Student Hub Research Programme

Student Hub Research Programme

University College Cork is committed to research-led practice and wishes to leverage the strengths across all of its disciplines to inform the strategy for the use of Teaching and Learning spaces across the campus. As part of this objective, the Office of the Vice-President for Teaching & Learningis leading a multi-disciplinary research team, of students and staff, researchers and supervisors, with expertise across fields such as architecture, teaching & learning, education, technology, psychology and sociology to inform the transition to the Student Hub. Further information on the new Student Hub, together with drawings and detailed timelines can be found at

The Student Hub at UCC will open in 2018 and this research programme aims to engage students and staff in the study of space design and the use of space to underpin the implementation of the Hub as an innovative space within which student learning and development will be facilitated and supported. The programme has been created to build capacity and to support the transition to the student hub through interdisciplinary research and to strengthen capacity for relevant research. The specific objectives of the programme are to:

  1. Engage students and staff in learning space design for the Student Hub;
  2. Inform the development of new spaces in the Student Hub, in relation to design, pedagogies and how space is used;
  3. Optimise teaching, learning and the student experience in the Student Hub;
  4. Assess the impact of the Student Hub on teaching, learning and the staff and student experience.


Research has shown that buildings can lead to change in pedagogical practices and the student experience when students and teachers are involved in their development. Construction and renovation opportunities in Higher Education are shaped by changing student expectations, evolving pedagogies, and new technologies (Figure 1). In a modern university, learning takes place both in and out of the classroom, in formal and informal spaces, and student engagement is positively impacted by comfortable, flexible and appealing learning spaces that encourage interaction and are supported by technology.

Pedagogy-space-technology framework for the design of learning spaces

Pedagogy-space-technology framework for the design of learning spaces 


A detailed understanding of how students learn, of how they interact with each other and with staff, and how this impacts on student welfare and the student experience is critical to the development of spaces such as the Student Hub at UCC to suit the diverse needs of students.

This programme will use evidence-based criteria derived from the study of existing space at UCC to support future development in the spaces at the Student Hub at UCC and will subsequently evaluate the deployment of new space in the Hub. 

This programme aims to establish a multi-disciplinary team of supervisors (recruited via an open call to all UCC staff in 2017) and undergraduate students (recruited through the supervisors) to explore the role of space in shaping the student experience. Specifically it will investigate existing space at UCC to identify effective space designs that that can be translated to the new Student Hub and evaluate the subsequent impact of these spaces on teaching, learning and student experience. 


Programme Timeframe:
January 2017 – December 2020


Proposal Sponsors:
Prof John O’Halloran, Vice-President for Teaching & Learning (Lead Sponsor)

Dr Michael Byrne, Acting Head of Student Experience
Dr Sandra Irwin, Office of the Vice-President for Teaching & Learning
Eolann Sheehan, President, UCC Students' Union 2016/17
Ian Hutchinson, Vice-President for Education, UCC Students’ Union 2016/17
Dr Sarah Mulrooney, Cork Centre for Architectural Education
Dr Orla Murphy, Digital Arts and Humanities
Dr Mike Cosgrave, Digital Arts and Humanities


We are currently seeking applications for participation in this research team by supervisors, undergraduates and postgraduates undertaking research in this field. Staff and students from all disciplines are encouraged to submit proposals that represent innovative projects to develop new collaborations and enable the team to submit competitive applications for external research grants.

Hub Profile

Image from 

Office of the VP for Teaching and Learning

Oifig an Leasuachtaráin don Teagasc agus Foghlaim

East Wing, Main Quadrangle, UCC