Scott – Grab opportunities at uni. I’m going to work for Sky News!

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Digital Ambassador Derby, LHSS

I know that I’ve already mentioned it a few times (OK, maybe a lot!), but opportunities present themselves on a very regular basis at university.

There is no way you can throw yourself at all of them, but when you feel like it’s something you can spare the time, money and effort on, then you really have to go for it.

I’ve had the chance to do some really rewarding things throughout the course of my degree, including this job that I’m doing now, and another exciting thing that’s fast approaching.

I am covering the Loughborough count for this year’s General Election on May 7th for Sky News, something that I’m looking forward to immensely.

This opportunity was presented to me through one of my tutors, who emailed me the details as he has for so many other things over the past three years.

The work involves me going to the Loughborough voting count and providing a live stream for Sky News’ digital project; which is aiming to cover in excess of 100 counts up and down the country.

Not only is this a fantastic thing to just be involved with, but I will also be receiving a reference from the team at Sky and payment of £150 for the night’s work. Not bad for just saying yes to an email, right?

It may well be a long night, as I have been informed that last time, back in 2010, the Loughborough count was not declared until almost 6am, but that’s all part of the experience. Who needs sleep anyway!..

I have been trained by a Sky News reporter on how to use the camera and live streaming unit Sky have provided us with and I’m now ready and raring to go.

For me, it’s another step towards making me that bit more employable as my search for a career in journalism begins.

The money that I’m getting for covering the election is undoubtedly a nice bonus, but the most important thing for me at the minute is the reference.

Big companies look GREAT on your CV, so if opportunities like this come your way during your time at university: DO NOT TURN THEM DOWN!

Another thing that I would recommend is using those contacts that you have close and accessible to you to help you along your way.

A week after my election night marathon, I’m going to spend a week at the Nottingham Post newspaper, which will also be an incredible experience.

nottsOne of my lecturers this year is the editor of the paper, so I kindly asked him if I could join his team for a week and he was good enough to say yes.

My point being, that sometimes, you have to chase up leads yourself rather than be spoon fed opportunities.

And also, the age-old lesson of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Couldn’t be more true here!


Attending academic events with lecturers – Kiran Singh

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, English, Kiran

During one of my third year modules, I was given the opportunity to attend ‘The East Midland’s Writer’s Conference 2015’ with my lecturer, Dr Paul Whickman. I would be in the student ambassador role for the majority of the day, so answering queries about doing English Lit at Derby for most of the time, but I was also able to attend the panel at which my lecturer was a speaker.

The day started with me and another ambassador, George, driving to Nottingham to set up the Derby University stall. Once we were set up, we got ready for any questions, and most of the queries were to do with people wanting to do an MA. Then I left George to man the stall on his own whilst I went to Paul’s panel. The panel was about the freedom to write; essentially a writer being able to write whatever you want without thinking that it may cause someone offence.

The panel was great and as well as Paul, there was the director of Writing East Midlands, a Chinese novelist and an Iranian poet. Paul gave a fantastic introduction, he contextualised censorship and offence. The introduction was a good mix of historical context and current issues. The Iranian poet was brilliant because he was a ‘real life’ example of someone who had faced extreme censorship and gave an insight to his first-hand experience at having to leave his country because of what he wrote. He also set a very good idea in motion and that was that censorship occurred at different levels and could be external or internal. The Chinese novelist was very clever because she talked about how the biggest censor was actually commercialisation because a writer is ultimately censored by what readers want. She also made very good points about how freedom was an illusion and the writer’s job is to work within this illusion by making the points that they want to make but staying within limits that will not offend anyone.

Attending the panel was very helpful for my third year module; ‘Taking and Making Offence; Blasphemy, Obscenity and Censorship from Milton to Rushdie’. The panel explored many issues which are central to the module, for example, is offence made or taken? I recorded my visit to conference, and in particular, to the panel in my seminar participation form which is one part of the assessment on this module. I also used some of the debate at the panel to help me answer my major assignment question.  Apart from using the information I gained from the panel for both my course works (seminar participation and assignment), it was also extremely useful seeing Paul in his academic field. Sometimes, it is difficult to see the purpose (or even use- although I do not agree with this but unfortunately lots of people do see English lit as a bit of a ‘useless’ subject) of your subject when in a classroom/lecture hall setting but seeing the academic that taught on my programme in practice was a great way to consolidate my learning and in fact it helped me to see that what we learn or debate in lectures are actually issues which effect everyday living.

Lecturer of the Year – Angie Neville – Policing

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Policing

Angie and AlexThe University of Derby Student Union awards are designed to celebrate student and staff achievement in the current academic year and recognise excellence and outstanding commitment to the student experience.

The 2015 awards were held on Thursday 16th April with a number of representatives from LHSS receiving nominations. We are delighted to announce that the eventual winners from LHSS were:

Angie Neville  (LHSS Lecturer of the Year)

Alex Pasinskis (LHSS Programme Rep of the Year)

Congratulations are due to Angie and  Alex and indeed all nominees who undoubtedly have gone above and beyond their role to ensure the student experience at the university is maximised.

Scott – Five things that’ll make preparing to move to uni easier

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Digital Ambassador Derby, LHSS

Quite naturally, coming to university is a big step for anyone; no matter how prepared you are or even think you are.

It’s a massive jump into an independent life away from everything you’ve known for your whole life up until this point.

Scary, right?

Fear not though! I have prepared for some nuggets of information to help you out as you prepare to fly the nest and embark on your university adventure!

1. Make the most of your summer with your friends

The likelihood is that, like you, a lot of your friends will be going away to university as well. You’ll end up with your peers scattered up and down the country: I’ve got friends in Wolverhampton, Liverpool and Leicester to name but a few places!download

So you’re obviously not going to see them anywhere near as much as you do while you’re all in one place. It’s a great opportunity to do some memorable stuff with your last summer together, so make sure you do and give each other a great send off. It makes it all the more special when you go to visit them wherever they are then!

2. At the same time, try and save some money

Making the most of your time usually constitutes one thing: spending money. It doesn’t have to, though, but there will be certain things that you decide you want to do – like going on holiday, days and nights out for example – that will put a dent in your funds. I’m not telling you not to do these things at all, because that would completely go against what I have said previously, but it’s a great idea to try and save some money up before you move out of home.

When you get to uni, you’ll be doing much of the same things with your new flat mates and course mates, so try and pull a few extra shifts at work or do some seasonal work painting fences or mowing lawns to ensure that you have enough to do all of these things before you get your first student loan payment.

3. Ensure that you’ve got all of the things you’re going to need to survive

This point is probably the most important one. There is nothing worse than getting to university and realising that you don’t have something that you really need, like a saucepan, or a clothes horse, or a duvet..

30vktutIt’s useful to check with your halls of residence what they provide in the kitchen and bedrooms so you don’t buy something that’s already going to be there for you. Another good tip is to let your parents help you draw up a list of all of the things you’re going to need to buy because they’re wiser in terms of ‘the real world’ than you are, as much as it pains you to admit it. They will think of things that you would never have given a second’s thought to.

4. Don’t leave everything until the last minute!

It’s something you’ll hear time and time again throughout your life in various different circumstances, but it’s always a sound piece of advice. I left my packing until five minutes before I came back from home this Easter, and I left my iPod, sunglasses and Easter eggs at my dad’s house. When you pack up your stuff to move to university, you’re going to have a damn sight more than I had over Easter!

It makes it so much easier to pack things up as you go along, even if it means storing them in the attic or cluttering up your room with stuff like I did. Leaving it until it’s too late is a bad idea, because you probably won’t just be able to nip home and get whatever it is you’ve forgotten once you’re settled.

5. Try and introduce yourself to the people you’re going to be spending a lot of time with at uni

There are a lot of groups on social media for halls of residence and course specific ones, too. It’s a good idea to get yourself on these and meet some of the people who you are going to be studying and living with, as it can remove any awkwardness that may occur.

