Professor Simon Belt

Year of NTFS award: 2010

Institution at time of NTFS award: University of Plymouth

I obtained my BSc and DPhil in Chemistry from the University of York in the 1980’s, and then carried out post-doctoral research as at the Universities of California, U.S.A. and Ottawa, Canada. I returned to the U.K. in 1993 and took up the position of Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Plymouth. I was appointed to Senior Lecturer in 1998, to Principal Lecturer in 1999 and to Professor in 2005. For my teaching, I received the Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award in 2003 and the Chemical Synthesis Services award for Teaching in 2005.

My NTF application was based largely on my contributions to teaching using so-called Context/Problem Based Learning (C/PBL) and its use in teaching chemistry undergraduates. In addition to using this approach to inspire chemistry students in Plymouth, I have also been awarded close to £500,000 to develop, publish and evaluate C/PBL resources, which are now embedded in university chemistry curricula all round the world. I have also created novel approaches to teaching laboratory work that encourage students to develop a research ethos in their learning. Indeed, I attribute much of my teaching philosophy to a parallel career as a research scientist.

I have also contributed to the field of chemical education research, publishing >20 peer-reviewed publications and giving national and international conference presentations on C/PBL in chemistry, often as Keynote lectures. I also act as a mentor to newly appointed academic staff, both in Plymouth and beyond. I have also served on national HE committees including the Advisory Committee of the HEA UK Physical Sciences Centre.

I currently have a more research focus to my role, but keep a keen interest in developing students’ research skills through supervision of masters level research projects. I retain a role as mentor to new academic staff and prospective NTF applicants.


My pedagogic expertise: 

  • context/problem based learning
  • research skills
  • mentoring.