School of Social Sciences and Humanities

School news

2017 news

1st in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2018

Great news for the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough! It was announced today that Loughborough has been ranked 1st in the UK for Media & Film Studies in the latest Guardian University Guide.

Loughborough rose an impressive 7 places in the Media & Film Studies category, which includes the Department of Social Sciences' Communication & Media Studies BSc (Hons) and Media, Culture & Society BSc (Hons) courses.

Strong rankings for the other subjects taught in the Department consolidate our position amongst the top Social Sciences Departments in the UK:

  • Psychology – up 15 places to 6th
  • Social Policy & Administration – up 2 places to 10th
  • Sociology – now 24th

James Stanyer, Head of the Department of Social Sciences commented: “I am delighted with the Department’s performance in the latest Guardian league tables and with media studies' position as first in the UK. It is evidence of our research and teaching excellence and the outstanding education and experience our students receive.”


Two new British Academy GCRF grants for Loughborough Geography

Many congratulations to Dr Antonis Vradis (VC Fellow) and Professors Kate Gough & Rob Wilby, who have been successful as PIs in securing funding through the competitive British Academy GCRF Cities and Infrastructure Programme.

Antonis’ project runs for 16 months, value c. £273,000. Antonis will be working with Oonagh Markey (Loughborough Health Sciences), Richard Pithouse (Rhodes, SA), and two PDRAs to work on informal/grassroots nutritional infrastructures in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Durban, South Africa. The PDRAs are Dr Timo Bartholl, a long-term resident of the Mare favela in Rio de Janeiro, and Dr Christos Filippidis, an urban securitisation researcher.

Kate and Rob’s project  is also 16 months long, value £260,000. Working alongside Kate and Rob are Paula Griffiths (Loughborough, SSHES) and Sam Kayaga (Loughboorugh, WEDC), plus four Ghanaian colleagues including Ebenezer Amankwaa who is a well-known visitor to the department. This project brings together an  interdisciplinary team to investigate the impacts of flooding and extreme heat on urban infrastructure, and the resultant consequences for the livelihoods of poor urban residents in Ghana. 

Ali Bilgic appointed Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity

Bilgic, Ali

Ali Bilgic has been appointed to the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity 2017-2019 as of the 1st of September 2017. The chair was established in January 2003 to support the research of ‘an outstanding young academic’. Ali will be working on ‘Migration and Human Security’ at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, though he will continue his work at Loughborough during the 2 year appointment. His inaugural is scheduled for April 12, 2018, in the presence of Queen Maxime in Noordeinde Palace, the Hague, and will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Chair. More information about the chair at

Excellent results for the Department of Social Sciences in the Times Good University Guide

The Times Good University Guide 2018 has confirmed Loughborough University as a top ten university in the UK overall. The more specific subject rankings also brought great news for our Department, which confirmed its leading status at a national level.

Loughborough University has in fact been recognized by the Times as 1st in the UK in the area of Communication and Media Studies. This is an amazing result, especially if considered alongside the Guardian League Table 2018 that also identified us as the top institution in the area of Media and Film Studies.

Not only Communication and Media Studies, but all areas covered by our Department have scored very highly. According to the Times Good University Guide 2018, Psychology is now 4th in the UK, Sociology is in the top ten (10th overall, 5th for Student Experience), and Social Policy is in the top twenty.

Professor James Stanyer, Head of the Department of Social Sciences, has so commented these encouraging results: “This is a fantastic achievement and confirmation of the high quality education we provide”


Partition memories of British Asians are to be recorded as part of a £1 million project

It has been 70 years since millions of refugees fled to Europe following the violent division of the Hindu and Muslim people of the Bengal and Punjab provinces.

At midnight, between August 14, and August 15, 1947, control of British India was passed from the Raj to two newly formed dominions – India and Pakistan.

Many families lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones depending on where they lived at the time of the spilt.

Many of those who escaped the bloodshed, which is estimated to have cost up to two million lives, and came to England, will now tell their stories and document their experiences as the world remembers the 70th Anniversary of Partition.

As well as collection the first-hand accounts, the five-year project “Imperial Memory and the Post-Colonial Imagination: British Asian Memory, Identity and Community after Partition”, which gets underway next month (Oct), will also focus on the way Partition is remembered by second and third generation India and Pakistan immigrants.

Leading the research is Professor Emily Keightley, of Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

She said: “The aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of how memories of Partition circulate in British Asian communities, whether that is between generations, cross-culturally, via the media, or through embodied or through cultural practices.

“We will explore the meaning of pasts marked by Partition in a contemporary context – particularly the ways in which they inform a sense of community and national identity and are mobilised in inter-communal relationships in explicit and implicit ways.”

Individual PhD projects will also explore particular aspects of these issues:

  • The way in which partition memory is communicated online
  • Bengali women’s embodied experiences of partition memory
  • The representation of Partition in the British media 1947-present
  • The intergenerational communication of partition memory

Those taking part in the study will include men and women of various ages from South Asian communities in Tower Hamlets, and from Loughborough.

“Material will be collected using a range of ethnographic and participator methods,” said Prof Keightley.

