Sponsored projects - How to apply - University of Derby

Sponsored projects

Guidance for sponsored project applications

  • Students and staff are welcome to submit proposals to address any of the sponsored projects outlined below.
  • Expertise in a relevant subject area will be taken into account in the application process but strength of proposal is determined through consideration of the established selection criteria.
  • Sponsored projects range in scope and related guidance information. In all cases, proposals should be developed that demonstrate original thinking and ideas for approaching the topic in novel or distinctive ways.
  • Applications for engagement with sponsored projects require a named academic supervisor but there will be a range of opportunities to work with professional staff in the sponsoring department or organisation.
  • Applications for sponsored projects will have initial research consultation meetings organised with project sponsors following confirmation of successful proposals in early March 2017.


Dept/OrganisationResearch Project description

Radio Communications Museum of Great Britain

  • Software and graphics development, augmented and virtual reality for museums
  • Developing engaging after school and weekend coding and electronics clubs/developing schemes to engage girls with STEM subjects

UOD Marketing

  • Does social media inform university choice?
  • In a digital age, what role does more traditional marketing tools such as prospectus and course leaflets have in the decision making process?
  • How much should universities spend on marketing / student recruitment activity?


  • Why are women not attracted to work in IT?
  • How important are IT skills for employability?
  • How will children growing up with modern technologies differentiate between home and work life?
  • Is the University’s investment in learning and teaching technologies reaping benefits? – Is learning digitally enhanced or digitally exposed?
  • What does the GDPR (general data protection regulations) mean for the University? / students / individuals?
  • What is the true cost of cloud-based computing?
  • Data centre strategies and the cloud
  • Funding methods and the use of cloud computing
  • What effect does the future mobile workforce have on educators/academics?
  • A comparison of hyper converged and non-hyper converged IT
  • What learning/benefit do you get from a real-world learning activity over 2 weeks (short IT projects)
  • Design an IT capability strategy to enable an organisation to fully utilise its staff potential

UOD Human Resources

  • Does performance pay encourage staff to work harder/stay motivated/give better customer experiences?
  • Does staff engagement lead to better quality teaching outcomes?


UOD Wellbeing Service

Sleep in the student body

Research has shown that sleep plays a significant role in learning and that poor sleep can have a negative impact on health, wellbeing and performance. Anecdotal evidence and evidence from straw polling, carried out by Student Wellbeing, suggests that many students may be regularly getting less sleep than they need and that many students may regard poor sleep as culturally normal.

We would support research proposals that improve our understanding of current student sleeping patterns, aspects of student life that have positive or negative  impacts on sleep and\or student attitudes towards and understanding of sleep.

Student attitudes to sexual harassment, objectification and violence

Significant concern has been expressed in the national media by universities, government, NUS and campaigning groups about a perceived rise in sexual harassment, objectification and violence on and off campus, both nationally and internationally. Much of this concern suggests that there may be cultural problems within parts of the student body, possibly driven by social media and that many students lack an appropriate understanding of issues such as consent and what constitutes harassment. This has led much national debate and some institutions to introduce compulsory consent training.

The University is about to launch our response to this issue, beginning with a public debate. We would support research that improves our understanding of current student attitudes and culture towards harassment, consent, objectification and sexual violence.

The self-perception of students with Specific Learning Differences

Research suggests that the self-perception of students with Specific Learning Differences can have a significant impact on motivation, performance and achievement. It appears, that if a student believes that their Specific Learning Difference will have a negative impact on their ability, that this belief can reduce their performance.

We would support research that improves our understanding of the self-perception of our students with Specific Learning Differences and of the impact of self-perception on learning and achievement among this group.

Student Socialisation

Research conducted at Derby and elsewhere has highlighted the importance of early socialisation as being key to a successful transition into university. Students who are able to build new friendship groups and develop a strong sense of belonging, appear to be more able to thrive and go on to perform to their potential. However, little research has been conducted on how student friendships groups form and how and why some students feel they have not been able to successfully build a new social network.

We would support research that improves our insight into this phenomenon.


