Dr Elizabeth Swinbank

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I am an Honorary Fellow in Science Education at the University of York.


In 1990 I joined the University of York Science Education Group (UYSEG) after nine years teaching physics and science in a comprehensive school. Prior to that, I graduated from Cambridge University with a BA in Natural Sciences (Part II Physics), gained a PhD in Radio Astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory and a PGCE at Homerton College.

I left my desk in November 2015. While employed in UYSEG I directed Salters Horners Advanced Physics (SHAP), chaired the editorial board of Physics Review magazine, and worked on several other curriculum projects, mostly physics-related. These include Perspectives on Science (history, philosophy and ethics of science AS course), resources for Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ), the Institute of Physics Biological Physics and Quantum Curriculum projects for undergraduate teaching, the York Science Key Stage 3 project, Twenty First Century Science, Salters GCSE Science, Science Focus, Prime Science, the Open University FLAP project, CERN teachers' courses, and the Teaching Resources Unit for Modern Physics (TRUMP) initiatives.

In 2004 I was awarded the Institute of Physics Bragg Medal and Prize for Physics Education. I subsequently served as IOP Vice President (Education) and chaired the IOP group that produced the 2011 'Mind the Gap' report on maths and the transfer from A-level to physics and engineering degrees.

During my 25 years in UYSEG I have had the privilege of being able to accept invitations to contribute to physics/education conferences and workshops in the UK and overseas, including Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Greece, Ireland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Departmental roles

I continue to chair the editorial board of Physics Review, and am currently involved in various projects relating to physics education and to EPQs, including EPSILON (the Extended Project Science Investigation Liaison and Outreach Network) and the IOP Glossary Project.



Salters Horners Advanced Physics is a project to promote and support the context-led teaching of physics at AS and A-level (students aged 16-19). Materials for a complete two-year course were first developed in the late 1990s with the involvement of teachers, academic physicists and industrialists. Course materials were first published in the late 1990s and are being revised and updated for publication in 2008 and 2009. The SHAP project office provides on-going support for SHAP schools and colleges, including residential in-service courses for teachers and technicians.

Perspectives on Science is an AS-level course in History, Philosophy and Ethics of Science for post-16 students which emphasises the development of skills of analysis and argument and which is assessed entirely through an individual student research project. Course materials were published in 2007. POS has provided a template for the national development of the new Extended Project qualification and the POS team are now working to produce support materials for POS-style projects in other curriculum areas.

Physics Review is a magazine for post-16 physics students which has several thousand subscribers in schools and colleges throughout the UK. The editorial board comprises University of York staff from the departments of Educational Studies, Physics and Electronics together with local school teachers.

Research group(s)


Selected publications

Publications 2009 and to date (July 2010)

Swinbank, E and Taylor, J L, Level 3 Extended Project: Student Guide, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

Swinbank, E and Taylor, J L, Level 1 and 2 Projects: Student Guide, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

Swinbank, E and Taylor, J L, Level 3 Extended Project: Teacher Resource Disk, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

Swinbank, E and Taylor, J L, Level 1 and 2 Projects: Teacher Resource Disk, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

Swinbank, E and Taylor, J L, The Perspectives Model for the EPQ. In P. Derham and M Worton (eds) Liberating Learning; Widening Participation (pp 49-53), University of Buckingham Press 2010

Academic editor and contributing author:

Salters Horners Advanced Physics Project, A2 Student Book, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

Salters Horners Advanced Physics Project, A2 Teacher and Technician Resource Pack, Pearson Edexcel London 2009

External activities


  • Vice-President (Education) of the Institute of Physics and member of IOP Council
  • Chair of the IOP Education Board and IOP Stimulating Physics Advisory Committee
  • Member of IOP Awards Committee
  • Member of EPSRC Peer Review College.
  • Member of Pre-U Liaison Committee, Cambridge International Examinations


  • International Baccalaureate Group 4 Review
  • EADS Astrium 4Space project

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD