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 Introducing Lecturers from the science departments of the University of Surrey, these Case Studies will tell you about what we do, and explain how science works at universities all over the country. They fit perfectly with the requirements of the Ideas and Evidence element of the GCSE Balanced science. They cover issues like how our work is peer reviewed and published in journals, how science is portrayed in the media, and how funding makes a difference to our work. Each study shows how closely our work links to the GCSE science specifications, and there is a set of questions accompanying each study to check what the students have understood, and to help them think about the different issues raised.

Apologies that not all question sets are available for downloading. If you wish to receive copies of the booklets containing all case studies and all questions, please contact



Biological and Medical Sciences:



Judy Lawrence-

Diet and low birth weight babies


Judy talks about diet and how the food a person eats can affect their health. She also discusses a project designed to help women have heathier babies.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |




Linda Morgan-

Diabetes and breakfast cereal



Linda Morgan discovers how different foods affect our the hormones in our digestive systems. She researches eating patterns and is trying to find out why society in general is getting fatter.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |




Lesley Jane Reynolds- Disease and the immune system


Lesley's case study looks at the effect of lifestyle factors on personal health, the body's reaction to infections and diseases, the composition of blood, the importance of the immune system, how public opinion can be useful to scientists looking for investment into their research, and looks at the media's presentation of issues like AIDS and HIV.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Helen Truby-
Nutrition, health and diets that work



Helen Truby is an expert in nutrition, health and dietetics. She ran the scientific study behind the BBC programme Diet Trials and talks about the effects of four different diets and dealing with the media.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |






John Hay-
Inventing new materials


From the plastic in your toothbrush to the nylon in your clothes, we all use synthetic materials every day. John Hay is a materials chemist and he talks about inventing new materials with desirable properties. He discusses polymers, nanoparticle technology and his work on fire retardant materials.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |




Peter Slater-

Fuel cells for the future


In 2002, across Western Europe, 408 billion cubic metres of natural gas were burned to heat our homes. Peter Slater is part of a team developing fuel cells which, one day, could enable each home to have its own supply of heat and electricity.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |




Saiful Islam-The chemistry of mobile phones


Saiful's case study is about using specialists in different areas in a team, to all solve a single problem, about how not all laboratory work is "white coat and goggles". He talks about creating more efficient batteries and about the usefulness of computer simulation alongside experiments. He also criticises the media's negative approach to the few scientific stories they present.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Dave Povey- The chemistry of fireworks


Dave's case study looks at flame tests, colour (in terms of waves) and tells us how difficult it is to define and measure a colour.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)






Jim Al-Khalili- Nuclear physics




Jim's case study looks at atomic structure, (including differences between elements), big bang theory, the role of computer simulations in scientific experiment, and the practice of presenting new ideas to the scientific community.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Joe Keddie- Polymers and environmentally-friendly paint



Joe's case study talks about molecular structures and the wonderful properties of polymers. He also discusses the funding and motivations of some scientific research and negative media presentation of useful scientific work.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Shyama Rath- Designing portable medical imaging machines



Shyama's case study takes a look at X-rays, and their use in medicine, reliability of scientific equipment in the medical industry, and the way in which motherhood is viewed from the professional woman, and scientist's point of view.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)



Paddy Regan- Nuclear physics and creating new elements


Paddy’s case study looks at isotopes, the periodic table, gamma rays (with reference to both uses and dangers), and the scientific community’s way of monitoring itself.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)


Mathematics and Computing:




Rebecca Hoyle-

Maths and how to park a car



Rebecca develops mathematical models to work out why things happen. She has had several pieces of work presented in the media, including a car-parking formula, and has researched how a school's performance would be affected by publishing league tables which was reported in the media.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |



Philip Aston- Mathematics, code breaking and chaos


Philip's case study looks at the use of the word frequency, how mathematics is useful when breaking coded messages, how chaos theory is relevant to real life, and how computer simulations repeated thousands of times very quickly are more useful for investigating chaos than individual experiments, which are much slower.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Andrew Salway- Artificial intelligence and crime scenes



Andrew's case study points out the disadvantages of internet search engines (and similar programs), and describes how a truly intelligent machine is necessary to fulfil our needs in terms of specific differences in language that ordinary search engines have problems differentiating between, and looks at the ethics of having such a machine.


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Adrian Hilton- Making realistic computer animations



Adrian’s case study looks at Newton's laws of motion, and how they are relevant to artificial images of motion (e.g. Lara Croft), looks at how changing the gravitational field strength affects the way objects fall, and the moral/social issue of being able to easily and effectively alter photographs. 


Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)






Martin Unwin-
Satellite engineer



Martin Unwin works at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. He works with engineers from around the world to design and build microsatellites. He talks about the testing of satellites and his personal project which involves a global positioning system to monitor accurately the position of a satellite in orbit.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) |




Karen Kirkby- Electronics, ion beams and pollution


Karen's case study looks at the construction of a cathode ray, insulators, and their uses, changing public opinion to do with environmental issues, including ozone harming compounds, she also looks at LEDs and how scientists compare theories and results viz. scientific journals.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)




Steve Ogin- Knitting crash helmets

Steve's case study examines unusual uses of super strong polymers and their drawbacks. He looks at the elasticity of polymers and how plastics in different structures have different properties.

Case Study (.pdf) | Case Study (.doc) | Questions (.doc)



These case studies were prepared by Averil MacDonald. Thanks also to Alexa Briggs (Warwick University), Meg Blight, Stephanie Brooks (Guildford High School for Girls), and Joe Jordan (Hurtwood House School).


Questions or Queries? Contact me:

Dr Dave Faux

Physics Department

University of Surrey