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Research interests

PhD Candidate 

Seren is a doctoral candidate researching widening access to higher education, particularly in relation to student populations taking civil engineering at degree level.  


Seren’s primary research interest is the relationship between fair access entry requirements for STEM subjects at degree level and achieving more diverse student populations.



Seren Essex joined the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering and the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) as a PhD candidate in February 2018. Her research, under the supervision of Dr Paul McCombie, Dr Matt Dickson and Professor Nick Pearce, will explore whether the subject requirements of degree courses impose unfair or inappropriate constraints on who can apply, and impair efforts to widen access to higher education.


Since completing her MEng, Seren has been employed as a physics teacher at a comprehensive school for 11-18 year olds in Cornwall. The school has a significant number of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. She also worked on the international Science Education for Diversity Project, and took on the role of ‘engineering mentor’ to support students interested in pursuing a career in engineering. Alongside her teaching position Seren was a Teacher Coordinator for the Royal Academy of Engineering. This involved setting up a STEM teacher network in Cornwall and disseminating CPD sessions from the Academy to the network. Seren designed and reported on a collaborative project amongst schools in the network focusing on encouraging free school meal students to consider STEM subjects and careers.



Seren holds a first-class MEng degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Swansea and a PGCE and QTS status from Cornwall SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training). Her masters group project, which involved designing a business jet, won the Royal Aeronautical Society and Merlin Flight Simulation Group 2008 Aircraft Design and Handling Competition. Her PGCE research focused on the barriers to girls choosing to study physics at A level. Seren also completed an additional Engineering Diploma Enhancement placement whilst studying for her PGCE.


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