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Top 50 in the UK for Research Power

Summer 2015 • •



Issue 6

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson named as new Chancellor



The 11-times Gold Medal winner will commence her duties this summer


The increase in funding is directly related to the University’s excellence in research...


Northumbria doubles research funding Northumbria University has recorded the fourth largest rise in research funding in UK Higher Education, following an announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).


he University’s research funding has risen to £6.46m in 2015/16 – up 106% from the £3.14m awarded for 2014/15. Northumbria’s increase is the fourth largest in the UK behind those of King’s College London, University College London and Exeter University – with the Times Higher Education (THE) reporting that Northumbria is “among the biggest cash winners” in the UK higher education sector.


Professor Andrew Wathey, ViceChancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, said: “The research funding outcome is excellent news for Northumbria, and is a result of the University’s clear strategic vision and investment, and the hard work and commitment of all of our staff. The additional funding allows us to extend our research to tackle even more of the challenges that society faces, at regional, national or global scales.”

Interview with ViceChancellor 9

The increase in funding is directly related to the University’s excellence in research, as measured in last year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) – the internationally recognised barometer of research reputation. As a result of Northumbria’s REF 2014 performance, the University was catapulted into the top 50 of UK universities for research power, a key measure of research capacity calculated as the volume of an institution’s research

multiplied by its quality. According to the THE, Northumbria was “the biggest riser when ranked by research power, climbing from 80th to 50th.” The REF results provide an external validation of the significant developments in research at Northumbria University over the last five years. Northumbria recorded strong results in Allied Health, History, English, General Engineering, Art and Design, and Communication, Cultural

Graduate destinations supplement

60 years of fashion



and Media. In General Engineering, English and History, Northumbria recorded upper-quartile scores in the proportion of research outputs rated as world-leading. In terms of impact bringing societal, cultural and economic benefit, 73% of the submissions in Psychology were rated as ‘outstanding’.






Therapy session can help to cure insomnia A simple one-hour therapy session has helped to cure 73% of people suffering from acute insomnia, according to a new Northumbria study.

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News 1 – 3, 7 Health 4 – 5, 16 – 17 Business 6, 10 Feature: The Day We Met 8 Interview 9 Science and Technology 11 Feature: General Election 12 – 13 Research 14 – 15 Graduate destinations i –viii Culture 18 – 24 The Conversation 25 News, Sport 26 Sport 27 – 28

n the first ever study to attempt to treat insomnia in the acute phase – before it becomes chronic –almost three-quarters of participants saw improvements in the quality of their sleep following a 60-minute cognitive behavioural therapy session. People with insomnia report consistent issues with the quality, duration or continuity of their sleep patterns. They may find it difficult to fall asleep, struggle to go back to sleep on waking during the night, or wake early which can lead to problems with attention, concentration, mood and memory. Forty adults suffering from insomnia took part in a study led by Jason Ellis, Professor of Sleep Science in Northumbria’s Department of Psychology. The participants were separated into two groups, with one group receiving a one-hour one-to-one cognitive behavioural therapy session and a self-help pamphlet to read at

home. The other group received no additional support. The therapy session covered individual differences in ‘sleep need’ at different times of life and the principle of sleep restriction, which encourages the individual to spend only the time in bed required for sleep. Using their recorded sleep diaries, the individuals were then prescribed a time to go to bed and a time to rise to improve their sleep efficiency. Within one month of receiving the therapy session, 60% of participants reported improvements in their sleep quality. Within three months, this had increased to 73%. Meanwhile just 15% of those in the group who had not received the therapy, reported improved sleep. Professor Ellis said: “Chronic insomnia is a considerable health burden both on the individual and the economy and has been linked to the development of, or worsening

of, a number of physical and psychiatric conditions. “There are numerous advantages to treating insomnia during an acute phase. If successful there is potential for significant savings in terms of longterm healthcare, lost productivity and accidents. This becomes more pertinent when the costs associated with other illnesses, such as depression, for which insomnia is known to be a risk factor, are taken into account.” In the recent Research Excellence Framework, which measures the quality of research in the UK universities, 73% of all Psychology-related research from the University was rated as ‘worldleading’ in terms of impact bringing societal, cultural and economic benefit.

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Professor Jason Ellis





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Summer 2015 • •

Paralympic champion named as Chancellor Northumbria is pleased to announce the appointment of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the new Chancellor of the University. Baroness Grey-Thompson takes up her duties this summer.


he 11-times Gold Medal winner was appointed Chancellor by the Board of Governors and succeeds Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who has served the University with distinction in this role over two five-year terms. The Chancellor is the ceremonial figurehead of the University. Alongside the specific role of presiding at annual academic congregrations to confer degrees, diplomas and other awards of the University, the Chancellor acts as ambassador for Northumbria, promoting the University on a regional, national and international level. Baroness Grey-Thompson has competed in five Paralympic Games and is acknowledged as one of the most gifted and courageous sportswomen of her generation. In addition to her outstanding Paralympic achievements, she won the London Wheelchair Marathon a total of six times between 1992 and 2002. Following retirement from athletics she has played a prominent role in public life, and became Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE in recognition of her services to sport in 2005. In 2010 she was elevated to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer and takes an active part in debates, with particular focus on sport, disability, health, welfare, and youth development. Commenting on her appointment Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “It’s a great honour to be appointed Chancellor of Northumbria University. In my career I have tried to inspire young people to be the best that they can be, to take chances and to bring about positive

change in society, so the chance to become closely involved in a major university is a wonderful opportunity to continue that work. “Northumbria is known as a centre of innovation, of diversity and of research and I hope I can carry on the good work that Lord Stevens instigated in making Northumbria a known force in education at home and overseas.” Professor Andrew Wathey, ViceChancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, added: “Tanni is an inspiration to millions around the world and we are delighted she has agreed to become the University’s Chancellor. Her achievements in sport, and now as a champion for diversity, youth and wellbeing, will enrich the life of the University and she will be an inspiration for our students, graduates and staff across the world. We look forward hugely to working with her. “On behalf of the University I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to our outgoing Chancellor, Lord Stevens, who has been a tireless champion of the University over the past 10 years. We have much to thank Lord Stevens for, in particular his help in building relationships with overseas partners and in raising our international profile.” Lord Stevens has had a long association with Northumbria University and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law by the University in 2001.






Born in Cardiff, Wales.


Athletic career began, taking part in 100m at the Junior National Games for Wales.


International career began as she represented Great Britain in the Paralympic Games in Seoul, winning 400m bronze, her first Paralympic medal.


Won four gold medals and one silver in the Barcelona Paralympics. In same year, won first of six London Wheelchair Marathons.


Won 800m gold in the Atlanta Paralympics, along with three silver medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metres.


Struck gold four times in the 100, 200, 400, 800 metres in the Sydney Paralympics.


Brought gold medal tally to eleven, taking first place in the 100 and 400 metres in Athens.


The Paralympic star was made Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE for her services to sport.


Announced pending retirement from the track.


Wins her final two gold medals at the Athens Paralympic Games. Appointed as a member of Transport for London, where she chairs the Environment, Corporate and Planning Panel


Appointed to the House of Lords, where she serves as a non-party political crossbench peer.


Became a key part of the BBC’s on screen team during London 2012 and became the first Paralympian to commentate on Olympic sport.


Named Chancellor of Northumbria University, Newcastle





NHS beats USA for lung transplant success British cystic fibrosis patients who receive lung transplants fare significantly better than Americans in the long-term, according to a new study from Northumbria University.


tephen Clark, a Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northumbria University and Director of Heart and Lung Transplantation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, conducted the study with NHS colleagues and researchers from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medicine. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects about 10,000 people in the UK and 70,000 people worldwide. It stems from the body’s inability to ferry chloride in and out of cells and is marked by the build-up of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs that causes frequent infections, chronic inflammation, tissue damage and premature death. Lung transplantation is an option of last resort for those with end-stage lung disease. The investigators compared records of cystic fibrosis patients aged 12 and above who underwent lung or combined heart-lung transplantation in the United States and the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2011. After analysing the medical records of more than 2,700 people, they found that US patients with both public and private healthcare had poorer overall survival rates compared to UK patients operated on by the National Health Service. There was little difference between US and UK patients immediately following the operation, but a marked difference emerged over the long run. The average survival following transplantation was 8.1 years among UK patients. However, publically insured American patients fared worse, with an average survival of just 4.7 years. Americans with private healthcare had an average survival of 7.9 years. The differences persisted even after researchers accounted for the influence of factors known to affect survival, including age, overall health and the condition of a patient’s lungs leading up to transplantation. Professor Clark said: “The results of the study underscore the ability of publicly funded health care systems to achieve excellent results in complex transplant surgery, and this is something we are rather proud of. “The National Health Services’ lung transplant programme equals the top-notch care achieved under American private insurance and outperforms care received by publicly insured Americans.” Jessica Jones, Policy Adviser for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “We are delighted to see the NHS recognised as a world leader in post-lung transplant survival, and are proud that people with cystic fibrosis can expect the best treatment when matched to available donor lungs. “This study reinforces our desire to see the NHS work to ensure more people benefit from the world-class skills and innovation of our national lung transplant programme. Tragically one in three people with cystic fibrosis on the lung transplant list still die before they are called for the procedure. That is why the Cystic Fibrosis Trust is working to significantly improve the rate of safe and effective lung transplantations in the UK.” The findings were published in the American Journal of Transplantation.


A young girl with cystic fibrosis receiving support to breathe

Lecturer named one of top health visitors in UK A Northumbria lecturer has been awarded the Fellowship of the Institute of Health Visiting for her exceptional work in the field.

Vicky Gilroy (right) receiving her Fellowship


icky Gilroy, a Senior Lecturer in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing, is one of just 150 health visitors to receive a Fellowship after being recognised as an exceptional leader who is making a real difference to children and families in England. Vicky had an extensive career working with children and families, both as a children’s nurse and a health visitor before moving into lecturing. In her role at Northumbria she now supports the education of future health visitors. She said: “I’ve always been passionate about supporting children and families and after working initially as a hospital nurse, I genuinely felt that more could be done to support families in their homes as well as hospitals. This was why I decided to move into health visiting and subsequently into education.

“As well as teaching students and supporting the development of future practitioners, a key part of my role to date has been working with the Institute of Health Visiting to develop a national CPD framework for all health visitors. “Becoming a Fellow is already proving extremely useful and is bringing extra credibility in terms of networking with influential groups to lead the development of children’s services. It is certainly opening new doors.” Sponsored by the Department of Health, the Fellows will join together to create a country-wide group of experts. They will support local community healthcare providers and commissioners when health visiting commissioning moves to local authority control in October 2015.


Summer 2015 • •




Intensive training supports critical care units Intensive care units in the North East are benefitting from new Advanced Critical Care Practitioners who are being trained by Northumbria University.


any UK intensive care units have been employing trainee doctors from abroad to maintain staffing levels due to variations in recruitment and retention patterns combined with working time regulations. However, after partnering with Northumbria University to develop and deliver specialist training, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is now benefitting from 16 new specialists who are having a positive impact in critical care units in three hospitals. The new role of Advanced Critical Care Practitioner (ACCP) has been designed with a clinical education curriculum where almost three-quarters of the course is assessed by senior medical consultants in intensive care units. This means that graduates are immediately ready for their new role. Dr Phil Laws, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine & Anaesthesia at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, said: “Originally we were employing

trainee doctors from other countries and visa limits resulted in challenges in maintaining staffing levels. This was a UK-wide problem, which we are now solving in Newcastle with ACCPs. “It was a big decision choosing how many employees we should put forward because we lose service delivery while they study full-time for two years. But we needed to do something because our intensive care work force was stretched and we had to find a solution. Their performance levels are comparable to junior doctors, which is what we were aiming for, and they are now an extremely valuable asset to our team.” Former nurse Sadie Diamond-Fox is now an Advanced Critical Care Practitioner in Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust and has embraced this new step in her career. “This is a completely new career opportunity in health care – it’s the best career decision I’ve ever made but its hard work,” she said. “Classically the nursing progression framework has tended to include only

managerial or teaching posts. This role is unique in that it incorporates clinical time, teaching, research and managerial opportunities, allowing each ACCP to develop their role dependant of the service requirements of their particular unit.” Sheila McQueen, Head of Northumbria’s Department of Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are very proud of the positive impact the ACCPs are having. Other trusts including Northumbria and Carlisle, are now working with the University to prepare ACCPs for the medical workforce, following the successful feedback from the first programme delivered in Newcastle Hospitals.” Northumbria University has been voted the UK’s Nurse Education Provider of the Year (Post-Registration) at the Student Nursing Times Awards for three years running.


Sheila McQueen in Northumbria’s Clinical Skills Centre

Making it easier to break bad news Actors are helping health care professionals to develop the skills and confidence needed to have difficult conversations with patients and families.


he delivery of life-changing news is a situation which requires the utmost sensitivity throughout the health care profession. Now, thanks to an innovative new master class developed by Northumbria University that uses actors to play the role of patients, more than 200 clinicians from North East hospital trusts and hospices have developed improved communication skills. The actors help health care professionals to develop and test the best ways to prepare for the emotional situations they may face when they need to deliver bad news to patients, carers and staff. Gillian Walton, Director of Programmes in Northumbria’s Department of Public Health and Wellbeing, explains: “Having effective communication skills is important for every health care professional. Sensitive news delivered poorly can become a negative experience that lingers in the minds of patients, families and clinicians.” Sharron Surrey, a Ward Sister at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, has been a qualified nurse for nine years. She said: “The communications master class has helped me considerably. No-one likes to do role play, but it really enabled me to think about the reason behind someone’s behaviour. “When someone is aggressive towards you, whether it’s because they are worried about a loved one, waiting for treatment or upset about news you have just told them, it’s hard not to feel defensive. “The master class helped me learn to ‘step outside the situation’ and de-personalise matters which are emotionally charged and can easily be mistaken as personal.”

DISCOVER MORE Gillian Walton with actors taking part in the communications master class




A platform for success Representatives from Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School travelled to Florida recently to join fellow accredited institutions at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) annual conference.


he International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) 2015 was also an opportunity to forge partnerships with the global elite of business schools. AACSB is the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting – and last year Newcastle Business School was the first in Europe to be recognised for both its business and accountancy programmes. It became one of less than 10 institutions in the world, outside the USA, to gain the double accolade. During the three-day event, the team from Northumbria attended various seminars and events including an Accreditation Recognition ceremony where they officially received their AACSB certificate commending the university’s dual accreditation. Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Executive Dean for Newcastle Business School, said: “To be the only university in Europe with a double accreditation from the AACSB is a huge privilege and demonstrates the high quality of our research-informed teaching and our focus on graduate employability, innovation, excellence and impact. Less than one per cent of business schools worldwide have achieved this dual

recognition which puts us firmly within an elite group. “It has been extremely encouraging to attend the annual AACSB conference, meet with our peers from around the world and discuss the potential for working together in the future.” Prof. Kerrigan and colleagues also visited the MUMA College of Business at the University of South Florida whilst in the US. The American university is one of just a few dual-accredited schools in the state, and the two institutions were keen to discuss the significance of the recognition and the potential for future collaborations. He added: “Achieving AACSB accreditation has been a genuinely transformational process, and the opportunities now open to us include forging friendships with our fellow members, which is why we took the chance to visit the University of South Florida while in Tampa. We found we share very similar practices, and we look forward to developing our relationship through, for example, exchange programmes for students and staff.” German student Axel Junginger has chosen to spend a year at Newcastle Business School as part of his studies for a double Masters degree in business, because of the

recent AACSB accreditation. The 26-year-old said: “You can get great degrees in Germany which are recognised internationally, especially for the practical orientation, but there is still a certain weight attached to UK universities. When I was looking for a university to combine those two strengths in a double degree, the AACSB-accreditation helped me to make an informed decision in a market characterised by heavy advertising and numerous different rankings. I am also looking to work overseas, hopefully in Australasia or Asia, and I feel that studying at a double AACSB-accredited institution like Newcastle Business School will open the right doors and help me work wherever I want in the world.” Newcastle Business School is also building on the success of AACSB accreditation by enhancing its academic offering and extending its student exchange and overseas study links with international partner institutions. Axel believes the benefits to him as a German student coming to the UK are equally relevant to UK students wishing to study in Germany. He would encourage students from Northumbria to take up exchange opportunities wherever they can. Principal Lecturer Dr Andrew Robson

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International student Axel Junginger from Germany’s Heilbronn University who chose to study at Newcastle Business School because of AACSB accreditation.

said: “The international market for Masters courses is highly competitive, especially in the UK, Europe, North America and Australasia. The good news for us is that AACSB is a global endorsement of the value and academic rigour of our programmes. We are now revalidating our Masters’ programmes and are increasing their flexibility by offering the courses as both one-year and two-year alternatives, including study abroad or business practice. This provides flexibility, variety of

opportunity, and also reflects a global shift in favour of the higher learning experiences associated with two-year courses, whilst retaining our successful one-year options. This approach will, I’m sure, help us develop better and stronger relationships with our partner universities such as Heilbronn.”


