UCL News


Seven Questions with... Olive Burchill

16 October 2020

This week we meet part-time LLM student and trainee beekeeper Olive Burchill, who runs a legal, social and political blog. Here, Olive chats to us about her work with UCL's upcoming conference Beyond Boundaries: Realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Olive Burchill

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am a part-time Master of Laws (LLM) student (specialising in environmental law and policy) in my second year. Before starting the LLM, I was on track to qualify as a criminal and family law barrister. However, working extensively in the prison service and advocating for offender rights and welfare influenced my decision to re-evaluate my path. I work whilst studying, and have most recently been running the Shelter London domestic violence working group, its COVID-19 counterpart and developing and updating policy relating to DV within the charity.

I’m hoping to do further research once I’ve finished my LLM into the effects of the climate crisis on gender-based violence and to look at ways of incorporating gender perspectives into climate policy and legislation. 

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

The UCL Beyond Boundaries series and its student project. Between 19 to 29 October 2020, UCL will be hosting a two-week virtual conference exploring the role of universities in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s set to be a really interesting series of events and I encourage any students interested in the climate crisis, sustainability and equality to sign up to attend some of the events.

I’m part of the team working on the student showcase platform, which is running alongside the event series. The platform is a fantastic opportunity to showcase projects or work that UCL students have undertaken that relate to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. We’d love to hear from more students about the work they’ve done or are doing so please do get in touch. It could be details of a research project, volunteer work, a personal reflection, something you have witnessed or experienced but also possibly the impact you hope to have at UCL and after you graduate. We will be displaying submissions on our online platform for other UCL staff, students and international conference attendees to view, comment on and interact with. The submission can be as creative as you want so please do check out our website for more information. 

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

I used to really enjoy walking different routes back to Waterloo station from my lectures at UCL last year. There are so many beautiful and small streets in London filled with interesting and unique stores. Getting lost is a great way to discover new things!

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

  1. Visit the Banqueting House in Whitehall, lie on a bean bag and look at Reuben’s ceiling. The Banqueting House is the last standing structure of the Palace of Whitehall and is the site of Charles I's execution.
  2. Eat sushi at Tokyo Diner near Leicester Square – tips are given to a local homeless charity and their prices are fantastic.
  3. See live music at the Southbank Centre. Tickets can be very cheap and the array of music on offer is amazing!

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

I’d hold a brainstorming day where students and staff could come together to discuss ways that our community can be more sustainable, more accessible (to students with disabilities, financial hardships and special educational needs) and better champion equality and diversity through teaching, and interacting with each other. I’d also place plants in every room at the university and hire someone to dote on them. 

Who inspires you and why?

Alexandra Wilson – a criminal and family law barrister at 5 St Andrew Hill. Alexandra is also author of an amazing book called In Black and White, which chronicles her experience of racism and classism as a young black barrister. It’s an amazing read and her story is incredibly inspiring, especially her driven and passion for the work she does. Couldn’t recommend reading it enough!

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am training to be a beekeeper. I fell in love with studying wildlife law and wanted to know so much more about it so took the plunge last year!