Staff profile

Dr Maria Dent

Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education

Maria Dent standing in front of a stand at an ASE conference


Education, Childhood and SEND


College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Research centre

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



As a Senior Lecturer and science subject leader in Initial Teacher Education, I support students to be confident teachers of science. I am a narrative researcher, currently completing my PhD focussing on the influence of celebrity scientists.

Teaching responsibilities

I am a Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, and Science subject leader for the PGCE (Core and School Direct) programmes. As well as this strategic role, I am module leader for the 'Professional and Curriculum Enhancement' module. I also teach science, both substantive subject knowledge and pedagogy, on all modules that include a science strand, at Level 7.

My aim is to motivate and inspire new teachers to be confident, scientifically literate practitioners, building their own science capital, 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 have been involved in several science projects with external agencies:

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.

Research interests

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

Narrative methodological approach to data collection, including presentation of findings using a 'factional' approach.

Development of conceptual frameworks: innovative approach when empirical evidence in the field is limited.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

Dent, M. (2017) Celebrity science and creative writing: fact and fiction, Research & Scholarship conference, University of Derby

Dent, M. (2017) Celebrity science: Inspiration or entertainment, PGR conference, University of Derby

Dent, M. (2016) Innovative data analysis: dramaturgical coding, PGR conference, University of Derby

Dent, M. (2016) Celebrity scientists: inspiring future scientists, EMUA conference, University of Loughborough

Dent, M. (2015) Developing the conceptual framework: an emotional journey, New Horizon's conference, University of Derby

Dent, M. (2014) Designing: the conceptual framework, Enquire 2014, University of Nottingham

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.