Newcastle Business School receives Small Business Charter

Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School has been awarded the Small Business Charter Award in recognition of its active participation in supporting start-ups, students and small businesses.


he Charter aims to bring business schools, businesses and entrepreneurs together to ensure small businesses are supported to drive local economic growth. University business schools holding Small Business Charter awards have already directly helped over 8,000 small businesses – providing a range of support including on-site incubators with dedicated space for students and small businesses to start-up and grow. The Small Business Charter originated following Lord Young’s report ‘Growing Your Business’, which focused on bringing business schools, business and entrepreneurs closer together to deliver support for small businesses and drive local economic growth. Awards are

delivered in partnership with the Association of Business Schools, and with the support of Lord Young and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They offer a springboard to unlocking support and investment for students, start-ups and small businesses. Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Executive Dean for Newcastle Business School, said: “We are delighted to be the first university in the North East to achieve this accreditation, celebrating and recognising how we support both the local business community and the development of our students – especially their employability and career prospects.” Newcastle Business School prides itself in offering students the highest calibre of business education, providing an opportunity to work

on real business issues while gaining relevant industry experience. Collaborating with academics undertaking world-leading research and bright, energy-charged students is also incredibly beneficial for SMEs looking to develop and grow their businesses. To achieve the accreditation, the Small Business Charter assessors undertook an intensive review of the Newcastle Business School’s facilities, including inspection of its Northern Design Centre, which offers dedicated help for students to develop their enterprise skills, work with entrepreneurs and local SMEs and gain support in developing their own businesses. The assessors also met with staff, current students, alumni, intermediaries and small business

owners to appraise the scope and depth of engagement. Northumbria University offers a range of courses and additional resources to support students and SMEs, including the Entrepreneurial Business Management course, which encourages students to take a hands-on approach to learning while building up business skills. Newcastle Business School also runs an Undergraduate Consultancy programme, where as part of their degree, students offer a range of consultancy services and resources to small businesses. The course is currently working with 28 SMEs, with the number expected to double next year. Newcastle Business School is also the only business school in Europe to achieve a double accreditation

in both its business and accounting programmes from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The achievement puts it in the top 1% of business schools in the world. Northumbria is currently the number one university in the UK for graduate start-ups based on estimated turnover according to the latest Higher Education Business Community Interaction Survey. It is also 4th among UK universities based on the number of jobs created by its graduate start-ups, according to the same data.


Summer 2015 • •



Pole position for daring runner A thrill-seeking runner who trained in the extreme cold of Northumbria’s environmental chamber was the top British finisher in the North Pole Marathon.


lan Davison took part in the gruelling 26.2 mile run which sees runners competing on some of the world’s toughest terrain in temperatures as low as -40 degrees. He managed to complete the marathon in 6 hours 55 minutes, finishing seventh overall and first among the British competitors. Prior to the race, Alan took part in preparatory tests in Northumbria’s state-of-the-art environmental chamber to get an insight into the rigours of the event. The chamber is able to replicate extreme temperatures – in this case, cold – which helped Alan to determine which equipment he would need to stand the best chance in the race. “Preparing in Northumbria’s environmental chamber definitely

Alan Davison taking part in the North Pole Marathon

gave me an advantage over the other competitors in the field,” said Alan. “It helped determine how I would cope with the conditions – my heart rate, temperature and breathing were monitored throughout, and I was weighed before and after to determine how much body moisture would be absorbed into the clothing. “The results meant that I had to downsize my upper body clothing, and I purchased thin glove liners for under my mitts to help absorb moisture.” Dr Martin Barwood, Research Fellow in Northumbria’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, supervised the tests. He explained: “The demands of a marathon in this extreme cold are beyond that of any normal race. Every facet of running is changed and Alan had to deal with that in one of the most inhospitable environments on

the planet. “This made it a tremendous mental, as well as physical, challenge. We think we helped reduce some of this burden with our preparatory tests. We are delighted to share in this success and look forward to helping those who take on the extreme in future.” Alan, who is an active athlete and competes in many events, is already looking in to an Ultra Marathon race in the Antarctic next January. He added “I’d love the opportunity to work with Northumbria again in the future – the facilities in the University are very cutting-edge and world-class, so I feel privileged to have been able to work with them.”






The Day We Met… Northumbria students regularly welcome global business leaders and prestigious alumni into the University. Six students from our Multidisciplinary Innovation (MDI) course tell Northumbria University News about the day they met… ...Gavin Proctor Director Design Innovation at Philips Consumer Lifestyle

“We engaged in an interesting and inspiring discussion with Gavin after we presented to him some of our work. From his experience working in Taiwan, Gavin advised us to consider the importance of culture and how it can influence how we think, feel and behave. We have already begun to consider different cultural perspectives and their ways of working within our cohort. We will continue to gain insight through our exchange student, Raymond, from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, as well as our international students from South Korea and Japan. Gavin also told us about how Philips are involved in design for medical healthcare, empowering individuals by designing solutions that are no longer just ‘products’. He mentioned the biggest challenge for Philips comes from within, as design tools and methods continue to spread throughout the company. As opposed to the traditional method of producing a final outcome, Gavin emphasised that by applying skills and making ideas tangible from the start, design can be involved in the entire project process.” Rob Hunter

...Sir Jonathan Ive Head of Global Design at Apple

...Paul Howells

“Sir Jony told us that to fully create disruptive innovation and fundamentally change the attitude of the masses it is important to think differently. He told us some stories around how he has achieved this in the past and advised us to continue on the road we were on and the results would come.”

Head of Packaging Design at Unilever

Alex Gabbatiss

Ben Nightingale

...Mark Delaney

...Sue Wilson

Futurist at Microsoft Nokia

Director of Wood for the Trees

“Mark came to see our presentation on the circular economy. As a renowned macro‐scale thinker he told us to think about working on the outer edges but aim for inner edges. He said that this outside-in thinking would help us to consider all the stakeholders involved in our projects and innovate beyond incremental change.”

“Sue is a former Global Head of Design for Mars. During our Q&A session with Sue we had the opportunity to discuss the ways in which design could influence corporate thinking. She said that she believes the only way that companies will change their philosophy would be to incentivise the change towards a circular economy.”

Hannah Knowles

“Paul came to MDI for our presentation around circular economy. Paul told us that in order for the circular economy to be achievable, large fast moving consumer goods need to be able to retain or add value to the individual components and materials; this will encourage re-use as the material still has enough value to be worthwhile.”

Nefy Alfa

...Tim Brown Chief Executive of IDEO

“We had the honour of presenting our recent project to Tim and engage with him in a conversation about innovation. He emphasised the importance of collecting evidence to confirm our assumptions and using prototypes in the initial research phase to accelerate learning. Although design follows the same principles as science (hypothesis,­experiment­, evidence), Tim defined science as ‘the truth’ and design as ‘the choice’. A tip from Tim was to run ideation sessions or workshops from midday to midday, to allow ‘reflectors’ to have thinking time overnight. We are already putting his advice into practice to accelerate our learning and better understand those we are designing for and with.” Sophie Rankin Multidisciplinary Innovation (MDI) students get the opportunity to work side by side with our national and international partners to explore and propose new solutions to their ‘real world’ challenges. For more information visit

Summer 2015 • •



In conversation with…

Professor Andrew Wathey As another academic year draws to a close Northumbria University News asks Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, to look back at the University’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) results and other key achievements, and to consider what opportunities lie ahead for 2015/16 and beyond. It has been another eventful year for the Higher Education sector. What do you feel are the stand-out successes for Northumbria? We are coming up to two years of delivering a new strategy and there is an enormous amount happening that is exciting for Northumbria. Yes there are some challenges but real successes have also been achieved, and on a number of fronts the University is making excellent progress. We just have to look at the Queen’s Anniversary Prize last year for the outstanding community work of the Student Law Office. Through their experiential learning approach the students have represented more than 1,000 clients on real-life cases and secured around £1m on their behalf since 2008. There’s also the Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools (AACSB) accreditation, putting Newcastle Business School among the elite 1% of business schools anywhere in the world. I would also point to the employability success of our students, which is significantly up. Almost 95% of our students are in employment or further study six months after graduating, and at the same time we have seen a leap in the proportion who are in graduate level jobs from 61% to 66%, which is a major step forward. Furthermore we have seen an increase in their average starting salaries from £17,000 to £19,000, well ahead of the national trend and a marked percentage jump. A lot of the jobs are also in the North East, which is good news for the regional economy as well as the students. So what does this success mean for Northumbria? A useful measure can be made through our application figures – how many students want to come and study here. For the third year running we have seen record numbers of applications to study at Northumbria. Returning best-ever figures consecutively and in such a competitive market is a clear achievement. For UK undergraduate student applicants we have also seen a rise in quality as well as volume, and in the number of firm acceptances. Better qualified students with both A levels and BTECs is always a strong sign of progress. At the same time there has been a clear focus and a lot of hard work across all our faculties to create additional opportunities for work placements, and we know this can have a hugely positive impact on learning outcomes and employability. Overseas study options are also improving, and again the evidence shows that these have positive learning and employability outcomes. The REF results have clearly featured prominently this year. How did Northumbria perform and why is the result important? One of the biggest changes this year has been our result in REF 2014. The REF is the internationally-recognised barometer of

research reputation, providing a key measure to determine research funding to universities from 2015/16. Compared with the previous exercise in 2008, we moved from 80th to 50th in research power, were the third largest riser in the national share of research power, and the fourth biggest riser in terms of funding. We now have the 40th largest allocation in England, clearly establishing us in a different league. This is a really great result and the result of a team effort across the University. It is also worth mentioning the major contribution made by early career researchers. Our REF result has had a terrific impact on our standing, and externally we are now seen clearly to be playing at a higher level. Almost every conversation I have had with people outside of Northumbria has been different as a result of our success in REF. I think this is important because it shows that research is also about much more than just research excellence; it’s means we are driving excellence across all of the University’s activities. This in turn increases our appeal to new students, new staff and new partners. It also gives us access to new groupings and networks and makes the next stage of our development very exciting as we leverage the benefit of this sector-leading result. As we look forward to the next REF exercise, probably in 2020, it is clear that what we have achieved is impressive but we should remember it is just the first phase of a longer development in line with our 2025 Vision. Internally, it has been a real force to galvanise work, ambition and energy. How does it help students and staff? For our students, having really excellent research improves their learning experience and brings them closer to the cutting-edge of interest in their disciplines. Coupled with strong placement opportunities this can also transform their prospects in the jobs market – not only in the UK but globally as well. The University can also build on REF to invest in staff at all stages of their careers, so not only early career staff who I mentioned earlier. One measure, or index, of how we are already putting this into practice is reflected in the fact we have recently passed the 50% mark in doctorally qualified academics. REF and our growing reputation generally also creates opportunities outside the University through networks and collaborations with our partners. Does it help our other partners? Our work in enterprise is also leaping ahead. We are fourth in the UK for the number of graduate start-ups surviving for over three years and first in the UK by turnover. We are also working with a wider range of industrial partners, including multinationals such as Unilever. This collaboration is across the full range of our activities, not only research and teaching but in areas like business

Professor Andrew Wathey

development as well. It all offers exciting learning and collaboration opportunities for our students and staff. Finally, can our REF results open other doors? Yes, I’m convinced that we can use this as a springboard to even more success and with the right focus really move ahead in the next period. I believe some of the most exciting opportunities will come through the development of our international profile. We will soon appoint a new Pro Vice-Chancellor International to ensure we make the most of these. Importantly, the global demand for quality higher education is growing much faster than the worlds’ ability to satisfy it. The real opportunity for Northumbria is to drive a triple helix of research, teaching and enterprise, not only regionally and nationally but also in a focused way across the world, working particularly in partnerships. Again, the improving quality of our students, our research and our partnerships here in the UK will give us access to new networks,

new markets and new clubs. You only have to look at our developing partnerships in Indonesia and our established partnerships in Hong Kong and Singapore. Our venture with BINUS University in Indonesia, for example, is attracting increasing attention. Northumbria has worked with BINUS International since 2008, and last year cemented the relationship by creating BINUS-Northumbria School of Design. I think our success here is based on the fact that we were first into an emerging and dynamic market in what is the fourth largest country in the world, with the same land space and population as the US. In fact, up to 9% of all Indonesian undergraduates studying in the UK are at Northumbria, which is significant and a statement in itself of our leading position. Of course, these partnerships also offer opportunities for our UK students to study and work in Indonesia, getting exposure to what, in all likelihood, is going to be one of the pillars of the global economy by the middle of this century.





Business students work with real clients Brooke Goudie is in the final year of her International Business Management degree. Instead of a traditional dissertation, Brooke explains about her choice to take part in the Undergraduate Consultancy Project (UGC) and how she’s taking her skills from the classroom into the workplace.

How did you first get involved with UGC? “I first saw the scheme advertised on the website, then shortly after I received an email about it. It seemed like a great idea for someone like me who needed more experience in the workplace.” Could you explain a bit about what UGC is? “It’s a great thing for the University to offer as instead of doing a traditional dissertation, you are placed with a company and have a brief to work on. The project is really rewarding and is great because it acts as that bridge between academic study and working life after graduation. This is the second year that the UGC has been running and involves 25 teams and around 100 students. It was so successful last year that the numbers have grown significantly.”

Which company are you working with and what kind of work will you be doing for them? “The company we work with is DrilCorp. We were given a brief at the start of the year and from there we stripped it right back to basics and discussed with the company what their problems were and what they wanted from us. They are a family-owned business and a fantastic company to work for, we’ve been so lucky to get this opportunity. “We are planning to assess their current marketing material and adapt it in line with the current climate. Looking at their competitors and what they are doing will be part of this. We will also be doing some primary and secondary research to uncover trends within the industry and identifying new potential clients.”

How will you be assessed on your work? “At the end of April we have a final presentation. During this we’ll explain what we found, what we changed and our future recommendations. As well as the presentation, we also have to do an individual report which is more of an academic piece of work and will include a literature review. The feedback from DrilCorp will also be taken into consideration during our assessment.” What skills are you gaining that are preparing you for the future? “There are skills which I’ll be able to take away from this process such as organisational skills through leading a team and delegating different tasks. It has been really important to recognise the different strengths of the team and to have an overview of what is being done. I’ve never worked with a client as big as DrilCorp before so it was a bit

Brooke (right) with her project team at DrilCorp

daunting at first but now we are further into the project it has definitely boosted my confidence.” The UGC is open to business students at Newcastle Business School. The emphasis of the project is to showcase the work of final year students who, following an experiential learning approach, collaborate with a range of regional, national and international organisations to build sustainable and lasting relationships. Students

are able to carry out tangible research and provide clients with solutions and recommendations that make a real difference to their business. Some of the other organisations involved are Gateshead Council, MediaWork, Carlisle City Council and Powered Bicycle.


Northumbria students enter ‘The Den’ A Newcastle Business School competition invited aspiring student entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to successful business leaders from across the region.


ased on the long running BBC series, Dragon’s Den, the competition culminated in a final where four students were invited to present their ideas to the experienced panel of ‘Dragons’. The prizes included marketing support and materials to the value of £500 provided by national digital marketing agency MediaWorks, plus free specialist financial, legal or business consultancy. Student finalists included Jack Christopher whose company Eat, Read and Learn has developed specialist placemats that encourage learning during mealtimes; Roxanne King’s crafts custom jewellery company Heart of the Falklands that features Falkland Island sand; and Masters student Nguyen Ta’s company Endless Consumption which specialises in

the recycling of student items, such as kitchen utensils and stationary for reuse by incoming international students. The winner, Maxwell Graziani, is a Business Management student in his final year, whose company Memory Machine hires out photo booths as a fun way to capture priceless memories at parties and special occasions. Max said: “I would encourage everyone at Northumbria to have a go at the Dragon’s Den competition. I learnt a great deal about writing a business plan, pitching and talking to very experienced business people. It was great to receive some praise for work outside the curriculum.” Northumbria has been named the top university in the UK for graduate startups, with the Dragon’s Den competition being just one of the initiatives to support students. Dr Chris Jeffs,

(left to right) Dr Yvonne Gale, Ian White, Roxanne King, Dr Chris Jeffs, Max Graziani, Jonathan Gold, Nguyen Ta, Jack Christopher, Lauren Langton

Director of Undergraduate Programmes at Newcastle Business School and organiser of the competition, said: “The Dragon’s Den competition has proven to be an excellent way for students to test out their ideas, receive constructive feedback and win prizes that will help to take them and their companies

to the next level. The Dragons were particularly impressed by the entrepreneurial nature of the students and the viable business plans that were professionally pitched to them.” The ‘Dragons’ were Dr Yvonne Gale, Operations Director at NEL Fund Managers; Ian White, Director of

Abacus Wealth Management; Lauren Langton, consultant and financial service professional and Jonathan Gold Director of Rivers Capital Partners and Finance Tree.


