Our new ‘Undergraduate
Research’ section will provide an insight into research conducted at an
undergraduate level and feature case studies of undergraduate researchers at
the University of Manchester.
my name is Samantha Levitt and I have just graduated from The University of
Manchester with an undergraduate degree in English Language, Literacy and Communication.
During my time at the University of Manchester, I undertook 2 separate pieces
of research; one in the second year of my course and one in my third and final
year. My second year piece was based on child language acquisition but in my
third year I decided I wanted to research something completely different.
the time of choosing my third year research question for my 12,000 word
dissertation, I was working part-time at The University of Manchester in their
Recruitment and Widening Participation department. The role of the department is
to implement activities which encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds
which are under-represented in Higher Education to raise their aspirations and
consider Higher Education. I was specifically working with a programme called
the Manchester Access Programme (MAP) which supports college students in the
Greater Manchester area applying for university – I was a participant of the programme
myself. My interest in this area of work led me to consider the possibility of
using this subject area and the programme as the basis of my research.
I had the name of my Research Supervisor, I met with her to discuss whether my
research was possible and if so, how I would do it. She agreed with me that she
felt this was a good line of enquiry, although believed that I needed to refine
my research in order to ensure that I was going to be able to fit all of my
research into 12,000 words. With the help of my tutor, I decided I would use MAP
as a case study for investigating how effective Widening Participation
programmes are in supporting the students involved.
I had my idea, I needed to decide how I would collect my data. I had the choice
of either collecting quantitative (numbers and figures) or qualitative (opinions)
data. After much consideration, I decided upon qualitative data as I wanted to
gain evidence on how the students felt about the programme. Also, my insight
into the programme taught me that there was a large amount of quantitative gained
by the team but there was only a small amount of qualitative data so it would
be more useful to the programme to gain some qualitative data for them to reflect
I had decided which type of data I wanted to use, I had to think about which
research method I would use. After much reading and discussions with my
Supervisor, I decided that interviews and focus groups would allow me to expand
on ideas the participants have and would allow me to have a select few
participants who provided a large amount of information.
the biggest challenge of my dissertation was actually being able to fit all the
information I had gathered into 12,000 words as I had collected a large amount
of data, read extensively about the subject area and had a lot of opinions
regarding how I collected my data and
came to various conclusions. However, the large amount of information meant
that my research was successful in establishing a variety of conclusions. The
conclusions of my research indicated that MAP was highly successful in
supporting their students in a variety of ways such as the scholarships the
students receive, the advice they get from the programme and the experiences
they have such as, being able to write an academic assignment with the help of
an Academic Tutor from the University. However, my research also highlighted
some improvements that the programme could make.
after handing in my dissertation, I applied to for the position of an
Undergraduate Recruitment and Widening Participation Intern (MAP Programme) and
was successful. Therefore, my dissertation not only gave me great skills such
as research, independent work and academic writing but it also allowed me a
great insight into a profession and helped me to decided that this was
definitely the career for me. Also, the knowledge I gained from completing this
research gave me a great head start when I started my job.
information about the Language, Literacy & Communication course at the
University of Manchester, click here.
details about the Manchester Access Programme can be found here.
Guardian recently ran a feature about how to plan and write a dissertation.
at the British Council of Undergraduate Research which recognises the
research taken by undergraduate students. It also gives you the opportunity to browse journals and articles written by
Are you interested in Science, Technology and Engineering?
Would you like to meet representatives from some of the biggest
companies in the UK?
Then come along to The University of
Manchester on Wednesday 23rd
October and find out more!
During the event, you will get the
opportunity to visit information stands from companies within the technology, engineering, manufacturing,
healthcare, construction, transport and media sectors.
Companies such as Samsung, JVC, BBC Academy, Network Rail, the NHS, 2Dtech and many more will
be at the exhibition.
You will also have
the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers on subjects such as ‘Choosing What and Where to Study’, ‘Student Life’ and ‘So you think you know the Sciences?’ Current students and staff from academic
schools will be available throughout the event to answer any questions you have
Location: The Great Hall, Sackville Street Building, The
North Campus, The University of Manchester
Please register completing a registration survey. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
The registration deadline is Friday
11th October at 5pm.
We look forward to seeing you at the
It’s been a quiet summer on the blog, but there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months – research case studies, subject spotlights, career insights, as well as our brand new themed blogs!
As the academic year kicks off, the University of Manchester has begun
welcoming new and returning students, bringing back the campus buzz. With new
starts (and in some cases, new sun tans), we’d thought we’d use the first post
of the academic year to highlight upcoming events, activities and initiatives at the University
Filmed and recorded at the University, the lectures cover
a variety of subject areas and are delivered by members of our highly acclaimed
academic staff. Lecture topics are all based on the national curriculum and
exam syllabuses and give an insight into related research, taking the theory
off the page and into practice! It’s a fantastic
opportunity to enhance current knowledge as well as learn more about university
Some of the upcoming lectures include:
The Quantum Universe – presented by Professor
Jeff Forshaw, October 16th, 2013
The US Civil Rights Movement – presented
by Professor Louis Kushnick OBE, November 14th, 2013
The First World War: Imagining a United Nation –
presented by Dr. Chris Godden, January 8th, 2014
More information about the STAR lectures can be found here.
School-University Partnerships Initiative)
Ever wondered what researchers do and what they research?
Here’s a chance to find out! The University of Manchester will be organising a range of interactive
activities and events to give students a first-hand experience of how cutting-edge research
is done. Some of the university’s new researchers will be on hand to answer
questions and demonstrate what they do.
For more information about the initiative, please look here.
Upcoming University Events
Finally, the University of Manchester holds a range of
events throughout the year, which range from academic lecture, to social
events. A comprehensive list of upcoming events can be found here.
From the brain, to the Bible, to badgers, to Beckham - a busy year ahead and plenty of research
activity to delve into! Be sure to keep
checking the blog regularly for updates, articles and events.
Check out the University of Manchester's YouTube Channel for feature
which vary from student profiles to latest research news.
For blog entries written by our current students, click here.
Follow the University of Manchester admissions team
on Twitter and like
the Facebook page.
The new Thinking Careers section will explore non-academic career options pursued by PhD students. The first case study
will be on Emily Robinson, who completed an undergraduate degree and a PhD in
Neuroscience at the University of Manchester. Emily now works as a Secondary
and Post-16 Co-ordinator for the Sciences at the Manchester Museum.
When I was in sixth form, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I liked
both biology and geography, but wasn't sure if I wanted to spend
years of my life studying either. Then one day, in a very small section of
books termed 'Careers Library' in the corner of our study room, I found a book
about Neuroscience – the study of the brain and the nervous system. With every
page I turned, I realised that I had found what I wanted to study. My mum was
shocked that evening when I announced over my spaghetti bolognese, “I'm
applying for Neuroscience”. Her first reaction was to ask, “What is
Neuroscience?” But as she heard me enthuse about this intriguing subject and
how interesting studying the brain would be, she realised that she was going to
have to trust me.
Flash forward ten years and I am now working at Manchester Museum
coordinating their secondary and post-16 science programme. Therefore, I get to
share my passion for science by creating engaging science workshops using
Manchester Museum's stunning collection. But how did I get from Neuroscience to
museum? Well, I did end up studying Neuroscience for my degree at the
University of Manchester and I liked it so much I stayed and did a four year
research PhD in Neuroscience.
The focus of my PhD research was on trying to block the immune system's
damaging reaction to brain injury. It might seem odd to try to stop our immune
system – which normally protects us from dangerous injections. However, when a
brain injury occurs, such as a stroke, our immune system can overreact and as
the brain is such a sensitive organ, it can easily be inadvertently damaged, making the situation
worse. The research group I was working with are currently trialling an
anti-inflammatory treatment which will hopefully reduce the potential damage
caused by a stroke if it is given within a few hours of it occurring. Alongside
my lab work, I also enjoyed communicating the research to the public.
Therefore, I was involved in creating a lot of family and school activities to
try and get people interested in Neuroscience and to highlight the important
research we were doing. So my current job is an extension of that in the wider
context of science; as I get to simplify complex scientific concepts and get to
show students the real life application and importance of the science you are
taught in school.
