LANS Research Festival 2018

The LANS Research Festival is an annual event dedicated to celebrating the wide range of activities that our students participate in, both on the core modules and through extracurricular projects.

The festival provides the opportunity for members of the LANS community to share their achievements and inspire each other through presentations, discussions and displays. This year’s event took place on 1 June 2018 in the European Research Institute Building, where LANS has its home.

Poster display:

Many of our students choose to write an interdisciplinary dissertation in their final year.  As part of this assessment, they are required to  communicate their research in the form of a poster.  The posters for the interdisciplinary dissertations were displayed in the atrium and visitors were asked to vote for the one they were most impressed by.

Discussions at the poster presentationsPoster presentations

The winner of the vote was…..

“His Business is Pleasure: An Intersectional Analysis of How Male Sex Workers Negotiate Gender and Race to Create a Personal Brand
Ella MacColl” 

Presentation to the winners

Campaign videos

One of our core modules is devoted to civic engagement.  Students, working in multidisciplinary groups, are tasked with analysing  a social problem and building an action campaign, which they present in the form of a documentary film.  In addition to researching the problem to gain a rich understanding of the relevant issues, they interview stakeholders;  film B-roll footage; and edit the content to produce a film.

2017-2018 saw a restructuring of our core modules, and this meant that both first- and second-years made campaign films.  The films were impressive and of a high caliber that made powerful use of the documentary form.  Topics, in addition to those below, were selected by our students, and included: equality of opportunity in schools; food waste, homelessness; cultural integration; sexual health; sex and relationships education; and student poverty.

From Research to Policy (Year 2) Campaign Video

Winner: Culture of Alcohol Abuse
by William Bale, Martha Bird, Amy de Sousa, Jennifer Evans, Chiara Longmore, Natasha Osborne-Patel

Runner up: Improving Interfaith Relationships in Birmingham: an interfaith volunteering project and signposting service
by Melissa Allan, Chloe Gooding, Ayesha Hashim, Ellen Johnson, Kyra Kirkland, Adina Shine, Cerys Sharples

From Research to Policy II (Year 1) Campaign Video

Winner: Engage Islamophobia
by Alex Harris, Georgina Hunt, Mark Joselin, Rosalind McDermott, Jaimini Mehta, Eleanor Teather, Kristyna Wharton

Runner up: Click 
by Natasha Barnett, Hannah Betts, Andrew Brennan, Ellen Jennings, Iona Keeley, Vanessa Khoon Kah Yeang, Samuel Matthews

Special mention: Plasticide
by Abigail Chapman, Ciara Chauvineau, Charlotte Halliwell, Molly James, Florence Jones, Raphael Kalid, Yasmin Underwood

Talks by students

We were very pleased to have three presentations at the festival:  Dario Galano and Emma Kent introduced their final year dissertations, explained the arguments driving their projects, and highlighted how the problems they researched benefited from an interdisciplinary approach. Arianwen Harris and Eloise Poole (along with Ros McDermott) gave an overview of the first Liberal Education Student Symposium, at which they represented LANS, and which took place in Freiburg from 13-15 April 2018.  They spoke about the role of interdisciplinary education across European universities, as experienced at the symposium, and also introduced the 90-minute session they led on education, free education and student expectations.

‘The EU: A New Way to Understand Globalisation’
Dario Galano

Presentation to the group

‘Playing on the Edge of the Abyss. How Do Narrative, Game Mechanics and Violence Intersect in the Video Games Spec Ops: The Line and This War of Mine to Create Meaningful Aesthetic  Experiences’
Emma Kent 
Download Emma's slides [pdf]

Using a powerpoint slide

Liberal Arts Student Symposium in Freiberg, Germany
Arianwen Harris and Eloise Poole
Download Arianwen and Eloise's slides [pdf]

Two students present to the group

Entrepreneurial skills and start up

Two groups of final year students have developed their own line of products, from business idea to pitching to a panel of industry specialists and investors.

eddie effortless securityLea Haber
Maya Keeley
Emily Skyrme
Federico Stillitano 


Eddie is a smart home alarm system that aims to increase home security and improve residents’ user experience. By introducing Internet of Things’ powerful technology to the home security market we are able to provide a series of unprecedented smart features that will allow for a more secure and effortless system. These include the automated arming and disarming of the system, remote notifications and an automated alert to local enforcement agencies in case of a breach.

Linking farm to forkElla-Jane Coxwell
Annie Cross
Gemma Green
Lucy Wingate


FortiFood serves Birmingham-based chain restaurants who need to avoid the potential reputational damage that can be caused by a food contamination outbreak. It is a shared online platform, which all members of a restaurant’s supply chain have access to. FortiFood reads the existing records of all the players in the chain and then uses blockchain technology to provide a secure, transparent and shared copy of this data. This revolutionary product empowers every player in the food supply chain to authenticate and digitalise their records, leading to consensus and immutability. Our product allows the user to trace all food items back to specific points in the food supply chain. Unlike other supply chain management methods, FortiFood can instantaneously trace the source of a food contamination outbreak. This reduces the risk of reputational damage for restaurants.

Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge

VC Challenge documentary film

As part of the University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge, students from across the university were asked to form interdisciplinary groups to work on the topic of Sustainable Cities and Communities from different disciplinary perspectives.  The LANS student group, all  on their year abroad, had to overcome a range of logistical problems such as different continents and time zones.  Nevertheless, they Skyped and researched and submitted a storyboard which took them, by way of  a series of intensive workshops at the end of the summer, to the grand final. All groups presented a documentary film addressing their “solution” as part of the final competition,   and answered some tough questioning from the invited panel of judges and audience.  While they just missed out on the top prize, they were highly commended for their impressive work.

The LANS team were: Natacha Askovic, Lea Haber, Maya Keeley, Victoria Kuntermann, Federico Stillitano.


There were five Research Studentships offered to LANS students in the summer of 2017, with projects available from the College of Arts and Law, the College of Social Sciences, and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. Academic staff were asked to identify aspects of their cutting-edge research to which students could meaningfully contribute, gaining real experience of working with the best research the university is producing. The list below highlights the research projects  and students involved:

  • ‘The Idea of Landscape in Roman Houses and Villas’ - Cassidy Locke
  • ‘Sovereignty, Conflict and Statehood’ - Rachel Bromley
  • ‘The Politics of Self-Actualisation’ - Victoria Kuntermann
  • ‘The Role of Interpersonal trust in America-Soviet Crisis Management’ - Ayesha Hashim
  • ‘Communicating Science’ - Lizzie Slattery

‘My increased ability to think critically and approach a task from other angles is widely applicable to other roles. I now understand how time consuming research is, meaning I could       realistically predict how long something similar would take me. These skills have helped prepare me for future work, whether it be academic or professional.’
Rachel Bromley