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Choosing a project: listed research projects

If you do not wish to propose your own project, you will need to choose a project from the list below. 

The listed projects usually form part of a larger research project supervisors are running, working at the forefront of their disciplines to push forward the boundaries of knowledge. 

You can apply for any project which interests you from this list.  It does not have to relate to your current studies.  The projects listed are partly formulated.  If you are sucessful in your application, you will be expected to work with your Laidlaw supervisor to produce a full project plan before you start work in Summer 2020.

As part of your application, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the key criteria for that project - these will be listed under each project. There will be a box on the online form for you to demonstrate that you meet these criteria.

When you have chosen which project you wish to apply for, make sure you read it thoroughly and think about the issues involved.

Essentials for your application

  • You must demonstrate how you meet the Essential Skills listed in the project description when you complete your application form. 
  • You must send us a short film of you (max 90 seconds / 10MB size) outlining your motivation for applying.
  • You must also ensure that an academic reference is supplied on behalf of your application.

See Applying for more information.

Notes:

(1) The standard six week period for summer 2020 is Monday 15 June to Friday 24 July 2020.  If you know that you cannot make these dates, you should contact the supervisor of your chosen project before applying as there is usually some flexibility.

(2) Project outputs must be completed by the end of the summer 2020.  Failure to do so could jeopardize your place on the scheme.

Project List: Summer 2020

1. A study of the multiple ionisation of <a molecule of interest> and an investigation of the properties of the resulting multiply charged ions.
2. Mental Models and Comparative Survey Research
3. Baroque Latin items in the collection of Trinity College Cambridge
4. Previously unstudied Latin poetry in early modern England
5. What teaching practices in higher education have the biggest impact on learning for adult learners?
6. The World Academy for the Future of Women Evaluation Project
7. Cortical electrical activity in brain-injured infants
8. Out with the old, in with the new? Assessing patterns of political representation at times of crises
9. Structure and reforms of foreign language education in Europe
10. Understanding what employers are looking for from university graduates
11. International Law and Transnational Marriage in the Nineteenth Century
12. Childhood trauma and psychosis
13. Uncovering the history of the UCL Economics Department (1945-1970)
14. Whose ancient Middle Eastern heritage? A demographic study of Oracc's users worldwide (Oracc.org — the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus)
15. Regulating Artificial Intelligence in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities
16. The Determinants of Student Satisfaction in the UK Higher Education
17. Blockchain economics and financial development: data and descriptive analysis
18. How good is your degree? A conversation between students, academics and employers
19. Pay and Display: What determines the price of a painting?
20. Evaluating the design resources and skills of Local Authorities in England: Writing Design Codes

 

Project Number: 1

A study of the multiple ionisation of <a molecule of interest> and an investigation of the properties of the resulting multiply charged ions.

Supervisor: Prof Stephen Price

Supervisor Department: Chemistry

Supervisor Faculty: MAPS

Supervisor Email: s.d.price@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Multiple ionization of molecules of interest in planetary ionospheres

Main Project Summary: It is now recognised that multiple ionisation of small molecules can contribute to the properties and chemistry of planetary ionospheres. Yet, despite this recognition, there is a paucity of experimental data available on the efficiency of multiple ionisation, and the consequences of these ionisation events, for a range of molecules that are of interest in planetary ionospheres. We've developed a range of experiments at UCL to study the multiple ionisation of small molecules, and its consequences, and have an on-going programme of investigating these properties. This programme leads to the discovery of new ions and new chemistry.

Scholar Project Title: A study of the multiple ionisation of <a molecule of interest> and an investigation of the properties of the resulting multiply charged ions.

Scholar Project Summary: A study of the multiple ionisation of <a molecule of interest> and an investigation of the properties of the resulting multiply charged ions. Recent molecules of interest have been PH3, PF3, NH3 but we have a long list of species we are interested in. The general plan would be to use the experiments we have developed at UCL to study the ionisation of the chosen target molecular, and see what are he consequences of multiple ionisation of that species. If long-lives multiply charged ions are formed we can investigate their chemistry using a crossed-beam experiment we have developed at UCL.

Scholar Expected Outputs: Typical outputs from these projects are a data set characterising the consequences of the ionisation of the molecule over a range of ionising energies. This data is ideally suited for publication. In addition, if interesting new multiply-charged ions are observed, an investigation of their bimolecular reactivity often yields another publication.

Essential Skills: 

  • Knowledge of some elementary chemical physics or physical chemistry, typically that taught in year 1 of a chemistry of a university science programme.
  • Basic data manipulation skills - facility with spreadsheets or elementary programming.
  • Good organisational skills

Timing: The project will run over the standard six week period. An intensive 6 week series of experiments, and concurrent data analysis, usually yields a dataset that can form the heart of a publication on the ionisation of the target molecule.

 


Project Number: 2

Mental Models and Comparative Survey Research

Supervisor: Lucy Barnes

Supervisor Department: Political Science

Supervisor Faculty: Social Sciences

Supervisor Email: l.barnes@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Mental Models in Political Economy

Main Project Summary: Mental Models in Political Economy is a UKRI-funded project aimed at understanding how three important political groups -- citizens, policymakers, and journalists -- think and talk about the economy.

  • The economy means quite a lot of different things to different people
  • Mental models are the simplified representations people use to think about the economy (e.g. a household budget)
  • ’Wrong’ models drive poor policy outcomes and choices
  • Divergent models across different groups erode communication and trust

The Mental Models in Political Economy project (MENMOPE) will map the different models and meanings associated with the economy using large scale surveys, quantitative text analysis, as well as elite interviews.