Although my current job does not directly use my Neuroscience knowledge,
my PhD has been invaluable and helped me to get my current job. Conducting
research, no matter what subject, develops your analytical skills as well as
your specific subject knowledge. So whether I mean to or not, I now think like
a scientist! Along the way you also gain many useful transferable skills such
as communication and project management skills. Don’t get me wrong, doing a PhD
isn’t all rosy; there were tough times when things got me down and I had a few
wobbles with my confidence – but the challenge was all definitely worth it. I
loved being part of a large laboratory group, seeing how everyone’s separate
research linked together in the hope of making a big difference to people’s
lives in the future. On top of that, I have made some lifelong friends along
the way. Looking back, I can't say that I had the last ten years mapped out
since sixth form. I could never have guessed I would end up becoming a doctor
and working in a museum. But I’m always glad I chose to study a subject that I
found so interesting.
To find out about studying Neuroscience at the University of Manchester,
go to the Faculty of Life Science's webpage and
the Neuroscience Research Institute.
The book which inspired my interest
For up-to-date news about Neuroscience, go to Neuroscience News.
The Guardian has excellent articles about
For more ideas about what you can do with a Neuroscience degree, visit
the British Neuroscience Association’s website.
To find about more about non-academic career options for PhD students, visit
the Prospects website.
My name is Omar, and I am second year PhD student in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE). I’ve always had an interest in engineering but after finishing my A-Levels back in 2006, I was really struggling to choose one discipline of engineering to pursue. I’ve always enjoyed physics and mathematics which is utilised by all disciplines of engineering in different ways. After lengthy deliberation and discussions I decided to go for electrical and electronic engineering. The fact that EEE is involved in everything we do in modern life was fascinating, not to mention the fast paced development it has been displaying in the last 10 years producing some of the most exciting developments in the last decade or even century.
I joined the University of Manchester as an undergraduate and completed a Masters in Engineering (MEng) degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. During my final (fourth) year I was lucky enough to find myself working on an exciting project that was trying to help a charity, Find A Better Way (FABW), develop better tools for detecting landmines in countries affected by wars and previous conflicts. I was then offered a PhD studentship to continue my research upon graduation.
There are currently 110 million active landmines in place that would require around £20 billion and, more importantly, 1,000 years to clear using current clearance technologies. These mines are scattered across more than 65 countries and have been left behind as an enduring legacy of previous conflicts and wars. They continue to kill and maim civilians (particularly children) worldwide, thus the charity was launched with the focus of funding research to develop innovative ideas and technologies to aid the de-mining procedure.
Current demining procedures typically utilise mainly metal detectors to locate mines by interrogating the metal content within a mine. This method displays an imperative weakness as every metallic object needs to be treated as a mine, whether it is a nail, bullet shell, a can or in fact a mine (the picture to the right shows the relative size of a mine, compared to a bullet shell and a screw). In areas of previous conflict this metallic clutter decreases the rate of clearance severely as well as increasing the cost of clearance and risk. Hence, a number of projects have been launched at the University to try and provide the de-miners with more information about the objects detected in an effort to confidently eliminate clutter, speeding up the process and saving cost and lives.
Throughout my study at university I have gained vast knowledge and developed vital skills that will hopefully help me when looking for a job. During my undergraduate and research degrees I was able to learn about the world of EEE, opening the opportunity to pursue a career in some of the most exciting firms that are involved in technological developments around the world, from Apple to Jaguar to Airbus. Engineering naturally helps to develop an analytical mindset and heightens your attention to detail: values that are sought out by employers in every sector. I have also developed my team working skills, as well as problem solving abilities, through the numerous projects I undertook during my undergraduate degree. So, hopefully, with these recent additions to my skill set, I am looking to pursue a career in consultancy and engineering. The fast paced nature of consultancy and the broad exposure you get for the sector is an attractive aspect; however, a departure from the engineering world still seems like an upsetting prospect so I will also be looking for opportunities within it. In a way, that is the beauty of engineering; the fact that you can always pursue it as a career path but, if you feel like moving to something different, all other industries are keen to employ you as a result of the unique set of skills it nurtures.
For more information about EEE at the University of Manchester, visit the department's webpages.
If you would like to find out more about Find A Better Way (FABW), the projects it funds and the work it does to help communities affected by mines, click here.
The Institute of Engineering and Technology will help you discover more about EEE and its career prospects. You can also find out more about study and careers in Engineering through the Brightside Trust's Bright Knowledge pages.