Applications for 2021-2022 now open.
This page offers general information about VIPs. Please visit the projects page for specific details and applications for each project.
Students can enrol in one Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) per semester. You will be encouraged to continue with the same project from semester to semester, but you have the option to apply to a different project between semesters if you wish.
The interest in VIP at St Andrews arose through the work of the Enterprise Education Committee seeking to embed enterprise capabilities and an enterprising mindset in the curriculum.
The VIP initiative was pioneered by Ed Coyle, initially at Purdue University and then at Georgia Tech in Atlanta where they currently have 1100 students enrolled in 70 cross-faculty teams (an average of 15-16 students per team) from 30 degree programmes. Each team is vertically integrated in that the students are drawn from different year groups. Enrolment at Georgia Tech in VIP grew exponentially from just a handful of students in 2009. There is now a consortium of more than 35 institutions offering VIPs (24 in the US, and others in Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Latvia, Colombia, Chile, Australia and Strathclyde) with a total of more than 300 projects worldwide. Strathclyde adopted VIP in 2012 and typically has 7-10 teams and 200 student participants. While initially promoted heavily within Engineering and STEM subjects, VIP increasingly involves students from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Scott Strachan and Steve Marshall from Strathclyde University visited St Andrews in March 2019 and introduced their VIP model at the Enterprise Education committee lunch. Subsequently, the Associate Dean of Arts & Divinity (Education) attended the VIP consortium conference in Atlanta in May to gather further information on the implementation of VIP in different contexts. Subsequently, a VIP Steering Group was convened in the Deans’ Office to plan for implementation of VIP in St Andrews, with recruitment of projects and students to take place in 2019/20 prior to launch in September 2020. The Steering Group comprised the Dean of Arts, the Associate Deans (Students), the Pro Deans (Curriculum), Antje Brown (Geography and Sustainable Development), Nicolas Wiater (Classics) and the Associate Dean of Arts & Divinity (Education).
Ed Coyle and Steve Marshall visited St Andrews in October 2019 and presented the VIP model to interested staff from across the University at the Academic Forum. Steve Marshall has agreed to serve as external examiner for the VIP programme in St Andrews.
The first 5 projects launched in September 2020 drawn from across the disciplinary spectrum. They were titled Curious St Andrews, Media Transformations, Dolphin Acoustics, HMO Caps and Organisation Histories. The middle of a pandemic was not the most auspicious timing for a new initiative but 27 students from different years and a wide range of degree programmes were selected from the pool of applicants to participate in the first ever semester of VIP. Three more projects joined in Semester 2 (War Veterans, Mathematical Software, and Biodiversity Literacy). Teaching was delivered entirely online in the second semester to around 70 students on the 8 VIPs but all the supervisors found ways to implement their projects despite the constraints of the online environment.
Living Labs are related to VIPs as they are research based, credit-bearing, multidisciplinary team project modules (for example, as presented at the Academic Forum on Sustainability in the Curriculum in April 2019 by Ewan Klein and James Stewart from Edinburgh University). However, VIPs are differentiated from Living Labs through the vertical and ongoing dimensions and the fact that, unlike Living Labs, a VIP accommodates any research activity and does not necessarily need to be related to solving a real world challenge.
You can read about eligibility and how to apply on the individual project pages.
Visiting students who are only here for one semester will not normally be able to matriculate and be registered in time to apply to participate in a project. However, if a project has remaining spaces, visiting students may be able to apply at the beginning of the semester.
Students visiting for a whole year may be able to apply to a VIP for Semester 2 if places become available. However, supervisors prefer candidates who are able to commit beyond a single semester.
BA (International Hons) William & Mary students
VIP is not normally available for students on the William & Mary BA (International) programme but please talk to your adviser if you are interested.
VIP ‘modules’ are available at 10, 15 and 20 credits. However, the modules are not the same thing as a project: students working on the same project may be registered in different modules according to their level of study and number of credits.
Your supervisor will keep track of your level and credits and carefully allocate tasks to you so that your workload and the level of difficulty is appropriate for you.
See the credits and modules page for VIP module information and codes.
Only students selected for a VIP will be allowed to advise into a VIP module.
Whether a student has credit space to take on a VIP module will depend on their level and their degree programme. See the advising into VIP modules page for specific details about advising at sub-honours and Honours level.
Although they work together as a team, students are typically assessed solely on individual work though there may be small items of group assessment. There are no end-of-semester examinations for the project.
Coursework varies from project to project. See the projects pages for assessment details for each project.
VIP offers many opportunities and benefits for students.
You will participate in authentic research, creating and sharing knowledge across disciplinary boundaries, often with social relevance and impact. You will be given responsibilities and tasks and empowered to take ownership of your learning. You will gain confidence in research and be able to evaluate whether a future career in research is for you.
By taking part in a VIP, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills to employers:
- experience working in teams
- interpersonal skills
- resilience in solving open-ended problems
- time management
- self-awareness and reflection.
A VIP is based around teamwork in which students work together with others from diverse backgrounds and enhance their interpersonal communication skills across disciplinary boundaries.
The team addresses genuine research questions with inevitable setbacks and opportunities for reflection.
Team members are given responsibilities and will need to use their time well on a weekly basis.
In addition, participation in VIP enables students to access realistic on-the-job training in other professional skills such as design, initiative, creativity, innovation, project management and planning, presentation, report writing, independent and critical thinking and handling uncertainty.
Since students may join a VIP for several semesters if their curriculum permits, it provides more opportunity to make a meaningful contribution, to refine skills and promote deeper learning. Students develop competencies which may not be so easily acquired in standard single-semester modules.
Students may experience a range of different roles in their VIP. Academics and PhD tutors mentor teams, and experienced undergraduate students mentor new team members who can later step into roles with greater leadership and responsibility.
A research subsidy of £400 per semester is available for student team members. Students will need to apply for the subsidy.
To apply for funding, one team member must submit this application form on behalf of the team. Please ensure that you have discussed your funding application with your VIP supervisor before you formally apply.
A VIP professional skills course developed by CEED is available for all VIP students. The Moodle site is the central repository providing resources for:
- reflective writing
- poster design
- project management
These are a mix of online training, face-to-face workshops and other video resources. Each VIP Moodle page also has a link to the professional skills training site.
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
- Function as a contributing and accountable member of a multidisciplinary team and to value the contributions and feedback from team members with diverse disciplinary backgrounds through peer-to-peer mentoring.
- Apply self-management skills including taking responsibility, meeting deadlines, time management, self-organisation and reflection in pursuing personal and team goals.
- Demonstrate research skills including project management, task planning and execution, professional ethics, handling unexpected challenges, presentation and communication in a collaborative context.
- Display leadership skills including taking initiative, delegation, goal setting, prioritisation and motivating others.
- Contribute to a project using disciplinary knowledge and expertise at the appropriate level of difficulty.
A Laidlaw scholarship and an Undergraduate Research Assistantship are paid extracurricular project research and students do not receive credit or grades.
VIP is part of the curriculum for credit and grades. Selection for these programmes is competitive and students can participate in all of them if they wish to do so and are successful in the selection process.