Additional Information: You would be working as part of a team consisting of the Principal Investigator, a post-doctoral fellow, and research assistant (a post-graduate researcher).  -- Working knowledge of European and American politics (especially in the major study countries (UK, US, France, Germany, Denmark), and fluency in the (non-English) languages of those countries, will be an additional asset.  -- Successful execution of the project could lead to the opportunity to present the work (with the PI) at an academic conference (after the project end).

Scholar Project Title: Mental Models and Comparative Survey Research

Scholar Project Summary: The main empirical investigations in the MENMOPE project involve original data collection -- surveys and interviews -- in five countries (the UK, US, Denmark, France and Germany), as existing datasets do not allow for the investigation of understandings in sufficient depth. However, there is a large body of survey data with important information and insights on attitudes and preferences surrounding the economy, for example in the European Social Survey, General Social Survey, International Social Survey Programme and World Values Study. The six-week undergraduate project will use these secondary datasets to provide context for, and expand the understanding of, mental models using these data sets: identifying which survey questions map closely onto the models identified in the in-depth primary data collection, managing and summarising these data, drawing descriptive inferences within and between countries. The project would particularly suit students in Q-Step programmes, applying the techniques from the core first year module (POLS0008) in a real research project.

Scholar Expected Outputs: A final report including graphs and tables to be incorporated into final published MENMOPE research outputs -- most likely the project report would form the core of a chapter in the project monograph.

Essential Skills:

  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and oral
  • Excellent performance on basic statistical tasks (at the level of e.g. POLS0008, "Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods"). This course does not run until Term 2, so at the application stage, confidence and interest in statistics for the social sciences should be demonstrated.
  • Demonstrated background and interest in social and political science, especially in the areas of public opinion and attitudes, and economic policy.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 


Project Number: 3

Baroque Latin items in the collection of Trinity College Cambridge

Supervisor: Gesine Manuwald

Supervisor Department: Greek and Latin

Supervisor Faculty: Arts and Humanities

Supervisor Email: g.manuwald@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Baroque Latinity

Main Project Summary: This AHRC-funded network of scholars from different disciplines and institutions aims to identify what is characteristic about Latin literature written in what is generally called the ‘Baroque period’ and whether this label is appropriate. This is done by addressing this question more theoretically based on a wide range of material and by looking at specific items in the collections of the project’s partners, including Trinity College Cambridge.

Scholar Project Title: Baroque Latin items in the collection of Trinity College Cambridge

Scholar Project Summary: With some guidance, you will select some books in Latin from the Baroque period held at Trinity College Cambridge, describe them and compare their appearance, topics and style with other texts written in Latin; thus you will contribute to identifying characteristics of Latin works produced in this period, in terms of both their content and their materiality. The results will either be published on the project’s regular blog or contribute to a small exhibition planned for September 2020.

Scholar Expected Outputs: blog post on an early modern book in Latin  and / or  labels / catalogue entries for small exhibition of such items

Essential Skills: basic knowledge of Latin (GCSE, A-Level or equivalent)  interest in book history, early printed material and questions of transmission  ability to work with electronic material

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.


Project Number: 4

Previously unstudied Latin poetry in early modern England

Supervisor: Dr Victoria Moul

Supervisor Department: Greek & Latin / English

Supervisor Faculty: A&H

Supervisor Email: v.moul@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Neo-Latin poetry in English manuscript sources, c. 1550-1700

Main Project Summary: Early modern England was a bilingual literary culture, with large quantities of verse read and written in two languages above all: English and Latin. The Latin dimension has however been almost entirely forgotten, and 'written out' of literary history. This large research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust over four years (2017-2021) is surveying for the first time the tens of thousands of examples of neo-Latin (that is post-medieval) verse preserved in English manuscript sources and attempting to put 'back' the Latin dimension into our understanding of the literary culture of this period. This work has very significant implications for our understanding not only of neo-Latin but also of English literature in the crucial period between the mid-sixteenth to the early eighteenth century - in English literature terms, the period from Wyatt and Shakespeare through to Dryden and Pope.

Additional Information: This is an unusual opportunity to be involved with an arts and humanities project which is surveying a very large quantity of material for the first time; the scholar(s) are guaranteed the chance to work on material which has never been studied formally before.

Scholar Project Title: Previously unstudied Latin poetry in early modern England

Scholar Project Summary: The project has identified, photographed and briefly described c. 26,000 items of Latin verse - ranging from single lines to epic poems - from around 1500 manuscripts and has a large database. The range of this material is enormous - extending from political satire and libels to lyric poetry; scriptural verse paraphrase to epic verse; intensely personal material, such as prison verse and elegies on the death of family members, to presentation volumes of poetry offered to the monarch; we also have a large number of examples of school and university exercises. You will be free to choose an area of research which relates best to their interests: for instance, an historian might wish to look at poems on a particular historical event, such as the Armada, Gunpowder Plot, or the execution of Charles I; a classicist with an interest in a particular classical poet (such as Ovid or Lucan) might wish to focus on imitations of and response to that author in the original poetry of this period; a scholar from English could focus on the Latin translations of a given English poet or poem. The material is so varied and extensive that it is possible to tailor this project to suit almost any set of interests.

Scholar Expected Outputs: This will depend on the specific project, but any project would probably begin by assembling a database of the poems surveyed which relate to the chosen theme, and then annotating this database and producing a final report summarising the findings. If you have a particular interest in the presentation and analysis of statistical data, you could focus on this; equally a scholar with primarily literary interests could produce an edition and/or commentary of verse that has not been edited before. This may lead in due course to being incorporated in a scholarly publication, with published credit.
Essential Skills: The only essential skill is reasonably good Latin. You do not need to be a classicist - indeed, this project would suit well a scholar with early modern literature or history interests - but you do need to have at least a good A-level standard of Latin, as the great majority of the project's texts have not been recorded before, and have not been translated. Team members have backgrounds in history and English literature as well as classics, and scholars from these departments are all welcome; equally, scholars interested in the relationship between poetry in Latin and early modern poetry in French, Dutch or Italian would also find plenty of relevant material.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.