Summer 2015 • •



Building the world’s biggest solar telescope Experts from Northumbria are taking part in an international project to build the world’s most revolutionary solar telescope.


he $344 million (£220m) Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope, to be known as DKIST, will be situated on Haleakala Mountain in Maui, Hawaii, and aims to unlock the secrets of the Sun. With a four-metre diameter primary mirror, the super-telescope will be able to pick up unprecedented detail on the Sun’s surface – the equivalent of being able to examine a £1 coin from a distance of 100km. It is hoped that DKIST will address fundamental questions at the core of contemporary solar physics. This will be achieved via high-speed spectroscopic and magnetic measurements of the solar photosphere, chromosphere and corona. Northumbria’s Solar Physics research group will play a lead role in developing software to understand data from the telescope. Dr Richard Morton, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Information Sciences, is the project lead at Northumbria. He said: “DKIST is an exciting project that will revolutionise our understanding of the Sun and how it influences our lives. The Solar Physics research group at Northumbria will develop software to probe data from DKIST. This will provide key insight into the physical mechanisms responsible for energy transfer in the Sun’s atmosphere and how this relates to solar variability and the generation

of space weather. This includes solar flares, which can be hazardous to our technologically-advanced society.” Northumbria University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor George Marston, said: “We are delighted to be one of eight UK universities helping to support the construction of the world’s most powerful solar telescope. Northumbria’s role in this international project clearly demonstrates the University’s ongoing commitment to driving scientific breakthroughs and technological innovation through the excellence of our world-class research and the expertise of our academics.” Professor Marston, who spent two years as a Resident Research Associate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC, added: “The DKIST will address fundamental questions in contemporary solar physics; in addition, solar activity drives ‘space weather’ and has profound effects on Earth’s climate and global communications, highlighting the relevance of the research to important societal issues.” Eight UK institutes will be working as a consortium on DKIST. The project is led by Queen’s University Belfast and includes Armagh Observatory, Northumbria University, University College London, and the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, St. Andrews and Warwick. The consortium will partner with Belfast-based company

A computer-generated image of what the telescope will look like

and Queen’s University spinout Andor Technology and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. It will oversee the development and delivery of the cameras, and take the lead in supporting the UK solar physics community in their use of DKIST by providing a set of processing tools for DKIST data, synthetic observations to validate diagnostic approaches, and support for developing observing proposals. DKIST is funded by the US National Science Foundation with £2.5m of funding for the cameras provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Northumbria recently launched its Think Physics project to inspire more young people, especially girls and under-represented groups, to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from early years to higher education and into their careers. The University also recently announced an investment of £6.7 million in STEM facilities, co-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to help drive world-class research and teaching across STEM disciplines, and an increased flow of highly-employable graduates into industry. Northumbria provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Physics and Physics with Astrophysics.

Haleakala Mountain in Maui, Hawaii


An image from the surface of the sun

Dr Richard Morton





What next following the General Election? As the excitement of the General Election fades, Northumbria University News speaks to Visiting Professor Jonathan Blackie about what the new political landscape could mean for Northumbria University and its students over the next five years.


he nation woke up on Friday 8th May after election night to witness the abrupt end of the coalition, an SNP landslide in Scotland and a slew of big-name departures. So does this signal a paradigm shift in UK politics? Well, yes and no, according to Professor Jonathan Blackie. The former Regional Director for the Government Office North East and Director of Strategy for regional development agency One NorthEast, says that in some ways nothing has changed but in others, everything has. He adds that one certainty to draw from this outcome is that the role universities must play at a regional and national level will be more important than ever. The result of the election also reinforces the need for Northumbria to maintain its focus on quality research and employability to give its graduates the best possible career prospects. Professor Blackie has been a regular media spokesman on Scottish independence and the devolution of power regionally, with much of his expertise reflecting on how such policies could impact the North East of England. This follows his 2013 ‘Borderlands’ report, in which Prof Blackie, along with Northumbria’s Professor Keith Shaw and colleagues, investigated the likely impact of greater autonomy for Scotland on the North of England. Looking at the opportunities and challenges facing universities under the new administration Prof Blackie says: “I expect competition within the sector to recruit students will remain intense and probably increase, especially for postgraduate and overseas students. Fees will also stay uppermost in peoples’ minds, with a question around whether universities will have to increase them, and what impact that would have. From my observations as a Visiting Professor, Northumbria has maintained its competitiveness and as a result it continues to be a hugely popular destination of choice for students. Perhaps most impressively, its recent REF results have also lifted its profile and reputation to a whole new level. Being a genuinely research-rich university is extremely attractive to undergraduates and businesses and boosts confidence across the whole institution – it strengthens the capability of the university.” The first priority for students, regardless of who is in Government, is securing well-paid and rewarding employment. “A great outcome for students is establishing a successful career and being able to pay off their fees swiftly,” says Prof Blackie, who adds: “the perfect outcome, however, would include having a great experience while at university.” As well as enjoying the lifestyle and

Professor Jonathan Blackie

the forging of life-long friendships that come with university, he singles out work experience and good internship opportunities as an increasingly crucial part of the experience. It therefore follows that universities have a huge responsibility to provide students with the best intern and work experience opportunities possible. Fortunately, industry links are not something Northumbria is short of. More than 560 employers sponsor its students and almost 50 professional bodies accredit its programmes. Its networks also stretch throughout the UK and across continents, and include some of the world’s largest multinationals and instantly recognisable brands, along with smaller but equally dynamic businesses. Within this, Northumbria is also promoting and encouraging overseas work, as it understands the need to create global graduates who can prosper on the international stage and help the UK economy compete and grow. “I do not doubt that the new

Government will expect all universities to step up to the plate here,” says Prof Blackie. More cause for optimism for Northumbria is that it is also leading in terms of creating employment through enterprise and entrepreneurial drive. It is the number one university in the UK for graduate start-ups based on turnover, according to the latest Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HEBCIS). In the past five years, it has created more than 100 new companies, and its graduate start-ups now employ almost 1,000 staff. Prof Blackie stresses that all this is going to be incredibly important going forward. “The dye is now cast for the next five years, certainly for the national government,” he said. “In my view it merely reinforces the need for Northumbria to retain its competitiveness and appeal, and for students to gain every opportunity they are offered to enhance their employability and career options.”

Prof Blackie makes the case that having a higher research profile will give Northumbria more of a leadership role, and the responsibility to develop a stronger voice for economic growth within the region. This is something he feels the University is already delivering on. “I see a confident university championing learning and research in Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East, articulating what is going on and needed in the wider economy,” he says. He points to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), which has highlighted the importance of higher education in building a highskill economy as key to the success of the national and regional economy. In this region, sectors including the offshore and subsea technologies, areas of manufacturing such as the automotive industry, along with tourism and culture, will all be critical. He says: “Northumbria and other universities in the North East are well placed to articulate the needs of these sectors and develop ‘the asks’ – what we need to push and negotiate from Government in London and how we might build bridges with an increasingly powerful Scotland to support sustained economic growth. “Universities really should see themselves as enablers – they are ideally positioned to help shape the future of Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East,” he ended.

Summer 2015 •



Who saw that coming?

Our academic experts from across the University gave us their reactions to one of the most unpredictable General Elections in decades…

Howard Elcock, Emeritus Professor of Government:

Professor Karen Ross, Professor of Media:

“Like the pollsters and most of my colleagues in the political science trade, I called the election wrong – I predicted that Labour would be the largest party in a “hung” House of Commons. Noone seems sure about what went wrong with the polls but there did seem to be more people than usual declaring that they were undecided during the campaign – maybe they were the “shy Tories”? As to the reasons for the Labour defeat, the explanation is emerging among senior Party figures that not enough was done to maintain “Blairite” values. However, Labour performed well in some parts of the country including in most of the North – my local MP, Chi Onwurah, almost doubled her majority. The Scottish story is different. Labour has taken its Scottish support for granted for far too long.”

“The actual share of the votes won by each party demonstrated yet again the heavy price paid for a system in which the winner takes all and the runner-up, no matter how close, gets nowt – shy or otherwise, as they say in the North East. Whilst there were jubilant winners and sad losers and not a few senior resignations, one group of politicians who did well were the women. Their success has increased the number of women MPs at Westminster to 29%, the highest in the Parliament’s history, due in no small part to the SNP’s very creditable record in fielding women candidates. When Parliament sits for the first time after the election, it will be a very different place to what it was on March 30th. More women politicians will make a difference. Come on the girls!”

Dr Lee Barron, Principal Lecturer in Media and Communication Design:

Dr Hans-Christian Andersen, Senior Lecturer at Newcastle Business School:

“While I successfully predicted that the Conservative Party would win the most seats I failed, along with perhaps everybody else in the country, to foresee that they would win a majority. My observation that the SNP would play a crucial role has been realised – albeit to the detriment to Labour – given their historical landslide victory in Scotland. The five years that the Liberal Democrats have spent as part of the coalition have arguably led to something of an ‘identity crisis’ and they seem to have paid the electoral price. The implications for the country are perhaps even more profound as the government is now able to pursue its neo-liberalist agenda unhindered by the Liberal moderating force present in the previous coalition.”

“The First Past the Post System has, once more, created a majority government out of a minority share of the vote and a large section of the electorate sees itself without democratic representation. After five years of coalition government, that seems a strikingly unreasonable outcome – as if unfairness is the acceptable foundation for a modern democracy. This has, of course, been one of the most exciting national elections to follow in many years, a cliff-hanger up until the last moment, costing three party leaders their posts. I do not imagine that political life will become less exciting.”

Alex Hope, Senior Lecturer in Business Ethics: “As I predicted in my pre-election piece, we now face the prospect of an increased North/South divide with the North of England perhaps more sympathetic to the social-democratic agenda of an SNP-dominated Scotland than Westminster austerity. There is the now the inevitable EU referendum on the horizon which has the potential to see the UK become even more of an island state at a time when nations really should be working together to tackle large scale issues such as climate change, international poverty and global security.”


Joe Holt, Vice President of Academic Affairs

It’s not all about the General Election, Northumbria University News caught up with Joe Holt who has been re-elected for a second year as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Northumbria’s Students’ Union. What does your role involve? My aim is to ensure that students get the best education possible during their time at Northumbria. This involves working with Faculty and Course Reps to find out the issues that are important to students and communicating this to the University through academic-focused committees. The full Sabbatical team are also involved in the Students’ Union’s long-term strategic plan, ‘Big Ideas’, and in the day-to-day running of the Union.

What were the biggest successes from your first year? We’ve worked on a lot of projects this year but the area I’m most proud of is the Rep Review. It was a chance for us as a representative body for students to say to the University, this is what we want to see and why we want to see it. A big part of that has been changing how we work as a Union and ensuring that we have a good dialogue not only with students but with staff members and the University Executive team. This is a project I’ll take forward into my second year.

You studied History at Northumbria. What was your own experience as a student here? I loved my course – the amount of optional modules meant that you could

really tailor the course to suit your own interests. On top of that, a lot of the staff are research active which definitely enhances the learning experience. I wasn’t surprised to see the department getting such great results in this year’s REF 2014 (Research Excellence Framework). The fact that Northumbria is right in the heart of Newcastle is also definitely a big bonus!

Northumbria is moving towards technology-enhanced learning (TEL). Can you explain a little bit more about how this will benefit students? TEL will make a huge difference to the experience students have at Northumbria. It will allow students to hand in their work electronically, reduce the need for printing credits and improve feedback on assignments. These are all areas which we often hear about, so it’s great to see that the University is really driving this initiative and responding to students’ needs.

What are your plans for the future? Before being elected as a Sabbatical Officer in the Union, I was looking into studying for a postgraduate degree so that’s something I’ll definitely be considering in the future.




Our research is really making a difference As a new kind of excellent university, Northumbria is committed to research that makes a real difference to individuals, communities, society and the economy. Following the announcement that the University has recorded the fourth largest rise in research funding in the UK, Northumbria University News takes a look at some of the projects currently underway at Northumbria that will bring benefits to many…

Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power ‘life on Mars’.

Historical perspectives bring new light to depression Research into eighteenth-century English literature is helping to transform modern-day understanding of depression.


hile mental illness is not a modern phenomenon, the way that it is treat and the ways in which society responds to it have changed over the years. With funding from the Leverhulme Trust, Northumbria researchers embarked on Before Depression – a major project that has helped to bring a historical perspective to modern thinking about depression. After analysing literature, poetry, art and drama created between 1660 – 1800, researchers from Northumbria’s Department of Humanities have found that culture has a strong influence on the experience and treatment of mental illness. The number of staff Thanks to this research, a number of thought-provoking and innovative to Research workshops have been held with psychotherapists andsubmitted mental health professionals that are helping to broaden historical and cultural understanding of the diagnosis Excellence Framework 2014 and treatment of mental illness. The findings are alsohas beingmore used asthan a resource for teaching in the UK and in Australia to provide support and information for people suffering from depression. The findings have reached a wide range of medical professionals through public lectures, podcasts, a blog and a highly-praised art exhibition that showed how visual artists of the period depicted the different modes in which eighteenth-centurysince people suffered from and explained depression. RAE The success of this project has led to further research to explore a wider range of 2008 ‘fashionable maladies’ from the era including gout, consumption and ‘vapours’ which were believed to have associations with social, intellectual or emotional superiority. The initial findings of this research were shared in the first Being Human festival, the UK’s first national festival of the humanities. Northumbria University has once again been announced as a regional hub for Being Human 2015, which takes place for the second time in November. The University will host Cities & Citizens, a programme of free events and activities from 12-22 November, where academics, students and the public will explore what it means to be human.


Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to research pioneered at Northumbria.


he technique, which has been proven for the first time by researchers at the University, working with colleagues at Edinburgh University, has been published in the prestigious international journal Nature Communications. The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect – a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. This effect is commonly seen in the way water appears to skitter across the surface of a hot pan, but it also applies to solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice. Blocks of dry ice are able to levitate above hot surfaces protected by a barrier of evaporated gas vapour. Northumbria’s research proposes using the vapour created by this effect to power an engine. This is the first time the Leidenfrost effect has been adapted as a way of harvesting energy. The technique has exciting

implications for working in extreme and alien environments, such as outer space, where it could be used to make long-term exploration and colonisation sustainable by using naturally occurring solid carbon dioxide as a resource rather than a waste product. If this could be realised, then future missions to Mars, such as those in the news recently, may not need to be ‘one-way’ after all. Dry ice may not be abundant on Earth, but increasing evidence from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) suggests it may be a naturally occurring resource on Mars. This is evidenced by the seasonal appearance of gullies on the surface of the red planet. If utilised in a Leidenfrostbased engine, dry-ice deposits could provide the means to create future power stations on the surface of Mars. The research was co-authored by Dr Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar, Dr Gary Wells and Professor Glen McHale, the Executive Dean of Engineering and Environment, working with colleague Professor Khellil Sefiane

at Edinburgh. Dr Ledesma-Aguilar said: “Carbon dioxide plays a similar role on Mars as water does on Earth. It is a widely available resource which undergoes cyclic phase changes under the natural Martian temperature variations. “Perhaps future power stations on Mars will exploit such a resource to harvest energy as dry-ice blocks evaporate, or to channel the chemical energy extracted from other carbonbased sources, such as methane gas. “One thing is certain; our future on other planets depends on our ability to adapt our knowledge to the constraints imposed by strange worlds, and to devise creative ways to exploit natural resources that do not naturally occur here on Earth.” To watch the Leidenfrost effect in action, watch our film by Blipping this page. ll Blipp fu page to view film

Top 50 for research power (Times Higher Education)

making Northumbria DISCOVER MORE “the biggest riser when ranked by research power”

2nd strongest

pool of research activity of all modern universities

73% of

Northumbria’s Psychology impact submission to REF is rated as


Results from Research Excellence Framework 2014

8 I WANT… to learn from the best

Research rated as

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in 100% of areas submitted to the Research Excellence Framework We have almost

Top 50 tripled our share of research in the for research world-leading and power internationally (Times Higher Education)

excellent categories making Northumbria “the biggest riser when ranked by research power”


Summer 2015 • •

Top 50 in the UK for research power



Destination everywhere for global graduates Graduation is not the end of the student journey, but the beginning of a new chapter. And for Northumbria’s global graduates, the whole world is their oyster. Whether it is taking the first steps in an exciting career, further study to continue their education, or jetting off around the world – Northumbria’s students go on to a wide range of destinations. In the following pages of this special supplement, Northumbria University News speaks to graduates who are making waves in their new careers, enhancing their job prospects, and who are enjoying every minute of their lives. At Northumbria, we help students give their career an edge and get a head-start to take their talents into the world of work. Our courses are sponsored by more than 560 employers and accredited by almost 50 professional bodies. This ensures we are responsive to industry needs and are giving our students the skills that today’s global businesses need and want. With alumni making a distinctive mark on the world in key roles for global brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren, L’Oréal, BAFTA and many more, it is no wonder that 94% of our students are in work or further study just six months after graduation. Our extensive industry links, including placements and live

projects, coupled with a clear focus on enterprise, have also made our students among the most entrepreneurial in the UK. In fact, Northumbria is the number one university in the UK for graduate start-ups based on estimated turnover. Northumbria aims to shape ambitious, motivated, self-confident people who have a clear vision of what they want to be and the skills and know-how to make this happen. One of the ways in which we do this is by giving our students the opportunity to learn from the best. Our world-leading academics are research-active and experts in their fields, often with years of experience working in industry and in collaboration with partner universities and organisations across the world. This gives them a unique perspective on the societal, cultural and economic challenges facing global markets, communities and industries. Northumbria was the biggest riser in higher education in the recent Research Excellence Framework and is now ranked top 50 in the UK for research power, meaning our students work

with and learn from some of the finest minds in the UK. But it’s not just about study – we also want our students to enjoy every minute of their courses and their lives after graduation. From travel and volunteering opportunities, our students often end up in thrilling and unexpected places. Northumbria has alumni in every continent except Antarctica – although we do have some researchers there! This gives us a global community of more than 178,000 graduates in 67 countries. Every year, as thousands of students graduate from Northumbria they begin the next chapter in their lives and join our global family of alumni. Their destinations are everywhere, their potential is limitless...

Turn the page to read some of these stories…




GIVE YOUR CAREER AN EDGE We help you achieve your ambitions and get ready to take your talents into the world of work.

Marketing degree pays off for graduate

Career spotlight Stuart Birkett, Managing Director of Trinity Mirror and Northumbria graduate, spoke to Northumbria University News about his time at University and his love of the North East. How did you end up working in journalism after studying Environmental Science? Environmental science was an area I was really interested in. I absolutely loved the course and really flourished academically during my time at Northumbria. After graduating, I worked in the construction industry but a recession meant I was made redundant three times in six months, and that’s when I decided to do something completely different. I was lucky enough to land a job as sales manager on the Berwick Advertiser, who were later taken over by one of the biggest UK newspaper groups, and I was promoted as the business expanded. In 2006 I got a job as managing director of North East Press, overseeing three daily titles and about 10 weeklies, then I moved on to running the Scottish operation. When the opportunity came up for the position of managing director at NCJ Media in Newcastle (part of Trinity Mirror Group) I jumped at the chance. Even though I haven’t ended up working in an industry linked to environmental science, the course itself encompassed a lot of different subjects so it prepared you to be versatile. The transferable skills you learn from studying towards a degree can be taken on into any career.

There have been big changes in the industry you work in since you started. What’s been the impact of that and how have you adapted? It’s been an absolutely enormous change. The internet started to change people’s news consumption habits. It used to be that the local paper – The Chronicle, in Newcastle – was the only way of finding out news. It was printed throughout the day so you’d buy a paper at teatime to find out what had happened that day. There was hardly any news on the TV and nothing on the radio. That changed rapidly – the consumption of news changed enormously and it’s actually remarkable we survived.

Hannah Mattinson who graduated from Northumbria University in 2011 is now Head of PPC (Pay Per Click) at MediaWorks, a national marketing agency with bases in Gateshead and London. During her time at university, she made the most of opportunities to go into the workplace, taking part in volunteering and marketing work experience to enhance her CV. Hannah said: “It would have been easy to go to lectures and seminars and just come out with your degree. But when there is an opportunity to join local projects or travel, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t! “Graduating with a number of work experience roles on my CV helped me get my first job, and practicing speaking in front of my classmates helped me present ideas to colleagues after graduation.” During her Marketing Management degree, Hannah completed a summer placement at local design studio, Urban River. This placement secured her a job after graduation, which she continued with before moving to MediaWorks one year later.

Hannah also participated in a marketing volunteering scheme for local charities while at university. Together, with a team of fellow students, Hannah helped the charity develop their marketing material. Hannah is making a real impression with her career and recently won the Best PPC Campaign award at The Northern Digital Awards for Newcastle College: “It was the proudest moment of my career” she said. “Meeting the client’s goal is my aim, but getting recognition from my peers was something I didn’t expect. It was an honour to be shortlisted, but a fantastic experience when we won.”


Mobile and online is now quite a bit more than 50% of our audience – Chronicle Live gets about three million unique users a month now, and around 20 million page impressions, which are pretty enormous numbers. Social media is extremely important too. People don’t even have to search any more – they are presented with content in their social media timelines.

What advice would you give to our students and graduates who are just starting out in their careers? My son is now studying for a degree in Sport, Exercise and Nutrition at Northumbria and loves it so that’s reintroduced me to the University. I’ve definitely seen a lot of changes since I was a student – City Campus East is very impressive and Newcastle Business School is brilliant. While studying, I discovered one of the phrases which has helped me throughout my life: “If they can do it, I can do it”. You are as a capable as anyone else. If you work hard, go the extra mile and have a positive attitude, then it doesn’t matter what degree you do, you can do anything then and I really mean that.

Summer 2015 •


Award-winning graduate scoops editor role with Italian magazine


Northumbria graduate set for ‘runaway’ success A journalism graduate who was signed up by publishing giants Harper Collins has released her debut novel. Laura Salters, who studied Journalism and Media, saw her suspense novel, RUN AWAY, hit bookshelves on both sides of the Atlantic just 18 months after she graduated from Northumbria. The Berwick-upon-Tweed native describes the experience as a ‘dream come true’. She said: “Once I left Northumbria, I started a job as a staff writer at a regional lifestyle magazine but the concept of writing a novel was still lurking in the back of my mind. “I decided to just take a leap and as soon as I wrote my first paragraph, I was hooked – I ended up finishing the whole 85,000-word novel in eight weeks.” Laura sent out her novel to literary agents here in the UK and to the USA, but had little expectation of success due to fierce competition within the industry. She said: “When I was contacted by the wonderful Suzie Townsend, I couldn’t believe it – I jumped at the chance to work with her.” After just a few months, Suzie – whose agency also represents the likes of DIVERGENT author Veronica Roth - had sold world English rights to RUN AWAY to Harper Collins.

Natasha Kwok showcasing her work

The summer of 2014 saw an Interior Architecture student bring the University’s London invasion to an award-winning close after taking the top prize at the Free Range Interiors exhibition. Natasha Kwok, who has now graduated, took away the Interior Educators Interiorist of the Year 2014 award – one of only six accolades given out on the night – for her work on The National Trust’s Gibside Hall. Her project outlined the potential transformation of the historic building into a centre for cancer rehabilitation and public hydrotherapy. Natasha and her fellow Interior Architecture students were the first cohort since the course started in 2011 to exhibit alongside 400 other students from 30 of the UK’s best universities at Free Range Interiors at the Old Truman Brewery in London last summer. Six months after winning her award, Natasha, who is originally from Edinburgh, has gone on to secure an internship as an architecture editor with designboom – the world’s first online design and architecture magazine, based in the Italian city of Milan. On her professional success to date, Natasha comments: “I had always wanted to pursue a career

in design and for this reason fully expected to end up living and working in London. However when the opportunity to work for a publication on international design arose, I jumped at the chance – it drew on all my skills which I’d developed during my time with Northumbria and this opportunity was an ideal combination of what I want to do and what I am interested in.” Today, Natasha works with a team of experienced designers and architects, providing editorial support to what is one of the most widely-read and critically acclaimed global design publications in the world. Curating a selection of innovative and unique work, the publication strives to unearth the best art, design and architecture out there. Natasha continues: “Winning the award at Free Range Interiors definitely helped me stand out amongst other graduates, and showed me the value of the work I had produced when working on live projects during my degree at Northumbria. “On a personal level, the award win has served as a

reminder of how much I love design, and to always continue to work hard and strive for the best. I can’t think of a better way to finish my degree, winning the award gave me the confidence to kick start my career in design.” The Architecture and Built Environment department takes graduates to Free Range each year, using it as a platform for young designers looking to enter the design industry – not just interior design and interior architecture, but across multiple disciplines. Northumbria University’s current cohort of Interior Architecture graduates will be exhibiting their final work at Free Range Interiors at the Old Truman Brewery, in London from 9 –13 July 2015.


Laura, who is currently working on another suspense novel as well as a young adult fantasy series, believes her passion for writing was ignited when she opted to take a Creative Non-Fiction module in her final semester at Northumbria. “When studying this module, I really felt I could embrace my own writing style and this is when I really started to entertain the idea of trying my hand at writing fiction,” she recalled. “My tutor at Northumbria, Dr Barbara Henderson, was so encouraging and helpful. I know in my heart I’d never have made it to publication without her.” Dr Barbara Henderson, former journalism lecturer at Northumbria, added: “I was absolutely delighted – but not a bit surprised – to hear about Laura’s publishing deal and I feel sure she’s a name to watch in the writing world. I wish her all the success in the world.” Suzie Townsend, of New Leaf Literary & Media Inc, added: “When I first read Laura’s manuscript, I could not stop thinking about it. Long after I finished it, the characters stayed with me. I just knew I had to work with it.”





LEARN FROM THE BEST At Northumbria our aim is to shape ambitious, motivated, self-confident people who have a clear vision of what they want to be and the skills and the know-how to make this happen.

Ghana TV show winner reflects on incredible experience at Northumbria A reality TV contestant who won a place at Northumbria University is celebrating a successful year of study – and an unforgettable time in Newcastle. Anthony Kofi Annan triumphed in 2014’s The Challenge – a Ghanaian show similar to the BBC’s The Apprentice – and the prize was a scholarship with Northumbria. The 27-year-old from Ghana has just completed an MSc Business with Financial Management degree at Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School, and has received very positive feedback from lecturers and university staff. He said: “I applied to go onto The Challenge because I wanted the scholarship to Northumbria University – and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve really enjoyed everything about the experience. The lecturers have first-hand experience of the industry, which makes the course even more interesting. Life in Newcastle is wonderful. I had heard of Newcastle as I’ve followed the English Premier League and made sure I did my research before going into the show.” Anthony applied to be on the sixth series of The Challenge, an extremely popular show which is run in partnership with the British Council and offers fully sponsored post-graduate scholarships as prizes. The show gave students across Ghana the chance to showcase their intellectual and creative talents, with contestants competing against each other over three months in a range of televised tasks and interviews. The Challenge 2014 was sponsored by Ghana-based telecommunication

company Tigo in collaboration with the British Council Ghana and supported by Northumbria University, Newcastle; Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and the University of Salford in Manchester. The show was produced by GhOne TV, a Ghanaian based multimedia company. Anthony joined two other winners from the education show in securing positions at UK universities – and his successful year has made him an advocate for university life abroad. He added: “I definitely believe that it’s important to study abroad; you get a completely new perspective on study, on culture and diversity and on different ways of working. I would recommend studying at Northumbria University to people all over the world.” Northumbria University’s international recruitment manager Simon Forster said: “Anthony continues to shine and we’re keen to see how he progresses. Feedback on him has been fantastic – lecturers are very proud of him, as are his family, and as am I. He is a very good representative for Ghana and is doing the country proud.” Masters study at Northumbria is designed for those students who want to change direction in their career or give it an extra edge, or for those who have a passion for their area of study.

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Simon Forster and Anthony Kofi Annan

Start-up success for Sadhu An international graduate who set up his own business with the help of Northumbria University’s Student and Graduate Enterprise team has hailed the University as providing ‘the best support I could ever have wished for’. Business Information Systems Management graduate, Sadhu Kanakarajan, is the first ever graduate to be sponsored by the University via UKBA’s Tier 1 entrepreneur visa scheme. The scheme allows international graduates with genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills to stay in the UK to develop their business under the supervision of their UK academic institution. Sadhu, originally from India, graduated in 2013 and took this opportunity to start his SEO and digital marking agency Sadsisya Ltd with the support and guidance of the University’s Student and Graduate Enterprise team, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. He explained: “I approached the University with my idea and they helped me to draft my business plan. “Getting the business off the ground over the last year has been really hard work and without the support I received from the team, I would have had neither the courage nor the knowledge to start my own business. I simply would not be where I am

today without the University’s support.” A year on, Sadsisya Ltd is now starting to have some real success with a number of new clients and business opportunities. Sadhu added: “It’s a really exciting time for the business. I now have two full-time and three part-time employees, and a number of clients in long-term contracts. “One of our first clients was Summer Takeover, a small working holiday company and also a Northumbria University-supported start-up. After adopting our strategy, they have experienced a doubling in sales and 400% increase in their lead generation. Over the next couple of years, I want to grow the business into one of the ‘go-to’ digital agencies in the North East.”

Graham Baty and Sadhu Kanakarajan

Graham Baty, Enterprise Manager at Northumbria University, said: “Sadhu was confident that he had identified a market need for digital marketing services amongst small and medium-sized businesses, and to date, this has proved to be very successful. With an ever growing client base, I fully expect Sadhu to continue to expand Sadsisya Ltd.”

Sadhu, who decided to study at Northumbria after a recommendation from his brother, added: “I am proud to have been a student at Northumbria University. My course was a fantastic mix of business and technical studies that provided me with key skills for life after graduation.”


Summer 2015 •


Life transformed by further study Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an essential requirement of anyone working in the health profession, yet after undertaking a CPD course, Michelle Mitchell never dreamed that she would become a tutor herself. She tells Northumbria University News how her course transformed her life. Michelle had worked as a healthcare assistant at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for 12 years when she was seconded to undertake nurse training at Northumbria University shortly after her 41st birthday. While studying, Michelle found a passion for helping others to learn after taking on the role of a ‘learning leader’ in her group and just five years later she is now studying for a PhD and working as a Graduate Tutor, supporting other students in their learning and placements. Michelle explained: “CPD is essential in the nursing profession – life-long learning is paramount and very much part of the job – it engages you with current issues and makes you think about your skills, the future and helps you step back and look at how healthcare is changing.” She achieved a distinction in her Advanced Diploma in Adult Nursing in 2013 and was nominated by her classmates for the Student Nursing Times’ Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year award. She enrolled on Northumbria’s Practice Development course whilst

working as a community staff nurse to turn her diploma into a degree, which she passed with first class honours. Michelle then worked as a part-time Associate Lecturer at the University before being appointed to a full-time role as a Graduate Tutor. She is also undertaking a PhD focussing on mentorship and student relationships. “The guidance and support I have had at Northumbria has been outstanding,” said Michelle. “My tutors have guided me throughout, been supportive, inspiring, and always ready to give constructive feedback. “I often reflect on my journey so far, hard work and determination helped me through my nurse training, which has changed my life forever. My university tutors helped me open doors I didn’t know existed.”



