The Great Read at Birmingham (GRAB) is our gift to you as a new student to the University of Birmingham. To help you to enjoy a shared experience with other new students, we will be running an exciting and varied programme of events to welcome you into the academic community. We believe that attending a University like Birmingham is about grappling with complex, multi-faceted, and even controversial ideas. As an academic community, we welcome and enjoy debate and hope that our book choice will stimulate your curiosity.
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Student volunteer opportunities
Want to gain experience in communications, marketing, media production and events management? We are looking to recruit a team of four confident and enthusiastic student volunteers to help organise and promote an interdisciplinary conference that will highlight the work of academics across the university. Find out the details and how to apply.
Competitions - latest news
104 entries were made to this competition - thanks to everyone who shared their photographs with us!
Tell us what you think about GRAB competition
Competition now closed - we recently ran a focus group to find out what you think of GRAB (Great Read At Birmingham) 2013 and to get your ideas for the future development of the programme. Results and outcomes to follow!
Join the conversation
#uobgrab is the official hashtag for the Great Read At Birmingham. Tell us what you think of GRAB and this year's book!
You can also contact us directly and keep up to date:
This year's book
The Incredible Human Journey by Professor Alice Roberts has been chosen as the book for the Great Read at Birmingham (GRAB) 2013.
The book traces the origins of the human race from Africa through our colonisation of the globe. Using scientific methods, from analysis of climate changes to human genetics, whilst also exploring art, culture and society, the book encourages the reader to ask some of the great questions in life: who are we, and how did we get here?
Why this book?
This book has been chosen due to its cross-disciplinary appeal - spanning areas such as geology, anthropology, genetics and archaeology to name but a few.
"...an easily digestible introduction to a complex but fascinating story" The Guardian Review
Both home and international students will have an opportunity to relate to its coverage of evolution across different continents. Author, Alice Roberts, has been our Professor of Public Engagement in Science since February 2012, and is also clinical anatomist. She is also a familiar name due to her regular appearances as a science presenter on television shows such as Coast and The Incredible Human Journey (upon which the book is based).
Amazon readers have reviewed The Incredible Human Journey with an average of 4.4 stars. Read more Amazon reviews
Getting your copy
We are giving out copies of the book for new undergraduates via the Main Library. Ask
for a copy at the Main Library Information desk or contact Just Ask (our online
enquiry service) to arrange pick up.
Last year's book - Chocolate Wars
Last year’s book choice is Chocolate Wars, by Deborah Cadbury, chosen in recognition of Birmingham’s distinct chocolate history. From examining the methods of chocolate making to the psychology behind eating chocolate treats, events and seminars explored and debated the chocolate theme.
All incoming undergraduate students were given Chocolate Wars in their welcome pack and were encouraged to read the book before arriving at Birmingham so they could begin to engage with academic ideas and enjoy a shared experience with other new students when they arrived.
Kate Colquhoun "Engaging and scholarly, confident and compassionate, Chocolate Wars is less a family biography than an impressively though-provoking parable for our times." Read the full review from the Telegraph
Why Chocolate Wars?
Chocolate Wars is the story of the Cadbury company from its early days to its purchase by Kraft. The book has been chosen by a panel of staff and students for its links to Birmingham, the positive image it portrays of our city and because its themes are relevant to a broad cross-section of University disciplines, from Business Management to Chemical Engineering, and Theology.