“This might include participant observation within families and community groups and in-depth interviewing, alongside exploratory uses of participatory arts and culture such as community photography projects, cooking classes, theatre – to provide a platform for exploring and communicating Partition memory.”

The study has been funded by a Research Leadership Award, which is bestowed by The Leverhulme Trust every five years to outstanding researchers for a significant research project that will establish them as a leader in their field.

UK Arctic Science 2019 coming to Loughborough

Loughborough Geography has been chosen to host the next UK Arctic Science Conference.  This is a biennial conference that will next take place in September 2019. Congratulations to Jo Bullard, Richard Hodgkins and other PARC colleagues who's hard work and involvement in the last two Arctic Science Conferences led the British Antarctic Survey to pick Loughborough, ahead of competition from various other institutions around the UK. This is great recognition of the Arctic research Loughbrough's geographers are doing, including Jo's work on high-latitude dust. The conference is the showcase for British-led research in the Arctic and typically attracts 100-200 delegates from around the UK and overseas. It covers marine, terrestrial, atmospheric and cryospheric research but is not restricted to those working within the physical sciences and so also includes researchers working on cultural, social and political aspects of the Arctic.

Successful Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth & Families

Loughborough Geography played host to the 5th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth & Families last week. A huge congratulations to Louise Holt for leading on this, and for the full collective buy-in of many other CYF staff and postgrads who made this happen. Over 80 delegates, including many of the research leaders in the field, attended the event which was held in Burleigh Court and included a wine reception hosted in the GY building. This was a great showcase of LU research excellence in the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families. If you want to see more there are lots of images and comments if you search #ICGCYF on Twitter.

Giampietro Mazzoleni and Sergio Splendore visit the Department as IAS Fellows

Professor Giampietro Mazzoleni and Dr Sergio Splendore, two world-leading experts in the study of media and populism, will visit our department on 7-14 October as Fellows of the recently established Institute for Advanced Studies. 

Professor Mazzoleni will give a public lecture on Wednesday, 11 October at 12-1pm in Brockington U005 with the title: "Is media populism a trusted servant to political populism?" The lecture will address how the media, mostly unintentionally but often intentionally, raise popular sentiments and create climates of opinion that can easily tune in to antipolitic, anti-elite, xenophobic rhetorics that are used by populist forces. To what extent is this is true and what are the implications for democracy? Please register for the lecture at this link.

Mazzoleni and Splendore will also participate in a rich programme of academic events organised by the Institute for Advanced Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) and with our Department. 

Beside the public lecture, a roundtable on the topic of mediatization will take place on Thursday, 12 October at 11am-1pm in James France CC111. 

Other events will include a Workshop with PhD students on Monday, 9 October and a Master Class lecture with UG and PGT students on Friday, 13 October.

For more information about the upcoming events organised by the Institute of Advanced Studies for this semester's Communication theme, please visit IAS webpage at 

Athens Democracy Forum turns the spotlight on the risks to democracy in Central Europe

Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture partnered with The New York Times and the Open Society Foundations to organize a Central and Eastern European Symposium, a special side event to the 5th Athens Democracy Forum which took place on 13-17 September 2017. Under the auspices of the United Nations, several hundreds of delegates, including some of the world’s leading political and business figures, gathered in the historical surroundings of the Athens’ Acropolis to discuss contemporary state and future of democracy around the globe. Populism and the decline of trust, the rise of alt-right movement, “fake news” and disinformation campaigns, Brexit and future of the EU, or prospects for democracy against the growing risks to global security were among the most frequently debated topics across the panels that featured prominent speakers such as the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, the CEO and President of The New York Times Mark Thompson, or the North Korean defector and human rights campaigner Hyeonseo Lee. 

Adding a specific regional perspective on some of the above mentioned issues, the Central and Eastern European Symposium brought together internationally renowned intellectuals and media professionals from the region to discuss the impact of rising populism and authoritarianism on political and media systems in this part of Europe. Speakers included Michael Ignatieff, the Rector of Central European University in Budapest, political scientist Ivan Krastev from the Centre for Political Studies in Vienna, former OBSE representative on media freedom Miklos Haraszti, or the editor-in-chief of the daily SME Beata Balogova. Panels were chaired by Serge Schmemann from The New York Times, Heather Grabbe from the Open Society Foundations and Loughborough’s Václav Štětka from the Department of Social Sciences. 

The debate centred around the factors behind the current decline in the quality of democracy across the CEE region, particularly in Hungary and Poland whose governments have been repeatedly accused of developing authoritarian tendencies and attacking key democratic institutions, including the media. The deterioration of media freedom and journalistic autonomy was also discussed in relation to other countries of the region, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where the recent entry of wealthy business elites into media markets as well as into politics has put editorial independence of many news outlets in jeopardy.

