skip to content

Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning

The brightly painted ceiling of Queens' College Old Hall

The 2016 Pilkington Prize ceremony was this year held on 22nd June at Queens' College. As we celebrated the Prize Winners in the beautiful, colourful surroundings of the Old Hall, we were reminded of the centuries of teaching that have taken place in the Collegiate University, of the thousands of students who have studied in its colleges and libraries, and of the lasting impact good teachers can make.

Full profiles of all this year's Prize Winners can be viewed below, or you can view the Prize Winners as a PDF.



Prize Winners 2016


Dr Matei Candea | Division of Social Anthropology

Dr Matei Candea is distinguished as a teacher, first, by his sheer breadth and range: from compelling lectures to large audiences of first-term undergraduates to intimate sessions on how to get published for groups of PhD students and post-docs, across a vast intellectual and thematic range.

He is distinguished, secondly, by his dynamism and consistently creative innovation: from the design and creation of new interdisciplinary courses and re-designing and breathing new life into old ones, through creating new formats for developing transferable skills for graduate students, to being always the first among his colleagues to adopt and experiment with new visual and other media technologies.

He is distinguished most of all by the sheer excellence with which he does all of this: he manages to be exceptionally clear, lucid, accessible, and entertaining – traits that are consistently reflected in highly enthusiastic student evaluations – challenging his audiences with the newest ideas, forcing them to re-examine both their unconscious assumptions and their most recent conclusions, and finally ensuring that they enjoy their education.


Dr Sophia Connell | Faculty of Philosophy

Dr Sophia Connell has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to philosophy teaching within the collegiate University. She has directed studies in Philosophy for eight colleges since 2000, and the academic achievement of the students in her care is exceptional. In supervising, Dr Connell strives to develop students’ confidence in their own intellectual abilities, while challenging them to gain greater insight into the subject. She seeks to build confidence and provide an environment in which enthusiasm for, and expertise in, the subject can flourish. She is an indispensable member of the teaching team in the Faculty of Philosophy.

The education and overall experience of students in Cambridge relies crucially on the integrity and quality of the supervision system. Dr Connell directs studies effortlessly and efficiently for a number of colleges, and she also gives an astonishing proportion of Philosophy supervisions in any given year. She is not only an outstanding supervisor, as the testimonials show; she is also an inspiration to students of all abilities, at all levels.


Dr Sandra Fulton | Department of Biochemistry

Dr Sandra Fulton has been Assistant Director of Teaching in the Department since 2009. She works closely with the Director of Teaching to ensure that the Department provides outstanding teaching throughout its broad portfolio, which involves nearly a thousand students each year. In this role Sandra plays a pivotal role at the interfaces between administrative staff, support staff and academic staff.

Dr Fulton has driven a wide range of innovations in the Department’s teaching, including the development of the Honorary Postdoctoral Teaching Associates Scheme. In addition to this, she has spearheaded the development of new teaching resources for the Department’s Moodle sites. She received funding from the University’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund to support the development of a range of interactive quizzes based on data handling questions, which proved very successful with students. She is currently working with one of our lecturers to develop a series of video clips illustrating key aspects of the lectures or practical classes.

The additional strategic insights and wisdom she brings as a Senior Tutor adds even more value to her essential contribution to the Department’s teaching.


Dr Robert Harle | Computer Laboratory

Dr Robert Harle plays an extensive and effective part in collegiate Cambridge, supervising undergraduates and directing studies at three colleges whose students particularly value his conscientious attention.

His most significant contributions have been in his “cradle to grave” approach to students. He has been energetic and innovative in outreach to secondary school students, in the development of a University‐wide admissions test for applicants, and in a pre‐sessional course that new students follow online before arriving in Cambridge. These have all used Moodle, and have involved writing new components for the system to handle online assessment. This technology has also been fed back into the practical work undertaken by undergraduates in the first year, allowing them to work independently and only visit the laboratory for assistance and oral assessments. He has also encouraged the use of online forums to provide rapid responses to queries and to encourage peer learning.

