UCL News


Seven Questions with Julian Laufs

7 November 2019

This week we meet Julian Laufs, a PhD candidate who talks us through his role as a student quality reviewer where he worked in partnership with staff to improve teaching at UCL.

Julian Laufs

Why are you interested in Security and Crime Science and what do you plan to do in the future?

I first did my MSc at UCL’s Jill Dando Institute and then continued with the PhD. I chose the PhD in Security and Crime Science at UCL because I have always had a natural interest in the field. I love the topic I study and even more so, the supportive and welcoming environment at the department. It is great that I can explore a topic I am passionate about, at a world-leading institution while being supervised by leaders in the field. After I graduate, I would like to continue working in academia or work for the European Union at either the EEAS or Frontex.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

Two things come to mind right off the bat:

The first one is being a Student Reviewer of Teaching last year. It is such a crucial role because you gain so many interesting insights into how UCL turns student feedback into action and because you get to be part of the process. I worked to facilitate the Annual Student Experience Review (ASER), a review process departments do for each programme. I worked between students and staff at one UCL department and made recommendations as to how student feedback could be put into action.

I think it is one of the most worthwhile programmes UCL is running because it allows students to directly bring fresh ideas into the feedback process. Through this experience I gained valuable insights in how UCL works and learned a lot of things that I also took back to improve the department I study at. Receive £150 if you get involved!

I have also worked as a lead department representative for Security and Crime Science and have represented my fellow MSc and later PhD colleagues to the department and faculty. Both the student quality reviewer and the student rep experience have been very rewarding and I can only encourage anyone starting at UCL to take advantage of them.

Have you discovered any ‘hidden gems’ during your time at UCL?

Cafe 49 and Fleet Kitchen (both close to Tavistock Square) are two of my favourite lunch spots and are definitely worth a visit. I also think the George Birkbeck Bar is a prime spot for an after-work drink in the summer (sorry UCL).

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London

  • Go visit Primrose Hill for a picnic or just the view.
  • Hang out in the library of the Wellcome Collection (it is a wonderfully weird place).
  • Go ice skating in one of the beautiful ice rinks around London in the winter.

If you were Provost for the day, what one thing would you do?

Even though I love UCL, there are still a few things I would like to change. The first thing I would do is to make UCL less bureaucratic. I think there is a lot of paperwork that could be simplified or eliminated. I would also make sure that PGTAs get paid all the same across UCL, because I think especially at a university that prides itself in its research, we should have coherent standards for all research students. But even though I won’t be provost for a day (at least not in the near future), I still try try to tackle these issues by working as a student rep and running as a faculty rep to help to improve UCL.

Who inspires you and why?

While this might be a bit of a cliché, since I am German, I would say Angela Merkel. Though I don’t agree with every policy decision she makes, I admire her calm and collected approach to things. Especially in such turbulent times, we could do with some more world leaders that take a step back and think. She is a brilliant diplomat and, what most people don’t know, also has a doctorate in quantum chemistry. I would say she is an all-round inspiration.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I absolutely love trash movies. “The Room” and “Birdemic” are probably some of my favourite movies of all time. There is a great place in Chinatown that shows films like this on the regular.

Become a student reviewer of teaching

Become a student reviewer of teaching for the paid opportunity to review an academic member of staff’s teaching and report on the learning experience of students on the course and earn £150. Apply today and throughout the year.