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Summer 2012 :: Issue 14

Student Led Teaching


Brunel students celebrate inspirational, challenging and engaging teaching across the University

Brunel’s MasterChef

Electric motorbikes


How her Psychology degree shaped Shelina

Motorsport Centre prepares for June’s big race

Find out what’s happening behind the scenes

Contents and Credits :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 2

Contents 3-7

Latest news from across campus


Interview: Meet Brunel’s Masterchef


Feature: Introducing the new UBS team


Research news roundup


Feature: Brunel’s Social

14-15 Staff news roundup

9-11 Student and graduate news roundup


and Political Thought Research Group

Feature: Behind the Scenes in Registry


The Gallery




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Credits Express Team

Contact us

Editor Rachel Turvey

Communications Team

Arts News Writer Emma Filtness

Student News Writer Amy Blackford

01895 265588

Contributors Joe Norman Design Andrew Hill Photography Sally Trussler, Neil Graveney Print Brunel University Press

Express is available to read and download on our website: Extra printed copies are available from the Communications Team.

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Benjamin Zephaniah gives inaugural performance alongside Brunel’s student poets Brunel’s new Chair of Creative Writing Benjamin Zephaniah took to the stage in March to host an evening of performance poetry showcasing the depth and breadth of Brunel’s creative talents. For his first performance since taking up the post in September, Zephaniah added to the momentum that he has brought to Brunel’s literary culture by giving current and past Brunel students the chance to perform alongside him. He explained: “I wanted to use the opportunity to showcase some other artists,” and so the show featured performances by Brunel’s Poetry Society as well as upand-coming London poets James Messiah, a Brunel alumnus, and Sarah Hobbs. Performance poet Mina, winner of this year’s Brunel’s Got Talent, performed her poem ‘Settle’. She said: “The evening was a fantastic experience. It was the first time I’ve seen Benjamin Zephaniah perform live and he was amazing – very inspirational. I felt very privileged that he asked me to perform.” The evening concluded with Zephaniah performing a collection of his own poems, including ‘Money’, ‘Man to Man’, ‘White Poetry’ and ‘What’s that got to do with me?’ His explanations of each poem blended comedy with incisive thinking to address issues such as racism, multiculturalism and politics. With further poetry events including open mic nights planned, Zephaniah asked for everyone with ‘a poet inside’ to get involved. “I’m on a mission to really raise the profile of performance poetry at Brunel,” he said.

Podium Award medals recognise Brunel’s Olympic contribution

Korean stars including Lee Yong Dae (top) and Park Tae-Hwan will be based on campus over the summer.

Brunel University has been awarded two bronze medals as part of a celebration of the contribution of UK universities to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Brunel was successful in two of the nine Podium Award categories, winning bronze for Innovative International Collaboration, for arranging pre‑Games training camps, as well as for Exceptional Research Contribution, for developing an Olympic-related research publication programme. Brunel’s Head of 2012 Programmes Neil Young, who is co-ordinating training camps with the Korean Olympic Committee and Athletics Canada, was delighted to receive the British Council Award for Innovative International Collaboration. “Brunel has pulled together to set up the camps, and we are confident that our contribution to London 2012 will deliver benefits for the University,” he said. “The Awards show the importance of universities in delivering a successful Games.”

The RCUK Award for Exceptional Research Contribution recognises Brunel’s commitment to maximising participation in Olympic-related research, as organisers of the 2012 International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS). Convenor Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE explained: “We adopted ‘Inspiring a learning legacy’ as the Convention’s main theme. This led to a collaboration with publishers Taylor and Francis to develop a research publication programme.” Dr Vassil Girginov, the programme’s Executive Academic Editor, added: “This is the first time that a coherent Olympic publication programme has been established. As well as journals and books we now have a dedicated online platform to promote critical scholarship.” The Podium Awards formed part of May’s London 2012-themed Universities Week, the annual campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of the higher education sector to British society and the economy.


In Brief Events on campus mark LGBT History Month A two-day festival of events on campus in February marked LGBT History Month, which celebrates the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. As well as information stalls and evening events, the festival featured a lunchtime talk focusing on equality and homophobia, with Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE, Dr Mark McCormack and Professor Ian Rivers, Patron of LGBT History Month. The events were organised by Brunel’s Equality and Diversity Office, in conjunction with the LGBT Staff Network Group and the student LGBT Society.

Festival taster day whets Brunel’s musical appetite After a successful debut in 2011, the Brunel Electronic and Analogue Music (BEAM) festival returns from 22-24 June. Artists, researchers and DIY electronics builders will turn the Antonin Artaud Performance Centre into a high-tech musical playground, with performances, installations and workshops exploring the physical and interactive elements of electronic music. A taster day in March gave music enthusiasts the opportunity to view some of the festival participants’ creations, including a LEGO Technics drum sequencer, a stunningly varied mobile phone instrument, and a sub-bass speaker built from a computer hard-drive.

Brunel collects Queen’s Anniversary Prize at Buckingham Palace The Vice-Chancellor and Professor Susan Jobling, Head of the Institute for the Environment, have collected the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The prize, part of the Diamond Jubilee round of awards, was presented by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise and celebrate outstanding work which is deemed to have had a real and practical impact for the benefit of humanity. The team from the Institute for the Environment secured the award for their research uncovering the link between exposure to water pollution and sex change in male fish in UK rivers. The research provided the impetus for human health research also linking chemical exposure with declining sperm counts, increased incidence of male genital abnormalities, and testicular, breast and prostate cancer in human populations.

University wins NHS London physiotherapy contract

Tennis Club achieves national recognition for community focus

Brunel has been awarded a new contract with NHS London for the provision of physiotherapy education, following a competitive tender.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and the Tennis Foundation have announced that Brunel University Tennis Club has been awarded Beacon status, as part of a drive to improve access to tennis in parks and communities.