 
Project Number: 5

What teaching practices in higher education have the biggest impact on learning for adult learners?


Supervisor: Zachary Walker

Supervisor Department: Pscyhology and Human Development

Supervisor Faculty: Psychology and Human Development

Supervisor Email: zachary.walker@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: The IOE Teaching Series: Best Practices for Teaching in Higher Education

Main Project Summary: A group of IOE and UCL faculty are looking at best practices in higher education.

Additional Information: We welcome individuals from diverse backgrounds, with disabilities, or from areas not related to psychology or teaching.  We will provide a structured, enjoyable environment with specific outcomes that are ambitious but achievable.

Scholar Project Title: The IOE Teaching Series: Best Practices for Teaching in Higher Education

Scholar Project Summary: What teaching practices in higher education have the biggest impact on learning for adult learners?

Scholar Expected Outputs: You will have the choice if you would prefer to do a deepdive into one particular area of research or perform a broad look across different practices.  We have multiple areas we will be exploring (e.g. groupwork, accessibility, technology) and will need an assistant in each area.

Essential Skills: 

  • Project and Personal Time Management
  • Literature Review  
  • Organization and Prioritization

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.

Project Number: 6

The World Academy for the Future of Women Evaluation Project

Supervisor: Zachary Walker

Supervisor Department: Psychology and Human Development

Supervisor Faculty: Psychology of Human Development

Supervisor Email: zachary.walker@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Global Engagement Challenge: the World Academy for the Future of Women

Main Project Summary: The World Academy for the Future of Women (WAFW) is a leadership programme for young women in rural China, Nepal, and Bangladesh.  I have worked with the WAFW before and believe WAFW is a perfect opportunity to reach ambitious, smart, and high-achieving women who will become 21st and 22nd Century leaders.    The goal of the research would be to evaluate current practices of the WAFW so that is can continue to grow and reach more young women.  The WAFW is focused on developing young women for leadership roles that will address and achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (UN-MDGs) and UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Beginning on the campus of Sias International University in 2009, WAFW grew from a one-year program at SIAS for 100 women to a multi-level three-year program for high-achieving applicants in China, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Additional Information: We welcome individuals from diverse backgrounds, with disabilities, or from  areas not related to psychology or teaching. We will provide a structured,  enjoyable environment with specific outcomes that are ambitious but  achievable.

Scholar Project Title: The World Academy for the Future of Women Evaluation Project

Scholar Project Summary: How does the WAFW evaluate its existing programmes to best reach and serve young women in Nepal, Bangladesh, and China?

Scholar Expected Outputs:

  • Producing a literature review around educational programme evaluation
  • Organizing existing data collected by researchers

Essential Skills: 

  • Time and Personal Management Skills 
  • Good Academic Writing Skills
  • Research and Literature Review Skills

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.


Project Number: 7

Cortical electrical activity in brain-injured infants

Supervisor: Kimberley Whitehead

Supervisor Department: Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology

Supervisor Faculty: Life Sciences

Supervisor Email: k.whitehead@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Brain injuries acquired during the neonatal period: investigating mechanisms which can correct depressed cortical electrical activity

Main Project Summary: The supervisor is Principal Investigator of an exciting translational neuroscience project, funded by Brain Research UK. The project aims to identify the functional significance of neural bursting patterns in human neonates, especially following a brain injury. The project builds on previous ground-breaking work conducted in our lab, which identified the cortical source of these bursts, their role in somatosensory development, and their modulation by sleep-wake state (Arichi et al. eLife 2017, Whitehead et al. Sleep 2018, Scientific Reports 2018, Cerebral Cortex 2019). The enterprise will also capitalise upon the supervisor's existing research project which is developing a model of behavioural state regulation in human neonates, and is funded by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research.

Summer Project: Key Details – A summary of the summer project you will undertake.

Scholar Project Title: Brain injuries acquired during the neonatal period: characterising cortical electrical activity during the recovery period

Scholar Project Summary: - How do cortical electrical activity patterns differ in infants who had a brain injury, compared to control infants?  - What is the best way to characterise these electrical bursting patterns?

Scholar Expected Outputs: You will prepare written materials detailing the results of your analysis of an existing dataset of brain recordings.

Essential Skills: 

  • Written fluency in English
  • Quantitative analysis skills

Timing:  The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 8

Out with the old, in with the new? Assessing patterns of political representation at times of crises

Supervisor: Malu A. C. Gatto

Supervisor Department: Institute of Americas

Supervisor Faculty: Social and Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: m.gatto@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Political representation at times of crisis: the case of Brazil

Main Project Summary: Since the protests of June 2013, social scientists have turned to understand the "crisis of representation" in Brazil. First, scholars turned to understand the core factors underpinning voters' disillusionment with the political class. More recently, researchers have begun assessing the consequences of voters' low levels of trust in elites and traditional parties to "politics as we know it." The rise of non-partisan political movements and electoral success of new parties and contenders in the 2018 elections provides further insights into emerging political dynamics. In a series of papers, this project seeks to better understand whether and how this crisis has impacted the representation of groups historically excluded from formal politics.

Scholar Project Title: Out with the old, in with the new? Assessing patterns of political representation at times of crises

Scholar Project Summary: How do demographic population changes affect patterns of electoral behavior? Does low trust in traditional elites create political opportunities for women? Can skepticism towards formal politics trigger greater (and different) forms of engagement with government institutions?---In sum, focusing on the case of Brazil, this project takes the 2013 nation-wide protests to ask: in what ways may a critical juncture impact patterns of political representation?

