University’s authentic crime scene exercise shortlisted for excellence award

University’s authentic crime scene exercise shortlisted for excellence award name


A cross-discipline team from the University of Cumbria has been shortlisted for a prestigious Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE), which recognises outstanding contributions to teaching by teams from higher education providers.

The Major Incident (MI) team reached the finals for a CATE, with its annual mock crime scene investigation scenario which is staged at the university’s Ambleside campus in real-time over three days.

The MI team, which unites the university’s Forensic Science, Policing and Paramedic Practice departments, delivers a highly realistic scenario unique to the university that helps students develop the skills required to work in their prospective professions.

Students play their respective roles in a major incident – from crime scene investigators to forensic scientists, paramedics and police officers alongside serving professionals and trained academics.

Speaking about this achievement, Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria said, “It’s fantastic that the team behind our unique crime scene investigation scenario has been shortlisted for this award. We pride ourselves on preparing our students for the real-life world of work and this exercise is yet another example of how we go above and beyond to ensure our students get essential hands-on experience. It’s even more befitting that this exercise takes place in the beautiful yet rugged countryside surrounding our Ambleside campus which only adds to the authenticity of the experience for our students.”

The MI team is headed up by Ashleigh Hunt, programme leader for Criminology and Forensic Investigation, Nick Symonds, associate lecturer in Policing and serving police officer with Cumbria Police and Stewart Ralph, professional lead for Paramedic Practice and registered paramedic. 

In the future the MI team intends to extend the exercise to other disciplines, such as Law, Psychology, Criminology and further NHS courses. Other universities have expressed interest in developing similar inter-professional learning scenarios and the team plan to work with these universities in an advisory capacity. 

The criteria for the CATE award are: ‘excellent practice’, teamwork, and the team’s dissemination plan. Teams have to show how they worked in collaboration with direct student involvement in their work. 

HEA Chief Executive, Professor Stephanie Marshall, said, “I am delighted that we have really high-calibre finalists for the Collaborative Award, and I congratulate each and every team.  

“The new CATE finalists represent some of the very best teaching in higher education and I am sure they will inspire others as we share their innovative practice and ideas across the sector. The UK is justifiably proud of its higher education sector and its reputation is enhanced by the examples of excellent teaching highlighted by these awards.” 

Fifteen institutions have been shortlisted for the award. Six of these institutions will be awarded grants of £15,000 to disseminate their learning. The six teams will be announced at the formal celebration event for all these awards at Church House, Westminster, London, 1 November 2017.