Physics Education

Physics postgraduate researchers learning

The Physics Education Research Group is an integral part of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds. Our research looks at the ways in which students learn physics and develop as physicists in the 21st Century. Results of this research allow developments in curriculum, delivery and assessment to enhance the student experience.

We have a wide variety of interests focusing around:

  • Transition into university physics
  • Collaborative learning and peer instruction
  • Keeping core learning alive in students minds and effective revision strategies
  • Ways in which different personalities affect confidence and learning in physics
  • Assessment for different learning outcomes
  • Outreach, 'real-world' physics, and employability.

This encompasses the ‘life-cycle’ of student experience. Starting with outreach to inspire and engage students in university physics, it comes full circle to empower students to reach out and take the next step in their physics career.

Research team

  • Dr Alison Voice is head and founder of the Physics Education Research Group. She is a National Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) with a PGCE and over 30 years of experience teaching Physics. Her interests in physics education are wide ranging, with particular focus on transition to university and sense of belonging, collaborative learning/peer instruction, spaced repetition for embedding key learning, and integration of career planning into the curriculum to enhance the number of students continuing their journey in physics.

  • Dr Samantha Pugh is an Associate Professor in STEM Education and a National Teaching Fellow. She is Director of Student Education in the School as of August 2019. Samantha's research interests include employability, careers education in STEM, transferable skills development, reflective practice, assessment design, and the impact of STEM outreach interventions.
  • Dr Robert Purdy is a lecturer in Physics and Admissions Tutor for the School of Physics and Astronomy. His background is in Theoretical and Particle Physics. Rob's research interests in relation to Physics Education include: appropriate use and embedding of digital technologies in teaching practices; student revision techniques; innovative methods of assessment; impact of culture on teaching and learning in Physics; engagement of under-represented groups in physics; and making Physics accessible to the layperson.
  • Prof Mike Ries is a University Teaching Fellow looking at ways of improving physics undergraduate education and engagement. He is particularly interested in the use of online and interactive material to enhance the understanding of Maxwell’s equations. He has made an online virtual nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, produced online resources to help with vector calculus and created an iOS app.
  • Erin McNeill is the Outreach Officer for the School, with a background in Materials Engineering, and has ten years of experience in widening the participation of physics and engineering.  She works with young people and members of the public to showcase the exciting research that takes place here at the University of Leeds.  She is interested in determining best practice for increasing young people’s science capital, understanding the ways we can measure impactful engagement and learning about how social inequalities and gender identities influence young people’s decisions in pursuing higher education.
  • Dr Emma Cochrane is a Teaching Fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy. Her background is in experimental nuclear physics and medical physics. Emma has been teaching Physics for over 25 years encompassing all ages and abilities. She has qualified teacher status and has taught Physics at both secondary school and university. Emma’s interests include the transition from further education to higher education, imposter syndrome among Physics undergraduate students, introversion and physics education, and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education.

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch with a relevant member of staff, or contact the Head of Group, Alison Voice (