I remember chatting to a couple of my flat and course mates for weeks before I moved to Derby, and it was a massive help. It felt like I already knew at least a few people here and it was comforting to know that I wasn’t going to be totally alone! There’s obviously a lot of fun to be had making new friends once you arrive, but it’s also nice to give yourself a bit of a head-start.

What’s it like studying with two kids???? – Kiran

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, English, Kiran

The first thought that came into my head when I initially decided to resign from my job to come to university was: how will I manage with the kids? Two boys (4 and 6 years old) and an English Literature degree don’t quite go hand in hand. Well, it’s not exactly easy reading Homer’s Odyssey whilst the kids are acting out ninja turtle fight scenes.

There are so many vital issues to consider when you are a parent and considering university, for example, financial issues, how will you manage the workload, will you still be able to give them enough attention, what about the school run, is this really the best thing for you and your family? The easiest way, I find, is to tackle all these issues as if your degree is a job because you would have the same issues if you were working.  Although, doing a degree is much more than doing a job.  With a job, at least you can come home and to some extent forget about it, there is no forgetting about your degree.

But there is one secret formula, and I swear by it (!), which will ensure you stay on top of your degree and manage a wonderfully smooth running family life too (okay ‘ wonderfully smooth’ is a bit extreme),  and that is staying super organised. You feel and perform so much better when you feel like you have everything in hand. Lists are a good way of staying organised, even a weekly dinner menu helps.  And invest in a good quality diary or use your phone to set reminders, things like setting yourself deadlines  to do your assignments well before they are actually due  means that if anything comes up the week before you have to submit your assignments , at least you have got yourself a head start because it’s bound to happen, somebody comes down with chicken pox  when your assignments are due, staying organised and getting work done ahead of schedule means you can worry that little bit less than if you had to start from scratch.

I have also found that a good routine helps with staying focussed and then everything (and everyone) gets adequate time. For example, your kids know when you spend time with them and you know when you will be doing your university work. If you can, it is also a really good idea to try to build a support network around yourself. Your partner, family and friends can all help with the kids. Even at university, there is The Student Parent Group, who run events and offer support for students and their children.  Using the support and help available means you won’t feel like you are on your own.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that kids are haphazard things (as are most things in life – it’s just that they can speak (or cry on demand) and have feelings which makes them more awkward than most things) so the routine may sometimes have to be given a miss and you might have a day when you don’t get anything done – but one day won’t make a difference. In fact, sometimes you need a well- deserved break and at times (especially when you have presentations or assignments are due) you will be at the other end of the scale, so,  it may well be that you can only give your family very little attention but it won’t be forever so don’t beat yourself up about it.

And finally, use your family life as inspiration and motivation. The university’s motto is ‘Experience is the best teacher’ and there is no experience more embarrassing, intimate and challenging than family!

Scott – Dissertation Survival Guide

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Digital Ambassador Derby, LHSS

You start out with an idea, a concept, something that you look at and think: “Yes. I can do a damn good job with that.”

Then it comes to three weeks before deadline and this dissertation that was a challenge you were looking forward to at the beginning of the year is now the bane of your life and you just can’t wait for it to be out of your way!

Dissertations have the capability to cause serious mental breakdowns, send stress levels soaring through the roof, and leave you sitting in your room hashing out hour upon hour of work without the time to even think about seeing if the world is still spinning on its axis outside your four walls.

I’ve prepared a little survival plan for you in order to help you save your sanity when the time comes for you to start writing your dissertation. It might even come at the right time for you if, like me, and in the final stages of putting your dissertation together. Reading this could save you from ripping your own hair out.

Slow and steady wins the race.

This may make those of you who are on the home straight scream at me, because you know this all too well. If you’ve left it TortoiseAndHareall until the last minute to write your dissertation, then you’re definitely going to scream at your computer screens, because I can guarantee you’ve had numerous people telling you that you should’ve done this all along.

The best way to write something like this is in bite-sized chunks – not mammoth mouthfuls and all-nighters that leave you with a bad after taste of Red Bull on your palette.

There are rare examples of people writing their entire dissertation in one go right at the last minute, like this guy who turned yellow after an energy drink fuelled 40 hour session of dissertation writing, but don’t leave it to chance. Plus, who wants to look like an extra from The Simpsons anyway?

Bombard your tutors like never before.

They’re there to help you, so don’t deny yourself of that privilege! They are the ones who are the experts in your chosen field of study, so if you’re unsure of something, ask them and not Wikipedia.

Arrange tutorials, send emails, drafts, thoughts, concerns for your mental stability all to them because it then also really looks like you are trying and that you care about the work you’re doing. This is only going to have a positive impact on your grade.

Think you’ve done enough reading? Then you need to do more.

Dissertations are the culmination of what you’ve learned at university and are your academic gift to the world, so it has to be well referenced and backed up by people who have presented similar gift-wrapped presents to the area of your study.

This means a lot of reading. If you think you’ve done a good amount, you’ve only made a start. You can never have too many references, even if you don’t use them all (which is highly likely) at least you’ve got them if you need them. There’s nothing worse than trying to write a certain point and realising you need to pay another visit to the library before you can make a start on it.

Focus on your work, not the idiot who has finished their first draft weeks early.

Your worst enemies could well turn out to be your course mates during times in the dissertation process. Why? Because there’s always someone who will be streets ahead of where you are, and that causes a whole range of negative, hateful emotions within you.

It also makes you freak out and doubt yourself massively. But do not fear, you will be fine. Focus on your own work, set your own deadlines, and set your own pace. Just make sure that doesn’t mean you finish your work well after the deadline. That wouldn’t be ideal.

Put your life on hold for a while.

This bit sucks. You will definitely have to turn down various opportunities to do fun stuff like going out for lunch, taking a wander into town, or anything else you might usually do to kill a bit of time. You quickly have to learn that any time you have must be dedicated to your dissertation.

Every minute spent doing something other than typing away on your computer is filled with guilt and anxiety and thoughts of: “I should probably be doing my dissertation.” It’s probably wise to make sure you get some done if this is the case.

It may sound like the most awful thing you’ll ever have to do, and at the time that’s how it feels. But it’s only for a while, and when it’s over, you can celebrate like never before. Handing it in as the finished article will be the best feeling in the world, so let that drive you on top success and away from despair!graduation-cap-in-air

Global Development International Relations – Tanzania.

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Derby University, international relations

A group of 24 students from the University of Derby, studying Joint Honours Development Studies and International Relations have successfully undergone a 2 week intensive course as part of their undergraduate degree programme. The course, led by Dr Francis Jegede, involved educational trips to a number of international Non-Governmental Organisations including the World Vision and other agencies involved in development projects in Africa and Asia.

During the trip, students visited schools, hospitals, nature reserves and conservation projects, co-operative and women’s projects, health care programmes, cultural centres etc.,  in urban and rural areas of Arusah and Moshi in, northern Tanzania.

The tour enabled students to meet government officials, development NGOs’  workers and other local people involved in community projects and programmes aimed at improving living condition for people in Northern Tanzania. Amongst the themes explored by students on this trip are – agriculture, land use and conservation, health and healthcare projects, gender and development, tourism, access to credit and rural cooperative schemes.

The practical knowledge gained by students through this field course links well with development and international relations theories they’ve learnt in lectures. This linkage between theory and practice and the global reach of International Relations and Global Development course at Derby, makes Derby University a unique provider of development education.

The students came away with great satisfaction and appreciation of the challenges facing people living in low income countries. Students’ feedback on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive. They all indicated in their feedback that  the Tanzania trip has been a life changing experience for them and has prepared them immensely for the world of work in the field of international relations and development.

-Franc Jegede


A typical English Literature lecture – Kiran

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, English, Kiran, lecture, LHSS

One of the things most people want to know, apart from all the NSS facts, fees and other really important stuff about university, is what is an actual lecture like? How different is it from college or sixth form? How long is a lecture? What is the set up and how much study or work do you need to do before one? Even the simpler questions, like, do you get a break or can you use your laptop to make notes can put your mind at rest and help you slip into an academic learning environment more easily.