Professional rugby player tries to gain the advantage Ex-professional rugby player Craig Hamilton has returned to Northumbria to complete his further education. As well as studying towards an MSc in Professional Practice in Sport Coaching, Craig is also a project manager for a property development company and coaches Northumbria’s women’s rugby team along with Falkirk RFC. He explained: “Now my professional rugby career has finished, I wanted to return and finish what I started. I wanted to stay involved with rugby at some level and coaching was the natural progression.” Craig’s postgraduate experience is helping him on and off the pitch and the transition back into study after 15 years has been helped by the lecturers at Northumbria. “The lecturers are very helpful and understanding of my background,” he said. “I think because the subject matter is something I enjoy and can relate to, it makes it easier to stay focused as essentially it’s also making me a better coach. Lectures are relaxed and discussion based – we debate and help each other by telling anecdotes of our own coaching experience.” Gaining new insights through relationships that he is building with other coaches on the course, Craig would encourage others to think about postgraduate study. He explained: “Balancing work and study is difficult but not impossible. Having supportive friends and family around definitely helps. It encourages you to take control of your future.”


meltwater; a vital resource for consumption, sanitation, and irrigation, to an increased risk of catastrophic outburst floods from expanding glacial lakes as the glaciers recede.

Postgraduate to showcase glacier research at Royal exhibition

“Drawing on recent, first-hand experience of undertaking research in the Everest region in Nepal, our exhibit will showcase cuttingedge science from UK researchers which explores the potential impacts of climatic change on Himalayan glaciers."

A Northumbria researcher has been selected as part of a team to showcase its work at the Royal Society’s prestigious 2015 Summer Science Exhibition in London.

Also joining the team at the Royal Society Summer Science exhibition are David Breashears, a renowned American mountaineer and film-maker who has summited Everest four times, and Mollie Hughes, one of the youngest British climbers to summit Everest. David and Mollie will be available to talk to the public about the experience and dangers of standing on the top of the world.

Dr Matt Westoby, Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University, will join a team of researchers from the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and Aberystwyth at the week-long science festival at Carlton House Terrace.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is a week-long science festival which features 22 exhibits from the forefront of British innovation. The event is free for all ages and runs from Tuesday 30 June to Sunday 5 July 2015:

The team’s exhibit will focus on how glaciers around the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, are rapidly shrinking. Using photographs and video footage from expeditions to the Khumbu, Imja, Lhotse and Ngozumpa Glaciers in Nepal, combined

with hands-on experiments and 3D models, the team will explain how glaciers in the Himalayas are responding to climate change and the impact that this will have to the world’s population. Matt said: "Himalayan glaciers are the 'water towers' of Asia, forming the headwaters of some of the world's largest rivers. However, the response of these glaciers to future climatic change and the implications for downstream communities remains uncertain. “These impacts range from variations in the production of glacial

The team of 16 academics and postgraduates will be led by Dr Ann Rowan of Sheffield University in showcasing the exhibit, which is sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Climate Change Consortium of Wales, the Quaternary Research Association as well as the five universities involved.





ENJOY EVERY MINUTE Everyone wants to enjoy themselves and going to university is about so much more than just getting a degree.

Fashion graduate’s creative collection wins international award in Italy A catwalk collection by a Northumbria University fashion graduate has won a prestigious international award for young designers. Katrina Wagster’s stunning menswear designs took the ‘Absolute Award for the Most Creative Collection’ at Mittelmoda The Fashion Award, in Vicenza, Italy. This annual awards show, now in its 22nd year, saw young fashion designers from 20 countries compete against each other. Katrina, who graduated from Northumbria in 2014, was the only British designer among the 26 shortlisted. “I never thought I would win the Absolute award for the most creative collection – there are so many talented designers in this show and everyone’s collections are incredible. To know that a prestigious panel of judges see potential in me as a designer is an incredible feeling.” She continues: “My collection was inspired by the history of the traveller, largely influenced by work wear and vintage references to the 1930s, the sourcing and manipulation of the fabrics became the main focus to drive my collection forward.” The graduate said her time at Northumbria’s

internationally recognised School of Design has played a massive part in her success.

Plus you get to see the competition and speak to some well-established designers.”

“Studying Fashion Design at Northumbria has definitely been one of the best decisions I have made. My time was largely spent within the School of Design, which is a great place to study and really prepares you for industry,” she said.

Principal Lecturer for Fashion at Northumbria, Douglas Maclennan, said: “Mittelmoda is one of the longest established international competitions held in Italy to promote creativity in fashion.

“A big thank you for my success has to go to Anthony Brotheridge – he is an incredible tutor and has pushed me to achieve great success throughout the past four years. I have developed hugely as a designer and that is thanks to Northumbria.” This year’s final year students recently held their graduate show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art with the best work being chosen to go onto Graduate Fashion Week in London. Katrina’s work was selected for this prestigious event last year and she described it as a ‘great experience’. She said: “It opens your eyes to the industry, to what companies are looking for, and it gives you a great feeling of achievement.

Katrina Wagster’s designs (left) and winning the Mittelmoda award in Italy (right)

“Katrina’s collection was simply outstanding and a reflection of Northumbria’s quality training which aligns industry and creativity to provide graduates who successfully contribute to the worldwide fashion industry.” Now in its 60th year, Northumbria’s awardwinning BA (Hons) Fashion course is famous for the calibre of its business-ready graduates, with 97% of last year’s students in full-time employment within six months of graduating. Read more about 60 years of fashion at Northumbria on page 19.


Making a difference in Zambia Masters student Hannah Marshall was Student Sport President for Team Northumbria when they lifted the Stan Calvert cup for the first time in six years in 2014. Since then, she has gone on to study an MSc in International Sport Management, and is applying what she is learning when working in Zambia with UK Sport. “I’ve spent two summers in Zambia, coaching football and working on a UK Sport international development project to bring communities together through the power of sport,” explained Hannah. “Studying for a Masters has been really useful, especially having a year’s work experience during my time as Student Sport President. Because of that experience, I can apply what I’m studying to the industry I would like to work in.” With the recent addition of Northumbria’s Masters bursary scheme, offering 155 students from under-represented groups £10,000 towards the costs of studying, giving your career that extra edge is even more achievable.


Entrepreneur’s trip Down Under A travel scholarship programme has given a Northumbria entrepreneurial student the chance to go on a fact-finding mission to Australia. Newcastle Business School’s Calam Nelson travelled half way around the world to join 1,300 likeminded people at the largest event for entrepreneurs in Australia. The 19-year-old attended the Entrepreneur’s Unconvention in Sydney after receiving funding from Northumbria partner Trust Estates, through the property development company’s travel scholarship programme. Calam is studying on the Entrepreneurial Business Management course at Newcastle Business School, an innovative course with a hands-on, team-based approach to learning. Students work in teams to set-up and manage their own business enterprise, which develops their skills and knowledge in all areas of business. “To be in Sydney Town Hall with 1,300 entrepreneurs was incredible,” Calam said. “The speakers gave me so much to think about and I was frantically taking notes so I could take it all back to my team and hopefully the advice and guidance will be able to help us to improve our business.”


From classroom to Kenya Students from Newcastle Business School who developed and implemented a marketing strategy for charity, Team Kenya, are getting the chance to see the benefits of their work first-hand by travelling to the country. The second year Business with Marketing students and Team Kenya collaborated to develop a new working holiday initiative as part of the School’s Business Volunteer Scheme. Team Kenya operates in Ndhiwa, helping a rural community in the Nyanza region of Western Kenya and provides education and enterprise support to help deliver sustainable benefits for the future. Student Alex Henderson led the team that helped develop the project: “It has been great to be involved in a project where we can put our business skills into practice. I believe we’ve made a real difference to how the charity markets itself to students.” Commenting on the benefits of the travel scholarships, Christine Sorenson, Director of Business and Engagement at Newcastle Business School, said: “These are wonderful opportunities. The students come back more mature, having developed their team building and language skills and are energised from the cultural experience. They are just the types of stand-out experiences that develop the skills that employers are looking for look for.”


Summer 2015 •



Environmental health students in African mission A trio of Geography students from Northumbria are using their environmental health expertise to help communities in Uganda. Supporting UK charity, Water for Kids, three students from the University’s BSc Environmental Health course will visit villages in the Iganga region of Uganda to help combat the spread of infectious disease, and improve the health and wellbeing of the community.

“We are extremely privileged to have been sponsored by The Rotarians, as without them we wouldn’t be able to go on the trip. I am very grateful for their contribution and look forward to sharing our experiences with them when we return.”

The three students, Ashleigh Jobes, Alexandra Wilson and Eimear Harrigan, will spend more than two weeks helping to dig wells, protect water sources and build latrines. They will also use their skills and knowledge from the course to help create sustainable communities by providing education about hygiene and infectious disease control.

Simon Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health with Northumbria’s Geography department, said: “Students completing Environmental Health courses at Northumbria fulfil the academic requirements for being accredited as an Environmental Health Practitioner by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. But it is the practical experience and opportunities provided by Northumbria that sets our candidates apart from others when it comes to career building. They are demonstrating the type of exciting work Environmental Health Practitioners can do.“

Alexandra said: “The trip is set to be an amazing experience for us all. Not only will we learn so much about ourselves and other cultures, but we will have the opportunity to show what we have learned from our time at Northumbria in the five subject areas of Environmental Health.

He added: “This unique venture will

further the students’ studies in an exceptional environment, where they can really put what they have learned into context to help other people.” Students were supported through a grant from the Rotary Club of Newcastle West. Rotary President, David Gregory, said: “The Rotary Club are delighted to support the students with this effort to promote public health in Uganda and to support young professionals and students to gain an understanding of other communities. “We are hoping to repeat this next year following a successful fundraising event in April where we raised over £2,000.” Northumbria ofers a range of courses in Environmental Health and Geography.


Overseas study opens new horizons for Carley and family Business student Carley Denton couldn’t believe her luck when she was offered the chance to study in the US. The 32-year-old HR Management student from Newcastle Business School is set to study Semester 2 of her course at Florida Atlantic University. As the mum-of-four, prepares to move to Florida with her family, she tells Northumbria University News her story. Carley says: “The term ‘human resources’ originated in America and when I started to research the profession I decided that I’d love the opportunity to work over there in HR at some point. “I never thought it would be a real possibility but then I discovered the Study Abroad module and was shocked. I attended workshops laid on by the Study Abroad team and asked lots of questions – I had doubts about whether, as a mature student with a family, I would even be considered. However I left feeling completely encouraged and empowered, so I carried out further research and applied.

“As part of my Personal Development Plan I identified that I lack self-confidence, but learned this is one of the main skills gained by people who study abroad. I also learned that many employers will consider candidates who have studied abroad over those who haven’t, so the opportunity appealed even more. “When I found out I had been accepted I was elated to have been given such an opportunity. To be honest it still hasn’t completely sunk in! “To make the most of the experience I have decided to carry out my Year 3 internship placement while I’m in Florida, meaning I’ll have 18 months in total there – six for my course and another year on placement. “Since I made the decision there has been fantastic support with my placement search, and help with areas such as my LinkedIn profile and converting my CV to US format.

“My whole family is on board and my husband and children will be coming with me. My husband appreciates the opportunities that will be available to all of us thanks to the Study Abroad team’s advice, and the kids are excited. “My 12-year-old son Jay is looking forward to meeting new friends from different backgrounds and hopes to keep in touch with them when we return – he has been learning about different cultures at school in Geography, Citizenship and RE. Jonas

(6) says if we have a swimming pool it will be “epic” but doesn’t understand why he has to go to school on what he sees as a long holiday! Josh (11) and Jodi (10) also can’t wait. “When we get there our plans are simple – enjoy the opportunity to learn, love and laugh. In between studying, we have lots of great plans. “Myself and the whole family will cherish each and every minute and can’t thank the team at Northumbria enough. We’ve

bought a good quality camera to capture as many special moments as possible to share with the team and show what we are experiencing thanks to them. “I really could not have asked for anywhere better than Northumbria University to help me and my family with this chapter of our lives.”





WANT TO BE THE NEXT...? Northumbria graduates are making a very distinctive mark on the world.

Victoria Pendleton CBE Britain’s most successful female track cyclist and Olympic gold medallist. Sport and Exercise Science graduate.

Sir Jonathan Ive Designer of the iPhone, iMac, iPad and iPod, now Chief Design Officer at Apple. Design for Industry graduate.

Martin Corry MBE Over 30 caps for England, three for British Lions and nearly 200 appearances for Leicester Tigers. Sports Studies graduate.

Dr Arnab Basu Chief Executive Officer, Kromek. Materials Engineering graduate.

Rob Law MBE Founder and Director of Magmatic and creator of the Trunki children’s suitcase. Design for Industry graduate.

Stephen Miller Paralympic athlete and World Record Holder in the Club Throw. Business Information Systems graduate.

Bibiana Aido Spain’s youngest ever Minister appointed to Government at the age of 31. International Business Administration graduate.

Tim Brown Chief Executive of IDEO USA, one of the world’s leading design consultancies.

Jules Quinn Jules Quinn, a graduate of our Fashion Marketing course, has established a tea, teaware and homeware company called The *Teashed.

Check out some of our most notable graduates at

WHERE WILL YOU GO? Northumbria University Alumni Association has over

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Based on data from April 2015

Summer 2015 • •



Sharing knowledge fuels business growth

Northumbria University is leading the way in a new national research project looking at how older people with visual impairments can use exercises to prevent falls.

The number of staff submitted to Research Excellence Framework 2014 has more than



since RAE 2008 Northumbria’s KTP associates at Parker domnick hunter

Northumbria University is helping to drive innovation and accelerate market opportunities for an engineering and manufacturing business in a new knowledgesharing partnership.


arker domnick hunter specialise in the design and manufacture of high-quality compressed air, gas treatment and gas generation products for a wide range of applications across the world. Customers include global businesses such as Coca Cola. Representatives from Newcastle Business School and the Northumbria Design School are collaborating with the company on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – a Governmentfunded programme designed to encourage collaboration between businesses and UK universities. The team are working to help the company improve product development times and become more customer-centric to better align their engineering strengths to what customers need.

Research rated as

Matthew Lievesley, Reader in Neil McPherson, Marketing Manager Human Centred Problem Solving at at Parker domnick hunter, said: “As a Northumbria Design School, said: result of our KTP with Northumbria we “Parker domnick hunter is already are developing new marketing systems a technically excellent business with and processes to identify opportunities leading positions in many of its for organic growth.” markets. Increased global competition Fraser McLeay, Professor of Strategic in traditional market segments has Marketing Management at Newcastle highlighted the need for increased Business School, added: “The next innovation and shortened development stage of the KTP will help us transform times. With the Design and Business The number the way in ofwhich staff we use existing data disciplines working together, we are able to optimise business submitted to Research performance to embed new approaches to innovation, and develop a dashboard Excellence Framework 2014focusing engaging key customers to understand on new market opportunities which has more than where the company’s technology will will increase international sales and make the greatest difference. This profitability.” responsive approach has already helped ll the company secure close partnerships since Blippe fu ag to p in major export markets, which are RAE view film expected to be worth over £1m per 2008 annum to the UK economy.”



in 100% of areas submitted to the 50 Research ExcellenceTop Framework (Times Higher Education)

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alls are the most prominent reason for admission to hospital for accidental injury and cost the NHS approximately £4.6 billion per year. Older people with poor vision are at a much higher risk of falls. This major study, which is funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is being led by Northumbria University in collaboration with Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian Universities as well as several charitable organisations. The researchers will work with visually impaired older people to develop an exercise programme using strength and balance techniques to help to prevent falls. Professor of Rehabilitation, Nicola Adams, explained: “Fear of falling is a real and frightening prospect for older people, particularly those with poor vision. Research has shown that following a fall, older people restrict their activities rather than suffer the consequences, both physical and psychological, that they associate with a fall. This can lead to a vicious spiral of decline in their strength, mobility and balance meaning they are actually at increased risk of falling in future. Participation in exercise can help to build confidence, as well as ensuring that people are fitter and healthier and this can, in turn, help to prevent falls.” Prof Adams added: “We ultimately hope that we will develop a group exercise programme for visually impaired older people that can be successfully delivered in the community, making them much more accessible for larger groups of people.”


The number of staff submitted to Research Excellence Framework 2014 has more than


for research power

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Can exercise help older people with vision problems avoid falls?

in 100% of areas submitted to the Research Excellence Framework We have almost

since RAE 2008





Forensics under the spotlight Northumbria University’s forensic science courses have been officially accredited by the leading professional body for forensic practice.


orthumbria’s undergraduate and Masters courses in Forensic Science and the undergraduate course Criminology & Forensic Science have been accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences – the only international professional body for forensic scientists working to drive forward global standards in scientific investigation. Northumbria’s forensic science courses are taught by former practitioners who have worked on high-profile cases including the Stephen Lawrence, Joanna Yeates and PC Ian Broadhurst murders as well as the Ipswich serial killer case in which five women were murdered over a ten-day period in 2006. Students learn in the University’s

on-site crime scene house and court room which helps to prepare them in assessing crime scenes and giving evidence in court cases. They gain hands-on experience in all relevant forensic fields including body fluid and DNA analysis, trace analysis, blood pattern interpretation and analytical chemistry in drugs and toxicology. In recent years Northumbria has made significant investments in the latest tools used in the industry to enable students to gain first hand practical experience in all aspects of forensic analysis and interpretation. The University’s kit includes analytical chemistry instrumentation, microspectrometers that can analyse fibres and glass fragments and a specialist DNA free laboratory using forensic standard

materials and methods. Second year student Lizzie Rose said: “The course offers a great range of modules to give an insight into all aspects of forensic science, with the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the laboratory providing a great way to consolidate material taught in lectures. The crime scene house is loved by all students to get a feel for real life, practical situations. “Overall the University provides fantastic learning facilities, combined with lecturers who have previous experience in the forensic field, creating a degree worthy of accreditation.”