Scholar Expected Outputs: To be confirmed.

Essential Skills:

  • Knowledge of Excel (R or Stata is desirable, but not required)
  • Capacity to read in Portuguese or Spanish (preferable, but not essential)
  • High level of written fluency in English

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 9

Structure and reforms of foreign language education in Europe

Supervisor: Dr Roland Kappe

Supervisor Department: Political Science & EISPS

Supervisor Faculty: Arts and Humanities & Social and Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: r.kappe@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: The political effects of foreign language education policies in Europe.

Main Project Summary: This ongoing project looks at the impact of foreign language education – and especially foreign language education reforms – on people’s attitudes and political opinion.   Theory suggests that speaking foreign languages reduces perceptions of cultural distance and contributes to the formation of transnational identities (Benet-Martinez and Haritatos 2005, Kuhn 2011). Recent research also shows a link between foreign language skills and European identity (Kuhn 2015, Díez -Medrano 2017). The project however goes beyond just correlational work and seeks to identify the causal effect of foreign language learning on a variety of social and political attitudes, national and European identity, and political behaviour. Education reforms provide plausibly exogenous variation in individual foreign language learning. The project has resulted in a working paper using education reforms in the United Kingdom, and the next step is to expand this theoretical and empirical framework to other national contexts.

Scholar Project Title: Structure and reforms of foreign language education in Europe

Scholar Project Summary: What is the landscape of foreign language education in Europe? What are key indicators to compare foreign language education cross-nationally? How is foreign language education structured in a specific European country or a small number of countries? What are the key education reforms that affected language education?

Scholar Expected Outputs: 1) Collect key academic literature, individual country reports, or cross-national policy overviews and write a brief structured summary of existing work.  (2 weeks)    2) For a small number of European countries (TBD – taking into account the Laidlaw scholar’s background, interests and language skills):  - Provide a systematic overview of current foreign language education policy.   - Identify key reforms that affected foreign language education in these countries.  - Produce a (or perhaps a number of) “country reports” that   a) provides a systematic overview of current foreign language education policy.  b) identifies and describes key reforms that affected foreign language education and includes a ‘timeline’ of foreign language education policy reforms.  (4 weeks)

Essential Skills:

  • Good proficiency, especially reading comprehension, in at least one European language (other than English or German). Ideally more than one.
  • Good written proficiency in English and good academic writing skills (conscientious referencing etc.)

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

 

Project Number: 10

Understanding what employers are looking for from university graduates

Supervisor: Cloda Jenkins

Supervisor Department: Economics

Supervisor Faculty: SHS

Supervisor Email: cloda.jenkins@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Embedding Skills into Undergraduate Degrees

Main Project Summary: In this research I am looking to identify practical ways that university lecturers and programme leads can embed employability skills into taught degrees. This involves three steps. First, identifying what employers are looking for and establishing a clear definition/common language that can be used to connect employer expectations with academic learning outcomes. Second, understanding what is already being done across disciplines to develop employability skills to enable sharing of suitable practices. Third, identifying where there are gaps between what universities are doing and what employers are looking for and considering how these gaps might be dealt with. The aim is to look at undergraduate degrees in the social sciences area in the first instance but hopefully some of the ideas developed would be of value in other disciplines.

Scholar Project Title: Understanding what employers are looking for from university graduates

Scholar Project Summary: The main research questions are: (a) what competencies and skills are employers of graduates looking for; (b) how do the prioritise these skills and competencies; and (c) how can the competencies and skills be defined in a way that makes them accessible to academics designing and teaching on degree programmes. You would be expected to work with the supervisor and make use of UCL Careers resources.

Scholar Expected Outputs: We are aiming to run a survey of employers and hope that the data will be available for review at the time you are working. There will also be focus group discussions with employers which we hope you would be involved with. The main outputs would be:  1. Report summarising information available on websites and from UCL Careers on competencies and skills that the major employers of graduates are looking for  2. Summary of survey data and/or focus group discussion findings on how these competencies/skills can be interpreted    These outputs would be used to develop guidance for academics interested in understanding what skills they should be focusing on in their modules/programmes.

Essential Skills:

  • Confident undertaking web-based searches for quality information independently.
  • Confident working with and analysing data, for example creating summary statistics and creating charts.
  • Able to write clearly in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.

Timing: If you are available for more of a July to August period that would be helpful as any survey data may not be available by mid June. However, if those are the only dates that work for you we can work with them. Moreover it should be emphasised that I am happy for scholar to work remotely if they need to be away at any point during the six week period. 

Project Number: 11

International Law and Transnational Marriage in the Nineteenth Century


Supervisor: Philippa Hetherington

Supervisor Department: School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Supervisor Faculty: Social and Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: p.hetherington@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Gender, Empire and Private International Law in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Main Project Summary: This projects examines how certain facets of family law - particularly marriage, but also inheritance and property relations - came to be the object of private international law in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, it looks at the place of 'contiguous' empires - such as the Russian, Habsburg and Ottoman states - in this process. Contiguous empires' particular brands of legal pluralism complicated the efforts of jurists, government officials and individuals to shape and navigate evolving norms of private international law. This project explores these processes through a number of case studies, many of which blurred the boundaries between private and public law. These include efforts to stamp out bride abduction and conjugal slavery; attempts to regulate transnational marriage in an era of mass migration; and the role of international capital in the reform of transnational inheritance law at the twilight of empire.