So ultimately, the structure of a lecture depends on the modules and year of study, but generally the English Lit lectures are four hours. The first two hours are often more lecture type, as in they mostly consist of the lecturer teaching the text in question.  So, for example, if we are studying a text such as Dracula, the lecturer may give us the context and the literary theories associated with Dracula in the first two hours.  It is really important to take notes during this part of the lecture but if you are not that fast writing, the lecturers do upload the powerpoint lecture presentations online.

The second half of the lecture is usually a seminar.  This is where the content from the first part of the lecture can really come alive. For example, we can discuss exactly how particular theories can be applied to the text or is the context really relevant to the text. This part of the lecture is the time when students can really become vocal. Sometimes the debate can progress onto prolific or current issues. It’s important to use the opportunity of a seminar to test your thinking and gain confidence. You may say something which other students disagree with but that is kind of what the seminar is about, exploring different readings of the text or theory in question.

English is an intense degree, there is lots of secondary, highly academic reading involved but it is also one of the most rewarding degrees. I have picked up so many skills through the degree proggramme, I have also really developed lots of skills. One example would be that in a seminar, you are given the chance to present a text.  It’s basically like being the lecturer for one hour and it means you can steer the debate and discussion in a seminar in the direction that you want. My presentational skills have developed as I have done more and more presentations in seminars.  Also, a presentation is graded like an assignment. So, the lecturers support you whilst you are planning and preparing for your presentation, just as they would when completing assignments. You also gain lots of communication skills because presentations are often conducted in a group.

A lecture is very different from A’level   study.  The texts studied are intellectualised much more and it is good practice to do secondary reading before lectures.  There is usually a break between the two hour lecture and the seminar.  It’s also really important to be able to adapt to different teaching styles because different lecturers have different styles and some modules require completely different approaches.

I hope I have clarified what an English lit lecture is like, and I realise I may have made it seem like it is really intense and hard work but it is honestly worth it. There are some lectures which have even changed my perspective on life! I have walked in as a different person at the beginning of the lecture and walked out with a totally different bag of ideas at the end! Lectures on ideology, subjectivity or Sadeism are just a few worth mentioning which have had that effect!

  • What’s it like studying with two kids
  • What’s it like doing a degree that isn’t vocational
  • Coursework vs exams
  • Doing work around the uni – ambassador role
  • Making good use of the library
  • Making lifelong friends/using uni as a social space
  • Using the hub-careers
  • Forming a society
  • What’s it like being a student rep for English
  • How to make most of your degree – using the skills outside of your degree
  • The extra-curricular activities on English lit, e. g. writers conference
  • Finding/working out your study method

Let’s get involved! Marsha – Criminology

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, LHSS, Marsha C

At the University of Derby, we provide opportunities for local schools and colleges to become involved in what the university has to offer. As Ambassadors, we also visit schools and colleges outside of Derby, in order to broaden the student’s horizons outside of their local area. We ensure that the activities designed are age appropriate, ranging from interactive games, workshops and practical delivery.

On behalf of the School of Law, we are keen to get young individuals involved in what we do at the university, providing them with taster sessions, and activities in relation to law, enabling them to walk in the shoes of as student lawyer for a day or sometimes for a week.

One of the local schools we work very closely with is Landau Forte College. The students have the opportunity of spending a week with the School of Law and Criminology.

The sessions are usually led by lecturers; however, current University of Derby students can also be involved in the delivery. Having current students from the university assisting during the process, school students have the opportunity to ask questions and voice any queries they may have to both lecturers and students.

This process allows students to take part in debates relating to current issues, the opportunity of advocating, representing a fictional client in court. During this time, the students will also be provided with the relevant skills such as how to address the court, and how to present a case in court. During the experience the students will also be provided with the skill of negotiation, in view of obtaining the best possible outcome for their client, again this is based on a fictional scenario. Prior to all activities, the students will be provided with the basic skills and knowledge, in order to be able to deal with such a situation.