Students’ emotive film brings nursing to life A team of first-year Nursing students joined forces with Media Production students to bring their learning to life.


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Student Louise Vallery (right) in a scene from the film.

he result, a tear-jerking film that highlights ways in which nurses and patients can work to support each other, has been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube. The students, who are on Northumbria’s Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) course, were asked to answer the question: “What is nursing?” in one of their modules. After speaking with patients and nurses to understand what patients felt they needed from nurses, and vice versa, they found that both groups said they needed to see patience, humour, communication, honesty, understanding and a smile The students used these responses to create We Are Human, a campaign that intends to promote unity, community and collaboration between nurses and patients. Joining forces with Northumbria’s Media Production students, the campaign was brought to life in a film which shows the nursing students undertaking different nursing roles. These include caring for a child with cancer and a confused patient with dementia, as well as expressing how emotionally challenging the career can be. Louise Vallery, one of the students who made the film, explained: “We developed the campaign after seeing a need to

encourage a mutual understanding between patients and nurses. We wanted to bridge a perceived gap and reassure the public that, as nurses, we share in their emotions, from joy to sadness and frustration. “We’ve been so excited with the response we’ve had from those who have seen the film and we hope that it will make people see that we, as nurses, are human too.” Mark Robinson, Director of Programmes in Northumbria’s Department of Health and Wellbeing, said: “Having a true understanding of what it means to be a nurse, and what nursing is, is a crucial factor for our first year students who are embarking on this career. “This understanding, which ensures they recognise the six essential values of healthcare – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment – is clearly demonstrated in this powerful film which shows the varied fields of nursing through the eyes of both patients and nurses.” The students’ film can be viewed at


Summer 2015 • •



Helping diabetics to exercise more safely A

Newcastle United star Ayoze Perez taking part in Match Fit.

Footballers score in children’s fitness

Experts from Northumbria University are examining the impact of a school wellbeing course offered by the Newcastle United Foundation.


atch Fit, which is operated in partnership with the University, is a six-week course that combines fitness, football and nutrition to increase health awareness and physical activity in children aged 7-11. The course is delivered by qualified coaches and nutrition staff from Newcastle United who visit schools with footballers to tell children about the foods they need to eat and the exercise they need to take part in to be at the top of their game. The overriding message is that food, fitness and football can be beneficial, fun and enjoyable for everyone. Since its launch in 2008, more than 10,000 children have participated in the scheme. Dr Melissa Fothergill, a senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, is now working with Northumbria academics specialising in sport, nutrition and psychology to assess how the scheme is benefitting children. “Football is the most predominant sport in the world, so it’s great to see how the Newcastle United Foundation

is using it as a vehicle to get children involved in active healthy behaviour,” she said. “The project ties in to the Department for Education’s strategy to increase physical education as well as cooking and nutrition in schools, so it’s therefore important that we review the scheme to ensure it is working as effectively as it can. “We are taking a holistic approach to see how the scheme is impacting on physical activity and wellbeing. From a psychological perspective we are examining the effects on mental function, behaviours and enjoyment of physical activity, and from a nutritional perspective we are looking to see changes in knowledge and how this complies with Public Health England guidelines. “The results of our pilot study are already showing some positive change. Children are demonstrating an increase in nutritional knowledge and physical activity.” Professor Greta Defeyter, Director of Northumbria’s Healthy Living research

unit, added: “We have been impressed by how much notice children take of health-related messages delivered by Premiership footballers. The messages about good nutrition and an active lifestyle have so much more strength when they come from their idols. “We hope that our findings from this study can also be applied to other sports to encourage other clubs, teams and leagues to use the influential positions they have in society to inspire and educate others.” Northumbria’s research in psychology and sport and exercise sciences received praise in the recent Research Excellence Framework assessment. Almost three quarters of research in psychology was judged to have outstanding reach and significance for its impact, and Northumbria was rated as the best university in the North East of England for its research power in sport and exercise science.



Northumbria researchers take part in first ever study to examine why diabetics can avoid dangerous blood sugar dips at night after exercising in the evening.

lthough anyone can experience dangerous falls in blood glucose – known as hypoglycaemia – diabetics are particularly vulnerable because exercise alters the body’s sensitivity to insulin, accelerating its effect. When this happens to a diabetic person, their blood sugar is used up too quickly which means it can rapidly drop hours after exercising – particularly during the night when it is most dangerous. The research team was led by Dr Dan West, a Senior Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, and his PhD student Matthew Campbell who is now a Senior Research Associate. They set out to test whether altering diet and insulin doses could help to prevent this potentially life-threatening problem. “For diabetes sufferers, the fear of experiencing a dangerous blood sugar dip after exercise can prevent them from exercising altogether – which has both physical and psychological implications,” explained Dr West. “We have developed a strategy to manage insulin dosage in a way that prevents these falls in blood sugar so that diabetics can exercise safely.” Their two-part study looked at the effects of adjusting slow-acting insulin levels in a group of 10 male participants with Type-1 Diabetes. Blood sugar levels were monitored using a continuous glucose monitor which sits underneath the skin and triggers an alarm if levels begin to fall dangerously low.

In the first test, all participants took a normal slow-acting insulin dose and then completed a 45-minute exercise session at 6pm in the evening. Around 7-8 hours after the exercise, 90% of the patients experienced a blood sugar dip, all of which occurred while they were sleeping. During the second test, the insulin dose was reduced by 20% and participants took part in the same evening exercise session. This time however, none of the participants suffered from drops in blood sugar. Unexpectedly, the study also found that the 20% reduction of insulin not only prevented blood sugar from falling but also stopped glucose levels from rising too high. With this dose, levels remained within the ideal healthy range, and other important markers were not affected. This is a particularly important finding as clinicians are often reluctant to change treatment regimens due to potential complications or adverse reactions. Dr West added: “I have close friends with Type-1 Diabetes and it is a challenging disease to live with. The whole team has worked incredibly hard in carrying out this applied, practical research in a way which is accessible and relevant to patients. The result is research which has the potential to make a really positive change to the lives of those living with diabetes.”


PhD student Matthew Campbell with Dr Dan West





architecture arts design media

Northumbria students take on starring role at Northern Stage Northumbria Performing Arts students stepped into the spotlight for two shows produced by the University in collaboration with Northern Stage.


he partnership involved 38 final year students in two spectacular productions, More Light and Idomeneus, which were performed for the first time in the North East. Both shows were directed by emerging directors, Northumbria graduate Amy Golding, Artistic Director of Curious Monkey and Rebecca Frecknall, who is part of Northern Stage’s Regional Theatre Directors Scheme. Industry partners, media and members of the public gathered to watch the next generation of performers, writers and producers in these two stunning shows. Script readings and discussions also took place throughout the week in the run up to the performances and activities. The first show More Light was a story of love, survival, sexuality, loyalty, art and power, set in imperial China. The second show Idomeneus, was a contemporary German play based on an ancient

Greek Myth about the King of Crete’s sacrifice to the gods. The two shows were part of the final year undergraduate Performing Arts showcase. Alongside the two productions by Performance students, the University presented a showcase of work from the Drama and Applied Theatre, and Drama and Scriptwriting courses. In addition, a public symposium addressed the role of drama and arts in the school curriculum. Northumbria offers a range of courses in Performing Arts, including the new MA Theatre and Performance, which launches in September. This new course, based in the Northumbria Performing Arts hub, will offer a unique bespoke industry experience tailored to students’ specialisms and professional ambitions.

DISCOVER MORE ll Blipp fu page to view film

Northumbria Performing Arts students at Northern Stage

REVIEW: More Light Charlotte Hall, a 20-year-old Northumbria student reviews one of Northumbria Performing Arts’ Shows at Northern Stage. “As a group of 16 young women mourn the loss of their Emperor, they realise that they must fight for survival after becoming trapped alive in the burial tomb alongside their recently deceased ruler. In direct contrast to the luxurious lifestyle they are accustomed too, they become desperate, and are driven to the extremes of human behaviour in the face of death. “More Light was simple yet effective, combining speech, movement and music. With characters taking it in turns to narrate the story, the rest of the cast were synchronised in movement as they reacted to what was being said. This left the audience dependent solely on their reactions to gauge what was happening – an innovative approach that really brought the play to life.

Cast and crew at Northern Stage

“The use of sound in the play was also extremely interesting, with most of it made by the actors themselves. Using their own voices, musical instruments and household objects, music was

effectively created in order to connect with the audience. The repetitive use of one particular tune became so familiar with the audience that people were even humming it themselves as they left the theatre! “Despite the play having elements of humour and happiness, characters also addressed deep and disturbing underlying issues including loneliness, despair, murder, love and heartbreak.” “But as the girls began to envisage the life they could lead, in which their dreams and aspirations would be fulfilled, the play shifted from themes of desperation to those of empowerment and hope. It was particularly compelling to watch the journey made by a group of young women as they came to realise they had the ability to live the life they truly wanted. “Exploring love, survival, sexuality, loyalty and power, More Light was a truly mesmerising show from start to finish.”

The play was directed by Northumbria Performing Arts graduate, Amy Golding, who is now the Artistic Director of Curious Monkey Theatre Company. She said: “I’m delighted to be working with the third year students on their final production at Northern Stage. Bryony Lavery’s More Light, is a challenging play and one I’ve always loved from being a young performer myself. “It has some great meaty roles for young women and I’m really enjoying working with a 16 strong female cast to bring it to life, along with our two male actors who have the unenviable task of getting gagged and tied up repeatedly. “I hope to see many of these students soon making their own work and starting careers in the theatre beyond their degree.”


Summer 2015 • •




60 years of Fashion Final year students from Northumbria University celebrated 60 years of fashion in style with more than 20 award nominations at Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) 2015 in London.


he Northumbria University Fashion stand included exhibitions from students on the Fashion Communication, Fashion Marketing and Design, and Fashion Design courses. All three courses had students shortlisted for awards at the four-day showcase, which is widely regarded as the world’s leading event for fashion graduates, with many more offered job opportunities during the week. A total of 23 student collections from the Fashion Design course, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary, took to the catwalk on the second day of the show. The glittering display was photographed by ‘Catwalk King’ and Northumbria honorary graduate Chris Moore. On the final day in London, the best collections from the Catwalk show were selected to be part of the prestigious finale show by judges with Northumbria student Abigail Panton’s rude boy inspired menswear collection among those chosen. When asked about her experience at GFW, Abigail said: “I’m overwhelmed to have been placed alongside the best and I know I have developed a great set of skills which are valued in the industry. I’m proud of my collection which took a lot of determination to see through to the end. The support and encouragement from Northumbria’s fashion tutors and technicians has been amazing, they never say no and are always ambitious on our behalf. We’ve turned our ideas into real garments and I’ve learnt to harness my creativity when I need to.” A number of Fashion Communication students were also shortlisted for awards, with Kiera Muers and Emma Burke announced as runners-up in the

Fashion Marketing Award and Fashion New Media Award categories. Angel Dimmick’s magazine was highly commended in the Drapers Fashion Publication Award and Isabella Lombardini was shortlisted in both the Fashion Photography and Fashion Styling and Art Direction category. Industry figures who met students at the show included Caroline Evans, Design Director at Boohoo, who interviewed students Caroline Spratt and Olivia Pink about their collections. Both students were shortlisted for the Boohoo Innovation Award. Fashion Design student Selina Lunn came in second place for the Portfolio Award sponsored by Karen Millen which led to an invitation to interview for a position at the brand. Northumbria’s appearance at GFW in London followed the University’s annual catwalk show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in May. The best collections from the night were then chosen to go on to compete in London. Kristen Pickering, Programme Leader of Fashion at Northumbria, said: “We had a great week, visitors to the stand commented on the quality of manufacturing which is appreciated as our students do make all their garments in University. For the first time, we had an online portfolio accessible on the stand to view student portfolios and it has proved very successful. Moving on from this event, students will be able to use this to support their promotion for employment and beyond.” She added: “We’re thrilled Abigail was nominated for a Gold Award. It’s a real honour for her collection to be selected out of the 400 plus catwalk

collections shown this week, her work featured along with 24 others in the ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Gala’ events to industry and press. The judges noted catwalk impact and consistent creativity across her menswear collection. We’re all very proud. “Graduate Fashion Week is a celebration of talent but it is mainly about graduate promotion,” Kristen added. “The event this year had 30,000 visitors, mostly potential employers. We are very hopeful our Fashion graduates will be successful in gaining employment as a result. We have a strong cohort of students across the three programmes.” A number of recent graduates have recently attracted industry attention, including Victoria Irving, who has been shortlisted as one of five finalists for the ‘Designers of Tomorrow’ award which will be announced at Berlin’s Fashion Week in July. The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) also honoured eight Northumbria graduates from 2014 with a prestigious CFDA+ accolade each – one of the most illustrious awards in the fashion industry – following their hugely successful degree shows last summer. Northumbria’s fashion graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of global brands ll Blipp fu such as Ralph Lauren, page to Tommy Hilfiger, view film Abercrombie & Fitch, Givenchy and many more.





New wave of graduating artists reveal work at Milkilling M

The first group of students to complete the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art – Northumbria University Master of Fine Arts (BxNU MFA) degree showcased their work at a special event.

ilkilling revealed the work of the first graduating cohort from the BxNU MFA degree, following the launch of BxNU in 2011, a strategic partnership between Northumbria and BALTIC housed in Newcastle’s BALTIC39 gallery. Northumbria University’s BALTIC Professor and Turner Prize nominee Christine Borland teaches on the BxNU programme. She said: “The graduate exhibition Milkilling marks a celebration of the success of this new course, in a new building, run by a new partnership and these circumstances came together, like the ‘milk’ and the ‘illing’ to form something full of life and new possibilities. “The appetite for critically-engaged dialogue has influenced the way the structure of this new course has developed: Peer to Peer is a series of crits and discussions between Baltic crew and the students which has happened throughout the course, focussing in turn on work in the studios and the exhibition spaces. “’BxNU Respond’ has similarly built on the opportunities for parley over the two years. The majority of the students exhibiting here have had proposals selected and have been mentored to develop a mostly performative public event which responds to, or confronts, an exhibition in the project spaces. “The intimacy which the students have developed with their immediate context over two years comes through clearly in work which is firmly rooted in this space and place

but which faces confidently outward.” BxNU MFA student David Bilbrough has collaborated with architecture practice Ryder and Yates’ archive of the North Kenton Estate in Newcastle built in 1965 to develop work which evokes a yearning for a time when architecture promised a hope for a better future. Meanwhile, Rachel Errington incorporated her love of punk music and participation in zine culture, to drive her exploration of the ‘minor’ body in relation to the contemporary cultural and political landscape. Rachel tested-out ideas for her final exhibition piece when she performed in the ‘BxNU Respond’ programme earlier this year in reaction to BALTIC39’s exhibition on vinyl in the build up to World Record Day. Keith McIntyre, Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University, said: “Students and staff have worked hard to make this new course a success and BALTIC colleagues across learning and engagement, technical and curatorial teams have been generous partners and critical friends. “Our first cohort is exhibiting an impressive legacy at Milkilling and I’m sure they will go on to great things, we’re looking forward to this course and partnership growing and developing artistic talent in years to come.”