The School of Health Sciences and Social Care will receive funding for its full-time and part-time BSc Physiotherapy courses, and the award will also enable the University to offer a new preregistration MSc in Physiotherapy.

Brunel is the first university to achieve the national accolade, which recognises the best communityfocused facilities offering affordable tennis under the AEGON Parks Tennis programme. Facilities must also offer access to quality, affordable coaching as well as regular competitions for all ages and abilities.

This means that Brunel has been awarded funding for 82 physiotherapy student places, making it one of the largest providers of physiotherapy education in the UK.

John Love, Tennis Development Officer for Middlesex, said: “It is fantastic to see that this programme has increased participation across the local community, by offering affordable coaching and unlimited free access to the courts.”


Blackboard Learn is coming! As we start the new academic year this September, staff and students will no longer be using u-Link as an environment for online learning activities and resources. Instead, Brunel’s new Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard Learn, will be in action across the University. The School of Computing, Information Systems and Mathematics has been piloting the system over the course of the current academic year, leaving the Blackboard Learn project team confident to extend it across Brunel. So, if you’re a student, you will be using the new system when you come back to University in September. It’s easy to use and the fundamentals of the system are similar, but there are plenty of new features for you and your tutors to explore. The Learning Technology Team will provide all the support you need to use Blackboard Learn, and your views and feedback will be vital as online learning moves forward across the University. If you’re a member of staff, you may already have been on Blackboard Learn training and are now finding your way round the new system. If not, make sure you book a training course via Staff Development. Drop-in sessions are also running so you can come along when it’s convenient for you, and training will continue throughout the summer. If you are part of the pilot School, SISCM, you’ll already have a good idea of many of the hints, tips and tricks that it can offer.

Want to find out more? Keep up to date with the project, learn more about Blackboard and read the project blog: Follow us on Twitter:


Email Project Manager Alex Osmond:

Brunel University Anti-Bribery Policy now in operation The Brunel University Anti-Bribery Policy is now available online at All members of the University should familiarise themselves with this document. The University requires all staff and students to conduct business honestly, and without the use of corrupt practices or acts of bribery to obtain an unfair advantage. These principles, along with details of acceptable and unacceptable transactions, are described in the Policy, which applies to all staff and officials including Directors of any subsidiary or associated companies, Council Members, and third parties working on the University’s behalf. The University takes compliance with the Bribery Act 2010 very seriously. Any known or suspected breach of the Policy or Act should be reported immediately according to the procedure outlined in the Policy document. Queries should be addressed to Jim Benson (Secretary to Council) at or Terry Sweeney (Head of Projects and Policies – Finance Department) at


One World Week 2012 This year’s One World Week festival lived up to its billing as one of the biggest cultural events in Brunel’s calendar. Organised by the Union of Brunel Students, the Week saw a host of activities taking place all over campus, celebrating some of the 170 different nationalities that make up Brunel’s community. Now in its eighth year, One World Week aims to encourage students, staff and the local community to learn about the unique experiences, values and aspirations of our different cultures.


Google Apps roll out starts this summer

What’s on

The Computer Centre is rolling out a new Google-based email system to undergraduates and taught postgraduates.

Event highlights over the summer

From June onwards, all new students will be given an email address ending This summer’s graduating students will also receive a new account as they become alumni, which they can retain permanently after they leave Brunel.

Festival of Awareness and Creative Expression (FACE)

Current students’ accounts will be migrated gradually to the new system, and emails sent to existing email addresses will initially be forwarded to the new accounts to smooth the transition.

When? 21-25 May Where? The Quad (and all over campus!)

Even during the roll out phase, the benefits of the new system will be significant. They include:

What is it? A platform for student clubs and societies to showcase their talents. Organised by the Students’ Union, the Festival aims to strengthen Brunel’s sense of community and demonstrate some of the activities taking place around the University.

• A huge increase in email quota to 25GB per user • Access to Google Mail, Google Calendars and Google Contacts • The ability to collaborate via Google Chat • The option to send emails using a ‘friendly’ email address in the form Other applications including Google+ and Google Docs will be introduced at a later stage.

Made in Brunel

@my.brunel is based on Google Apps Education Edition and is supplied under contract to Brunel by Google.

Where? The Bargehouse, London SE1

For more information, contact the Computing Support team:

What is it? The annual Brunel Engineering and Design student showcase. Pre-register your interest:

When? 14-17 June

Graduation 2012 When? 23-27 July Where? Indoor Athletics Centre What is it? Graduation ceremonies for this year’s final year undergraduates and postgraduates. Find out everything you need to know as the details are finalised: Stay up-to-date with all the latest events on IntraBrunel

Brunel’s Olympic Summer Don’t miss the key dates this summer as London 2012 comes to Brunel 12 July – 13 August

Korean team on campus for Olympic Training Camp

24 July

Olympic Torch Relay passes through Brunel

27 July – 12 August OLYMPIC GAMES 20 – 26 August

Canadian athletics team on campus for final Paralympic Preparation Camp

29 August – 9 September PARALYMPIC GAMES Watch out for the Express Olympics Special, out early July, to find out all about Brunel’s student and graduate Olympians and keep up with what’s happening on campus.

INTERVIEW :: Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 8

Meet Brunel’s MasterChef Brunel graduate Shelina Permalloo was named MasterChef Champion 2012 in March, wowing the judges with food inspired by her Mauritian roots. Shelina, who completed a Psychology degree in 2004, came through nine weeks of intense competition to become only the second female champion in eight years. Her long-term goal is to open her own restaurant and raise the profile of Mauritian food in the UK. Express asked Shelina how her Brunel degree helped her along the path to MasterChef victory, and discovers the winning heritage of Mill Hall’s kitchens!