Some of the other activities the students can get involved in range from, Plea mitigation application and sentencing presentation, bail applications both with the use of a fictional character/s and also having the chance to visit the Crime Scene house which has recently been designed for criminology students, in order to obtain evidence from a fictional crime scene. This provides students with an understanding of how to manage and investigate a crime scene using safe and ethical practices.

University’s benefit

Community involvement is key!  Planting a seed in the heads of these youngsters is what the university aims to do. The intention is to recruit prospective students.  With the provision of the taster sessions, tours, an introduction to the study facilities and the opportunity to talk to current students, enables potential students to establish whether this is something they want to be a part of.

Taster sessions are available in certain faculties within the university, why not get involved!

For further information on the taster session, please view the following links.



Scott – 5 tips when approaching deadline day

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Digital Ambassador Derby, LHSS

It’s getting to that point in the year again when there’s lots of stress and not a lot of time. Yep, it’s that period where everyone has their final deadlines looming large.

Naturally, everyone is going to be worrying at least a little bit. Some people are innately more relaxed than others, and some are far more prepared than others.

No matter what kind of person you are or how you’ve prepared yourself, there are some things you can do to help ease you through your work and make everything run a little more smoothly for you.

So, being the kind natured guy that I am, I’m now going to share with you lucky lot some of the things that I do that help me keep my head when my hand-in dates are approaching.


1. Manage your time effectively.

The likelihood is that you’re going to be juggling a lot of different pieces of work for a lot of different modules when deadlines approach, and it’s easier than you might think to forget a piece of work.

I don’t mean completely forget that it exists of course, but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in one piece of work that you don’t leave yourself adequate time to do a good job on some of the other assignments you have.

This can be a real nightmare, and really put you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting the best grade you can.

I find that spending a few hours a day doing different pieces of work can help, because then, by the end of the week, you’ve made a considerable dent in your total workload. Or even spend a day of the week working on different things if you find it too difficult to switch focus during the day.

2. Give yourself plenty of breaks

It’s an age old trick, but it really works!

I usually try and do an hour to an hour-and-a-half of work before taking 15 or 20 minutes to chill. This usually involves me and my flat mate giving each other an update of how we’re getting on in the kitchen while we make a green tea or get a bit of food.

Something like this just helps your brain refresh a little and you can go back to your work revitalised and ready to knock it out of the park!

Don’t start playing on the XBOX or watching TV during your break though, it’s far too easy to sit for a lot longer than you’d planned if you do that.

You’ll never get back into the groove if you do that.

3. Make the coursework your number one priority

One of the struggles of having so much coursework to do is that you actually have to live as well.

There will be days when you have things to do that aren’t essays and presentations.

But it’s important that you still make sure your uni work is top of your agenda. Get up, get ready, do your work.

Going to the gym or doing your washing or getting some food for tomorrow can wait until the evening. If you start doing these things first, then you risk not having any time left afterwards to hit your work targets for the day.

4. Make yourself daily and weekly targets

Speaking of targets, it’s vitally important that you make yourself some!

Whether you write them all down on a piece of paper and cross them off as you complete them, or you just work towards them in your head, just make sure you know what you’re working towards.

I like to try to be slightly overly optimistic when I set myself daily targets, so then if I don’t tick everything off my list, it makes me more determined to get through everything the following day.

5. All-nighters: avoid at all costs!

They seem to be pretty common stories coming out of every uni, so you’d presume that you’re going to have to pull one at some point, right?

Not at all. In fact, I’d strongly advise that you didn’t let it get to that stage at all.

I’ve never done one myself and I don’t plan on doing one in this final month of my uni career either. I’ve done late nights, that much is true, and even then when it hits 11 o’clock, I can feel my concentration waning and the quality of my work going sharply downhill.

Even after battling through until the early hours, I felt exhausted and woke up slightly later than I wanted to the next day feeling groggy to say the least.

Things like this only have a knock-on effect to the next day or two and although you might blitz your work in your 24 hour session, you’ll lose out in the long run by being too drained to do anything in the following days.