The seven graduating MFA students at BALTIC39 with Prof Christine Borland (back row, second from right)

Catwalk King visits Northumbria’s Fashion studios World famous catwalk photographer Chris Moore met with Northumbria’s graduating fashion students to view their collections ahead of their end of year show which also marked 60 years of fashion at the University.


orn in Newcastle, 81-year-old Chris Moore is known throughout the fashion community as the ‘Catwalk King’ or ‘The Reverend’. Over the course of his long career he has captured the changing face of the fashion industry, taking him from Dior’s spectacular show at the Palace of Versailles to student creations at Graduate Fashion Week. Chris was welcomed to Northumbria by staff, students and long-time friend Linda Watson, a highly respected fashion journalist, author and Reader in Fashion at Northumbria who curated an exhibition of his seminal images in 2011. The award-winning photographer was given an honorary doctorate for outstanding creative talent

Chris Moore meets students at the University

from Northumbria in 2013 and the following year he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Fashion Awards. On his visit to Northumbria’s fourth floor fashion atelier, Chris said: “I started my career at 16-yearsold as an assistant in a photography studio on Fleet Street. I then moved to Vogue in 1954 and went freelance further down the line. “I’ve done pictures for American Vogue, the front cover of The Sunday Times and all the other ones, for over twenty years I provided every catwalk image for the International Herald Tribune.” Now in his 80’s Chris continues shooting in the fashion capitals of the world. His company,, is based in London and is now considered the largest virtual

global fashion portfolio. When asked what makes fashion at Northumbria different to other graduate shows, Chris commented on the loyal following the course has and the strong reputation the graduates have in the industry. “The audience that comes to watch Northumbria’s catwalk shows always seem more enthusiastic than others,” he said. “Universities use different producers to direct their GFW performance which makes a big difference and Northumbria has worked with producers who really get the crowd going.” Now in its 60th year, fashion at Northumbria is renowned for its innovative courses and strong

links in the fashion industry. Kristen Pickering, programme leader for Fashion at Northumbria added: “We were delighted to have Chris come and talk to the students as they prepared to debut their collections at the end of year show.” Chris offered some final tips for the young ambitious fashion students before they take their first steps into the world of employment: “Do something interesting, don’t be safe, be daring.”


Summer 2015 • •

Play remembers Oklahoma bombing




Steve Gilroy

A moving play written by a Northumbria academic was performed by Oklahoma City University (OCU) students to mark the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma Bombing.


Student performers involved in the Oklahoma project

he play – entitled The Oklahoma City Bombing Project – was written by Director of Performing Arts, Steve Gilroy, as part of the University’s anniversary project to remember the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. OCU commissioned Steve, an award-winning playwright, due to his expertise in verbatim theatre – a form of documentary for the stage based on personal interviews and transcripts. Steve then worked with OCU students and staff to conduct more than 35 interviews with family members of victims, survivors, local officials and first responders. Steve said: “Often, during the verbatim process, interviewers have to work quite hard to coax stories from people. For this project, however, there was an incredible honesty that I haven’t seen before in any other project that I have done. “People talked openly about their experience of the bombing; however, they also shared all sorts of different

Unravelling the mysteries of famous medieval map A Northumbria scientist is part of a ground-breaking new project which is using modern technology to reveal the secrets of a medieval map of Britain.

Dr Kate Nicholson

stories that say a lot about peoples’ ability to recover. They find themselves 20 years later when they are no longer defined by what’s happened and are able to open new chapters in their lives.” “The overwhelming message that comes from everybody interviewed for this project is the regeneration of the city as the background, but I think in the end, the play is about these very powerful individual stories that, when woven together, create a much bigger human story about recovery.” OCU Associate Dean of Theatre, Brian Parsons, is looking to create an educational package that includes scripts, a documentary made by OCU about the making of the play and a teacher’s resource pack so that every high school in Oklahoma can have access to the play. He said: “We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to respond through art. This work is a living memorial and celebration of the tenacity, recovery and healing process of Oklahoma City.” Steve’s previous works include the


he internationally renowned Gough Map is recognised as the oldest surviving route map of Great Britain. Dated around 1360, it is drawn on two pieces of sheepskin and shows the country on its side – the way maps used to be drawn before they had to point north. Held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the priceless artefact has been subject to many research projects, yet key questions remain unanswered: when exactly was the map made and who was it made for? These are the questions which Dr Kate Nicholson, Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Northumbria, and a team of experts are hoping to answer using cutting-edge scientific technologies. The researchers – including chemists, conservators and historians – spent a week in Oxford carrying out scientific analysis on the map. Working alongside Andrew Beeby, a Chemistry Professor at Durham University, and Professor Tony Parker from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Dr Nicholson analysed the pigments used to paint the map. The group used a technique called Raman spectroscopy which uses laser technology to pinpoint the molecular make-up of the pigments. This analysis could provide vital clues as to where and when the map was created as different pigments were used at different points in history. Before they could do this, however, an entirely new piece of technological equipment

award-winning Motherland, which toured the UK in 2009, sharing the stories of women whose everyday lives were touched by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also wrote The Prize, in collaboration with senior lecturer, Richard Stockwell, sharing the true stories of Olympic successes and coinciding with London 2012. Verbatim theatre forms an integral part of the performing arts experience at Northumbria. Steve’s work has previously been performed by students in the UK, with States of Descent being staged as part of Northumbria Performing Arts degree showcase at Northern Stage. Northumbria also commissioned a student writer from New York University, Lilia Rubin, whose play, The Fall, based on letters from the families of victims of 9/11 was performed by students as part of their performing arts showcase in 2014.


had to be developed. “The machine we would normally use to carry out the Raman spectroscopy is worth quarter of a million pounds and moving it around is a huge undertaking,” explained Dr Nicholson. “Equally, the artefacts we work on are insured for eight figure sums so simply cannot be moved from the Bodleian Library. “That’s why we developed a smaller, more portable system which fits into a suitcase and which we can take with us anywhere in the country.” The specially designed instrument is powerful enough to determine the chemical nature of pigments, but harmless enough to be used on precious artefacts like the Gough Map. Northumbria’s combined specialism in both the Conservation of Fine Art and in Chemistry means the University has a strong track record in analysing art for conservation in this way. Dr Nicholson said: “The Gough map is a hugely significant piece of history so being offered the chance to work on the original was a real honour. “On top of that, collaborating with experts from such a range of different areas gives a spark to your research which you wouldn’t get when focusing on just one discipline. I absolutely love my job and this project has definitely been the highlight of my career so far.”





First Writer in Residence announced Northumbria University and Live Theatre are delighted to announce their first joint Writer in Residence, which will launch a three-year collaborative programme.


orthumbria graduate Paddy Campbell, the writer of Live Theatre successes Wet House and Day of the Flymo, will be the inaugural Writer in Residence. For one year, he will develop new work and collaborate with students and staff at Northumbria University to enhance research and teaching. Northumbria launched a strategic partnership with Live Theatre in 2012, following a long and successful relationship between the two organisations. The joint Writer Residency Programme is part of Northumbria’s collaborative work with a wide range of cultural partners, developing innovative ways to nurture and support creative talent across the North. The appointment was announced as Live Theatre celebrated the life and work of novelist, poet and playwright Julia Darling, who was writer in residence at Live Theatre from

2001 to 2003. This year marks the 10th anniversary of her death. Lucy Winskell OBE, Pro ViceChancellor (Business and Engagement), said: “I’m thrilled that the first Northumbria University and Live Theatre Writer in Residence will be one of our graduates. Paddy’s recent plays at Live Theatre have demonstrated his tremendous talent and I’m extremely excited to see what he produces next while working closely with staff and students at the University. “By working in partnership with internationally acclaimed arts organisations like Live Theatre, Northumbria will continue to invest in emerging creative talent to boost the economic, social and cultural development of the region and create new ways to inspire and engage students at the University.” Max Roberts, Live Theatre’s Artistic Director, said: “At a time

when Live Theatre is remembering the legacy of Julia Darling, one of its writers in residence who did so much to encourage other writers, it is appropriate that Paddy – who has come through Live Theatre’s writing development programme – is the first partnership Writer in Residence between Live Theatre and Northumbria University.” Paddy Campbell said: “I feel greatly privileged to have been given this opportunity. Live Theatre has supported my writing from the very start and I’m thrilled to have the chance to develop new plays for the company during my residency. I moved to Newcastle fifteen years ago to study at Northumbria University and had such a good time I decided to stay. I’m hugely grateful to Northumbria for their partnership in this residency and look forward to working with them during the next year.”

(L-R) Paddy Campbell with Lucy Winskell OBE and Max Roberts

Paddy’s most recent play Day of the Flymo follows a brother and sister as they come into contact with the care system. The play which had a sell-out run at Live in April and was awarded four stars by The Guardian returns to Live Theatre in November.

Northumbria offers a range of courses across the creative disciplines, including Creative Writing, Performing Arts and many more.


Graduates wanted for unique cinema residency Artists can now apply for the next Northumbria University and Tyneside Cinema graduate residency following the success of the programme’s first year.


Artwork by Callum Costello, the first artist in residence at Tyneside Cinema

he call for applications was launched at the University’s Media Gala at Tyneside Cinema in June where films from Northumbria’s final year Media Production students premiered for the first time to friends, family and industry professionals. Among those who picked up awards on the night were Ellen Pickering’s Below the Surface who won Best Film and l-l Elenium by Kristina Leikaite, who picked up the Storytelling Award on the night. The event marked the start of the search for a graduate from a creative discipline to take up the residency, which was launched last year following the partnership between Northumbria and Tyneside Cinema. The scheme is designed to provide emerging artists with space, technical support and curatorial critique in the professional working environment of the Tyneside Cinema. To be eligible applicants must have achieved a BA, MA or PhD qualification within the last 24 months. Northumbria Media Production graduate Callum Costello recently completed the first residency at Tyneside Cinema and left with a body of impressive work which resulted in a job offer from The Calltime Company in Holborn near Brighton. The 12-week position is a rare opportunity for an arts graduate to create their own work in the setting of the prestigious cinema and exhibit in The Gallery, a multi-functional art space and intimate 33-seat cinema. The

successful applicant will be based at the independent cinema from October to January 2016. When asked about his experience as the partnership’s first artist in residence in 2014, Northumbria graduate, Callum Costello, said: “My residency at Tyneside has given me the chance to develop skills and my style in a professional environment. It’s a privilege to have been the first and I hope my successor makes the most of the unique opportunity.” The successful graduate will receive a host of benefits during their residency including the use of a large rent-free studio space with unrestricted access to video editing and post production facilities. They will also receive a bursary of £4,600 towards living expenses and production costs as well as free cinema tickets while in post. In addition to this, they will be mentored by Elisabetta Fabrizi, Tyneside Cinema’s Curator of Screen-based Media and Northumbria’s expert academics, who will support them with advice on creative practice, networking and market understanding. Robert Jefferson, Programme Leader for Media and Communication Design said: “I would encourage graduates with an interest in animation and cinema to get their applications in for this. This partnership programme has been a great launch pad for Callum’s career and there are lots of talented final year students who exhibited at the Media Gala who are perfect for this post.”

Andrea Macdonald, Artistic Programme Producer at Tyneside Cinema said: “This programme is designed to give talented graduates the chance to develop further in the context of our award-winning art house cinema. We’re proud of what Callum has achieved and will keep an eye on what he produces, but now we are looking for our next artist in residence and have the hard task of choosing who to give it to. The quality of submissions was high last year and I expect it will be the same this summer.” The Graduate Artist in Residence 2015 call out and application is available on the Tyneside Cinema website: and is welcoming single and joint proposals. Applications must be sent to andrea.macdonald@ by 31 July 2015 (5pm) to be considered. The Media Gala at Tyneside Cinema was part of REVEAL, Northumbria’s annual end of year degree shows for graduating students in creative disciplines. Tyneside Cinema’s film production company, Northern Stars, produced a short film documenting Callum’s journey on the programme, which can be viewed here:


Summer 2015 • •

What it means A to be human




Northumbria has once again been announced as a regional hub for Being Human 2015, the UK’s only national festival for the humanities.

ll Blipp fu page to view film

s part of the festival the University will host Cities & Citizens, a programme of free public events ranging from talks and film screenings to a pop-up museum to inform, extend and ignite contemporary thinking and imagination around the humanities. Now in its second year, Being Human is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, with support from the Wellcome Trust. The event is made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Northumbria will bring together researchers and communities to engage with the humanities and champion the excellence of research being undertaken in the North East, helping to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of the humanities today. Dr Claudine van Hensbergen, Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the festival again this year, building on last year’s success in which over 500 members of the public attended events across Newcastle city centre. “We have got a new and dynamic

programme for this year, and hope to attract even bigger audiences. It’s vital that academics engage with the public to demonstrate the importance and relevance of humanities research to our society, and the festival is a great means of doing this in an exciting and lively manner.” During the inaugural festival in 2014, more than 60 universities and cultural organisations organised over 160 free events to share the best and most challenging thinking in the humanities with audiences across the country. The 2015 festival programme promises to be exciting, entertaining and thoughtprovoking, with something for everyone across our diverse communities. Humanities at Northumbria enjoyed outstanding results in the recent Research Excellent Framework 2014 (REF). English Literature and Language was rated top 15 in the UK for research quality and History was rated top 20. To find out more about the courses sign up for one of our open days on 26 and 27 June by visiting


Shortlist announced for Woon Art Prize A dozen of the UK’s most promising artists have been shortlisted for the prestigious Woon Foundation Art and Sculpture Prize – with the host venue for this year announced as BALTIC39.


his year’s competition, co-hosted by Northumbria University, will take place on 2 July with the winners receiving a total of £40,000 in prizes. The prize, sponsored by Northumbria Law alumnus and keen art collector, Mr Wee Teng Woon, was launched in 2012. It is open to students in their final year of undergraduate study of fine art, painting and sculpture across the UK. The inaugural winner was artist Holly Hendry who completed her Fellowship in September 2014. The current Fellow is Ramona Zoladek who holds the Fellowship until September 2015. Since its launch, the competition has attracted some of the most talented emerging artists in the country, studying at some of the UK’s most prestigious art establishments. Each year, the Woon Foundation Art and Sculpture Prize judging panel comprises high-profile industry professionals who are internationally recognised artists and experts in their respective fields. The panel is facilitated by world-leading academics from Northumbria University such as Turner Prize-nominated artist and BALTIC Professor Christine Borland.

This year’s panel comprises Jenni Lomax, Director of Camden Arts Centre; Fiona Bradley, Director of the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and Laurence Sillars, Chief Curator of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. The Woon Art Prize was created by Mr Woon and is sponsored by The Woon Foundation. It is open to arts graduates from across the UK and comprises a first prize bursary of £20,000, with additional prizes of £9,000 and £6,000. The winner will have access to dedicated space in the BxNU Institute for Contemporary Art at BALTIC39 for the duration of the Fellowship as they work toward a solo exhibition and publication. They will also receive critical and professional development support from a mentor. BxNU at BALTIC39 is the result of a collaborative partnership between BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University, which has been in place for several years. Godfrey Worsdale, BALTIC Director, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the Woon Prize at BALTIC39. Now in its third year, it has already established itself as an important prize for those making the transition from

art student to a career as a practising artist. Working in partnership with Northumbria University, the prize enables BALTIC to deepen its commitment to emerging practice. “By being part of the selection process and curating the exhibition of short-listed artists, we look forward to raising the profile of the work of an exciting group of young graduates, and introducing them to the vibrant and thriving art scene here in the North East of England. “It is only with the very generous patronage of Mr Woon and the Woon Foundation that we are able to offer this fantastic opportunity and we thank him for his continued support of BALTIC, the University and of contemporary art.” Prof Christine Borland said: “Northumbria University is thrilled to be co-hosting the Woon Prize exhibition for the first time with our partners at BALTIC. “Considering the painting and sculpture by 12 recent graduates in the beautiful, top lit galleries at BALTIC39 will be a new pleasure for myself and the other three judges, although the startling generosity and impact of this prize makes it a nerve wracking and privileged task.”

Mr Woon with inaugural winner Holly Hendry





Turning the pages...