Scholar Project Title: International Law and Transnational Marriage in the Nineteenth Century

Scholar Project Summary: In the nineteenth century, mass transport and communications meant that more people were migrating from and across Europe than ever before. As a result, transnational (or trans-imperial) marriage became a prominent phenomenon. Even more significantly, this meant that empires such as the Russian and Ottoman empires, who regulated marriage on the basis of an individuals' religion, had to confront ever more frequently the question of cross-denominational marriage. To do so, they turned to the emergent field of Private International Law, which was the object of the first Hague Conference in 1893. At this conference, jurists from across Europe came together, along with diplomatic representatives of thirteen governments, to come up with a legal framework to govern marriage, divorce and nationality when different family law jurisdictions conflicted. The results of these efforts would have a far-reaching impact on the governance of family at home and abroad, and would influence how we think about private international law to this day.

Scholar Expected Outputs: 1. A Database of international legal publications between 1893 and 1951 concerning private international law and The Hague conferences.   2. A Report on the engagement of Russian, Habsburg, and Soviet delegates at The Hague conferences on private international law in this period (the report will be based on reading of a number of the official documents listed in the database that the student has compiled. The documents concerned are all in English).

Essential Skills: 

  • A high level of written fluency in English
  • Basic knowledge of library research skills (part of the supervisory process will involve learning more advanced research skills to identify new sources)
  • An understanding of the difference between primary and secondary historical sources

Timing:  The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 12

Childhood trauma and psychosis

Supervisor: Dr Michael Bloomfield

Supervisor Department: Research Department of Mental Health Neuroscience

Supervisor Faculty: Brain Sciences

Supervisor Email: m.bloomfield@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Investigating the mechanisms underlying psychosis in adult survivors of childhood trauma (IMPACT)

Main Project Summary: Psychologically traumatic experiences in childhood and adolescence are thought to cause approximately a third of cases of psychosis in adulthood.  Despite this we lack a precise mechanistic understanding of how this happens.   This study seeks to understand the neurocognitive mechanisms through which  childhood trauma induces vulnerability to psychosis. This will enable the development of new treatments.

Scholar Project Title: Childhood trauma and psychosis

Scholar Project Summary: You will examine one domain of cognition (e.g. working memory, reward learning, threat processing etc.) to investigate whether that domain is a likely vulnerability mechanism in trauma-induced psychosis.
Scholar Expected Outputs: Publication in a peer-reviewed journal and presentation at a national conference.

Essential Skills: 

  • Proficient written fluency in English
  • High standard of statistical skills
  • Scientific knowledge relevant to neurosciences

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.  There will be an option to continue working beyond the six weeks if you choose to do so.  (Please note no additional bursary money would be available for this).

 

Project Number: 13

Uncovering the history of the UCL Economics Department (1945-1970)

Supervisor: Ramin Nassehi

Supervisor Department: Economics

Supervisor Faculty: SHS

Supervisor Email: R.nassehi@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Uncovering the history of the UCL Economics Department (1945-1970)

Main Project Summary: Exploring the history of the UCL Economics Department after WWII. Investigating the intellectual and policy impact of the academic department.

Scholar Project Title: Uncovering the history of the UCL Economics Department (1945-1970)

Scholar Project Summary: 1. What was the policy impact of the UCL Economics Department in the UK? What were the policy involvement of the academics? What policy reports or ideas did they produce?     2. What were the intellectual impact of the UCL academics on different strands of economic thought? (I.e. development economics, Keynesian economics, etc). What were the main intellectual networks which the academics interacted with? Did they have any intellectual exchange with other disciplines and departments?       3. What modules did the academics teach at the UCL?

Scholar Expected Outputs: Several entries on the history section of the webpage of the UCL Economics Department. Also, various blog entries on the specific aspects of the department’s history; for instance, the influence of the department on (a) the rise of the British welfare state After WWII or (b) the development of industrial policy in Japan (c) promoting economics education among women.

Essential Skills: 

  • Basic archival research skills (mentoring given by supervisor)
  • Sound academic writing
  • Basic knowledge of the history of economics.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 14

Whose ancient Middle Eastern heritage? A demographic study of Oracc's users worldwide (Oracc.org — the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus)

Supervisor: Professor Eleanor Robson

Supervisor Department: History

Supervisor Faculty: Social and Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: e.robson@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Oracc.org — the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus — for the Nahrein Network

Main Project Summary: The AHRC-GCRF-funded Nahrein Network supports collaborative research, led by Iraqi and other Middle Eastern researchers, on how history, heritage and the humanities can contribute to the sustainable economic development of post-conflict Iraq and its neighbours. It's based here at UCL with partners in Oxford, Erbil and elsewhere. One strand of this work, in collaboration with Oracc.org and UCL's Research Software Development Group, is to adapt existing open-access resources to enable Arabic speakers to work with ancient cuneiform texts, produced in Iraq and the region, in the period 3000-50 BC. As things currently stand, one needs a good understanding of English and other European languages in order to research, or even read about, ancient Middle Eastern history. This collaboration hopes to enable local researchers to produce local history for local needs and audiences.

Scholar Project Title: Whose ancient Middle Eastern heritage? A demographic study of Oracc's users worldwide

Scholar Project Summary: Who currently uses Oracc? What do they use it for? How do those uses vary by region, language, and other demographic data? How should these findings shape the future development of Oracc for Arabic-language users in the Middle East? Depending the student's interests and academic backgrounds, they will be able to use a combination of Oracc's Google Analytics data going back to 2013, online questionnaires and interviews with users to answer these questions.

Scholar Expected Outputs: A report on past and current uses of Oracc, and recommendations for future development, for the Oracc Steering Group, the Nahrein Network's Management Committee and UCL RSDG. A research paper based on these findings, presented to RAI — the annual international Ancient Middle Eastern Studies conference — in Frankfurt in the final week of the project (20-24 July 2020).

