School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

E-Learning Unit

E-Learning Unit


Our e-learning unit specialises in researching, developing and implementing digital materials for e-learning and e-assessment in mathematics, statistics and numeracy.

The E-Learning Unit supports the School, institution and wider mathematical community in using technology to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics.

The unit plays a key role in supporting the transition to Newcastle University through diagnostic tests, pre-entry material, and work with the University’s mathematics support service, Maths-Aid.

A large part of the unit’s work is the development of the e-assessment system, Numbas. Numbas is used worldwide in hundreds of institutions.

The E-Learning Unit has several key partnerships and a role at the forefront of mathematical e-assessment, including organising the first international conference on the subject, EAMS.

Major projects the team have been involved in include a Welsh government project to move national numeracy assessments online for years 2 to 9. Numbas helps to power the SCHOLAR project, which offers materials and formative tests to secondary schools and further education colleges across Scotland.

The e-learning unit received an AdvanceHE Collaboration Award for Teaching Excellence in 2020.



Numbas is an open-source, web-based system developed by the e-learning unit. It helps users to build online mathematics assessments.

Numbas is used throughout the mathematics, statistics and physics degree programmes at Newcastle, as well as in other subjects:

  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Physics
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Business studies
  • Psychology
  • Biomedical science
  • Sports science
  • ... and more

Applications of Numbas include:

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Formative exercises available for self-service access.
  • In-course assessment
  • Assessment of lab exercises
  • High-stakes summative exams.

A publicly accessible editor and database of content released under permissive licences is available at

We have released a lot of open-access material under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Numbas is used in hundreds of institutions around the world and has been translated into over a dozen languages.

You can find more information about Numbas at


Coursebuilder is a system for producing flexible and accessible course notes in a variety of formats from a single source, developed by the e-learning unit.

Coursebuilder is designed to work primarily with notes in the Mathematical sciences and supports both LaTeX and Markdown formatted source files. In addition to producing standard PDF output, course notes are automatically built in other more flexible formats: web notes for desktop and mobile devices, accessible notes compatible with screen-readers and other assistive devices, browser-based interactive slides and more.

Coursebuilder has been built produce as accessible notes as possible. In addition to providing tools for customising the viewing experience for all users, custom themes can be used to tailor output in any way required. This feature has been used to support students with specific support needs in several modules in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics.

Rich content is natively supported in the web-based version of Coursebuilder notes. Multimedia and interactive content such as YouTube videos, Numbas exams, runnable code blocks and interactive web-based tools can be easily embedded into the page.

Coursebuilder is available under the Apache 2.0 open-source license and can be used for free, though it’s currently early in development.

Coursebuilder GitHub Page

Coursebuilder sample course



The e-learning unit hosts an annual international conference, E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences.

The conference aims to bring together researchers and practitioners with an interest in e-assessment for mathematics and the sciences.  The conference includes presentations by speakers from around the world and workshops to try out the latest mathematical e-assessment systems.

More information can be found on the EAMS website


The e-learning unit has many historic and ongoing collaborations with colleagues around the world.

Below are some projects we have been involved with:

  • SCHOLAR – Numbas is used as the assessment engine. (2019-)
  • Member of the Sigma Network Resource Capture project. (2018-2020)
  • Welsh Government National Assessments for School Children project. (2017-2020)
  • University of Pretoria – Supported the creation of Numbas material for engineers. (2016)
  • Organised UK/MatRIC joint colloquium on computer-aided assessment. (2016)
  • TEAME project to integrate formative e-assessment into mathematics courses at Irish higher education institutions. (2015)
  • Developed diagnostic tests in Numbas with Leicester University and University of East London. (2014)
  • Supported the Arctic University of Norway in the creation of Numbas material to support mathematics. (2013-2015)


The e-learning unit is comprised of the following members of staff from the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

Dr Chris Graham
Director of E-Learning

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5089

Christian Lawson-Perfect
E-Learning Officer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6209

Dr George Stagg
Teaching & Research Technical Officer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5376