Can you tell us a bit more about your career between leaving Brunel and starting MasterChef? When I left Brunel I started work for an ethnic minorities housing project in Southampton. I worked in a number of equality and diversity roles after that, relating to issues like women in business and disability in the workplace. I left my last job in September and now I’m 150% committed to working in food.

You mentioned on MasterChef that you wanted to go to catering school but that your parents were keen for you to get a degree. Looking back, has your degree been useful? Absolutely! I did a thin-sandwich Psychology degree, which gave me the opportunity to take two work placements, one at Harlington Hospice and one with the London Probation Service. If it wasn’t for Brunel I wouldn’t have got any of the jobs I had before MasterChef. I learnt skills like managing people, planning my time and project management – you pick up skills like that at uni but you only really learn them when you’re working in the real world. Coping with exam stress didn’t really prepare me for MasterChef stress though – that’s on another level!

You lived on campus at Brunel – did you spend much time cooking in halls? Yes, I lived in Mill Hall and I did a lot of cooking! I was always cooking for my friends. We lived in Northolt for our final year and I was always making stuff up out of whatever we had left in the cupboard – just spicing it up a bit!

Do you have any advice for current students who want to make a career out of their extra-curricular interests? When you find out what you love you should just go for it, but it took me nearly ten years between leaving Brunel and figuring out that I couldn’t live without working in food. It can take a while to have that penny-dropping moment, so I don’t regret my time at Brunel and the jobs I’ve had afterwards for a second. I met some of my best friends at Brunel, people that I consider family – being at Brunel was one of the best times of my life.

Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE

First year Creative Writing student Sophie Lockhart came second in a Royal Shakespeare Company playwriting competition, winning tickets to Helen Edmundson’s play The Heresay of Love and the chance to meet the playwright. “Helen was very appreciative of our efforts,” said Sophie. “She talked about what it means to become a playwright and how we can get our feet in the door of the industry.” The competition involved writing a scene based on a first line supplied by Edmundson. Students from the School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics impressed a panel of industry experts at the Made in Brunel – Software Innovation

event. Prizes for the best work were awarded by sponsor companies including Cisco, Microsoft, Sky and Xerox, and a number of students were invited to visit company research labs. Deputy Head of School Professor Mark Lycett said: “Events like this provide evidence of our key relationships with industry and push students to innovate and improve their work.”

In a thrilling and closely fought race, the 400m hurdles specialist withstood a strong finish by the individual 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who anchored the US team. The British women won by just 0.03 seconds, with Perri crashing to the track as she lunged for the finish line. The team are now strong contenders for a medal at the Olympics, raising the possibility of double success for Perri. She and her teammates Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders and Christine Ohuruogu stopped the clock at 3:28.76, the fastest time in the world this year. Perri graduated with a BSc in Sport Sciences in 2011, and now lives and trains in East London.

Twelve students from Brunel Law School attended a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The group met the Greek Judge Professor Alexandre-Linos Sicilianos to discuss the case they had heard as well as employment and traineeship opportunities at the Court. Electronic and Computer Engineering student Patrick Diai (aka ‘Ultra’) won gold in the men’s U63.5kg category as Brunel made it to the final of the British Universities Boxing Championship. Patrick hopes to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The winners of Brunel’s National Student Survey 2012 prize draw have been announced: Chantelle Fisher, Halima Salim, Christina Rogers and Angelie I Gong each won an iPad; Asma Ariffin and Alexander Holbourne each won a pair of Graduation Ball tickets; and Aaksha Khanna won £150 of Red Letter Day vouchers. The winners

Perri Shakes-Drayton claims relay gold Brunel graduate Perri ShakesDrayton struck gold at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul in March, running a determined anchor leg for Great Britain’s 4x400m relay quartet.

were drawn by Ipsos Mori from over 1,600 entrants who had completed the Survey online by 29 February.

Photo credit: Daniel Mbaku

Photo credit: Peter Cook


Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 10

Student Led Teaching Awards celebrate inspirational staff across the University Academics and members of staff from across the University who stand out for their ability to inspire, challenge and engage students have been recognised by the student body in a high profile awards ceremony.

This year’s winners Congratulations to the following members of staff

Inspirational Teaching Award Paul Turnock, School of Engineering and Design

In a new initiative for 2012, the Students’ Union was one of only sixteen universities in England to secure funding from the Higher Education Authority and the National Union of Students to run Student Led Teaching Awards.

Innovative Teaching Award

The Awards aim to:

Supervisor of the Year Award

• Highlight the importance of outstanding contributions by Brunel staff

Dr Daniel Rhind, School of Sport and Education

• Support the importance of the learning partnership between students and their lecturers • Identify good practice from a student perspective • Contribute to Brunel’s Learning and Teaching Strategy and School enhancement plans • Ensure that students have a say throughout Brunel Winners were selected by Vice-President (Academic Representation) Craig Best and a panel of senior student representatives, following nominations from the student body. The Awards were presented on 3 May, and the ceremony culminated with the announcement of a special award for the Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Jenks for Significant Contribution to the Student Experience.

Dr Ian Kill, School of Health Sciences and Social Care

Postgraduates’ Choice Award Dr Stephen Marrin, School of Social Sciences

Exceptional Module Award Dr Alasdair Cairns, School of Engineering and Design – Racing Vehicle Design and Performance

Outstanding Admin and Support Award Karen Smith, Placement and Careers Centre

Feedback of the Year Award Laura Kerrigan, Business School

Personal Tutor of the Year Award Benedetta Brevini, School of Arts

Benguin Power The Student Led Teaching Awards kicked off in January when Brunel was invaded by ‘Benguins’ to mark the start of the campaign. Designed by UBS lead designer Laura Stevenson, the cut‑out Benguins captured the hearts of staff and students alike and inspired a host of stories on Facebook about their adventures around campus.

Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 11

Student round-the-world cyclist makes it to Thailand Brunel Anthropology student Stuart Lansdale has made it as far as Thailand in his attempt at the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour. Stuart has suffered two major crashes since setting off on 18 February, denting his ambition to circumnavigate the world by bike – a minimum distance of 18,000 miles. The attempt aims to raise money for two charities, the Dorset Expeditionary Society and the Okhle Village Trust in Nepal. Speaking from Bangkok, Stuart said: “I got as far as Kiev before my first crash, after which I had to make a brief pit stop back in London before returning to India where I picked up my route and schedule. “Unfortunately I had another crash just outside Mumbai, which has wrecked the bicycle. I hitch-hiked by bus and truck to Nepal where I spent some time with the Okhle Village Trust and caught up with old friends who I met during my Anthropology fieldwork there.”

“I hitch-hiked by bus and truck to Nepal where I caught up with old friends who I met during my Anthropology fieldwork.”

“I couldn’t get the necessary bike repairs done locally and Nepal’s import rules meant that I would have faced a large bill to send the bike away, so I decided to fly to Bangkok where I am currently awaiting a new frame and front fork. I’ll then be able to continue down to Singapore and across to Australia.” With regards to the race, Stuart continued: “I’m still being tracked and am part of the event but realistically I’m taking each day as it comes. Whether I have the time or money left to do the full 18,000 miles is another matter. I would like to cross Australia at least!” Follow Stuart’s progress and donate via his blog:

Brunel Design students win lighting design competition Two Brunel Design students shared first place in an LED lighting design competition held as part of this year’s Architectural, Retail and Commercial Lighting (ARC) Show. ‘Polarescent’ by George Killaspy

“It’s wonderful to see the creative energy that is produced by Brunel”

George Killaspy and Xander Dawood, both in their second year studying Industrial Design and Technology, were selected by a panel of leading lighting experts to receive prizes of £300 each. George’s design, called ‘Polarescent’ (pictured), is a piece of gallery lighting which can vary its colour temperature to correctly illuminate different types of artwork, reducing the amount of refitting necessary for exhibition change. Xander’s winning design, ‘Arclite’, is a remote controlled light which illuminates artwork and sculptures for use in domestic galleries. Joe Rushton, from the competition’s sponsor Remote Controlled Lighting, said: “It’s wonderful to see the creative energy that is produced by Brunel. The reason we sponsor this competition is to help shape the next generation of talent to design beautiful products that are sensitive to the constraints and challenges of business.”

MAIN FEATURE :: Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 12

Meet next year’s Students’ Union team The Union of Brunel Students executive team for the 2012/13 academic year has now been announced.

The UBS team for 2012/13

The campus was overtaken by colourful campaign posters in February, as candidates competed for the student vote. Four fulltime officers are elected each spring – they may be current students taking a sabbatical year from their studies, or new graduates – along with a host of volunteers who represent the student body on all aspects of their studies and campus lifestyle.

Vice-President Academic Representation Peter Smallwood

This year was the first time that a UBS election has been conducted solely using online voting. Democratic Support Officer Richard Wiltshire said: “I am exceptionally happy with how hard all of the campaigners and their supporters have worked over this election period and it is fantastic to see so many students getting involved with the democracy of their Union. This year has seen a rise of almost 25% in the number of candidates running for positions and the passion that they have all displayed is a credit to them. I’m looking forward to even more students getting involved next year.”


President Promise Phillips

Vice-President Community Welfare James Ward Vice-President Student Activities Gary O’Brien Media Association Chair Tom Scott RAG Team Chair Nicole Eversfield Sports Federation Chair Jamie Edwards Societies Guild Chair Cam McKirdy Environmental Chair Victoria Gzibovska Equality and Diversity Chair Miriam Bander Volunteering Chair Marcus Bernasconi World Students Chair Bea Lopez Student Trustees Martin Denning, Liam Walpole, Sam Donoghue

Name Promise Phillips Age 23 Course Financial Computing, graduated 2011 This will be Promise’s second term in office, and he was re-elected by a margin of almost 750 votes over the second-placed candidate. He said: “I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to serve Brunel students for another year. It is always pleasing to win, but winning by such a margin shows the belief Brunel students have in me. I will do my best to serve them as well as I can and will never forget the opportunity that Brunel has given me. “As UBS President, I am the nominal head of the Union – I make sure that the quality of representation for students is high and that we are doing all we can to further your student experience. My main focus is to enhance personal development opportunities for all Brunel students.”

MAIN FEATURE :: Student and Graduate NEWS :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 13

“This year has seen a rise of almost 25% in the number of candidates running for positions”

Vice-President Academic Representation

Vice-President  Community Welfare

Vice-President  Student Activities

Name Peter Smallwood Age 22 Course Politics, final year

Name James Ward 21 Age Course  Politics and History, final year

Name Gary O’Brien Age 22 Course Sport Sciences, graduated 2011

The major initiatives that Peter intends to focus on next year include the introduction of podcasted lectures, personal timetables, a ‘Rate the Lecture’ campaign and Brunel’s very first course rep conference. He also intends to re-run the Student Led Teaching Awards, and has pledged to reduce noise levels in the library.

Having served as Equality and Diversity Chair this year, James will take a step up to the Community Welfare role. “The idea that I will be the Vice-President for Community Welfare for 2012/13 has not sunk in yet,” he said. “I don’t think it will until I sit in the office and am busy with meetings and campaigns!”

Back for a second term in office, Gary was relieved to achieve re-election. “The Elections 2012 were definitely a lot more stressful and a lot more tiring than last year,” he said. “Whether that’s me getting old or the perceived added pressure of being an incumbent I’m not quite sure!”

Speaking about his campaign, Peter said: “I promised to bring back common sense to education at Brunel and that is exactly what I plan to do. We need to work together to make our education at Brunel better.”

James’s plans for the year include working on student employability as well as ethical and equality issues. He explained: “One of my main focuses is to increase employability via volunteering, and working with the Volunteer Chair elect, Marcus Bernasconi, will be central to this. I’m also planning to develop policies with the Equality and Diversity Chair and the Environmental Strategy Chair.”

Who’s who: next year’s full-time officers

Gary’s main campaigns this year include establishing a support clinic, continuing efforts to improve society engagement, and building stronger connections with Brunel alumni.


Active Brunel rolled out to staff Could you use some time away from your desk at lunchtimes? Want to renew those New Year’s resolutions and get fit? Active Brunel can help! The University’s Government-sponsored programme to help more people get involved in sport and exercise has recently been extended to Brunel staff for a trial period. Join before 2 June and you’ll pay just £5 for a year’s membership, which includes two free swimming sessions, one free class and one free gym session each week (additional sessions cost £1 – £3 each). Activities are run on an informal and flexible basis, so you can turn up when it suits you. Check out the calendar (available from the Sports Centre reception or online) to find out when and where sessions are running:

JISC funded project to review Brunel’s course data Brunel has been awarded JISC funding to undertake a holistic review of the University’s course data, with the goal of improving its quality and functionality. The CDATA project, a joint venture between Registry and SITS and Learning Technology, aims to explore how technology can be used to ensure that the University’s course data is accurate, timely, fit for purpose and accessible to relevant users. This is particularly significant in the light of recent national initiatives to standardise the course data provided by universities, including Key Information Sets and the Higher Education Achievement Record.

Conflict coaching is now available at Brunel for any member of staff or student who may be experiencing an unresolved conflict in a professional or personal relationship, arising from their work or study at Brunel. The service is free and involves up to three one-to-one sessions with a Conflict Coach in a location or setting in which you feel comfortable. The role of the Conflict Coach is to work with you to find an effective way of responding to a difficult relationship, helping you to focus on your responses and find ways to communicate more effectively. For further information about how Conflict Coaching could help you, please visit the Student Services or Human Resources intranet pages: or

The initiative is steered by a project board, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Development and External Relations Professor Dany Nobus.

Want to find out more? Email the Project Manager: julia.Stephenson@ Visit the website and blog: Follow us on Twitter: @cdataproject

Conflict coaching now available

Over the next few months the CDATA team will be establishing a systematic information gathering process with key stakeholders at Brunel, so you may be hearing from them soon.

Finance and Procurement teams nominated for THE Leadership and Management Awards Brunel has been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs), one for Outstanding Finance Team and another for Outstanding Procurement Team. Now in their fourth year, the THELMAs are a celebration of the best leadership, management, financial and business skills in the sector, and provide a showcase for the innovation, teamwork and commercial acumen that can be found in higher education institutions across the UK. John Robinson, Director of Finance, said: “We are delighted that both the Finance and the Procurement teams have been shortlisted for this year’s THELMAs. The nominations

recognise that the University is spending wisely in difficult times. The Finance team has enabled strategic spending for the benefit of students and research over the past year and the Procurement team has helped the University to generate cost effective spend in different ways. This work will retain its importance in the uncertain economic times ahead.” Winners will be announced on 21 June 2012 at the Grosvenor House Hotel.



Professor Michael Bevis Professor Michael Bevis, the founding Director of the Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing, passed away at the end of April. Mike joined Brunel in 1977 and was Head of the Department of Materials Technology from 1984 until 1987, when he founded the Wolfson Centre. He remained a consulting Director after Professor Jack Silver took over in 2006. Aside from his distinguished academic career, Mike showed equally notable human qualities. He was diagnosed with MS soon after joining Brunel, and he was incredibly courageous and defiant in the face of his condition.

Starters and Leavers In February we said goodbye to Communications Manager Jo Dooher, who launched Express in Spring 2009 as a replacement for the long‑standing Brunel News. Jo started as Publications Officer straight after graduating from Brunel in 2004, before moving to Communications in 2008. We wish her all the best in her new role!

Express takes a look at some of the other staff to join or depart from Brunel this Spring

Welcome to… Karen Barker Events Manager • Dr Quinton Fivelman Business Development Manager, Research Support and Development Office • Dr Averil Horton Head of Business Development and Innovation, Research Support and Development Office • Dr Panagiotis Konstantinou Lecturer in Finance and Economics • Amit Malik Receptionist • Professor Will Self Professor of Contemporary Thought • Dr Sharifah Alwi Lecturer in Marketing • Dr Alexia Ventouri Lecturer in Accounting and Finance

Farewell to… Professor Brian Andrews Chair in Biomedical Engineering • Dr Hilary Coole Lecturer, Education • David Gilchrist Graduate Careers Consultant, Placement and Careers Centre • Lynne Greenstreet Business Projects Manager • Dr Timothy Milewa Research Strategy Lecturer, Sociology • Sonali Patankar Events Assistant • Laura Rodbard Subject Liaison Librarian, School of Arts • Sally Scagell Marketing Officer, School of Arts Covers a selection of starters and leavers in February and March 2012

His enthusiasm and courage remain an inspiration to all who knew him. With thanks to Dr Peter Allan and Dr Karnik Tarverdi

Esme Woodland Esme Woodland passed away on Boxing Day 2011, aged 90. Esme was Deputy Principal of Borough Road College, one of the University’s predecessor colleges, in the early 1970s. After Borough Road merged with Maria Grey College in 1976, Esme continued as Vice-Principal of the new West London Institute of Higher Education. A building at Brunel’s Osterley campus was named in Esme’s honour until the campus was closed in 2006. With thanks to Dr Iris Turner


Brunel’s Registry team are in the midst of one of their busiest periods with graduation and the new academic year fast approaching. Express outlines the basics of what they do.

Behind the scenes… What does ‘Registry’ mean? This major administrative area is one of the engine rooms of study at Brunel, but the word ‘Registry’ does little to convey the range of its activity around the University. Registry’s work covers four main areas: • Academic governance and development, including overseeing assessment regulations, supporting Senate, handling appeals, and managing the development of programme specifications and entry criteria • Admissions for Home and EU students • Developing and implementing quality and standards assurance policies and procedures for Brunel’s programmes of study • Timetabling, including managing examinations and awarding qualifications Within each of these areas, the team works in partnership with academic Schools, the Students’ Union and central administrative departments to provide services and support to staff, current students and those hoping to study at Brunel.


“This is an interesting time in higher education, and along with colleagues around the University we need to be able to respond to the changing environment.”

Registry What’s keeping them busy this summer?

How are changes in the sector affecting work in Registry?

Over the next five months, the team will be delivering and supporting some of the University’s core activities, including examinations and the associated exam boards, graduation, confirmation of places for next year’s new students, clearing, and registration for freshers.

Alongside higher fees for Home and EU students, the higher education sector is also adjusting to new requirements for the provision of course data for applicants, and a new institutional review process and UK Quality Code introduced by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

Preparations for the 2012/13 academic year are also underway. The University’s new timetabling system was successfully piloted for the summer exams, and its extension to the autumn term’s timetable is expected significantly to improve the way that timetables are managed and published to students. Registry staff are also working with the SITS and Learning Technology Team on the JISC-funded CDATA project to review Brunel’s course data – for more information, see page 14. The coming year will see updated regulations on appeals and disciplinary matters, changes to the programme approval process, and a focus on considering student engagement in the University’s quality assurance processes. In short, it will be a busy year for the Registry team, and that’s without considering the effect of sector-wide reform in higher education provision.

Head of Registry Helen Emerson described how the team is is responding to these challenges: “This is an interesting time in higher education, and along with colleagues around the University we need to be able to respond to the changing environment. In Registry we’re reviewing all our processes to ensure that we are working

as efficiently as possible while maintaining high standards.” “Right now a number of external initiatives are dictating our activities, in addition to the day-to-day work of each of the teams. These include the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR), an enhanced transcript which will include information on additional awards and activities that students have undertaken during their time at university, and the Key Information Set (KIS) which aims to give applicants a standard set of data about all university courses so that they can compare them in an informed light.”

Registry Fact File Location

Wilfred Brown Building, second floor


Over 40


Helen Emerson


Academic Services


The team are keen to hear from any colleagues and students who have queries about the work they do


Express meets the team responsible for managing some of the University’s most important academic activities, and finds out what’s happening in Registry over the summer.

Registry: Timetabling Awards Group Claire Surridge, Assistant Registrar Claire’s team are currently piloting a new timetabling system, Scientia, which enables them to publish personalised timetables online. The new system will be applied to the teaching timetable for the new academic year, and the team are now gathering data for this process – avoiding clashes between modules is the most difficult task. When the autumn term starts, team members will be

available to help new students get used to the timetabling system. During May the focus is firmly on examinations, with candidate lists to sort, invigilators to recruit, and exam rooms to supervise to minimise the possibility of cheating. After this, attention shifts to graduation. Claire describes the cycle of work necessary to ensure that the groundwork for the ceremonies is complete: “The students have been invited by

now, and after the exam period we support the boards which recommend awards, and check the award data. We then organise the programme, seating, tickets and certificates, and look after the graduation Facebook page.” Even after students graduate, they often need Registry’s services to confirm awards. “We get requests to verify awards for employers, other institutions and for pension verification,” explains Claire.

Quality Assurance Steve Mullins, Deputy Head of Registry Steve joined Brunel in 1989 as a lecturer in Chemistry and was Senior Tutor in Materials Science for two years before joining Registry in 2002. Following a recent restructure, Steve and his team have undertaken the task of giving quality assurance a stronger student focus at Brunel. The 2012 exam period marks the first time when University

awards will be made under the new Senate Regulation 2. This requires awards board members to attend a number of briefing sessions, making the period a particularly busy one for Steve’s team – they provide guidance on the new regulations and are present at many board meetings. Steve explains: “We award under two sets of undergraduate regulations, while also ensuring that new and modified programmes are managed

efficiently through the University’s quality assurance processes. It’s a challenging time of year!” The team has continued to develop a collaborative link with LIBT this year – a quality audit has now been conducted and new course provisions assessed and approved. By working closely with Schools, service departments and the Students’ Union, Steve and his team have cemented their position as the first port of call for quality issues.


“In Registry we’re reviewing all our processes to ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible, while maintaining high standards.”

Who’s Who? Admissions Sue Gemmill, Senior Assistant Registrar (Admissions) With all undergraduate applications now submitted, offers made and the applicants’ decisions received, the Admissions team are now developing a clearer picture of next year’s student numbers and preparing for confirmation and Clearing. “Clearing is a massive operation across the University,” explains Sue. “We need support from a

lot of other staff – it involves around 100 people overall.” Postgraduate applications also start to flood in over the summer, making August and September the busiest time of year for the Admissions team. Day-to-day work includes close collaboration with Admissions Tutors in the Schools to make decisions on applicants, set entry requirements and manage student course changes. The team also

handles a regular deluge of queries on courses, accommodation and all other aspects of life at Brunel, and tries to fill in the gaps in application forms to ensure that the University makes the right decisions on whether to accept or reject potential future students. In September, the Admissions team handle the registration process for freshers, before handing over student administrative functions to the Student Centre.

Registry administration Anna Leeves, Departmental Administrator Anna has been Registry’s Departmental Administrator since January 2010, and for many staff around the University she is the first point of contact with the wider Registry team. As well as taking minutes at the quarterly Senate and monthly Academic Appeals Committee meetings, she also attends and

records exam board meetings as well as other high-level meetings throughout the year, and is responsible for updating associated policy and regulations on the intranet. She also plays a key role in organising registration, and helps with exam boards and graduation over the summer. Anna co-ordinates Registry communications, and she describes the team’s plans for the coming

year. “We’re planning a newsletter, which will be available on our intranet pages and sent to key staff members in the Schools and in other service departments. This will include an overview of what Registry does, so that staff and students know who to contact, as well as reminders of key dates and information for starters and leavers.”

Research news :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 20

In Brief A revolutionary training product developed by Professor Alison McConnell has been included in a report showcasing the impact of universities on London 2012 and UK sport. POWERbreathe®, a simple mechanical device that helps train the diaphragm and thus improve breathing, is now widely used both by elite athletes as well as in medical settings. Released as part of Universities Week (30 April – 7 May), the high profile report describes how research has helped Team GB prepare for London 2012. Brunel is a partner in both of the two projects selected for funding under the JISC Research Information Management Programme, ensuring that the University has input into the future direction of UK research policy. The Research Information Shared Service (UKRISS) project will develop and pilot a national shared service for research organisations to report to funding bodies, while the Defining Systems to Capture Research Impact and Benefits (DESCRIBE) project will improve the availability of validated research impact evidence. Dr Julie Barnett, a social psychologist based in the Department of Information Systems and Computing, has been appointed to the new Social Science Expert Panel for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The panel will supply both government departments with multi-disciplinary social science advice. Around 65 participants including representatives from Mexico, Burundi, Kenya and Russia attended an Expert Seminar on Indigenous Cultures and Languages in March, organised by Reader in Law Dr Alexandra Xanthaki on behalf of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). Delegates discussed the importance of indigenous cultures and considered ways to develop and transmit their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies and writing systems, as part of an EMRIP study due to be submitted to the Human Rights Council this summer.

Electric motorbike race inspires groundbreaking research at Brunel A team from Brunel’s state-of-the-art Motorsport Centre is gearing up for an international electric motorcycle race, using innovative research to help keep pace with some of e-racing’s big names. On 6 June, Brunel X team’s BX-12 bike, ridden by professional racer Russ Mountford, will take part in the Isle of Man TT Zero. Part of the renowned TT race week, this zero emission race over one 37-mile lap of the island’s Mountain Course is the most challenging electric bike race in the world. 2012’s potential winners include Motoczysz and Mugen Honda, and insiders suspect that the race’s holy grail – a 100mph average speed around the lap – will be broken this year. Supervised by Dr Koen Matthys, Brunel X comprises research staff, Mechanical and Motorsport Engineering students and an in-house technical team, along with external partners. The team finished sixth in the Pro Class in 2009’s inaugural TT Zero race, and were running third last year until motor failure halted a potentiallly stunning result. Winning, however, is not Brunel’s main goal: the BX-12, which can reach 120mph and carries a battery pack weighing over 100kg, is primarily a mobile research platform. By offering opportunities to test components and record performance data, the bike helps to validate design and technology concepts for Brunel’s Vehicle Integration, Performance and Energy Research Group (VIPER), led by Dr Matthys, as well as for external parties. This unique position at the interface between industry and academic research could prove the team’s secret weapon in June. “We focus on developing electric vehicle technology instead of trying to compete with the top guys,” explains technician Robert Driver, who has worked for Mercedes Benz and raced in motocross and karting. “The Motorsport Centre is building up the experimental and technological capacity to improve performance, efficiency and integration in alternative vehicle design, and help bring prototypes to market.” The BX-12 is based on a road-going supersport bike, donated to the VIPER Group by Triumph UK for development and research.

Homophobia is declining in schools, claims Brunel sociologist A new book by Brunel sociologist Dr Mark McCormack suggests that homophobia is on the decline in British secondary schools. Dr McCormack spent a year in three secondary schools and found that prejudice, discrimination and bullying have decreased significantly in recent years, with homophobia now considered in as negative a light as racism. Not only does being gay no longer appear to affect popularity among teenage boys, but their peers’ popularity is also increased by supporting and respecting gay friends. The study’s results gained widespread media coverage, with features in publications including The Economist, The Observer, The Daily Mail, The Sunday Times and New Internationalist, as well as on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1. Dr McCormack’s book The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality was published in April 2012 by OUP USA.

Research news :: EXPRESS MAGAZINE 21

Public Lecture Series 2012 probes society’s ‘Hidden Truths’ Almost 1,000 people attended the fourth annual Public Lecture Series in March to hear Brunel’s experts explore some of the most compelling contemporary issues. Topics ranged from the nature of reality to the pollutant effects of modern technologies, and speakers included Professor of Contemporary Thought Will Self, whose talk drew an audience of over 300 students, staff and members of the public. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Development and External Relations Professor Dany Nobus emphasised the Lectures’ accessibility to a diverse audience. He said: “Academics are sometimes perceived as slightly unworldly figures who favour high-brow

discussions with fellow specialists, communicate their ideas to the brighest students, and spend the rest of their time pursuing sophisticated research projects in enclosed laboratories and libraries. Once again, the Public Lecture Series has proved that academics can reach out to a broad, nonspecialist audience, and that the wider community can come and engage with research at Brunel. “Next year we will celebrate our fifth anniversary with a Series that is bigger, braver and even better!”