Essential Skills: 
The project can be adapted in many different ways, depending on your skills and aptitudes but it's important to stress that we DON'T expect you to have any knowledge of ancient or modern Middle Eastern languages.    What's most important is that you are numerate enough to understand and interpret standard Google Analytics data, with the help of online tutorials.

You should also be able to plan and write a research report, and to present your findings in a 20-minute talk, with powerpoint slides or similar, to an academic audience — with the help of the project team.  

If you have, or would like to develop, online polling and/or face-to-face interview techniques that would be a lovely bonus but it's far from essential.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 15

Regulating Artificial Intelligence in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities


Supervisor: Oliver Patel

Supervisor Department: UCL European Institute

Supervisor Faculty: Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: oliver.patel@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Regulating Artificial Intelligence in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities

Main Project Summary: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has exploded in recent years, and AI-based technologies have become a core part of everyday life. Everything from social media timelines to online shopping recommendations, facial recognition systems to autonomous vehicles, are powered by AI. Rapid advances in machine learning and deep learning techniques mean that, over the coming years, AI will become increasingly sophisticated. Advanced AI could help to solve major problems in domains such as medicine and healthcare, energy usage, food supply and transportation. Many thinkers predict the emergence of ‘Artificial General Intelligence’ or even ‘superintelligence’, whereby the intellect of AI greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in all domains. Governments and societies have struggled to keep pace with this rapid technological transformation.Given the current and future risks and harms associated with AI, it is crucial that they catch up. Such problems include unfair decisions made by algorithms in domains like criminal justice and mortgage lending, massive data breaches and privacy violations, and huge job losses and displacement. There is even the risk of arms races and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons. Finally, authoritarian regimes could use surveillance, disinformation and lie detection technologies to repress and control populations. There is a growing consensus that the development of AI cannot be left to technologists and private companies alone. Governments and societies must agree upon how AI should develop, what role it should play and whether restrictions should be imposed. This project will focus on how governments across Europe, particularly the European Union, are planning to regulate and govern the future of AI. The UK government has set up for the Office for AI and Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and the EU has produced ethical guidelines for 'Trustworthy AI' and several strategy documents, with legislative proposals expected in 2020. At this historic juncture, the response of governments is crucial. This project will interview political leaders and business stakeholders in Brussels, London and across Europe, to critically assess the current state and future prospects of AI regulation and governance.

Additional Information: We have had three Scholars thus far, and they all gained fantastic experience in conducting research interviews with high-level stakeholders and writing reports/blogs!

Scholar Project Title: Regulating Artificial Intelligence in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities

Scholar Project Summary: What are the most serious ethical and societal risks associated with AI? Do we need new regulations, laws or institutions to govern AI? What is the EU currently doing? What is the EU's policy approach and future plans in this area? Critically assess the EU's plans for AI regulation? What are other European governments, such as the UK, France and Germany, doing in this area? How can we ensure that policies and regulations do not hamper innovation and social progress?

Scholar Expected Outputs: You will be expected to:

  • Conduct academic and policy literature reviews
  • Conduct research interviews with politicians, policymakers and business representatives across Europe
  • Contribute to the writing of UCL European Institute reports
  • Write blogs on the topic, to be published across UCL channels
  • Contribute to podcasts

Essential Skills: 

  • Excellent organisational and project management skills
  • High level of written and oral fluency in English
  • Some knowledge of or interest in EU politics and policy, OR artificial intelligence and technology policy.

Supervision Arrangements: This will be structured like a 6 week internship, where the scholar will work full time with the supervisor. The scholar will be able to work flexibly/remotely, but we will meet a couple of times per week. There will also be a 3 day research trip to Brussels towards the end of the project.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six week period (15 June - 24 July).     The scholar will work as a full-time researcher during this period, but there will be scope for flexible and remote working. We also have an office which the scholar can work


Project Number: 16

The Determinants of Student Satisfaction in the UK Higher Education

Supervisor: Dunli Li

Supervisor Department: Economics

Supervisor Faculty: Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences

Supervisor Email: dunli.li@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: Understanding Student Satisfaction: An Empirical analysis of the National Student Survey in the UK

Main Project Summary: Launched in 2005, the annual National Student Survey (NSS), as part of higher education quality assurance system, seeks feedback from final-year undergraduate students on various aspects of their experience in the UK higher education institutions. The NSS scores have been used to compare the UK universities in terms of student satisfaction and have become one of the components in some major university league tables. In the existing literature on NSS, however, many of them are descriptive in nature with comparison of scores across universities over time or just simple correlation analysis. Surprisingly little is done to systematically investigate the determinants of student satisfaction as measured by NSS scores in the UK higher education. In this project, we will use a unique and comprehensive dataset and employ sophisticated statistical techniques to perform an empirical analysis to identify the possible factors that might affect student satisfaction. The analysis will shed light on the determinants of NSS scores and contribute to the ongoing debate on whether the NSS scores should be used as a method to rank the UK universities.

Scholar Project Title: A Literature Review on the Determinants of Student Satisfaction in the UK Higher Education

Scholar Project Summary: You will conduct a literature review to answer the following questions:     1) What is the relationship between university characteristics and student satisfaction? Some examples of university characteristics are: the region of university, university groups (e.g. Russel Group/1994 Group/University Alliance/Million+ Group), campus type, staff-student ratio, student annual achievement classifications and final degree classifications, graduate employment rate and further study rate.     2) What is the relationship between student characteristics and student satisfaction? Some examples of student characteristics are: prior academic background, gender, ethnicity, nationality and parental occupation.     3) Is there any impact on NSS scores of the university tuition fees increase in England in 2012?     4) How do the NSS response rates affect the NSS scores?

