About the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Science was set up in 2005 to deliver a programme that would respond to a perceived national need for more broadly educated scientists. The programme, then called Interdisciplinary Science or IScience for short was innovative in several ways. First it integrated the teaching of the different disciplines allowing modules content to tackle interdisciplinary topics such as nanoscience, astrobiology and climate change, while remaining grounded in the core discipline content. Second, the programme adopted a strongly student-centred approach to learning by offering what is best described as an undergraduate degree by research. Each module poses a question or problem or raises an issue that students tackle by guided research, thereby becoming scientists by doing science.
The development of a new degree programme from scratch was a rare and exciting opportunity, but also a daunting one. Fortunately the importance of the programme has been widely recognised over the its period of development and has received financial support from a number of sources: The HEFCE FDTL4 programme funded the development of PBL; the HEFCE CETL programme supported the contextualisation of the Physics materials; the IOP Stimulating Physics programme supported the development of an integrated science programme and the HE STEM project supported the development of electronic teaching materials. We also had help from a JISC project to repurpose electronic open educational resources, from the HEA BioSciences Centre to develop the module on Sustainability, from HE STEM to develop video materials to support the teaching of concepts in physics and from the NTF awarded to the director to support the development of the mathematics part of the programme.
The work on innovative approaches to teaching in HE in the Centre has influenced new programmes in the UK and further afield in the US, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Spain.
At its quinquennial review the reputation of the Centre was recognised with its establishment as an independent Centre in the College of Science and Engineering and an increase in its student quota.
The Interdisciplinary Science Degree is supported by: