8 ways you will benefit from university research


While you’ve been looking at universities, you may have noticed that some institutions say they are ‘research active’ but what does this mean for you as an undergraduate or even postgraduate student, and does it really matter? Here are eight reasons why it does...



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1. Active researchers, often leaders in their field, design and inform our course content, ensuring you benefit from the latest knowledge and developments in your subject and beyond.

Research-active university - Associate Professor Duncan Pirrie teaches students on field trip to Azores

2. Being taught by active researchers provides you with privileged access to the very latest practice and knowledge in your field.

Brendan Cropley, Professor of Sport Coaching

3. Being involved in research helps ensure that lecturers are passionate about their areas, and well connected to their industry, nationally and globally.

Dr Gareth Owen is leading research into new ways of mimicking plants to make hydrogen from water

4. Students who are taught by research-active lecturers benefit from their industry know-how and contacts, which contributes to your technical skills and abilities, and work-readiness. 

Tom Owens concussion research

5. Opportunities to be directly involved in university research will improve your learning experience and develop your own research and analytical skills, which is fundamental to success in all careers.

Dr Cheryl Allsop

6. Cutting edge research can take years to be published but is transferred to the classroom almost right away!

USW Aerospace Engineering Building, Treforest Campus

7. University research often brings world-class facilities, such as specialist equipment and state-of-the-art laboratories, which you will be able to access. You can test the theory you’ve learnt in the classroom, supported by active researchers. 

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8. Research impacts your personal life and community too. The products you use, the medicine you take and even some of the live events you attend have been made possible by university research. 



How we benefitted

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In my final year, I had the unique opportunity of learning about Professor Damian Bailey’s research into high altitude physiology and pathophysiology. Learning directly from the very academics who were conducting the research was extremely beneficial and insightful. I had direct access to their latest findings and attended tutorials on the specialist equipment used, which greatly enhanced my learning experience. I benefited from a first-hand perspective into areas that aren’t typically covered in research publications, such as the logistical or ethical challenges of conducting international, high-altitude research. This helped to develop my research capabilities and undoubtedly sparked my interest in pursuing a PhD. 

Benjamin, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science graduate and PhD student


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Being involved in university research has enabled me to gain employability skills, develop a research mindset and become a confident, independent researcher. I’ve been given a topic of research that the Chemistry group is involved in (molecular wire architectures, also known as molecular bundles) to investigate and am using this as the basis of my dissertation. Plus, I have been able to use the research facilities to practice the techniques I’ve learnt about in the classroom - all under the guidance of published researchers who really know their stuff. 

Arfon, BSc (Hons) Chemistry student (pictured right)


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As a geologist, getting into the field to do the work is why do you do geology! Plus, any experience you can lean on when it comes to interviews is going to be beneficial, so I jumped at the chance to get involved in a geoscience research project on the effect of climate change on land slides in Wales. It was invaluable in helping me think and approach things in a better way. I got experience of using drones to take 3D imagery of landslides, and benefited greatly from the researchers’ guidance and high standards. Having this experience definitely gave me a competitive edge when it came to job interviews. My employer does similar work and really valued my experience in this area. 

Harry, MSc Advanced Applied Field Geoscience graduate


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Research is an integral part of our nurse training, and we’re taught all about the research USW undertakes to support people with a learning disability, including how it is conducted, why it is conducted and the importance of it. I had the chance to participate in the research USW did to develop a health profile for people with learning disabilities. As a Welsh speaker, I helped to facilitate focus groups in North Wales. Being involved in research during my studies has developed my confidence and competence. As a result, I feel that as I transition into a registered nurse that I can confidently carry out my own research to gather evidence and improve practice.

Megan Ware, BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities) student

Our research

At USW, we specialise in applied research – that’s research that focuses on finding solutions to an immediate problem facing society, an industry or organisation. Our researchers work across disciplines to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, from climate change and cyber-crime to health inequalities. You can find out more below.