Senate Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Karen Harvey with framed certificateThe University of Sheffield Senate Awards Scheme aims to encourage and promote good practice, and raise the status of teaching and learning as a scholarly and inspirational activity. The Scheme rewards those who are inspirational or who demonstrate an exceptional contribution in the area of learning and teaching and/or supporting and enhancing the student learning experience. Senate Award recipients become a “Senate Fellow” for life

As well as those who work directly with students, the Scheme welcomes applications for colleagues who indirectly support students. Candidates for a Senate Award are nominated by colleagues who are members of staff at The University of Sheffield. Senate Fellows (previous recipients) may only be nominated for a category different to their previous award.

Senate Awards 2018-19

The Senate Award Scheme for 2018-2019 will open at the Learning and Teaching Conference on 8 January 2019.

The closing date for all applications will be Friday 22 March 2019 and the results will be published at the end of April.

Full details of the application, criteria and assessment are available below. If you have any questions please email Sarah Moore in the Academic Professional Development Team at

Senate Award application form

Further information

Categories of awards

Senate Award for Sustained Excellence

This award recognises continued excellence and inspiration in teaching and/or learner support. Nominees will have developed their skills and practice over a period of six or more years and represent a “model of excellence”.

In addition to the criteria the Assessment Panel will be looking for the following:

  • A significant contribution to the University of Sheffield community should be demonstrated as part of this application.
  • Sustained development and innovation should also be demonstrated across a breadth of activities.
  • Applications should illustrate nominees’ expertise or influence on their field/profession, colleagues or the wider context of education.

Early Career Senate Award

This award recognises emerging excellence in inspiring teaching and/or learner support over a period no longer than six years (i.e. since March 2013).
In addition to the criteria the Assessment Panel will be looking for the following:

  • Applications should show engagement in inspirational learning and teaching.
  • They should also demonstrate some impact upon the broader learning community that is beyond the nominee’s own classroom/teaching.

Up to four awards are normally available.

Senate Award for Collaborative Activities

This award recognises groups or teams who clearly demonstrate collaborative working to improve learning in an inspiring or innovative manner. A team should involve no more than eight individuals.

In addition to the criteria the Assessment Panel will be looking for the following:

  • Explanation of the aims or impact of the collaboration, how the collaboration was carried out and why it differs from everyday teamwork.
  • Demonstration of significant engagement not only with the concepts of learning and teaching but also with those of collaboration, development of their ability in this area and some “success” that has impact beyond the personal.

A team may include one person who is not a member of staff at The University of Sheffield. Up to two awards are normally available.

Senate Award for Leadership in Learning and Teaching

This award recognises someone who has excelled at driving forward the agenda for enhancing teaching and the student learning experience; and demonstrated inspirational leadership at The University of Sheffield.

Applications should attest to the difference that the leader has made in driving forward the learning and teaching within a department, faculty or across university learning and teaching agendas.

One award is available in this category.

Recipients of the Senate Award for Departmental Leadership in Learning and Teaching are not eligible for nomination in this category.


Awards are judged on the applicant's contribution towards learning and teaching at The University of Sheffield. These will be assessed in context (panel members will be made aware of, and take into account, applicant status e.g. teaching-only, academic or professional support).

Nominations should incorporate some of the following criteria:

Inspirational teaching

a. Inspire students to achieve their full potential.
b. Encourage student empowerment and self-belief (resilience).
c. Stimulate students’ creativity and innovative thinking.
d. Create innovative teaching and learning environments.
e. Support the development of a life-long love of learning through engaging and high quality teaching relevant to a global student cohort.

Research-led learning

a. Support students in using their scholarship to develop new knowledge and question established ideas in their discipline.
b. Teach students using up to date research, in some cases having written the books and papers their students are learning from.
c. Support students to develop their knowledge and apply it to solve problems.
d. Support students to find things out for themselves and be critical and independent thinkers.
e. Support students to be effective in, and take responsibility for, their own personal and professional development (e.g. by the development of a well-structured course meeting the needs of modern employers with practical learning underpinned by theory to enhance graduate employability).

Contribution to the Sheffield Graduate

a. Support students to become flexible, adaptable and reflective in their approach, so that they can adapt to the changing demands of their future careers rather than holding on to a fixed body of knowledge.
b. Illustrate to students how research makes a difference to our understanding of the world around us and to the solution of its problems, so students learn how to make that difference themselves.
c. Communicate the attributes of the Sheffield Graduate and the distinctiveness of the Sheffield learning experience.
d. Encourage students to take advantage of social and cultural opportunities outside their studies.
e. Enhance the welcome and induction for all students.

