting the full diversity of student learning needs
• drawing upon the results of relevant research, scholarship and professional practice in ways which add value to teaching and students’ learning

Criterion 2: Raising the profile of excellence in learning and teaching

Applicants will be expected to provide evidence of their influence on learning and teaching within their Department /Faculty and perhaps more broadly across the institution as well as direct engagement with, and support of, colleagues trying to enhance learning and teaching, and the curriculum. This criterion moves applicants into demonstrating engagement in furthering learning and teaching beyond their immediate role. The case in this criterion may also provide evidence of influence beyond the University of Surrey, often both nationally and internationally.   

This may, for example, be demonstrated by providing evidence of:

• making outstanding contributions to colleagues’ professional development in relation to promoting and enhancing student learning
• identifying specific needs within their discipline, department, or institution, and changing practice to address them
• contributing to departmental/faculty/institutional/national initiatives to facilitate student learning
• specific contributions to significant improvements in the student learning experience
• publishing in the area of pedagogic research to influence others

Criterion 3: Developing own excellence in teaching and supporting learning

Applicants will be expected to provide evidence of commitment to their own on-going development with regard to teaching and learning and curriculum design. This is often the most difficult criteria to address particularly in relation to providing concrete evidence.

This may, for example, be demonstrated by providing evidence of:

• ongoing review and enhancement of own professional/academic practice. This may include undertaking action research
• engaging in professional development activities (CPD schemes) including relevant qualifications .which enhance expertise in teaching and supporting learning
• engaging with the established pedagogic literature in ways that develop practice
• systematic and sustained strategies to obtain and use student/peer/other stakeholder feedback to enhance professional/academic practice
• collaborative endeavours designed to enhance practice
• engagement with professional bodies focussed on academic practice  

Application Process

1 How can staff apply?

Each Faculty may officially invite up to four individuals to apply for the award. Nominations need to be made by the Faculty or academic staff members and should be sent via email to the Faculty Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching, with the nominee and Chris Dexter (c.dexter@surrey.ac.uk) from the Department of Higher Education copied in. Nominations from the Faculty would normally be done through the Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee or by the Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching.

Following being nominated the nominee can then submit an application for the award.

There is no application form to complete; each applicant is expected to present their case for this Award in an appropriate professional format. All applications must be sent in hard copy and electronic format to Chris Dexter (c.dexter@surrey.ac.uk) who will administer the Awards on behalf of the committee.

Where an individual has been invited to apply by their Faculty, the application can be used as evidence of institutional regard irrespective of the outcome of the application. Such evidence can support individuals in appraisal and/or promotion.

The closing date for application is Monday 8th June 2015

2 What does the application consist of? 

Each application should comprise three elements:

Case for the award
Each applicant must present their case for the award. The case must be presented in three sections; one section addressing each of the criteria detailed above. The case in each section should consist of both argument and evidence (an academic case). Applicants should not feel limited by the illustrative examples provided above for each category. The case in each section must not exceed 1,000 words; a maximum of 3,000 words in total.

Signed cover page  
The pro-forma in Appendix 1 should be completed by the applicant, signed by the candidate's Dean of Faculty/Head of Administrative Department, and attached to the front of the case for the award.

• A statement of whether the application is a result of invitation by the Faculty or by an academic colleague.

Completed submissions should be sent in both hard and electronic copy to Chris Dexter (c.dexter@surrey.ac.uk). The closing date for receipt of these is Monday 8th June 2015.

Please do not use bindings as submissions will be photocopied.

3 What happens after applications have been received?

A specially constituted Awards Committee will consider all applications for Learning & Teaching Awards, whether from staff nominated by a Faculty or self-nominated.  Based on the information provided in the application, the Awards Committee will select four award winners; one from each Faculty (unless none of the applications from a Faculty meet the criteria for this Award.). These winners will be informed on Monday 22nd June 2015.

The four Learning & Teaching Award winners will then be interviewed by the Awards Committee and an overall winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award will be selected. The overall winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award will be announced in November 2015 at the Vice Chancellor’s Awards event.

Awards Committee

The Awards Committee comprises:

• Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Academic (Chair)
• One Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) of Faculty (rotating annually)
• Professor of the Department of Higher Education or a senior colleague
• A previous Learning & Teaching or NTFS award winner (nominated by the DVC Academic)

Support and Guidance

Guidance about how to construct a case for excellence in teaching appropriate to this Award can be found in Appendix 2. Further advice and support is available from Professor Ian Kinchin, Department of Higher Education.

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