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29 November 2013

Anthropolitan 9 cover

It has been a hugely busy start to the academic year 2013/14 for staff and students alike. Our Anthrosociety has held a successful debate, hosting Dr Jo Cook and Dr Lucio Vinicius on the topic of Piece of Mind. Staff put the finishing touches on the Research Excellence Framework submission due this November and began to discuss the directions which research and teaching will take in the Department over the next seven years. With the arrivals of the new President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, and the new Dean of the Social and Historical Sciences (SHS), Professor Mary Fulbrook, the College is abuzz with debate about the vision for UCL reaching forward into the 2020s.

The past academic year has seen a consolidation of all of our activities in the Department, with a now fully staffed administration, thanks to the arrival in April of Jolanta Skorecka as Undergraduate Administrator. A successful Internal Teaching Quality Audit delivered much praise for our staff and students and the wonderful creative, productive and supportive atmosphere that we enjoy in our department. The committee’s advice on how to tighten some of our internal processes and committee structure were implemented straight away and staff and students should see the benefit already this year in a smoother flow of information up and down the spine of our command structure. As always, however, changes induced by UCL’s vast engine room are keeping us on our toes and promise to make this academic year far from boring.

The first year BSc students are looking forward again to their field trip in February, and we are busy with planning the implementation of a 2nd year field trip, directed to life skills, as requested by our students. We are awaiting the first running of the new compulsory 2nd year course, ‘Being Human’, on which all staff will teach following a new teaching format inspired by the Oxbridge tutorial structure.

Sadly we had to remove the staff book covers from the main stairwell, but thanks to Paul Carter-Bowman in the office, our master’s student Shweta Barupal, and recently completed PhD student Aaron Parkhurst, most of the covers have already been rehung beautifully on the ground floor and in the staff common room, with further hangings planned on the 2nd floor near the Seminar room. Towards the end of this academic year we have been promised the start of a huge renovation project for our walls, carpets and common rooms, and I am sure that this will be welcome news for us all.

Perhaps the greatest credit to the excellent teaching and the huge energy invested by our staff in the care and attention to advancing student learning is the repeat of the stellar performance of our 3rd year students, which saw almost half of our students leaving the College in June with a First Class Honours degree, two of our students being put forward to the Dean’s list, and the remaining students being awarded good and very good Upper Second Class Honours degree results. Four of our students have left us with PhD studentships at the LSE and Cambridge, and we are very proud to have been able to fully fund a fifth student with an ESRC studentship to stay with us. Three of our PhD students won competitive postdoctoral research grants and are supported for 2 and 3 year periods by the ESRC, Leverhulme Trust and Marie Curie. Two of our staff are shortlisted for ERC grants, results pending. And so we are rejoicing in the success of our students and staff and are looking forward to the new academic year with confidence and a desire to match or improve upon these results.

I wish you all a very happy and productive year.

Professor Susanne Kuechler
Head of Department

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