Dr Cheryl Hurkett

Senior Personal Tutor, Physics Teaching Lecturer and Accessibility Tutor

Cheryl portrait 2014

Telephone: 0116 252 3528

Email: cph9@le.ac.uk





I graduated from the University of Leicester with a First Class MPhys Physics with Astrophysics (Hons) degree in 2004 and then with a PhD in X-Ray Astronomy in 2008, which was carried out within the XROA group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Leicester.

My research involved working as part of an international collaboration to analyse data from extremely violent extra-galactic explosions called Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs).

The majority of my research revolved around the NASA mission called Swift.  During the earlier part of my PhD I was also a Leicester 'Burst Advocate' and occasionally helped with 'X-Ray Burst Scientist' duties. My thesis was was entitled "Gamma Ray Bursts: Selected Results From The Swift Mission".

In 2008 I joined the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and piCETL, a joint venture between the University of Leicester, the Open University and the University of Reading to innovate the teaching of physics.

As a full-time Lecturer I have a variety of roles within the Centre including course development, teaching, outreach and course promotion.

As the Senior Personal Tutor and Accessibility Tutor for the Natural Sciences degree it is my responsibility to ensure that all of our students receive excellent pastoral support so that they can make the most of their time with us.

Clearly I am very familiar with the local teaching ethos within the Department for Physics and Astronomy and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science given that I have been here so long and having experienced it from both the student and instructor perspective!

I am particularly interested in the Research/Problem Based Learning (R/PBL) methodology. I initially encountered it as an undergraduate when it was first introduced in the Physics department alongside more traditional lecture based courses before moving on to help facilitate/demonstrate workshops as a PhD student.

Finally I moved on to my current role of helping to design, develop and teach the R/PBL centric Natural Sciences degree course in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science.

I am always looking for innovative and effective ways to improve teaching methods in the Higher Education sector - particularly those that are fun/engaging for my students and that allow me to convey my enthusiasm with regards to science to a wide audience.

If you are interested in learning more about R/PBL, or would like help in implementing it into your own teaching practice, then please feel free to contact me at cph9@le.ac.uk.

I have also helped to develop and deliver materials for the online, distance-learning iTeach inititative.

Teaching Qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (PGCAPHE):
    • Distinction (Module A: Teaching, Learning,  and Assessment in Theory and Practice),
    • Distinction (Module D: E-Learning Resource Development & Student Support)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


    ModuleYear Group
    Origins of Science First Year
    Prophets and Powers – Course convenor First Year
    Solar and Planetary Science First Year
    Near Space Course convenor First Year
    Energy in Physics and Chemistry Second Year
    Time and Energy Second Year
    Astrophysics and Astrobiology Second Year
    Habitable Worlds Second Year
    Forensics – Course convenor Second Year
    Biophysics, Physiology and Metabolis Second Year
    Man and Machines Second Year
    Molecular Cell Biology and Nanoscience Third Year
    Nanoscale Frontiers Third Year
    Sensing and Signalling in Biology and Physic Third Year
    Communication Science Third Year
    Methods and Techniques I – Course convenor First Year
    Methods and Techniques II – Course convenor Second Year
    Methods and Techniques III – Course convenor Third Year
    Laboratory Science I – Course convenor First Year
    Laboratory Science II – Course convenor Second Year
    Laboratory Science III – Course convenor Third Year
    Interdisciplinary Research Journal Third Year
    Science in Context – Course convenor Third Year
    Advanced Study Topic I – Course convenor First Year
    Advanced Study Topic II – Course convenor Second Year
    Research Project III Third Year
    Advanced Study Topic IV Fourth Year

Research Interests

Whilst my previous academic studies appear to have been very narrowly focussed in the area of astrophysics I am interested in a broad range of scientific subjects, especially those that require interdisciplinary research such as biorobotics (the study of biologically inspired machines), Complex Systems (the emergence of complex behaviours from simple rules), Origin of Life scenarios and Educational Research.

Published Resources


    PresentationEvent / LocationYear
    Undergraduate e-Journals Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference: Making Connections and Sharing Pedagogy 2016
    The Natural Science approach to the Personal Tutor System 4th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Leicester 2016
    Using Interactions within the HE Sector as an Alternative to Industrial Placements to Enhance Employability and Subject Knowledge 3rd Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Leicester
    Undergraduate E-Journals College of Science & Engineering Learning and Teaching Focus Day, Leicester
    Undergraduate E-Journals HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Edinburgh 2014
    Embedding and Threading Employability Throughout the Natural Science Degree Course College of Science & Engineering Learning and Teaching Focus Day, Leicester


I have helped to organise the following conferences:


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Contact Details

Tel.: +44 (0)116 252 3506
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 2770

Department of Physics & Astronomy,
University of Leicester,
University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH,
United Kingdom.


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