Staff profile

Maria Dent

Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education


Education Studies and SEND


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


Institute of Education

Research centre

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education and Science subject leader on the Initial Teacher Education programmes.

Teaching responsibilities

I am a Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, and Science subject leader for the BEd. and PGCE (Core and School Direct) programmes. As well as this strategic role, I am module leader for the following modules: Wider Curriculum: Subjects in Focus (Science strand, level 4); Developing Excellence and Enjoyment Through Science and Technology (level 6); Effective Learning and Teaching in Science and the Wider Curriculum (both PGCE Core and School Direct, Science strands, level 6). I also teach science, both substantive subject knowledge and pedagogy, on all modules that include a science strand (level 4 – level 6).

I am a PGCE level 7 tutor, supervising students through their Master’s modules: Understand the Child as Learner, and Understanding the School as a Learning Community.  I have also taught on the MA Education programme, including a specialist science module.

I am an Independent Studies tutor on the BEd. programme, supervising final year student dissertations (level 6).

My aim is to motivate and inspire new teachers to be confident, scientifically literate practitioners, who are, in turn, able to motivate and inspire children to have love of science, and to grow up to be scientifically literate adults.

Professional interests

Following graduation, I worked for the NHS for 12 years, initially as a medical microbiologist, and then as a Research Scientist in Oncology; I am published in this field. I undertook a PGCE in 1994, and worked in the primary phase for eight years, before transferring to the secondary phase as an Advanced Skills Teacher of Science. During this time, I had a secondment with the Derby City Excellence Partnership, focussing on gifted and talented education; I also worked as SENCO in an inner city school. I started working as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby in 2009. I completed my MA Education in 2011, researching the management of change in secondary schools.

I am involved in several science projects with external agencies, e.g. Derbyshire County Council’s Inspire Space project, which involved an initial strategic role, plus provision of in-house  workshops for children, and also for teachers at their conference; I also undertook a fact-finding visit with students to CERN. With students, I have supported the development of a science trail at Rosliston Forestry Centre. I offer CPD opportunities for schools, through the Science Network meetings at the University, as well as bespoke INSET. I am a regional committee member of the Association for Science Education, involved in the promotion of science education through local meetings and conferences.

I have lectured on ‘Infections and Immunology’ within the Oncology module of the BSc programme at the University of Derby, drawing my initial expertise into my current work.

I am working towards my PhD, studying the influence of celebrity scientists on the uptake of science. I am especially interested in narrative biography as a research method, and the development of conceptual frameworks; I am delivering a session on the latter at the Enthuse Conference, November 2014, at the University of Nottingham.

Research interests

My PhD research is considering the influence of celebrity science and scientists on the uptake of science by young people; within this there is a strong focus on scientific literacy.

Through this, I am developing an expertise in the use of narrative biography as a research method, plus the development of conceptual frameworks.

Membership of professional bodies

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Regional Committee Member of Association For Science Education

Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences


BSc (Hons) Applied Biology, Nottingham Trent University

Special Examination Bacteriology: Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science, Sheffield Hallam University

PGCE, University of Derby

MA Education, University of Derby

Recent conferences

Radford, N. and Dent, M. (2014) Teacher’s perceptions of the importance of scientific literacy:  implications for school curriculum and initial teacher education programmes,5th TEAN Annual Conference

Dent, M. (2013) Celebrity Science: Inspiration or Entertainment, East Midlands Universities Annual Conference

Dent, M. (2013) Space Legacy: Beyond Knowledge, Derbyshire County Council:  Inspire Space Conference

Experience in industry


Medical Microbiologist: 1982-1986

Research Scientist Oncology: 1986-1994. Published in this field

Recent publications

Science and Religion in Schools (2008). Co-editor of KS2 resources, made available at: in 2012.