Crisis, Transition, Transformation: Revolutionary Thought Today The SPT Group responded to the global wave of protest movements by initiating a high-profile seminar series in October 2011 entitled ‘Crisis, Transition, Transformation: Revolutionary Thought Today’. The series aims to explore the new challenges and opportunities for revolutionary thought in the context of the modern world, and has attracted renowned speakers such as Slavoj Žižek, the world-famous cultural critic, political commentator and philosopher, who delivered a lecture entitled ‘The Deadlock’ to a packed audience of 250 staff and students. The lecture questioned the massive visibility of the protests in the light of a reality in which many countries are locked in a frustrating deadlock, with a lack of clarity from the protesters on their wishes and vision for the future.

The Right of Resistance: Theory, Politics, Law

Revolutionary Research In a year of unprecedented revolutionary protest across the world, a team of Brunel academics have been helping to shed light on some of the complex political and philosophical issues raised by the events of the Arab Spring. Founded in 2010 in the School of Social Sciences, the Social and Political Thought (SPT) Research Group has hit its stride this year, with the launch of a new MA alongside film screenings, a seminar series and a high profile international conference. Express reviews a year of innovative and engaging research, and explores the Group’s contribution to analysing the politics of protest.

The conference attracted speakers and delegates from both Europe and the United States, including the Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher Toni Negri, co-author with Michael Hardt of the seminal book Empire*, who delivered the final paper on experiences of resistance and new definitions of power. Conference organiser Dr Filippo Del Lucchese commented: “The conference was not only interdisciplinary, but also showed the importance of thinking theoretically, politically and historically at the same time. Theory and history can both help us to understand the current period of intense resistances against corrupt regimes, both inside and outside the Western world.”

Photo: arindambanerjee/

Photo: MOHPhoto/

February’s International Conference on ‘The Right of Resistance: Theory, Politics, Law (Sixteenth to TwentyFirst Century)’ set today’s protests in their historical context, tracing the roots of resistance from medieval times through to the struggles taking place in the modern world.

Photo: fulili/

* Harvard University Press, 2000

Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/


What is the Social and Political Thought Research Group? The SPT Group brings together leading scholars in the fields of social and political theory, the history of political thought and political philosophy. It seeks to develop an innovative approach to political thought that emphasises the historical and political context of classic works and authors, while also intervening in contemporary debates. Slavoj Žižek addresses a packed audience at Brunel

Who’s who? Key members of the Group from the School of Social Sciences include: •

Dr Gareth Dale, Director of Postgraduate Research for the School of Social Sciences and specialist in international political economy

Dr Filippo Del Lucchese, lecturer and specialist in the history of political thought and philosophy, and cinema and politics

Professor Mark Neocleous (pictured below), Head of Politics and History and Professor of the Critique of Political Economy

Dr John Roberts, senior lecturer in Sociology and Communications and specialist in free speech and the public sphere, and global political economy and the workplace

Dr Peter Thomas, lecturer and specialist in the history of political thought and philosophy and contemporary social and cultural theory

Revolution: 24 Frames per Second As well as breaking new ground in research and in the analysis of modern revolutionary activity, the SPT Group have also forged innovative collaborations with Brunel’s student societies in a bid to engage students with relevant academic research. A programme of film screenings entitled ‘Revolution: 24 Frames per Second’ was organised by Dr Del Lucchese in partnership with the Cult Film Society, and aimed to demonstrate that research can enrich our day to day life and our understanding of the world around us. The project’s title recalls French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s perspective that ‘the cinema is truth 24-frames-per-second’, reflecting the value of art in recording, analysing and interpreting historical and political fact. Each of the ten film screenings – including Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dynamite and the UK premieres of The Silence of the River and October in Paris – featured an introduction by an expert on the topic depicted.

What’s next? A second Seminar series is planned for next year, to build on the success of this year’s events. A number of internationally recognised figures are on the invitation list, and the series will continue to explore the revolutionary foundations of modern political thought. The Group are also planning a major international conference on the Renaissance historian, philosopher and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, one of the founders of modern political science.

New MA offers a unique insight into violence and revolution in modern political thought One of the major achievements of the SPT Group’s first year was the development of a new MA programme in Modern Political Thought: Violence and Revolution. The programme introduces students to a range of theoretical perspectives on the

concepts of violence and revolution, from the crisis of the Renaissance, through the long seventeenth century and the Enlightenment, to the critique of political economy and theories of revolution and counterrevolution in the twentieth century.

Course Director Professor Mark Neocleous commented: “The launch of this exciting new MA course, the only one of its kind in the UK, consolidates Brunel’s growing reputation as an international centre of excellence in the history of political thought.”



1 Eddie Izzard talks politics on campus

Comedian, actor and Labour Party activist Eddie Izzard was on campus for a Question and Answer session in March, organised by the student society Brunel Labour.

2 Brunel goes the extra mile for Sport Relief

Staff and students raised £400 for Sport Relief by running one or three miles round the outdoor athletics track. Olympic triple jumper Larry Achike (centre) fired the starter’s pistol.

3 Spring has sprung

Brunel’s gardeners have brought colour to the campus as Spring gets underway.

4 Eastern Gateway Building nears completion

The Eastern Gateway Building will be welcoming its new tenants over the summer as the Business School, the main University Reception and the Beldam art gallery start the relocation process.





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Brunel Express Issue 14  

Issue 14 of Express, the Brunel University staff and student community magazine. Featuring: Student-Led Teaching Awards; Brunel's Masterchef...