Working together/ Leadership/ Creating the right environment

a. Have a positive influence on colleagues and community, and foster a sense of community in the student cohort both within and outside the classroom (locally and internationally).
b. Create or develop high-quality strategic partnerships for learning and teaching (or for research and innovation) which may enable students to apply their skills and talents prior to graduation.
c. Enable students to understand and benefit from the employability focus in their courses.
d. Increase the role of student ambassadors within learning communities.
e. Enable students to learn in a context where they understand how their knowledge impacts on others.
f. Support students to experience the wider benefits of an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted university with an international reach and reputation.

Applicants should note that the list of qualities and characteristics in the assessment criteria are not intended as a comprehensive or limiting checklist. Nomination and referees' statements can, as appropraite, cite other characteristics that describe the nominee's or team's excellence in teaching and/or support of learning and teaching and the wider community.

Demonstration of these criteria does not guarantee an award.

Application process

Applications have three components: a nomination statement, a referee’s statement, and a short case study from the nominee. All three are to be uploaded as PDF files into the application form. Case studies from successful applicants may be used as part of learning and teaching guidance material with the applicant's permission. Nominees are responsible for completing the application form.

Faculty Directors of Learning and Teaching cannot neither nominate nor act as referee as they participate in the assessment process.

Nomination Statement

The nomination consists of a statement that should:
• be no longer than 500 words (footnotes and appendices are not expected and are counted); and
• address the Assessment Criteria and the category descriptors to illustrate how the nominee has been inspirational and/or exceptional in the area of learning and teaching. However, demonstrating each element of the criteria or providing detailed evidence is not necessary and websites should not be referred to.

The Nomination Statement should be provided on headed paper and signed, and sent to the nominee as a PDF file to be uploaded on the application form. Self-nominations by the applicant will not be accepted.

Referee Statement

The Referee Statement should be no longer than 300 words each. Each nomination requires ONE Referee Statement. A referee should be able to support the nomination statement and authenticate the case study. The Referee Statement should be provided on headed paper and signed, and sent to the nominee as a PDF file to be uploaded on the application form.

The referee cannot be the person providing the nomination statement.

Case Study

The nominee (the applicant) is asked to provide a Case Study on an aspect of their learning and teaching practice that highlights the excellence they are being nominated for. The Case Study must be no longer than two sides of A4 and uploaded within the application form as a PDF file.

By uploading the Case Study you consent to its use in the Learning and Teaching Toolki

Selection process

The Senate Awards Panel will meet shortly after the deadline for submission. The Panel will use general and category-specific criteria to select the successful nominations.

Membership of the Senate Awards Panel includes:

  • the Vice President for Education;
  • a Senate Fellow;
  • a representative of the Faculty Directors of Learning and Teaching ;
  • a representative of the Students’ Union; and
  • a representative from Learning and Teaching Services.

All Faculty Directors of Learning and Teaching contribute to the nomination assessment process.

The Panel’s decision is final.


The University of Sheffield reserves the right to reject any nomination which does not meet the following:
  • Candidates for a Senate Award are nominated by colleagues who are members of staff at The University of Sheffield. The nominee is responsible for completing the application form.
  • Nominees must be staff of the University of Sheffield and involved in learning and teaching (this includes honorary teaching staff, for example NHS Associate members of staff, provided their teaching is evaluated by students using the normal departmental process.).
  • Nominators must be a staff member of the University of Sheffield, or Associate staff member.
  • Applications must be made in a specific category and meet the eligibility requirements for that category.
  • Applications must be completed in the designated format, according to the guidance provided, and be received by the stated deadline.
  • Existing Senate Fellows are only eligible for nomination in a category other than that in which they won their existing status.
The award

All winners will receive the title of Senate Fellow and a framed Certificate of Recognition. Formal presentations will be made to the winners at a graduation ceremony and attendance at this event is required for the recipient to become a Senate Fellow.

The Award also includes an invitation to dinner with the Vice-Chancellor or Deputy Vice-Chancellor and membership of the Senate Fellows Network with opportunities to participate in a range of activities such as strategic consultations, mentoring, social events and targeted developmental activities.

Senate Award winners will be encouraged to share, present and promote good practice within the University and, where relevant, other institutions. As part of this they may be asked to participate in related learning and teaching networking and publicity events. They may be asked to provide case studies for the Toolkit for Learning and Teaching.

View our previous Senate Award recipients