These innovations place Cambridge firmly at the forefront of digital educational technology, and are being adopted by other subjects in Cambridge and around the world.


Dr Nicola Jones | School of Clinical Medicine

Dr Nicola Jones is a Consultant in Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, and Clinical Sub-Dean at Papworth Hospital. A passionate, caring and committed clinician, she is an exemplary role-model for student doctors. She has completely redesigned the Papworth curriculum, making it more logical and educationally coherent. This has included the introduction of interactive e-learning and student selected components, so that a quarter of the teaching programme is now available for students to pursue their own interests within the wide range of specialist clinical practice in the UK’s largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital.

Dr Jones has injected an enormous amount of enthusiasm into the teaching programme, inspiring colleagues from all clinical professions to get involved in student education. In addition to teaching by doctors, students can develop practical clinical skills under the supervision of specialist nurses, physiotherapists and ultrasonographers, opportunities which have been greatly appreciated.

She has received an extraordinary amount of positive feedback from our students, all of whom have a clinical placement at Papworth. Many comment on her ability to explain complex clinical care, from physiology to pathology and communication skills.


Dr Emma Mawdsley | Department of Geography

Dr Emma Mawdsley is an excellent teacher, who contributes willingly and highly effectively at both undergraduate and graduate levels. She teaches in all three years of the Geographical Tripos and commits willingly to running residential field classes. Dr Mawdsley is in every respect an excellent and highly collegiate member of the Department, whose wit and wisdom on teaching matters can be relied upon to keep students’ needs at the forefront of planning. Her student feedback ratings are excellent. She has contributed fully to departmental teaching support: administration, examination and strategic planning. Her passion for the subject extends to involvement in outreach with schools. She has participated in the University’s Oxbridge Conferences Programme, in the Sutton Trust Summer School, and in giving lectures for the Prince’s Teaching Institute.

Her dedication is outstanding and inspirational and she is imaginative in bringing her students together as a gifted, innovative and highly committed teacher. She is an outstanding communicator, able to put across complex ideas in ways which are accessible to students, but which also challenge and motivate them to think in different ways.


Dr Karen Ottewell | Language Centre

Dr Karen Ottewell leads the Language Centre’s provision for the University’s international students, with particular responsibility for the flagship Pre-Sessional Programme and provides consultancy and assessment services to support the Graduate Admissions Office in assessing readiness of international students in meeting the Language Condition of entry. She has been instrumental in influencing both thinking and practices in teaching academic English both in the UK and internationally, including in emerging strategic contexts in respect of English- medium Higher Education in Russia, China and Hong Kong. Her leadership and teaching are thoroughly research informed and are influencing research in the field.

To support both the Pre-Sessional and In-Sessional programmes she has personally developed, and supported her team in developing, a range of innovative online learning resources, some of which are also offered to international students pre-arrival, via the International Student Portal.

She is also working with Cambridge Assessment on the development of what promises to be a global, sector-changing approach to assessing English-medium academic literacies.


Dr Noel Rutter | Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy

Dr Noel Rutter has transformed the teaching environment within Materials Science. He has been an enthusiastic and outstandingly popular teacher, a mentor for students, and a far-sighted administrator. He has designed courses, delivered lectures, and headed practical classes, as well as maintained a clear overall perspective on the four years of undergraduate taught courses.

He has managed the transfer of teaching materials and information into a digital format by designing and building the Department’s interactive teaching web site. This includes mechanisms for students to submit assessed work, and our online pre- practical session quizzes for students, and methods for online marking (which has greatly increased the speed of mark submission and feedback to students).

He has designed and delivered much of the teaching and demonstrations used for Open Days and Outreach purposes. He ensures that the Department’s summer course is available to the most deserving students, and feedback is always extremely positive and enthusiastic.

