Welcome to the Teaching & Learning Network! 

The Teaching and Learning Network is a community of practice for academics and higher education teachers, where best practice can be recognised, scholarship and research disseminated, and university teaching supported. 

Building on over a decade of work as a PSA Specialist Group, the remit of the Network is:

  • To enable all politics academics/HE teachers to share the good and innovative practices that they have developed, within a community of practice
  • To support the production and dissemination of research and scholarship relating to the teaching and learning of politics
  • To support the PSA in contributing to policy relating to HE matters, including the TEF
  • To support early career academics in developing their practice as university teachers 
  • To support the development of politics students as critical and independent learners, able to contribute to economic, social, and political wellbeing as active citizens.


All academic and ECN PSA members are automatically affiliated to the Network, although we will endeavour to engage as many other categories of membership as possible.



We want to hear from you!

It would be great to get some feedback from members about what you would like the Network to focus on. We are open to all suggestions, whether that’s workshops, conferences and events we could run or be involved in, publication/article/blog ideas, professional development/training opportunities, or anything else under our wide remit. Get in touch via

Blog writers wanted: do you have something to say about teaching and learning in politics and international studies? If so, why not write a blog for us. We are happy to publish content about best practice, scholarship, or your general thoughts about teaching and learning in the discipline. Contact us at with your idea.


The International Political Education Database (IPED)

The International Political Education Database (IPED), curated by Network Co-Chair John Craig, is a bibliographic database of journal articles relating to teaching and learning in politics, international relations, public administration and related fields. It aims to raise the profile of existing publications to encourage further research and enhancements to student learning.

We believe that IPED is the world's most comprehensive bibliographic database of teaching and learning resources for politics.



Events at the 2020 PSA Annual Conference [POSTPONED - we will update with further news]

1) Supporting Student mental Health and Well-being: I’m not your dad and I’m not your best mate, but I am someone who’ll listen (Mon 6th April, 13.10-14.30)

Universities are slowly waking up to the ‘whole-self’ needs of students and this is placing new and sometimes unexpected demands on Heads of Department and Directors of Teaching and Learning.  Current Head of Politics & IR (and former DTL) at the University of Reading Mark Shanahan leads an interactive session discussing what Reading has discovered a year on from introducing its Academic Tutor system, and the realities of applying such a system to a staff team not trained to be counsellors and often more at home with a few terabytes of data than a 19 year old facing a mental health crisis.

2) Getting on with teaching: from delivering other people’s curriculum to designing your own (Mon 6th April, 15.00-16.20)

This session, jointly hosted by the PSA Teaching and Learning and Early Career Networks, is aimed at people with some experience of teaching as part of their studies/early career, but who are now looking to gain more experience in curriculum/module/assessment design. Alongside advice from experienced academics, participants will get the chance to work through practical scenarios, gather useful hints and tips, and discuss best practice. If you have some experience but not much, are applying for posts or are in your first post, or just want to brush up on your skills, this is the session for you!

3) Teaching Gender and Race in Politics Degrees: A Professional Practice Roundtable (Wed 8th April, 11.00-12.20)

This session is a roundtable on the subject of teaching gender and race in today's politics degrees. It is convened by three specialist groups: Race, Migration and Intersectionality, Women and Politics, and Teaching and Learning. Panellists with experience of devising and teaching specialist and generalist courses that include gender and race as topics will reflect on their own teaching experiences - what challenges did they face? What do they wish they have known starting out? How did students in their courses respond, and what were their expectations? Is there anything different in teaching about race and gender compared to other topics? This discussion will be followed by audience questions and discussion.


More info on presenters/speakers will follow!


The 4th European Conference on Teaching & Learning Politics, International Relations & European Studies, 18-19th June 2020, University of Amsterdam (interactive online conference)

The PSA Teaching and Learning Network is sponsoring the 4th EuroTLC conference, this time on ‘The salience of Higher Education in the 21st Century: learning to think academically’.

The democratization of Higher Education has succeeded: today in Europe as many students as never before are going into higher education. In the EU-28 there were nearly 20 million students at higher education institutions, with nearly a third studying within the wider field of social sciences. At the same time, there seems to be increasing contestation of higher education: its relevance for society and economy at large, its management and its financing. The 4th EuroTLC aims to discuss the added value of higher education for students and societies.

The 4th edition of our European Conference on Teaching and Learning Politics, International Relations and European Studies continues the tradition of practicing what we preach: enough room for exchange, reflection, and deliberation; interactive sessions that provoke, challenge, and give ideas; actively experience learning. 

Due to the current travel restrictions the organising committee decided to move the exchange to an interactive online conferenceThis means that contributors will prepare online content beforehand, with the allocated days used for exchange. The organising committee is currently working on the programme. We will update you once the draft programme is online and registration possible by mid April. You can also follow updates on the ECPR website, the conference website, the Facebook group, or follow on twitter at @ECPRTeaching or #EuroTLC.


Previous events


Inaugural events at the 2019 PSA Annual Conference

Taking a CPD/training focus, the Network held two workshops: ‘Getting ready for subject TEF in politics and IR’ and ‘How to run a simulation with your students: a practical introduction’. Both events were popular with conference attendees.

The TEF workshop was designed to support colleagues preparing for subject TEF; from 2020, all Politics and IR Departments are due to be assessed as part of the new subject level TEF process, with the results (Gold, Silver, Bronze) made available to the public. The workshop included details of the subject TEF pilots, and practical advice on the challenges of interpreting the TEF metrics and putting together a departmental submission. The key messages from this event were: get to know your data asap, the submission statement is as important as the metrics (you can write yourself up or down via what one speaker called ‘the art of the rhetoric’!), and work with other units when writing up (TEF should be a team approach).

Next up, Simon Usherwood (University of Surrey) delivered a workshop which explored how academics can use simulation games when teaching. Dealing with issues including how to design your own simulation and maximising the benefits of this pedagogy, the workshop equipped attendees with the necessary tools to bring something new to the classroom. Key learning points: getting students to do things is important, through simulations you can give knowledge, build skills and create different spaces for learning, simulations must always have a purpose (not just fun!), and students should be respected in and out of the game.

T&L Network at PSA Annual Conference 2019

From left to right, TEF workshop panellists Donna Smith (OU, PSA T&L Network Co-Chair), Simon Lightfoot (University of Leeds), Helen Williams (University of Nottingham), Georgina Blakeley (OU), John Craig (Leeds Beckett University, PSA T&L Network Co-Chair).


Joint International Teaching and Learning Conference 2019

Members of the PSA, APSA, BISA and ECPR met in Brighton from 17th to 19th June 2019 for the first ever conference jointly organised by the four associations. The conference focused on the theme of ‘Teaching Politics in an Age of Populism’. Participants engaged in three days of panels, workshops and debates to explore a range of issues relating to this topic. John Craig, Network Co-Chair, was on the organising committee.

The Network was delighted to sponsor the conference lunch which took place on the first day of the conference. You can read about the conference here.

PSA T&L Network Co-Chairs at teaching and learning conference 2019

From left to right, Donna Smith (OU, PSA T&L Network Co-Chair), John Craig (Leeds Beckett University, PSA T&L Network Co-Chair), taking in the sea views at the conference.


Contact Us

Donna Smith

Role: Co-chair
Institution: Open University


John Craig

Role: Co-chair
Institution: Leeds Beckett University


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PSA T&L Network Twitter


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Network article on page 15!
Simon Usherwood's slides on teaching via simulations.