Research in widening participation

Progression to Taught Postgraduate Study for students from under-represented backgrounds

Project Overview

Between February 2017 and July 2019, the Universities of Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Warwick and York worked together to design, delivery and evaluate non-financial interventions aiming to support progression to, and success in, taught postgraduate study. Funded by the Office for Students, the partnership trialled two strands of activity: 


  1. A programme of Information, Advice and Guidance for current undergraduates 
  2. A pre-arrival online course for Taught Postgraduate students 

The project was evaluated using Randomised Control Trials, which were used to measure the impact of activities, alongside qualitative analysis.  


This project has challenged pre-conceptions around fair access to further study, whilst adding to the evidence base in this area.  




Evaluation is key in being able to showcase the impact of Widening Participation activity. This project used Randomised Control Trials, a robust approach to evaluation, which uses random allocation to intervention and control groups, and analysis of data, to link activities to impact. It was also important to use a mixed evaluation methodology to better understand the perspectives of students.  

Hear about our learnings on using Randomised Control Trials within a Widening Participation setting by watching the below video.  





If you would like to hear more detail on how we came to these conclusions, why not listen to our podcast which expands on some of the key points? 


Get in touch 

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with one of the Project Managers: 


  • Jenn Coates, Plus Programme Lead (Attainment and Progression), University of Leeds 
  • Felicity Wicks, Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Officer, University of Manchester 


Interested in joining other practitioners to discuss the Widening Participation agenda in relation to Postgraduate study? Join the NEON Widening Participation in Postgraduate Study Network by contacting Felicity Wicks.