The remarkable rise in student numbers within Materials Science over recent years is, undoubtedly, principally down to Dr Rutter’s unquenchable enthusiasm and teaching ability.


Dr Christof Schwiening | Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience

Dr Christof Schwiening brings massive enthusiasm and energy to lecturing and demonstrating, and thinks carefully about how he connects with his audience. He believes that `fun’ in lectures engages students with lasting consequences for their understanding. His dynamism means that he is always looking for ways to improve his teaching, taking cognizance of changing technology. In 2012, with a grant from the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund, he conducted a trial of electronic notetaking devices. This trial was instrumental in allowing some courses in Engineering and the Institute of Manufacturing to be developed entirely around electronic notetaking.

Dr Schwiening is one of the most innovative members of the teaching staff at Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, and his teaching skill has been put to good effect at Sutton Trust demonstrations and at Science Festival events, providing memorable and graphic illustrations of scientific ideas. In one Science Festival lecture he demonstrated the action potential by sequentially activating a line of 50 mouse traps. He is always doing something new.


Dr Keith Seffen | Department of Engineering

Dr Keith Seffen is one of the most outstanding staff members in the Engineering Department. His teaching activities range from the large Part I structural engineering classes for 300 students to the research courses for a handful of graduates on advanced topics such as shell theory.

Dr Seffen has frequently been the recipient of student-voted Best Lecturer Awards. The popularity of his teaching is due not only to the panache with which he delivers his lectures, entertaining while he teaches, but also to the masterful clarity of his lecture notes. These provide exactly what students want and need, and are exemplars of good practice. They are carefully prepared to the highest professional standards and embedded with many illustrative computer-drawn diagrams. He willingly devotes the time and energy to generate these superb documents whenever he takes on a new course.

As a colleague, Dr Seffen is highly valued. His judgment and integrity are excellent and he is completely dependable. He is courteous, thoughtful and helpful.


Dr Ruchi Sinnatamby | Cambridge University Hospitals Trust

Dr Ruchi Sinnatamby combines her role of Consultant Radiologist in the Addenbrookes Breast Clinic with being Clinical Sub-Dean for the Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, and also the Director of Studies in Clinical Medicine and Vice President of Murray Edwards College.

Dr Sinnatamby’s educational roles span the teaching and training of medical students, radiology trainees and consultants of all clinical disciplines, work that is recognised locally, nationally, and internationally. Her educational activities span not only her own clinical specialty but also wider involvement in curriculum design, assessment and quality assurance and the generic skills required for good medical practice. In particular she is passionate about clinical communication skills teaching, and is one of the core team involved in teaching and assessing medical students in communication skills and diagnostic reasoning.

Dr Sinnatamby is an ideal role model for students and young doctors. She has a calm, mature approach with a thoughtful, sensitive manner. In radiology, she ensures that teaching is part of routine daily clinical practice and that students are welcomed into the clinical team. Her sessions are frequently described as absolutely fantastic and inspiring.


Dr Carl Watkins | Faculty of History

Dr Carl Watkins is one of the ‘stand-out’ academics in the Faculty. His teaching in lectures, seminars and supervisions is highly prized by all students. He has introduced successful innovations in the format and content of his teaching. His teaching has been especially effective in overcoming disciplinary boundaries and has introduced students to an unprecedented variety of sources and analytical methods. He has been actively engaged at Faculty and College level in outreach programmes designed to broaden the social make-up of candidates to read History.

He is an enviably gifted lecturer who knows how to make technology serve pedagogic goals, rather than tailoring the latter slavishly to the limitations of the former. Very few lecturers are consistently complimented as he is on their use of handouts and audio-visual presentations in student feedback. The pedagogic impact of his teaching, its breadth and constant renewal in content and form, and his ability to break down disciplinary barriers, have made Dr Watkins an axial figure among students and colleagues alike for many years.

Teaching & Learning Newsletter

Stay informed of upcoming events and hear about innovative practices across the University by subscribing to our newsletter.

Check out the latest issue.