Building momentum towards inclusive teaching and learning

The Institute of Physics is committed to ensuring that all students can achieve their potential in physics and to removing barriers to participation for all. This includes removing barriers for disabled students.

Building momentum towards inclusive learning

By moving towards a more inclusive learning environment many organisational, structural and cultural barriers to disabled students can be removed. The focus on inclusivity means that “individual interventions is the exception, not the rule” as set out in the Department for Education’s report Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a Route to Excellence. This requires all staff in higher education – academics, support staff and senior institutional managers – to consider the needs of disabled students in all that they do – including the design, delivery and assessment of all academic teaching and learning.

There are particular challenges in providing an inclusive learning environment in all the physical sciences and especially in physics, due to the wide range of activities involved, such as lab sessions, problem classes and fieldwork, and the use of mathematical and scientific notation. General good practice guidance on inclusive curricula do not normally contain specialist information on the particular accessibility challenges of courses with substantial mathematical content given its non-linear nature (ie the relative positioning of letters, symbols and numbers
and their relative sizes) and the limitations of assistive technology in manipulating this content.

This report is the culmination of a project investigating the moves towards more inclusive undergraduate teaching and learning in physics departments and the barriers that physics and other STEM departments face.

This good practice guide has been based on the main themes and findings from the project and highlights actions that physics departments and schools have already taken to implement a more inclusive environment. Although this report outlines good practice that has already been adopted, this should not be interpreted as definitive guidance on making individual reasonable adjustments as part of any university’s duties under the Equality Act (2010). For further details
on such adjustments, see the Equality Challenge Unit’s 2010 report Managing Reasonable Adjustments in Higher Education.

Download the report as a PDF

A Word version is available on request. Please email