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  • Promoting Student Wellbeing in the Curriculum - Ulster's narrative

    Ulster University (UU) is committed to widening access and including an increasingly diverse community of students many of whom will have additional and complex learning and wellbeing support needs.

    Some students disclose a diagnosed disability or medical condition on their application to study at Ulster and receive support provided through Student Wellbeing, if they choose to engage. However, some will choose not to disclose or engage and many experience wellbeing pressures or challenges (stress and anxiety) or even develop new or emerging diagnosed conditions while studying at Ulster.

    Student engagement, retention, academic achievement and future employability are directly related to and dependent on student wellbeing. Consequently we will want to think about can be done to promote wellbeing and inclusion for all students through the design, development and delivery of curriculum.

    This World Health Organisation definition of Mental Health & Wellbeing, is used in the University's Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy: Being Well Doing Well At Ulster.

    Through our curriculum (content and process) we provide information and develop skills to enable students to realise their abilities and their potential to:

    Cope with the normal stresses of life. Work productively and creatively. Build strong and positive relationships with others.
    - World Health Organisation (2004); UK Government (2008).

    This World Health Organisation definition of Mental Health & Wellbeing, is used in the University's Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy: ‘Being Well, Doing Well’ At Ulster.

    By 'designing-out' elements of the curriculum which potentially cause unnecessary stress or present barriers to learning for all students and in particular for students with additional needs or disabilities and tailoring teaching and learning, using inclusive strategies and wellbeing-promoting approaches we will benefit all our students.

Universities have more diverse student communities and many students experience wellbeing challenges.

Links between student engagement, retention motivation and achievement and student mental health and wellbeing are clear.

Our university strategy, ‘Being Well-Doing Well at Ulster’ details our commitment to actions to promote student mental health and wellbeing and maximise student success.

Embedding Wellbeing in the curriculum toolkit

The Embedding Wellbeing in the Curriculum toolkit provides evidence-informed guidance and directed support toward infusing wellbeing and learning via the curriculum. Based on Advance HE’s comprehensive Education for Mental Health Resource (2022) the toolkit, presents seven activity areas to be considered for curriculum infusion at the point of: Programme Design, Module Design, Assessment Design and/or Curriculum Delivery.

Embedding Wellbeing in the Curriculum Toolkit

Click here to download​​​​​​​

Supporting Staff and Students Wellbeing for Success

  • Event recording

    Session Recorded: 9th December 2020

    Session Aim

    This timely pair of workshops will enable staff to explore techniques and tools for supporting their own wellbeing and that of their students in these troubled and challenging months.

    Part 1 overview – Supporting Staff Wellbeing

    It has been a stressful period for all of us over the past months so it is appropriate as we enter what is normally a period of reflection and celebration to share a gift. This first session of the pair focuses on the staff perspective in addressing wellbeing. The tools and techniques we will explore in this practical session form part of that gift offering.

    In delivering this session I am very mindful that UU is a civic university and community, inclusion and empowerment sit at the heart of what we do here at Ulster. It is also worth reflecting that as individuals, as staff, we cannot enable others effectively without also caring for our own health and wellbeing in our lives and work.

    This session therefore explores:

    A gift of simple techniques you can apply quickly and easily to care for yourself and create space to recharge yourselves in times of stress;

    • How to engage with ‘agency’ as HE practitioners using the simple idea of ‘Me PLC'.
    • Some ideas for adopting the above in our pedagogy and practice.
    • And finally, I will share some resources for you to explore and adopt if you choose over the coming months.


    Visiting Professor Dr Ruth Pilkington (PFHEA, NTF, SFSEDA)

    Part 2 overview – Embedding wellbeing in the Curriculum

    Students are adjusting to COVID related life pressures including their new student experience of online, socially distanced delivery of their curriculum. Following on from Prof. Ruth Pilkington’s work with staff, this input helps staff appreciate why promoting student wellbeing and mental health is essential and particularly relevant at this time and how wellbeing and mental health impacts students’ availability to learn, their engagement, retention and academic outcomes.

    We profile the wellbeing support needs of our increasingly diverse student community at Ulster and consider what can we do to embed wellbeing in our curriculum delivery and where and when we deliver an inclusive curriculum this ensures we are providing a relevant, contemporary and innovative curriculum.


    Ann Hart-Henderson, Ulster’s Student Wellbeing Manager.

    Target Audience

    Any interested Ulster staff and students

An Introduction to embedding wellbeing in the curriculum

  • Event Information

    Date: 10 March 2021

    Session Aim

    This session focuses on how we can deliver more inclusive curricula. Key inputs will be complemented with staff and student experiences and opportunities for discussion.

    Session Objectives

    • To provide an overview of effective approaches
    • To share snapshots of staff practice and student experience


    Ann Hart-Henderson (Student wellbeing) & Colette Murphy  (CHERP)

    Target Audience

    Any interested Ulster staff


  • Helping Distressed Students

    Academic staff are often the first point of contact when a student experiences a wellbeing challenge.

    Knowing how to respond to students in distress can be challenging and this guidance aims to help staff clarify what is and isn’t your role and providing details of the actions you can take to get advice and appropriate help for a student wellbeing issue or when a student is at risk.

  • Discussing Students with Family and Friends

    When there is a perceived wellbeing concern academic staff may be given information by a concerned third party or asked for information or invited to discuss a student issue.

    This guidance will help you know what is and is not appropriate for you to say or do, in such circumstances.

  • Critical Incident: What staff can do to help

    Academic staff are often immediately involved in supporting students who have been impacted by a crisis event involving their peers.

    This guidance will help you in your role following a ‘critical incident’ explaining what to expect and what to say and do.

    It also explains the role of Student Wellbeing campus based teams supporting students following a Critical Incident.


The following resources will inform, support and equip you to embed wellbeing in the UU Curriculum.


For information on promoting student wellbeing in the curriculum contact Colette Murphy, Lecturer in Higher Education Practice.