Scholar Expected Outputs: You are expected to write a literature review to address the research questions stated in the "Scholar Project Summary" section. The supervisor will provide guidance on how to find and organize the literature.

Essential Skills:

  • Good literature searching and review skill. You should be able to find reliable literature sources effectively and efficiently, and summarize the main findings clearly and concisely.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

Project Number: 17

Blockchain economics and financial development: data and descriptive analysis


Supervisor: Silvia Dal Bianco
 

Supervisor Department: Economics
 

Supervisor Faculty: Social and Historical Sciences
 

Supervisor Email: s.dalbianco@ucl.ac.uk
 

Main Project Title: Blockchain, financial development and growth: theory and evidence
 

Main Project Summary: In the past twenty years, a large number of works has been developed to shed light on the role of financial systems in shaping economic development. Moreover, huge efforts have been devoted to a better understanding and measurement of the functioning and dimension of financial system.   From the theoretical perspective, the developmental impact of finance and credit markets hinges upon the functions of the financial system, which are improving allocative efficiency of savings and investment as well as on mitigating ex-ante and ex-post asymmetric information. Recent empirical works have incorporated the complexity of modern and global financial development, scrutinizing four key dimensions that are:  financial depth, access, efficiency and stability.   Although, the established literature is focused on traditional financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, and intermediated financial markets. Much less attention to date has been dedicated to assess the developmental impact of financial innovation. Within this context, it is striking that the role of Distributed Ledgers Technologies (DLTs) and cryptocurrencies for shaping economic development is still totally unexplored. The aim of the present work is bridging this knowledge gap.   More in details, I wish to understand whether DLT-enabled decentralized systems, such as the Bitcoin blockchain, deepen the financial system and, thus, whether they can boost economic growth or not. The answer to this research question depends on whether DLTs’ growth enhancing attributes, such as boosting financial inclusion, prevail over the uncertainty related to DLT’s tokens of value (i.e. price of bitcoin) as well as on the possible implementation difficulties related to digital trust building.
Additional Information: As part of your research experience, you will be inducted on how to produce a poster and on how to tackle a poster session.
 

Summer Project: Key Details – A summary of the summer project you will undertake.
 

Scholar Project Title: Blockchain economics and financial development: data and descriptive analysis
 

Scholar Project Summary: Your work will be inspired by the well renowned article and “4x2 matrix”-dataset originally complied by Čihák et al. (2012)* at the World Bank. In particular, Čihák et al. (2012) investigate 2 types of financial systems that are the one based on financial institutions, such as banks, and the one relying on financial markets, such as stock exchanges. Moreover, for each type of systems, Čihák et al. (2012) consider 4 different attributes that are: financial depth, access, efficiency and stability. Hence, each entry in their “4x2 matrix” provides a set of indicators for a specific feature (e.g. depth) possessed by each type financial system (e.g financial insititutions). For example, one of the proposed indicators for financial institutions’ depth is “Private sector credit over GDP”.  The Laidlaw scholar should be familiar with such a work to design a strategy for answering the following questions: 1. How can the indicators proposed by Čihák et al. (2012) be modified to take DLT-enabled decentralized systems, such as the Bitcoin blockchain, into consideration? Can you think about at least 1 novel indicator for the 4 financial characteristics of depth, access, efficiency and stability, for both the 2 types of financial systems, namely financial institutions and markets? 2. Which secondary data sources can be used to construct the 8 (or eventually more) indicators encompassing the role of blockchains and cryptocurrencies for financial development? 3. Once the indicators at point 1 and 2 have been constructed, what do they show? Is there any pattern that emerges from a descriptive statistical analysis? Is there any evidence of correlation between your new indicators and economic growth? It is worth mentioning that the scholar will be supervised and mentored at each stage. In particular, I will assist in data gathering and organization; indicators’ construction and descriptive statistical analysis. *Čihák, Martin and Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli and Feyen, Erik H. B. and Levine, Ross Eric (2012): “Benchmarking Financial Systems Around the World”. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6175. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2152254

Scholar Expected Outputs:

  • A blog (entry). I reckon that this output is quite flexible in its content, as it can showcase the experience the scholar(s) had as young researcher in London or the results of the investigation itself. I would love to have a weekly blog. As for my experience, scholars’ blogs prompt reflections not only by scholars but also by supervisors. Thus, blogs are extremely valuable to assess whether the research experience is going in the right direction.
  • A dataset and a readme file. The dataset would collect the secondary data to be employed for constructing the newly developed indicators as well as the series of the calculated indicators. The readme file will report some essential information on each indicator such as: the name, how the indicator has been constructed as well as the sources of data to be employed for constructing the indicator itself.
  • Descriptive analyses of the indicators. In this instance, the scholar will use descriptive statistics to analyse some features of the new indicators, such as the mean and dispersion. Moreover, the scholar will calculate possible trends and they will also do some correlation analysis between the new financial development indicators and economic growth.
  • A poster. The poster should enable the scholar to appreciate all the steps of their research journey. Moreover, having the possibility to showcase the poster in public, the scholar would start appreciating the fundamental importance of outreaching activities for research dissemination at all levels of scholarship.

Essential Skills:

  • Data skills: ability to identify relevant data-sources; data gathering from existing repositories of secondary data; downloading of data and data organisation using Excel
  • Analytical skills. The most important one being the ability to understand synthetic measures, such as for example ratios and proportions. Further, the scholar should be able to confidently work with real world data to construct ratios and proportions. Previous knowledge of standard financial indicators is desirable.
  • Descriptive statistics abilities: the scholar should be able to use a software to perform descriptive statistical and graphical analyses, at a level that is appropriate for a first year student. Knowledge of Excel is essential, knowledge of STATA is desirable.

