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The  new format of the MPLS Divisional Teaching Award Scheme celebrates success, and recognises and rewards excellence in innovative teaching. Awards are available to all those who teach, including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and learning support staff. The Teaching Award Scheme is administered by the MPLS Divisional Office and awards are made, on merit, across the departments by a cross-departmental panel chaired by the Associate Head of Division (Academic). The awards are celebrated by the Head of Division at the MPLS Summer Reception in July.


MPLS Teaching Awards – 2018 scheme

The 2018 MPLS teaching awards were announced on Tuesday 17th July as part of the MPLS Summer Reception. All the nominees could have been worthy winners but the awarding panel chose six to receive awards. These divisional awards carried a financial award of £1,000 per awardee.

The winners, announced by Professor Martin Williams Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) were as follows:

Professor Ruth Baker – Associate Professor, Mathematical Institute

Professor Helen Byrne – Associate Professor, Mathematical Institute

Professor Sarah Waters – Associate Professor, Mathematical Institute

The Mathematical Institute nominated Ruth Baker, Sarah Waters and Helen Byrne for an MPLS teaching award for leading on the recent development of the mathematical biology stream through the undergraduate programme in mathematics. Ruth, Sarah and Helen worked together to develop a new, much needed, second year course in Mathematical Modelling in Biology, the introduction of this course resulted in a review and overhaul of the existing third and fourth year courses which they also undertook. This is a vital area of mathematics and the development, and expansion, of this area through the undergraduate programme has been much appreciated by the undergraduate students who have taken this course.

Professor Simon Benjamin – Professor of Quantum Technologies, Department of Materials

Having taught a course on Vectors, Matrices and Determinants to first-year Materials students for several years, Simon came to realise that a substantial part of each of the lectures followed a simple recipe: the lecturer explains how to work out a particular mathematical result, and then goes through several examples while the students copy them down from the whiteboard.

 Particularly for the more straightforward material he decided that this material could be better presented to the students using short videos to be viewed before the lecture, along with some practice exercises. He made a series of 10 short videos and uploaded them to YouTube.

 Simon then selected some of the more simple problems from the work sheets that students are given, and worked with a graduate student to convert them into a series of online multiple-choice quizzes . Each quiz allows the student to test their understanding of the preceding video by selecting answers from multiple choices. In this way, students can practise the techniques at their own speed, freeing up the lecture time for more interactive and interesting problem-solving discussions and allowing more time in the lectures to focus on the more challenging material.

Both Simon and a student’s ‘Materials Maths Classes’ tutor can access the results of the student’s attempt(s) at the on-line quizzes, thus picking up on any areas of weakness, as would be the case for  more traditional paper-based tute-work.

In addition to his innovation in teaching methods, Simon is regularly recognized by the Materials students for the high quality of his teaching. For the Academic year 2016-17 Simon was voted by the Materials undergraduate students as the winner of the ‘Materials JCCU Best Lecturer Award’ and was presented with the silver trophy at the Department’s Newcomers’ Party in October 2017.

Professor Xenia de la Ossa – Reader in Mathematics, Mathematical Institute

 Professor Andre Lukas – Professor of Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics

The Mathematical Institute nominated Xenia de la Ossa (Mathematics) and Andre Lukas (Physics) to be considered for an MPLS individual teaching award for their leadership on the development and implementation of the new MSc Mathematical and Theoretical Physics. The MSc has proved to be a huge success and this is down to the hard work and dedication that went into developing this much needed MSc. This course provides a high-level, world class training in mathematical and theoretical physics, right up to the level of modern research attracting an extremely high calibre of student.

 MPLS Teaching Awards – 2019 scheme

Details for the 2019 awards will be explained in Hilary term 2019.



Previous Winners

The awards have been running in their current format since 2012. The winners of the awards since 2012 are listed below including detailed descriptions for last year's awards. Winners of teaching awards from years before 2012 (when the awards were in a different format) can be requested by emailing

2017 Winners  

Individual Award 1 - Professor Byron Byrne,  Engineering Science

Individual Award 2 - Professor  Dan Ciubotaru, Mathematics

Individual Award 3 - Professor Steven Balbus, Physics

Individual Award 4 - Professor Peter Darrah, Plant Sciences

Individual Award 5 - Professor Claire Vallance, Chemistry


2016 Winners  

Project Award: Dr David Johnson, Senior Research Associate, OERC

Individual Award 1 - Dr Vicky Neale, Whitehead Lecturer, Mathematical Institute

Individual Award 2 - Mr Eric Peasley, Teaching and Design Engineer, Engineering Science

Individual Award 3 – Professor Caroline Terquem, Professor of Physics, Physics

Individual Award 4 – Dr Helen Johnson, Associate Professor, Earth Sciences

Individual Award 5 – Dr Jonathan Burton, Associate Professor, Chemistry


2015 Winners  

Project Award: Dr Christopher Palmer, Departmental lecturer, Physics   

Special Category Award for innovative use of IT in teaching: Ms Belinda Hughes, Teaching Design Engineer, Engineering Science

Individual Award 1 - Dr Steve Sheard, Associate head of Department (teaching), Engineering Science 

Individual Award 2 - Dr Andrew Ker, University lecturer, Computer Science

Individual Award 3 – Dr Cath Wilkins, Departmental Lecturer, Mathematical Institute  

Individual Award 4 – Prof Fabian Essler, Professor, Physics

Individual Award 5 – Prof Owen Lewis, Professor, Zoology 

2014 Winners

Project Award - Dr Janet Dyson and Dr Richard Earl, Mathematics

Special Category Award (Oxford Sparks Public Engagement Award) - Dr Joanna Barstow, Physics

Individual Teaching Awards - Dr Nicholas Green, Professor Elspeth Garman, Professor Steve Simon, Professor Brian Follett   

2013 Winners

Project Award - Mr Rok Sekirnik

Special Category Award - Dr Greg Gyurko

Individual Teaching Awards - Professor Luis Fernando Alday; Professor Philip Maini; Dr Christina Goldschmidt; Dr Richard Palin.   

2012 winners

Project Award - Dr Martin Griffiths

Special Category Award - Alan Howe  

Individual Teaching Awards - Dr Kathryn Gillow, Prof Jon Chapman, Tom Close, Jamie Frost   


      If you have any questions on the Teaching Award Scheme, please email us.