Graduate writer knows the psychology of success Books by our talented A psychology graduate from Northumbria University, has become a bestselling author after achieving worldwide success with thriller novel, The Lie.


ally Taylor, who graduated from Northumbria in 1995, has seen her latest novel top both The Sunday Times bestseller chart and the Amazon Kindle chart this month. The psychological thriller actually draws on her time at Northumbria and features four female characters who meet at the University. Cally, who describes her time at Northumbria as three of the happiest years of her life, said she had always known she wanted to be an author from a young age. “When I was eight years old, I sent a ‘book’ I’d written to Penguin publishers and received my first ever rejection letter,” she recalls. “I wasn’t deterred though!” After winning a number of short story competitions over the years, and having had work published in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, Cally decided it was time to put pen to paper on her first novel. “In 2006, one of my best friends from school died suddenly and I was reminded that life is short and that I didn’t have all the time in the world to write a novel,” Cally explained. “I had started and abandoned several novels before, but when something so unexpected happens, I, like many people do in such situations, re-evaluated my outlook on life. Time is precious.” Three years later, Cally’s first novel, a romantic comedy called Heaven Can Wait, was published by Orion and translated into 14 different languages. A second book followed in 2011, Home for Christmas, which has since been turned into a feature film by independent film company, Jumpstart Productions. However, it was while Cally was on maternity leave in 2012 that her writing took a twist into the world of psychological thrillers – drawing on her psychology degree from Northumbria. Writing as C L Taylor, her third novel, The Accident, was published by worldfamous Avon Harper Collins and became one of the top ten bestselling debuts of 2014, according to The Bookseller magazine. However, Cally’s greatest literary success so far has been her most recent novel, The Lie released in April this year. The psychological thriller flew into The Sunday Times paperback bestseller chart just days after being published, where it shared the top five with literary legends such as Stephen King and Ian McEwan.

students and academics The Lie – C.L.Taylor Boasting a number one spot on the Amazon bestsellers chart, this chilling psychological thriller takes you on a journey to Nepal on what should have been the trip of a lifetime but rapidly descends into a nightmare that claims the lives of two women.

Cally Taylor

It has quickly climbed the Kindle charts, and reached the number one spot in May. The bestselling psychological thriller is also currently being reviewed by a range of film producers with an interest in acquiring the film rights. “Of course, I have my fingers crossed about The Lie possibly becoming a film, but the best part about being an author is holding my book in my hands,” she said. “That’s the biggest thrill of them all. I love getting emails from people who have read and enjoyed my book too – knowing that something you wrote touched or entertained a total stranger is an amazing feeling. “In The Lie, my four female characters meet as students at Northumbria University. I drew on my own personal experiences at Northumbria, such as Fresher’s Week, to write certain scenes.” Evidently, Cally still has fond memories of her time at university. She said: “My three years at Northumbria were incredible, the most fun three years of my life and I’ve got the most wonderful memories of my time there. I was a member of the Drama Society and acted in several productions. I think that acting can really help an author become the characters they create, and make them more real.” The future looks bright for Cally, with a further three-book deal with Avon, a HarperCollins imprint, and she is currently writing her third psychological thriller which will be published in April 2016. She added: “My advice for aspiring writers is to write the book that keeps you awake at night. Write the story that you can’t get out of your head, which makes your heart beat faster. Write the story that you can put your heart into, the book you can’t stop thinking about.”


This fast paced and creepy tale follows Jane who, despite being happier than she has ever been, is living a lie. That lie is about to be exposed as someone else knows the truth about what happened, someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves… Callie Taylor is a Northumbria Psychology graduate. Available on Amazon. RRP £7.99

Fashion Visionaries Linda Watson Featuring 75 of the world’s most legendary designers, this compelling book presents the story of fashion through the fascinating personal lives and innovative collections that have shaped the field over the past century. Combining stunning visuals with insightful text, this is an inspiring guide to the designers whose vision has forged new pathways in fashion design development and forever changed the way we dress today. Linda Watson is a Reader in Fashion at Northumbria. Available on Amazon. RRP £24.95

Run Away Laura Salters Grieving her younger brother’s suicide, Kayla Finch escapes to Thailand where she falls in love with fellow explorer, Sam. However, when he disappears, leaving only a pool of blood in his wake, Kayla finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery and she’s determined to uncover the truth – no matter what the cost. This thriller explores loss, grief and the lengths a person will go to find out the truth about the people they love. Laura Salters is a Northumbria Journalism graduate. Available on Amazon. RRP £7.99

Shakespearean Echoes Dr Adam Hansen and Kevin. J. Wetmore Jr This collection assembles a global cast of established and emerging scholars to explore new connections between Shakespeare and contemporary culture. Chapters deal with digital Shakespeare, Shakespeare on the web, and the powerful echoes of Shakespeare to be found in such seemingly unrelated texts as the television program Lost, sports broadcasts and Game of Thrones. Dr Adam Hansen is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Northumbria. Available on Amazon. RRP £55

The Midlands (poetry collection) Dr Tony Williams The Midlands is the second collection of poems by Tony Williams, following his acclaimed debut The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street. Beginning in the Midlands themselves, his poems open out into meditations on what it means to be a person living, wonkily, anywhere. But beneath the word-play and tomfoolery, something strange is brooding in the caverns underneath the hill… Dr Tony Williams is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Northumbria. Available from Nine Arches Press. RRP £8.99

Summer 2015 • •




The Conversation is a collaboration between journalists, editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish. Northumbria academics have been working with The Conversation to produce independent, quality current affairs journalism on the latest topics to hit the news. Here are some of our top picks…

Back on record – the reasons behind vinyl’s unlikely comeback

In an era in which digital album sales have fallen, vinyl has bucked the trend – and the demand has been so pronounced, it spawned an official vinyl LP album and single charts. Dr Lee Barron, Principal Lecturer in Media and Communication Design, discusses the comeback of vinyl records.

If you speak Mandarin, your brain is different

We speak so effortlessly that most of us never think about it – but psychologists and neuroscientists are captivated by language. Dr Larry Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, explains how some languages – like Mandarin – require the brain to work in an entirely different way to languages such as English.

In defence of the stink bug

Dr Mike Jeffries, Teaching Fellow in Ecology, offers a more balanced view of the fascinating stink bug after reports in the press that they are due to invade the UK from their native Asia. He argues that the insects have ‘a perky charm, a distinctive style and a surprising concern for their offspring’.

Google and Europe come to blows but will they break up?

Google’s operations in Europe came under fire earlier this year, with the UK proposing new corporate tax reforms being dubbed the ‘Google tax’. Professor Jason Whalley, from Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School, examines the EU’s plans to break the digital dominance of Google.

New Shakespeare portrait won’t help us understand his work

Films like Still Alive are crucial to keeping debate about dementia alive

Dr Catherine Bailey, Senior Research Fellow in Public Health and Wellbeing, looks at the film Still Alice and its portrayal of dementia. She discusses how the arts and media have contributed to a growing conversation about the disease – and how important it is to keep this conversation alive.

Dr Adam Hansen, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, takes a look at the discussion around a newly discovered portrait of Shakespeare which was published in Country Life magazine. He argues that idolising Shakespeare in this way distracts us from what is really important – his work.

DISCOVER MORE To find out more or sign up to The Conversation as a reader, visit




Architecture students reveal urban farm Designs for an innovative urban farm will be exhibited in Carlisle later this summer as Northumbria’s architecture students provide the community with a vision of the future.


he architectural designs were first showcased at Reveal, Northumbria’s end of year degree shows, which bring together the final work of graduating students across the creative disciplines. The urban farm project came about after the Sustainability Carlisle Network approached Northumbria’s Architecture Department, ranked 12th in the UK by The Guardian, for help with the project two years ago. Four final year students – Hong Chew, Zenny Cheung, Chun Chiu Chan and Jian Zhang – took up the challenge and came up with innovative plans for a site in Currock which would provide sustainable food, including fish and vegetables, for the local community. Ben Elliott, Director of Architecture, said: “We’re happy to support schemes like this which don’t have a lot of resources at the beginning of the project. Many of our architecture students love to engage with live projects and we work hard to find connections with people and communities who want to make interesting ideas like this a reality.

One of the urban farm designs by architecture students

“The students not only find it inspiring, but are getting valuable, authentic experience by replicating the process which they will encounter in professional life in the future. Their passion allows them to engage with the brief and often come up with designs that are noticed by the both the public and architectural practices. This is a key aspect of why our architecture programmes are held in such high regard in the industry.” Paul Cross, from the Sustainability Carlisle

Network, said: “It’s really positive that this team of students have taken an interest in our project and decided to support it with their work and now an exhibition. They’ve been up to the site several times and are inspired to come up with ideas which will give communities sustainable futures.”


Designers take bite out of Big Apple 3D Design graduates from Northumbria recently jetted across the Atlantic to exhibit at the prestigious International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York for the fifth year in a row.


taff and graduates flew out to present their unique and innovative work to an international audience at one of the premier showcases for contemporary design at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Since Northumbria began exhibiting at the highly anticipated annual fair, it remains the only European university to have a presence at the event. At the ICFF, alumni and graduates attending the prestigious show are given the opportunity to showcase their work to a global design network and connect with top industry professionals. Each year, ICFF lures those in pursuit of design’s latest trends to an encyclopaedic exhibition of current offerings, as well as a jam-packed programme and schedule of exhibits, talks and activities. Rickard Whittingham, a lecturer on the 3D Design course, said: “We have been invited to attend ICFF for the last five years – each year is a resounding success and this year was no exception. “The opportunity to present at the ICFF is just one of the many doors opened by the programme. It is here that our graduates are exposed to the industry’s movers and shakers – those at the top of their game, giving them a crystal clear insight into what it is to become a designer beyond education. “Exhibiting is an expensive thing to do, and difficult to attempt alone, so to be on a level platform demonstrating their work alongside prestigious brands in the design community is an invaluable opportunity and has been a real door opener for a number of our graduates.” Northumbria’s 3D Design course is for hands-on product and furniture designers who are driven by a passion to make their own design concepts.


Team Northumbria go for gold at BUCS Big Wednesday

Northumbria University athletes showcased their sporting talents as they brought home four gold medals from this year’s BUCS Big Wednesday.


he annual event, this year held at Loughborough University, brings together the UK’s top university sporting teams in a day of actionpacked play offs. Big Wednesday, preceded by Trophy Tuesday, is a culmination of the BUCS team sport programme with over 40 fixtures taking place over the two days. Team Northumbria – who currently hold 8th place in the BUCS league tables – competed in a total of six Championship finals on the day, a record for the University. The day began with a nail-biting match between Northumbria and Durham Women’s Volleyball. The two teams matched each other set for set before Northumbria clinched a well-deserved win in the decider with three sets to two. Northumbria’s Women’s Rugby dominated University of Wales Institute Cardiff ’s (UWIC) second team – maintaining their 100% record this season. The University’s Lacrosse team then went on to defeat Birmingham. The last event of Big Wednesday was a showdown between Northumbria and Durham Men’s Basketball teams in front of a packed arena. Durham led at half-time, but Northumbria fought back to win the match by an impressive 11 points. There were also silvers for M2 Volleyball, W1 Basketball and M1 Rugby League who all put in valiant displays in defeat. Colin Stromsoy, Head of Sport at Northumbria, said: “Momentum in sport is crucial for success and no other university in the country has more momentum than Northumbria at the moment. This is down to the dedication, professionalism and talent of both students and staff. “We have further ambitious plans to ensure that we continue to be able to compete with the world’s best and become a globally recognised University for sport.”


Summer 2015 • •



Student volleyball stars ‘smash it’ again


Northumbria continues to set standards as a centre for volleyball excellence following another eventful season on and off the court.


he Sport Central-based club attained Volleyball England senior academy status last September in recognition of Northumbria’s elite coaching programme and world class facilities. Concurrent success in national league and BUCS competition has cemented the University’s status as a hub for player development and competitive excellence. Team Northumbria’s women completed a clean sweep of domestic honours – winning the Super 8s league title, Super 8s playoffs, National Cup and BUCS Championship title. The University’s men won the Super 8s title, Super 8s playoffs and the National Cup after reaching the semi-final stage of the BUCS Championships. “It’s been an incredible campaign for both the men and women and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved,” said Head of Volleyball, Dave Goodchild. “The women haven’t lost a national league match for more than three years now. Currently they are one of the most consistently successful teams in any sport across the UK. The men came out on top following an extremely tough season and they deserve their rewards. “Any player who comes to play volleyball at Northumbria University knows they will benefit from a great education and enjoy being part of the most successful club in the country.” Goodchild coached the British women’s volleyball team at the London 2012 Olympics and is determined to raise the sport’s reputation and profile through his work with Northumbria. “At the top end of the scale we have role models like Peter Bakare and Nathan French who have both represented their country at the highest level and are benefitting from student scholarships at the University,” he added. “However, we are also a community-based club that encourages the development of local talent

and inspires children and young people – many of whom are complete beginners – to give volleyball a go. Winning trophies might make the headlines but there is so much more happening here to make for an outstanding student experience.”


Six Nations face-off for Northumbria sports students Two Northumbria rugby teammates found themselves on opposite sides of the scrum during this year’s Six Nations as they were each picked to represent their country.


bbie Scott and Abi Evans were picked to represent England and Scotland respectively in the Rugby Union International and came face to face on the world stage. The pair are used to playing on the same field for Team Northumbria’s currently unbeaten Women’s Rugby Union 1st team. Abbie Scott, who also plays for Darlington Mowden Park RFC, is a History and Politics graduate who is currently studying for a Masters in Professional Practice in Sport Coaching. “It was a huge honour to put on the England shirt and represent my country – rugby is something I feel very passionately about,” explained Abbie. “Simon Culley, Head of Rugby at Northumbria, has been paramount to my development as player – he is always on hand to help out with skills sessions and match analysis. “Last year, I had to have reconstruction surgery on my knee which was a big set-back but all the support I’ve received from the University has been phenomenal and has made me become a much better athlete.” Abi Evans, who is in her first year of studying Sport Management, took up rugby while she was at secondary school in her home town of Oban, Scotland. She made her international debut in the Six Nations opener against France.

She said: “Representing Scotland has been my dream ever since I started playing rugby when I was 12. Studying at Northumbria and playing for Team Northumbria has given me a great opportunity to train and play with girls my own age who are focused on playing a high level of rugby. It has progressed me as a player and given me a great deal of confidence. I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am right now.” Simon Culley has worked with both students and says he has very high hopes for their future careers in rugby. “This is a fantastic achievement and we are all extremely proud of Abbie and Abi. They have displayed great focus and drive in managing their full-time studies alongside competing at such a high level,” he said. “The structure of our Team Northumbria rugby programme means that we are able to invest a lot of time in the long-term personal development of our most talented and focused players and still achieve on-field success as a team. I have no doubt that both Abbie and Abi will go on to have a huge impact on the international game.”






We’re the UK’s most improved university for sport

Team Northumbria captain Adam Barr lifts the Stan Calvert trophy at Sport Central

Team Northumbria lift Stan Calvert Cup for second year running This year, Team Northumbria lifted the Stan Calvert Memorial Cup for the second year running – beating off stiff competition from Newcastle University in one of the UK’s largest varsity sporting events.


he latest win marks a significant achievement for Team Northumbria, the competitive sports arm of Northumbria University, having retained the cup for two consecutive years for the first time since Stan Calvert began in 1994. Going head to head with Newcastle in 26 sports, Northumbria triumphed with a final score of 75.5 to Newcastle’s 48.5. The annual Stan Calvert Cup, a major highlight in the University sporting calendar, concluded at

Northumbria’s very own flagship £30m Sport Central on Sunday 1 March. However, the Cup belonged to Northumbria before the final game had even started due to their considerable points lead, making it impossible for Newcastle to catch up. This year’s win builds on Northumbria’s reputation as being among the best sport universities in the country. It ranked 8th in the 2014 BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) league and secured the title of Most Improved University for Sport at the BUCS

national awards. Prior to winning Stan Calvert in 2014, Newcastle had held the Cup for six years. Now firmly in the grasp of Team Northumbria, Colin Stromsoy, Head of Sport, is delighted with the team’s continued success. He said: “We’ve put an enormous amount of hard work into this and it’s easy to forget that just three years ago, we lost the Cup by 50 points. “Northumbria University is now in the top ten nationally for performance sport. We have transformed our student sport offer

and our ambitious plans aim to see the University globally recognised for student sport at all levels spanning performance, participation, volunteering, development, media and events.” The cup was presented to Adam Barr, Northumbria’s Student Sports President, after the final game at Sport Central.


Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off in September • Northumbria University is an official Rugby World Cup Team Base for the Tongan national team. • Northumbria was officially designated as a host training venue following rigorous inspections and discussions with RWC2015 staff and visiting team management over the past two years. • The Tongans will use the University’s outdoor grass pitches at Bullocksteads and the indoor training hall, fitness facilities and swimming pool at Sport Central. • The official World Cup trophy – the Webb Ellis Trophy – will be on campus on Sunday 2 August • St James’ Park will host three of the group stage matches: including the current world champions, New Zealand’s, All Blacks against Tonga on Friday 9 October: rugbyworldcup

Profile for Northumbria University

Northumbria University Newspaper - Summer 2015 edition  

Northumbria University Newspaper - Summer 2015 edition