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period.  There is some degree of flexibility if needed.

 

Project Number: 18

How good is your degree? A conversation between students, academics and employers

Supervisor: Professor Parama Chaudhury

Supervisor Department: Department of Economics

Supervisor Faculty: SHS

Supervisor Email: p.chaudhury@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: How do we measure the quality of a degree?

Main Project Summary: This research project asks how students considering where to study, employers sorting through potential graduate hires and the government deciding on how to best fund universities can evaluate the quality of a degree. In particular, we look at the typical economics undergraduate degree and look at the skills that universities and potential employers expect graduates to have; the teaching and learning activities required to develop these skills; and finally, how to evaluate these skills. This project involves input from various stakeholders, including academic staff from leading economics programmes, past and current students, as well as employers

Additional Information: This is a chance to influence a new way to think about evaluation in education - this project seeks to start a conversation about this important topic through an innovative website, with an ultimate aim of producing an interactive e-book on this topic

Scholar Project Title: How good is your degree? A conversation between students, academics and employers

Scholar Project Summary: What are the currently prevailing approaches to measuring the quality of a degree, and how can we apply and extend these to economics undergraduate degrees?

Scholar Expected Outputs: 

  • Literature review on evaluating degrees  
  • Design and structure input for existing website on the project

Essential Skills:

  • ability to read, understand and summarise journal articles (mostly not in economics - economics knowledge a plus but not required)
  • some experience with simple web design (emphasis on design rather than technical skills).

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 

 

Project Number: 19

Pay and Display: What determines the price of a painting?

Supervisor: Nauro Ferreira Campos

Supervisor Department: SSEES

Supervisor Faculty: SLASH

Supervisor Email: n.campos@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Title: The Economic of Paintings

Main Project Summary: The visual arts market, in general, and the prices commanded by paintings at the two leading auction houses, in particular, tend to peak at the end of economic expansions. Despite extensive scholar and media interest, there are a number of aspects of the workings of the arts market that are still not well understood. This project tries to throw light on some of its most prominent puzzles: what determines the auction price of a painting? Why is that only two-thirds of all lots (paintings) sell at auction? Are masterpieces good investments? Do prices systematically decline during an auction (that is, is there an “afternoon effect”)?

Scholar Project Title: Pay and Display: What determines the price of a painting?

Scholar Project Summary: Collect data to address the following research questions: what determines the auction price of a painting? Are masterpieces good investments?

Scholar Expected Outputs: 

  • A dataset
  • A detailed description of the dataset (including basic statistics)

Essential Skills: 

  • Organization
  • Love of data
  • Knowledge of machine learning training models/web-scraping techniques

Timing: The project will run over the standard six-week period. 


Project Number: 20

Evaluating the design resources and skills of Local Authorities in England: Writing Design Codes


Supervisor: Valentina Giordano

Supervisor Department: Bartlett School of Planning

Supervisor Faculty: Bartlett

Supervisor Email: v.giordano@ucl.ac.uk

Main Project Summary: This project fits within a larger body of work that is systematically evaluating the aspirations, resources and potential of local planning authorities to more positively shape the design of development. Previously the project has investigated urban design skills within local planning authorities and this was followed in 2017/18 with a study of local councillors roles within the process of design decision-making for new development and in 2018/19 with a national housing design audit and correlation to the design governance tools used by local authorities. Laidlaw scholars were instrumental in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 studies.    The aim is now to extend the project further with a deep dive into one of the key findings from the national housing audit which identified that design codes used to guide the design of new residential developments seem to lead to better design outcomes. The project will focus on design codes as a particular tool of design governance to understand:

  • What is the coverage of design codes nationally?
  • How are the most effective design codes prepared, structured and used and with what resources?
  • How do they differ across different types and scales of development?
  • What would an exemplar design code look like?    

The work will fit in with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s recent announcement that all local planning authorities should develop a model design code that they can adapt and use to guide the design of major housing developments. As few have direct experience in, or the skills and resources to prepare, such guidance, it is anticipated that the project will have a direct and immediate impact on informing practice across England. The key output would be a research based guide to assist them in that process.

Additional Information: If possible, the applicant will be working together with last year scholar, now in her second year of the Laidlaw Programme. The second-year student responsibilities will include a supervisory role of the new applicant.

Scholar Project Title: Writing design codes in England

Scholar Project Summary: The project will have two components. First, a simple streamlined national survey of existing practice covering all 365 local planning authorities in England. It is anticipated that this would be a simple yes and no type survey to determine who is using design codes, for what sorts of developments, how they are prepared and funded, and how effective area they. The opportunity will also be taken to request that exemplars are submitted to the team. Second, the team will analyse a small sample of exemplar codes to understand what is the current best practice in their preparation and use. The content of codes will be examined and their authors in interviewed. Wherever possible sites will be visited to evaluate the results.

The research will involve

  • Background desktop research to understand the national policy context and to identify relevant previous studies
  • Conduct of a national survey and its analysis
  • The content analysis of a sample of design codes
  • Interviews with code authors, most likely by phone
  • Selective sites visits and analysis
  • Preparation of a research report and model design code guide
  • Presentation of the results at a Place Alliance conference in the autumn 2020/spring 2021

Scholar Expected Outputs:

  • Background reading and analysis to understand design codes as a tool of design governance
  • Preparation, conduct and analysis of the national survey
  • Interviews with practitioners and site visits
  • Assistance with the production of the research report
  • A poster with the results

Essential Skills: 

  • Good English
  • Good analytical skills
  • Good level of graphic skills

Timing: We will try to keep to the standard six-weeks period, but it is likely that this time will need to be split with one week at the start of the summer, and the remainder of the time after the survey results are available.