Careers and Employment Service

  • Volunteering – Exploring the impact on student learning and employability
  • CES Branding and Marketing
  • Alumni – How we can explore stronger links with alumni and make a positive impact on destinations.
  • CES Online resources – Do we have the right resources / How do we encourage more engagement?
  • Graduate Attributes – Development of resources around these.

Research Office

The Youth Guarantee and Local Enterprise Partnerships

What happens to young people when they miss a grade, fall out of education for a while or just fail to get a job when they leave education?  Who helps them?  It’s not an easy question – schools help their pupils up to the age of 16 but have no requirement to support their former pupils after that age.   FE colleges, and indeed universities, do exceptional work for their students to encourage them into learning and work with them to achieve a qualification but generally only while they are enrolled. Community organisations can also do lots of work to help young people and bring them into their communities but they are often reliant on public funding which has never been generous and is increasingly scarce with funding cuts.

The European Union has an approach to this issue which is captured in a set of policies around a Youth Guarantee which states that young people are entitled to particular types of support if they have been out of learning or work for a sustained period of time.  In England the key partners who are expected to provide support are local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships that bring together employers, local authorities, career guidance organisations and others. 

Parliament has been equivocal about the Youth Guarantee – under the coalition government it was championed by the Liberal Democrats but has been largely unreported through the current government.  Nevertheless when Local Enterprise Partnerships were set up there was an expectation that they would support the spirit of the youth guarantee through their obligations to young people classified at NEET (not in education, employment or training).  So how are Local Enterprise Partnerships prioritising their activities to ensure that young people benefit from new opportunities within their areas?

The proposed project could take a range of different approaches:

-          Survey of all Local Enterprise Partnerships

-          Interviews with LEPs in different areas

-          Systematic review of LEP strategies and policy

-          Analysis of parliamentary debates and other literature

At this stage research is needed into the policy and strategic intentions of the Partnerships as it is probably too early to start to assess what the effects of their actions are.  Participation in this project will develop research methods skills, policy analysis, research ethics and writing skills.  It could be of particular interest to students of education policy, human geography, sociology or social work. 

It would be supported and overseen by academics with expertise in policies and practices that support young people’s transitions between learning and employment. 


Athena Swan and academic wellbeing

Valuing people is one of five core principles that define the values and culture of the University of Derby.  We are committed to upholding the values as they relate to our membership of Athena Swan Charter.  This is an award to recognise our work in valuing and supporting the career development of academics – initially the Award was focussed on STEMM areas but has recently been expanded to cover all academic disciplines and activities that cover:

  • representation
  • progression of students into academia
  • journey through career milestones
  • working environment for all staff

The university has a self-assessment team and several colleges also have their own groups to gather and review statistical data, and deliver actions to support progression and quality of the working experience.

Whilst we have a lot of statistical information we do not have systematic cross-college intelligence about staff wellbeing in their experience of the work-life balance and career development. We would like to sponsor a student project to provide the university self-assessment team with a report based on qualitative perspectives of staff who represent different career stages.  This could take the form of a series of semi-structured interviews – or the administration of a validated research tool – to explore issues of wellbeing, work-life balance and career development. One approach would be to generate a number of narratives and a short questionnaire on how academic staff feel they are supported by the institution.  Good practice can be identified, shared and celebrated whilst areas of development would be highlighted for discussion and action.  The research would have to be undertaken with a reasonably representative cross-section of academic staff.

Students interested in health and wellbeing, human resource management or the sociology of organisations would be particularly suited to this research project.  There are important data protection and ethical considerations that need to be respected by the student.  The successful student will benefit from opportunities to build their qualitative research and report-writing skills whilst considering issues of career development and wellbeing.  Their work will inform the university Athena Swan agenda.


What's Happening ...

Learning & Teaching Conference 2018 - Bookings now open

The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is pleased to announce that bookings are now open for the University's Annual Learning & Teaching Conference 2018. Please use the online form to book your place - bookings will close at 12 noon on Monday 25 June 2018.