Student Voice

Celebrating and learning from the first Festival of Undergraduate Research

Student Fellow Rhona reflects on her experience of the recent Festival of Undergraduate Student Research.

Student research is important because it gives all students confidence in their abilities and approaches to their work and exposes many students to topics they may not have heard of before.

This was a student’s response to the question ‘what does research mean to you’. The quote embodies what the Festival of Undergraduate Student Research is all about: building students’ confidence in our research abilities. At university, students are consistently undertaking research-related activities but often, we don’t know that we are doing it. The fact that we received emails from students asking if their work counts as ‘research’ demonstrates this. This festival really excited me because it provides undergraduates and taught postgraduates with the opportunity to gain confidence that their work is valuable, exciting, ground-breaking research.

The programme was made up a mixture of student presentations and workshops focusing on the development of skills and knowledge. The combination of presentations and workshops meant that the day was dynamic and engaging. I was pleased to see so many students getting involved in the workshops, it was so nice to see that students wanted to use the day as an opportunity to develop vital skills to complement their research and degrees. In total, 24 students presented during the live event, complementing the online digital showcase space.

In her keynote speech, PVC Education Tansy Jessop explored ‘A feeling person’s guide to doing research’, highlighting how research links to one’s personal story. Humans are behind research, making it an emotional process. This personal connection to research is embodied by passion and enthusiasm, which shone through the research presented and showcased by the students. This passion fuelled curiosity and led to some presentations unfolding like a story. I was so impressed – the presentations were creative and engrossing.

I really valued the interdisciplinary discussions and ideas that emerged from the festival. I am a social scientist student and I think it is so easy to get stuck in your own discipline. Watching student presentations from different disciplines is a good way to push ourselves out of our discipline comfort zone.

Throughout the day, an online form was open for participants to submit ‘Insightful Questions and Reflections’. In this, such interdisciplinary explorations could be seen. One of the submissions linked a presentation from one discipline to themes from presentations in different disciplines, highlighting how they interrelate and impact one another. The festival provided an opportunity for students to see how their discipline relates to other disciplines, forming the basis for future interdisciplinary discussions and projects.

The day was full on, and I can say that I was tired by the end! But I really enjoyed the day and came away feeling gratified that we were able to run such an amazing, beneficial day. In the closing panel talk, BILT Director Sarah Davies noted how student’s research can make a real difference – this sentiment shone through the day.

As students, we often lack opportunities to gain recognition for our work. Festivals such as this one is an exciting way to gain such recognition and to have our work celebrated. It allows students to gain the confidence to have interdisciplinary discussions and to be empowered in their research.  

I want to end this blog post with a reflection from the winner of the most ‘Insightful Questions and Reflections’ who said that “it’s an honour to be part of the first Festival… It is very gratifying and encouraging to be able to listen to and learn from students’ research. This event brings us all together in our love of research”. This quote is such a lovely reminder of what the event is all about: bringing people together to listen and learn.

BILT would like to thank all of our participating students, the Digital Education Office, CREATE and TESTA teams for their support on the day. And a very special thanks to our workshop providers in RED, Study Skills, Engaged Learning, and the Centre for Academic Language and Development.

Here’s our list of commendations and winners from the event!

Category: Most insightful/reflective question, £250 prize each
Sanskriti Bahuguna 1st year in Law
Antony Fairclough postgraduate taught MSc International Security
Gelsica Da Gloria postgraduate taught Psychology of Education
Katie Cox 4th year MSci Neuroscience
Category: Best in Showcase, £200 award for commendations, £500 for PVC Choice Award
Commendation – Elena Fillola 4th year Engineering Mathematics
Commendation – Aslam Meeran 1st year BSc Economics and Econometrics
Commendation – Rachel Lambert 3rd year Cellular and Molecular Medicine
PVC Choice Award for best in showcase, WINNER – Sofia Velazquez-Pimentel 3rd year BSc Physiological Sciences
Category: Presentation commendations, £200 award each, £500 for PVC Choice Award
Commendation – Haajarah Rana 4th year Dentistry
Commendation – Nicole Jean-Louis 2nd year BSc Education studies
Commendation – Alexia Kirov MA Medieval Studies 
PVC Choice Award for best presentation WINNER – Eleanor Best 5th year Veterinary Science with intercalated MSc in Global Wildlife Health & Conservation    

Rhona Wilkinson BILT Student Fellow 20/21 working on the projects – Creating online communities – Assessment and feedback – Students as researchers -Decolonisation.

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