As the vibrant buzz of campus brews and that first-day-of-school-feeling returns once more, the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences department have been reflecting on a summer of change, adventure and discovery amongst students and staff.

LANS students in Romania

Our LANS students have undeniably optimised the nearing four-month long vacation period from highly acclaimed studentships to travelling around the world and volunteering for charity, we’ve selected our top twelve summer stories from our cohort of students, so enjoy revelling in the remnants of summer and discover what an ambitious bunch our LANS students are.

LANS Romania trip – cultural tour organised by Dr Mircea Scrob and Dr Emil Toescu. The trip was a really enjoyable mix of culture and history and a chance for students from all year groups to get to know each other better. The carefully planned and action-packed itinerary involved visiting sights such as Bran Castle, the Parliamentary Palace in Bucharest and a range of museums including the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum in Bucharest which showcased a collection of original restored traditional houses. Enjoy the highlights of this trip in a short film by Verity Parkin.

Year 2 student Evie Staff completed one of the five LANS studentships:

“My eight week studentship with Dr Katrien Sagaert in the School of Psychology involved running a sentence production and cognitive processing experiment on 49 older adults. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between physical fitness and language decline in ageing. The studentship gave me a chance to work independently in the lab, and have a go at writing scripts in R Studio to clean and analyse the data I was collecting each day. It was a brilliant experience and gave me an insights into what life is like as a university researcher.”

A summer in Latin America

Year 1 student Gina Hunt, an International Relations major spent 6 weeks in South America this summer travelling through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. “I got the opportunity to practice my Spanish and meet friends from all over the world! The highlights of the trip were the four day Inca Trek, which ended with sunrise over Machu Picchu, as well as staying with an Ecuadorian family in the Amazon rainforest. Less fun were the long overnight bus journeys and limited toilet facilities!”

Year 1 student Florence Jones, president of LANS society majoring in French completed a LANS studentship based in the modern languages department, assisting Dr Rebecca Gould with editing, proofreading and online logging. “It has been both a fascinating and eye-opening experience. I was amazed by the size of the field which Dr Gould’s work covers: from segregation in Israel and Palestine to feminist theory and linguistics, Dr Gould really embodies the interdisciplinary spirit of LANS. The opportunity gave me an insight into the realities of postgraduate study and it was uplifting to feel as if I had made a true difference to her research and to see my edits going into the final manuscript”.

Year 1 student Andy Brennan who travelled around Scandinavia, Estonia, Russia & Germany “I was lucky enough to be able to travel to most of the Baltic countries in just a fortnight, an experience I found thoroughly fascinating as I was exposed to cultures I was completely unfamiliar with. Exploring countries such as Estonia and Russia which get very little coverage in the British media was both incredibly rewarding and enjoyable as I got to unpeel their fascinating histories”.


Year 1 student Verity Parkin spent a month at Fudan University in Shanghai as part of Birmingham’s fully funded annual summer school scheme. “I loved the culture shock and having to try speaking Mandarin to get by day to day. The classes on censorship and Chinese media opened my eyes to international perspectives on the topic and the intro course to Traditional Chinese Medicine was also really interesting!” Verity has also created a video capturing her favourite moments.

Year 1 student Yasmin Underwood has been working as a social media assistant for the University of Birmingham over summer - “I have loved getting to grips with a really enjoyable and varied job that I can balance alongside other responsibilities throughout the rest of the year. Getting the opportunity to produce content that will be seen by thousands of people has been not only empowering but really exciting!”

Year 1 Sport and Exercise Science major Kirsty Brown who had the opportunity to scoreboard carry at The Open golf in Carnoustie, Scotland “It was amazing to be involved in a major sports event. I was interviewed for BBC Breakfast and met great golfers!"

Students working at the Reading festival

Year 1 International Relations Major Eloise Poole volunteered with Oxfam at Reading Festival “Oxfam are known for being really friendly, smiley and approachable volunteers. Oxfam also receive funding for their projects from the festival, in exchange for providing volunteers like us. It was really nice to know our volunteering had a greater impact than just helping festival- goers! We did three 8-hour shifts over 5 days which, luckily for us, were all on the main stage viewing platform! This meant we saw all the headliners (Kendrick, N.E.R.D and Dua Lipa to name a few), and basically had the best view of the stage. Not bad for staff showers, free food, and a free festival ticket!”

Year 1 student Saarah Shah spent time working as a writer and researcher with Mind-set Experts — a company which aims to coach individuals to achieve their ambitions through interactive videos and tasks. The company is based in Alpha Works which is a new flexible Work Space and community in Birmingham. “As a Liberal Arts student, I found that I was well-equipped to undertake the work in a creative and open-minded way. I drew on my major (Psychology) to help with my intensive researching while also making use of my writing skills and wider knowledge in humanities to create content which was relatable and relevant”.

Y1 student Arooba Shami completed a LANS studentship alongside Dr. Manu Sehgal, researching the Historic and Legal Roots to Violence Against Women in Northern India. “It was an enlightening experience, especially with the current focus on violence against women in the media, as I got to review narratives spanning different regions. Challenging as it was, I feel it gave me an insight as to what research and academia will entail’

A pile of books

Year 3 student Lucy Evans completed a studentship entitled ‘Completing The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde’. “Under the supervision of Dr Rebecca Mitchell (Head of Research in the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies), I transcribed a number of Wilde’s handwritten texts, orally collated them with Dr Mitchell and a fellow student, and conducted research for textual annotations. The studentship was a fantastic experience; it gave me an in-depth insight into what a career in research might entail, and enabled me to develop a variety of skills – many of which will be invaluable during my upcoming final year of university! Furthermore, it gave me the opportunity to make a real contribution to a volume of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde; as an English literature major and an Oscar Wilde fan, I found this incredibly exciting. I recommend that anyone interested in applying for a studentship does so; undertaking this studentship has cemented my decision to pursue a career in research, and has been one of the best experiences I have had at the University of Birmingham”.