Immersive virtual and augmented reality in chemistry higher education (LANCASTERS_U18SF)

University of East Anglia
September 01 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

The acquisition of 3D visualisation skills presents a major cognitive challenge for the student of chemistry.i Without those skills, many of the threshold concepts of chemistry will always prove elusive. The symbolism of hashes and wedges remains opaque for many students. Today we rely on 2D representations giving the illusion of 3D or molecular models fashioned from pieces of plastic.

The advent of high-powered solutions such as HTC Vive provide an affordable entry to an immersive virtual reality in which molecules can be created, compared, manipulated and overlaid.ii

UEA has established itself at the forefront of technology enhanced chemistry education.iii Our aim is to cement that position. We seek to evaluate the impact of virtual reality enabled pedagogies through a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach. We will disseminate our results through international conferences and the peer reviewed scientific education literature.

We anticipate this PhD project will coincide with the arrival of shared augmented reality technology as heralded by Microsoft hololens. We propose to examine how the pedagogies shaped by the individual experience of immersive virtual reality translate into the shared augmented reality environment.

The successful candidate will have an undergraduate degree in Chemistry or a cognate subject with a substantial component of chemistry. They will be familiar with the concepts of stereochemistry. Knowledge of coding is not essential but a willingness to embrace and explore new technologies is. The PhD will equip the student with the social science skills of pedagogical research while providing extensive experience of the challenges of teaching in a research-led chemistry department. They will be prepared to teach in higher education and / or to embark on a pedagogical research focused career.


i) Using Molecular Representations To Aid Student Understanding of Stereochemical Concepts, Michael Abraham, Valsamma Varghese, and Hui Tang. Journal of Chemical Education 2010 87 (12), 1425-1429. DOI: 10.1021/ed100497f



Funding status

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources.  Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess