Community & Belonging: Our Contribution to the QAA Enhancement Theme

#NapierBigRead is one in a series of projects at Edinburgh Napier University that explore belonging and community from different perspectives. Together, the projects highlight the importance of recognising a multiplicity of student voices and interests.

Most importantly, the projects highlight the implications of this diversity for our action, challenging us to think holistically about learning and teaching, the use of campus space, and how we create opportunities to hear and respond to less powerful and less visible student voices.

Evidence for Enhancement: The Challenge of Community and Belonging. How Our Project Contributes…

The #NapierBigRead is a shared reading scheme that began at Edinburgh Napier University in 2016.

It was established at Kingston University in 2015 as a research project into how their first-year students spent their spare time, in particular looking at how much they enjoyed reading for pleasure. Whole university pre-arrival reading schemes are common in the US, and Kingston were keen to see how they could work in the UK. The aim was to create a community of staff and students all reading the same book.

The effects were immediate – students talked about their pleasure at receiving the book and staff also responded eagerly. Whether or not people had read the book, they were keen to join in the discussion.

In 2017/18, Edinburgh Napier’s Big Read evolved to adopt a new approach, one that more closely connected with students.

Expanding beyond first-year involvement and actively using the student voice (ENSA, student focus groups and social media) to inform and underpin this new direction, the #NapierBigRead became a catalyst for a range of inter-connected activities, both social and academic.

This included a link with local homelessness charity Streetreads, with collection points established across all campuses to enable staff and students to donate books before receiving the Big Read book – itself a student publication.

The initiative offers a lens for exploring belonging and community-building in a way that crosses boundaries, opening space for conversations and interconnections across the whole institution.

A central concern is the notion of how an institutional activity, rather than adopt a ‘top-down’ approach, can bond and galvanise groups of students (and staff) across diverse disciplines and campuses through shared action linked to academic interests, social conscience, or simply an interest in…

… making personal connections via a great book.


For more information on all the QAA Enhancement Theme projects at Edinburgh Napier:

Download our leaflet:


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: