Academic Excellence

Gold-standard teaching

Our students are at the heart of what we do and our dedicated academics are passionate about providing them with a high-quality teaching and learning experience. This commitment has been recognised with an overall Gold rating in the Office for Students’ Teaching Excellence Framework, making us one of the top universities in the country recognised for delivering an outstanding student experience and outcomes.

A lecturer and student in the University of Derby's Crime Scene House

Appointments and achievements

Academics among top 2% of scientists

Delivering high-quality, research-informed teaching is central to our approach. In December, six of our academics were included in the World Ranking Top 2% Scientists, a global list created as part of a study by Stanford University. The study produces data for career-long and single recent year impact, with scientists classified into 22 scientific fields and 174 sub-fields. The University of Derby scientists featured in the list are:

The University is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA). Therefore, the University recognises the diverse outputs, practices and activities that maximise the quality and impact of research and is committed to the responsible use of publication-based metrics and the use of a combination of appropriate qualitative and quantitative indicators to consider the quality of individual research publications. Find out more about the University’s commitment to the responsible use of research metrics.

Additionally the University is a signatory of More Than Our Rank, more details about which can be found at More Than Our Rank - How our innovation and research is managed - University of Derby


Academic experts feature in Guardian articles

Our academics are at the forefront of debate on topical issues impacting us all. This year, they had an excellent opportunity to showcase their expertise through our partnership with Guardian Labs. A series of four articles featured academics from across the institution and explored the requirements for a syllabus for saving the world that addresses the world’s urgent social and environmental problems. They looked at key topics such as the role of education in saving the world, the transition to a zero carbon economy, fostering compassion and pain relief.

Our academics' successes

Our academics use their expertise and insight to inform debate, further knowledge and make an impact far beyond the University. Here we take a look at some of their successes over the last year.

icon6 Derby academics in World Ranking Top 2% ScientistsStanford University
iconLeading the way in long Covid researchDr Mark Faghy
iconContribution to Medicine - British Sikh AwardsNavjot Virk

Biomedical and Clinical Sciences

Work continues to address issues of long Covid

Dr Mark Faghy, Associate Professor in Respiratory Physiology, and his team have been carrying out a series of studies to support those living with long Covid. Current estimates show that around 1.9 million people in the UK have the condition, which can have devastating impacts, affecting people’s work, family and social lives. Dr Faghy has been leading international studies to explore the impacts of acute and long Covid and is now working with medical and research partners on a ground-breaking trial to explore whether an anti-viral medication used to treat acute Covid patients could also be used to manage the symptoms of people with long Covid. A recognised expert in this area, Dr Faghy has spoken at numerous conferences and has joined the World Health Network and World Health Organization research board meetings on Covid. 

Raising awareness of head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancers are the eighth most common type of cancer in the UK and the fourth most common in men. Many are linked to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. HPV is an area of expertise for Dr Elizabeth Marsh, Associate Professor in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Dr Marsh has been working with colleagues at University Hospitals Derby and Burton (UHDB) and University Hospitals of Leicester, plus charities, on a campaign to raise awareness of head and neck cancer. This included a drop-in clinic in Derby city centre during which she was interviewed on BBC East Midlands Today, and the creation of a video to encourage people to self-check for symptoms.

A group of people standing and sitting
Dr Elizabeth Marsh with colleagues at the HPV drop-in clinic in Derby

Business, Economic and Social Policy

Addressing growth and productivity for SMEs

Mark Gilman is Professor of Economics and has a lead role in the Regional Economic Observatory based at the University - this seeks to use research and insight to influence economic and social policy and support engagement with national government policy. With extensive experience in industry, Mark specialises in SME performance and growth, and human resource management. This year he delivered his inaugural lecture, which explored new methods of research to support SME growth and productivity. His multidisciplinary research model - Promoting Sustainable Performance - has been utilised in the UK, France, China, Canada and Indonesia.

