Professor Robin Millar



I came to the Department in 1982, after 8 years teaching physics and general science in schools in the Edinburgh area. Before that I had graduated in Natural Sciences from Cambridge (Part II in Theoretical Physics), done a PhD in Medical Physics at the University of Edinburgh, and trained as a science teacher at Moray House College.

I contribute to all the teaching programmes in educational studies at York: undergraduate (BAES), PGCE, and higher degrees. I am also Chair of the Departmental Research Committee. I have directed (or co-directed) several large science education projects, most recently as co-ordinator of the Evidence-based Practice in Science Education Research Network, which was part of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme.

I have also been involved in several major curriculum development projects, including Salters Science, Salters Horners Advanced Physics, AS-level Science for Public Understanding and A-level Science in Society. I co-direct the Twenty First Century Science project, which has developed a suite of GCSE courses with a scientific literacy core, designed to provide a more flexible set of options for schools and students.



My main research interests are: the teaching and learning of conceptually demanding topics in science, especially in physics; the role of science in the school curriculum; the implications of scientific literacy as a curriculum aim; practical work in science, and the relationship between research and practice in science education.

Research group(s)



Abrahams, I. (2005) Between rhetoric and reality: the use and effectiveness of practical work in secondary school science.

Saglam, M. (2003) Students’ understanding of electromagnetism at upper secondary school level in England and Turkey.

Kanari, Z. (2000) Children’s performance in tackling science investigations and their reasoning about evidence.

Barker, V. (1994) A longitudinal study of 16-18 year old students’ understanding of basic chemical ideas.

Arnold, M. (1992) Teaching a scientific mental model. A case study: using analogy to construct a model of thermal processes.

In progress:

Five studies are currently in progress on: improving the teaching of ideas about electric circuits at upper secondary school level; developing better instruments to monitor school students’ understanding of the nature of science; assessing the impact of changes in assessment practices in schools in Bahrain; exploring changes in secondary school pupils’ understanding of fields; impact of CPD courses on the practice of experienced science teachers.

External activities


  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Leibniz Institute for Science Education (IPN), Kiel, Germany.

Editorial duties

  • Member of the Editorial Review Panel for International Journal of Science Education, Research in Science & Technological Education and School Science Review.


Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323469