Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference for the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Last approved: September 2018

The Equality and Diversity Committee (E&D Comm, formerly EDWG) is a key committee in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It was set up in 2009 in order to review working practices for all members of the Department. Its membership is comprised of individuals spanning a wide range of staff roles (administrative, technical, research and academic) and research students in the Department. The remit of the group is to identify areas where improvements in working practices can be made and then make recommendations to the Head of Department on how these improvements can be made through Departmental procedures. The group works closely with the Departmental Equality Officer.

The E&D Comm adheres to the following principles:

1. Vision, Objectives, Scope and Deliverables

The Committee aims to

  • Work with the Department Equality Champion and Head of Department to ensure equality of opportunity, fair policies and working practices that comply with the University's equal opportunities policy.
  • Improve the working environment for all, in alignment with national initiatives such as those championed by the Athena SWAN Charter and the Institute of Physics Juno Principles.
  • Increase diversity among the Departmental demographic.
  • Achieve greater awareness of equality and diversity issues within the Department and beyond, and advise the Head of Department on equality and diversity matters.
  • Embed a culture of participation and inclusivity, where all staff and students feel valued.
  • Regularly review practices in the department and staff data in order to inform an ever-evolving Action Plan for implementing positive change.


2. Roles and Responsibilities

Equality, diversity and inclusion are the responsibility of all members of the Department. The role of the E&D Comm is to raise awareness, and to advise on, initiate and facilitate changes to the culture, environment and working practices which further the above mentioned objectives.

The Committee meets several times a year, arranged to suit members' availability, and is chaired by a member of academic staff. Members include the Head of Department, the Departmental Staff and Student Equality Champions, and a number of staff and PhD students from a range of different roles and experiences. Subteams are in place in areas which include Engagement and Events, Welfare and Wellbeing, Mentoring, Staff Survey, Gender Statistics Collection, Undergraduate Support, Postgraduate Support, Researcher Development, Academic Staff Development and Administrative Support, as required.

Activities are communicated to staff and students using a number of approaches including a dedicated website and noticeboard, as part of the induction process and through a standing item at the Academic Staff Committee. Communication with the College and University equality fora is via a representative on the College Equalities Committee and through the College Equalities Champion.


3. Resources

The Department allocates resources to the Committee via staff time within the workload model for at least the Chair and a member of administrative staff. Financial resources are available on request.

4. Measures of Success

A key measure of success is the satisfaction and wellbeing of staff and students, and evidence for increased diversity where groups are underrepresented. The Working Group undertakes regular reviews of both qualitative and quantitative data relating to equality and diversity and staff satisfaction in the Department.

In addition, feedback both from applications for relevant awards and informally from Department members is examined to inform future actions. Further feedback from members of the Department is collected at Open Departmental Meetings hosted by the Head of Department.


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