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The University of Southampton
Southampton Education School
(023) 8059 3213

Professor Marcus Grace BSc, MSc, PhD, CBiol, FRSB, PGCE, CSciTeach

Professor of Science Education

Professor Marcus Grace's photo

Marcus Grace is Professor of Science Education and former Head of the Education School. He is a doctoral supervisor and teaches on undergraduate, Masters and postgraduate initial teacher training programmes.

Before working at Southampton he taught science at comprehensive schools in London and was Headteacher at a Berlitz school in Tokyo. His main interests centre around learning and teaching about socio-scientific issues, particularly biodiversity conservation, health and wellbeing and environmental issues, and outdoor science education. His current work includes developing realistic ways of helping young people engage with outdoors to enhance their appreciation of the natural world and improve health-related attitudes and behaviour. He is Co-Director of LifeLab, a purpose built classroom at Southampton General Hospital which helps teenagers learn about making healthy choices for themselves and for their future children.

Marcus is Chair of the Academic Committee of ERIDOB (European Research in Didactics of Biology), and Chair of the UK Biology Education Research Group (BERG), a Royal Society of Biology special interest group. In recent years, Marcus has received science and health education related research grants from AstraZeneca, BUPA, the UK Department for Education, the Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Education Endowment Foundation, the European Union and the World Universities Network, among others. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Education and the International Journal of Science Education, and he has researched and published widely on education for socio-scientific issues with colleagues in the UK, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden and the US.

Research interests

  • The science and values underpinning education for biodiversity, sustainable development and citizenship
  • Adolescent decision-making, and teaching and learning about socio-scientific issues
  • Outdoor science education
  • Engaging young people in biodiversity conservation and health and environmental issues
Research projects

Achieving sustainable health behaviour change in adolescents
This is a three year cluster-randomised controlled trial funded by Bupa to evaluate the methodology used to deliver the partner LifeLab programme in Southampton and the LENScience programme in Auckland. Both programmes combine school-based and university/hospital-based activities for teenagers aimed at producing sustained change in health-related attitudes and behaviour. Its novelty derives from educational research on how to promote science literacy for health, using an interactive approach which makes learning context-specific, relevant and student-centred. It includes hands-on activities and interactions with university/hospital research scientists. Students and their teachers access real ‘stories' of science, and explore underlying socio-economic influences on health behaviour. Interaction with ongoing research allows students to enter the culture of science. Activities include measuring cardiovascular effects of exercise, carotid artery wall thickness, bone density, muscle function, placental transport and extraction of their own DNA to explore how lifestyle affects gene function. In pilot work, improved health-related attitudes and behaviour were observed in adolescents, and they were seen to act as agents of change within their families.

Talk To US
Talk To US is a three year project funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) which aims to develop engagement between Southampton University and local secondary schools, and motivate young people from a diversity of backgrounds to be excited about cutting-edge research and raise their aspirations for further study and future lives. Early career researchers will have opportunities to develop their transferable skills through training and by working with school students. The initiative also aims to engage teachers in ways that have maximum impact on teaching quality and learning. The University of Southampton’s Education School is working with Bitterne Park School in Southampton and Wildern-Hounsdown Teaching School in Hampshire, which are recognised for their outstanding performance. The partnership will also encourage involvement of schools which seldom engage in university outreach activities. The project involves researchers from across the University in Education, Medicine, Engineering, Oceanography, Chemistry and Biological Sciences. It aims to:

  • provide professional development for teachers to help them build a research culture for themselves and their students
  • provide professional development for university researchers on how best to engage with teenagers
  • link research activities with the school curriculum
  • encourage school students to share their experiences of carrying out research projects, through an end of year exhibition of their work.

Measuring teenagers’ health literacy around alcohol
Funded by the Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Development Funding from the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences to measure teenagers’ health literacy around alcohol. The project will work with school students who visit LifeLab. This is a joint project carried out by staff in Southampton Education School, the School of Medicine, the School of Geography and the Wessex Alcohol Research Collaborative. The study aims to i) define and measure baseline aspects of ‘alcohol health literacy’ among teenagers, and ii) use this data to begin developing a personalised computer based teaching activity which raises students’ awareness of their response to alcohol related cues. This is a precursor to a wider research study developing teaching activities to modify students’ attitudes towards drinking and initiate action to overcome personal and social barriers.
Baseline data collected will include:

  1. Understanding of acute alcohol-related health harms;
  2. Understanding of alcohol strengths;
  3. Understanding of exposure to virtual alcohol (e.g. recognition of available alcohol brands);
  4. Understanding of exposure to real alcohol (e.g. self, peers, parents);
  5. Awareness of ‘manipulation’ by drinks promotions.

This information will be used to design and trial a computer based teaching activity for teenagers.

Research group

Mathematics, Science and Health Education Research Centre

Research project(s)

Approaches to teaching Darwin-related topics - Dormant

Teachers' views on teaching Darwin-related science topics - Dormant

Making informed decisions about sustainability (MIDAS) - Dormant

Teaching controversial environmental issues - Dormant

Evaluation of the National Action Research in Physics Programme

Audience Segmentation Analysis: Motivation and Barriers to STEM employment

Stakeholders’ views on STEM-related work experience for school pupils



Guest Editor for the School Science Review 2010 issue on Education for Sustainable Development.
Association for Science Education Outdoor Science Education Working Group
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens Advisory Committee

External activities and associations
  • Member of the Academic Committee of the European Research in Didactics of Biology (ERIDOB)
  • Member of the Society of Biology’s Education, Training and Policy Committee
  • Member of the Association for Science Education Outdoor Science Education Working Group
  • Member of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens Advisory Committee
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Book Chapters



  1. MSc Education
  2. Dissertation through Flexible Study MA (Ed)
  3. Secondary PGCE
  4. BSc Education
  5. Curriculum Innovation Programme
Professor Marcus Grace
Southampton Education School University of Southampton Building 32 Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number: 32/2005

Facsimile: (023) 8059 3556

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