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St Mary's Festival of Learning and Teaching is our flagship annual learning and teaching event.

The Festival brings together colleagues from St Mary's, our collaborative partners and other universities to explore our teaching practices around key themes in higher education.

We are pleased to announce Dr Helen King, Deputy Director (Academic Practice) at the University of the West of England, as a keynote speaker at the Festival.

Dr King has written extensively on the theme of expertise in higher education and we are very excited she can join us. Read more about her work on her blog and follow her on Twitter: @drhelenking

Register for the 2021 Festival

Festival programme

Programme: Day 1 (24th June)

Programme: Day 2 (25th June)

Call for papers

The coronavirus pandemic has radically reshaped established teaching practices in higher education. We have had to draw on our expertise as academics to teach in unfamiliar ways, rapidly develop our expertise in online and blended learning, and develop new ways of harnessing expertise in our institutions to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Recent educational development research has attempted to describe the nature of expertise in higher education. For example, King (2020) considers expertise to be the product of how to teach in our disciplines, the ‘artistry’ of teaching, and the constant evolution of our practices through purposeful professional development. Van Dijk et al. (2020) suggest six tasks can be used to describe expertise in higher education teaching: teaching and supporting learning, educational design, assessment and feedback, leadership and management, scholarship and research and professional development. Our practices across all dimensions of expertise have been disrupted by the pandemic, and critically reflecting on our response to these changes is itself a valuable part of our professional development.

The pandemic has also provided an opportunity to think about the expertise that our graduates need to contribute positively to a complex and interconnected world, and the effective teaching practices that support their development. Our graduates will spend many decades as citizens addressing complex societal issues that have yet to emerge, and futureproofing them to engage proactively with these challenges requires new forms of expertise. Our students are experts in their own right - in what works in online and blended learning, in learning from home and how to design flexible learning: how can this expertise be integrated into our approaches to learning and teaching?

By framing our learning and teaching practices as a co-created body of expertise, we aim to critically explore what it means to be an expert practitioner in higher education, and to reflect on how diverse forms of expertise can contribute to delivering a high-quality inclusive learning experience. Our Festival aims to explore:

  • The successes we have had in deploying collaborative expertise to support students during the coronavirus pandemic
  • The extent to which students are experts in their own learning and curricula
  • How to incorporate diverse forms of expertise from inside and outside of universities to develop high-quality and inclusive blended learning experiences
  • How postgraduate and doctoral researchers and their supervisors have had to reshape their expertise to undertake and support research projects
  • The ways that we acquire and reshape our own professional expertise through teaching experiences, critical self-reflection and academic CPD
  • How to develop student expertise to address the grand challenges and wicked problems of the 21st century (Rittel & Webber, 1973; Peters & Tarpey, 2019)
  • The expertise that professional and support services can bring to curriculum design
  • Innovative approaches to using disciplinary research expertise to enhance learning and teaching

We welcome submissions in the following formats

  • Presentation (15 mins presentation followed by 15 mins discussion): Presentations should be clearly aligned to the themes of the Festival, and we strongly encourage approaches to engage the audience. 
  • Roundtable discussion (1 hr): These should provide a structured, engaging and inclusive opportunity for participants to reflect on and discuss an issue or topic relating to the themes of the conference. We particularly welcome discussions that include interactive components such as breakout rooms, polls and other online collaboration tools. 
  • Interactive workshop (1 hr): Interactive workshops should engage participants in a structured series of activities in which they can explore one or more Festival themes. Workshops that enable participants to interact with each other using collaboration tools are encouarged. 
  • Lightning talks (5 mins): Lightning talks are strictly timed to be 5 minutes by the Session Chair. They are an ideal way to explore a well-defined issue or topic relating to the Festival theme. 

The Call for Papers opens on Wednesday 14th April 2021.

  • Monday 24th May 2021, 12pm: Deadline for submissions closes.
  • Friday 28th May 2021: Decisions on submissions will be communicated to presenters.
  • Week commencing 7th June 2021: Festival Programme published. 

Submit a session

Submissions are now closed for the 2021 Festival.

We welcome submissions from St Mary's staff and students, and from colleagues and students at other insitutions. Please email us at if you have any questions or would like to discuss your submission.

Submit your session proposal