Social policy expert grows network

Dr Sung-Hee Lee, Programme Lead for MRes Social Sciences and Humanities, is an expert on social policy in East Asia. She is passionate about changing working women’s life experiences in societies such as China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Dr Lee has built an interdisciplinary network among academics, policy makers and practitioners in the UK and South Korea, focusing on families and social policy. In the summer, she organised a symposium at the 2023 Social Policy Association Conference, an annual international academic conference bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, including NGOs and governmental organisations from South Korea and academic and key experts in social policy from the UK and around the world.

Dr Lee also organised a UK-South Korea Family Research Networking Conference at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The conference explored social policy support for families in the UK and South Korea after the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the conference, the University is planning future research activities with high-ranking universities, government organisations and research institutes in South Korea.

Creative and Cultural Industries

School of Arts team help bring international event back to the city

Colleagues and students from the School of Arts worked with the team at Derby QUAD and other partners across the city to host FORMAT23. The international photography festival was the first in-person version of the event since the pandemic. Derby academics Dr Gemma Marmalade, Assistant Head of Discipline – Art and Photography, and Dr Philip Harris, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Photography, organised the FORMAT conference, as well as exhibitions at the newly created Msg gallery space at Markeaton Street. These included 'How Love Lives in Two Places', a multi and trans-disciplinary exhibition featuring the work of students and staff from the University of Derby School of Arts and Nevada State College Office for the Arts. Dr Harris also created UKraine Lives, a photo exhibition that used large-scale portraits to examine the personal impact of the Russian invasion on Ukrainians who fled their homeland.

Data Science

University hosts international conference

The massive growth in the use of AI has sparked intense debate around its use. Professor Farid Meziane, Head of the Data Science Research Centre, is an expert in Natural Language Processing, the branch of AI that deals with the ability to understand human language as it is written and spoken. In June, the University hosted the 28th International Conference on the Application of Natural Language and Information Systems.

The conference was chaired by Professor Meziane, Professor Warren Manning, Provost – Innovation and Research, and Professor Stephan Reiff-Marganiec, Head of the School of Computing and Engineering, and was attended by over 50 international scientists and researchers working on the application of natural language, putting the University firmly on the map as a key contributor to debate on this important topic. The proceedings of the conference were published in the renowned Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science Series.

Public Services

Influencing policy and contributing to debate

An important part of our academics’ role is to inform policy and debate in their field. Professor Siobhan Neary, Head of the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGs), has co-authored a report calling for a more strategic and professional approach to career guidance from the government. The report, titled Investing in Careers – What is Career Guidance Worth? was launched at an event with cross-party think tank Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills, Careers & Employment at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognal. It calls on the government to offer everyone in England access to lifelong career guidance backed by a Career Guidance Guarantee.

Professor Frances Maratos, Professor in Psychology and Affective Science, and Dr Caroline Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, have been pioneering research exploring the use of compassion-based approaches in education. Until now there has been limited application of these approaches, which are known to improve psychological and physiological wellbeing, in educational settings. Professor Maratos and Dr Harvey have led training events for education professionals in the UK and in Hong Kong, and written evidence produced by Professor Maratos for the Education Committee’s inquiry, Teacher recruitment, training and retention, was published on the Committee’s website.

A group of people sitting around a table holding copies of a report
Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University and Professor Siobhan Neary at the House of Lords event

Zero Carbon

Award win for climate change in Africa video

Dr Deb Raha, Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Environmental Sustainability, and her team investigate climate change effects in the Muni coastal lagoon in Ghana, including the impact on weather patterns, ocean conditions and natural resources. In April, their Time for Geography video was awarded the prestigious Highly Commended Publishers Award from the Geographical Association. This award recognises the video’s significant contribution to secondary school geographical education and teacher professional development. The feedback from the award panel was: “This focuses on a very small, specific location in Ghana and the presenter comes from this community which gives it a more personal feeling. Map graphics are interspersed with the video content – good for context. It shows thriving communities and the impact of climate change well.”

Derby’s expertise in renewable energy recognised

Chris Sansom, Professor of Concentrating Solar Power, is a recognised world authority on renewable energy. He is leading on several projects that seek to find alternative sources of energy and thanks to his reputation in this area, the University has become the only UK university to be a full member of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Joint Programme on Concentrating Solar Power. He has taken part in numerous media interviews to share his extensive knowledge on the subject of renewable energy.