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First published in the June 2021 issue of Quarry Management 

IQ’s role in updating the overarching course curriculum at the University of Derby Centre for Minerals Products

The Institute of Quarrying (IQ), along with several respected industry professionals and organizations, has taken a key role in leading a major 18-month project to update the overarching course curriculum at the University of Derby Centre for Minerals Products.


This unique partnership of organizations brings together accumulated professional expertise and industry knowledge from a wide range of backgrounds to shape the new curriculum. Contributors include the IQ, Institute of Asphalt Technology, Concrete Society, Road Surface Treatment Association, International Clay Technology Association and staff from the Centre for Mineral Products.

Amongst the respected industry professionals involved in updating course content is Julian Smallshaw, head of education and standards at IQ. He explains: ‘Mineral products face exciting challenges, not least with major advances in technology, how to safeguard our environment and make the industry sustainable. It’s really important that today’s and tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed to meet these challenges. 

‘The validation of new courses has been an expansive project, with content modified for the benefit of today’s industry. IQ has invested in a new HTML format to make courses more interactive and interesting for students to read and learn. New content includes a whole module on sustainability. Quarrying companies outside the UK have also asked the Institute to run sustainability training courses for their staff.’

The University of Derby Centre for Mineral Products is the only provider of quarrying and mineral products industry-specific higher-level professional education. Its courses deliver industry-standard and globally recognized qualifications to the mineral products sector. In partnership with key partner bodies, its qualifications have been developed to ensure they represent the training needs of the sector and employers.

The current programme of blended learning foundation degrees, university diplomas and the higher apprenticeship has been reviewed and refreshed with new modules and content relevant to today’s industry. Students commencing higher-level professional education at the Centre from September 2021 will be the first cohort to study the modified curriculum.

Mark Osbaldeston, head of the Centre for Mineral Products at the University of Derby, explains: ‘Our qualifications enable a clear progression path to those employed in the sector, both nationally and internationally, who wish to enhance their career and lifelong learning opportunities. 

‘While course materials are continuously reviewed to ensure content reflects the needs of the industry, our current foundation degrees and diplomas were five years old and due for a major review under University rules and procedures. It was an opportunity to refresh, update and simplify the curriculum, content and structure, including areas requested by industry stakeholders such as digitization and increased sustainability. 

‘As a result, the new structure is simpler, with our foundation degrees now including a dedicated work-based project and study skills modules. Additionally, the validation exercise will allow content updates and introduction of new materials in ‘industry-specific’ engineering, business and technology modules.’

Julian Smallshaw also lectures on one of the Centre’s BSc degree courses. He continues: ‘A great thing about the work being done at the University of Derby is that all lecturers are from the mineral products industry – they can contextualize all the theory within practical working environments. I teach one of the BSc degree courses.

‘Another interesting feature of the Centre’s courses is the wide age range of the students; you can be teaching anyone aged 18 to 55. Lifelong learning is something the Institute of Quarrying supports. For anyone considering enhancing their career, no matter what their age, I would encourage them to check out the educational programmes available at the Centre for Mineral Products.’

The Centre’s suite of interconnected blended learning programmes covers five pathway-specific areas of study. These include Mineral Extractives Technology, Asphalt and Pavement Technology, Concrete Technology, Cement Technology and Clay Technology.

There are currently 18 qualifications available. These range from the BSc (Hons) in Minerals Management; Foundation Science degrees (FdSc) in Mineral Extractives Technology, Asphalt and Pavement Technology, Clay Technology, Concrete Technology and Cement Technology; and a Higher Apprenticeship in Mineral Products Technology, to university diplomas in Mineral Extractive Studies, Asphalt and Pavement Studies, Road Surface Treatments, Clay Studies, Concrete Studies and Cement Studies; a University Certificate in Concrete Technology; and Certificates in Construction Materials, and Ready-Mixed Concrete Technology.

If you are keen to enhance your career, visit the Centre for Mineral Products’ website for further information:

For information about IQ, the international professional body for quarrying, construction materials and the related extractive and processing industries, visit:


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