More photos as well as video recordings from the 2017 Athens Democracy Forum are available at

Catalonia’s independence: When nationalism and democracy clash

14:00 James France room D002


Speakers: Eunice Romero Rivera (Open University of Catalonia)

Paolo Cossarini (Loughborough University)


Convenors: Marco Antonsich (LUNN) and Chris Zebrowski (CSIG)

Tuesday 17 October 2017, 2-3pm, James France room D002

On 1st October 2017, an overwhelming majority of Catalans voted in favour of the independence of Catalonia. Being declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Spain and being violently suppressed by the National Police Corps and the Guardia Civil, the vote clearly marks a historical breakpoint in the longstanding struggle between Madrid and Barcelona. In order to discuss the causes and consequences of the Catalonian decision, Eunice Romero, in video-conference from Barcelona, and Paolo Cossarini will present their insights into the Catalonian independentist movement and the agenda of the Spanish government.

The event is jointly organised by the Centre for the Study of International Governance (CSIG) and the Loughborough University Nationalism Network (LUNN)


Speakers’ bios:

Eunice Romero studies Nationalism, diversity and immigration from a sociological perspective. She is currently PhD candidate in the Information and Knowledge Society program and visiting researcher at Open University of Catalonia. She has been active in NGOs, government and grassroots organizations advocating for diversity in Catalonia. Her dissertation gives an intersectional ethnographic account of processes of migrant-ness and nationhood and how the two are imbricated in the construction of a sense of national belonging in Catalonia.

Paolo Cossarini holds a PhD in Political Science from the Autónoma University of Madrid (Spain). He is currently University Teacher at the Department of Politics, History, and International Relations of Loughborough University (UK). He has held visiting positions at the Institut d’Études Politiques, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (France), and the Queen Mary University of London (UK). He was also member of the research project “The political consequences of the economic crisis” founded by the Spanish Ministry of Education. His current research focuses on protest movements, democratic theory and populism, the role of emotions in politics, as well as border and migration studies. He has published in Global Discourse, European Political Science, and Revista de Estudios Políticos, among other journals, and is co-editor of “Populism and passions: democratic legitimacy after austerity” (forthcoming by Routledge).

Social Sciences makes top 100 in global THE ranking

Social Sciences at Loughborough University has been ranked 98th in the world in the 2018 Times Higher Education (THE) subject rankings.

The rankings analyse specific data in 10 different subject areas to create global league tables for each.

For Social Sciences, the THE looked at teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income to rank the 400 best schools for social sciences across the world – with Loughborough coming 98th.

The School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences brings together a mix of disciplines that cover humanities, social and environmental sciences, which closely match the THE subject groupings.

Professor Nick Clifford, Dean of the School, said: “It is great to see the school’s subject areas recognised by the THE as being world leading. This reflects the great staff and student efforts across our disciplines, which contribute to the excellence of the University as a whole.”

Geography's Dr Helena Pimlott-Wilson on the benefits of Forest Schools

Forest Schools are a growing phenomenon in the UK, but what impact does getting children outside of the classroom have on their overall development? 

The ‘Forest School’ concept originated in Scandinavia, where schools use local woodland areas to hold outdoor activities which foster children’s problem-solving and cooperation skills, as well as their confidence and self-esteem.

They are most common in early years and primary school settings, but until now little research has been done to demonstrate their impact on children’s learning and school experiences.

Dr Helena Pimlott-Wilson of the Department of Geography and Dr Janine Coates of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and have conducted preliminary research in two primary schools in Nottinghamshire, one early years foundation class (4-5 years) and a Year 4 class (8-9 years). 

Read the full press release here: Study reveals how Forest Schools can benefit children’s development

Dr. Jessica Werneke has been awarded a Newton International Research Fellowship

Newton International Research Fellowship

Dr. Jessica Werneke has been awarded a Newton International Research Fellowship to work with Prof. Susan Reid on a project entited 'The Golden Age of Amateurism: Amateur Photography and Photography Clubs in the Soviet Union'. The project explores the intersections between political, social and cultural history through amateur photography and photography clubs in the Russian Federation and the Soviet Republics. 

Jessica was awarded her PhD in 2015 (University of Texas at Austin) and was Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the prestigious NRU Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Her dissertation research explored the re-investigation of 1920s and 1930s modernist aesthetics in photojournalism in the USSR. 

Newton International Research Fellowships are awarded to the very best early stage post-doctoral researchers from across the world and offer 2 years support at UK institutions. The scheme is run by the Royal Society, The British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Jessica will take up the fellowship from 31 March 2018. 

£1.1M to CARM project on Teacher Education

Elizabeth Stokoe and Rein Sikveland are Co-Investigators on a £1.2M CARM project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, called CAiTE (Conversation Analytic innovation for Teacher Education). The funding falls under the Programme for Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector (FINNUT) scheme. The PI is Dr Karianne Skovholt, at University College of Southeast Norway. Liz holds a formal Professor II position there, and both her and Rein have been working with Karianne to develop the profile and capacity of conversation analysis in Norway. It’s the biggest funding for CARM to date.

Prof. Kate Gough successful in £200k MRC grant

More excellent news from Prof Kate Gough, who is CI on a successful MRC project for a ‘UK-Africa network to improve the nutrition of infants and young children living in poverty (NINO LIP) in urbanising sub-Saharan African countries’. The grant is for just under £200,000 over 12 months from March 2018 and is being led by Paula Griffiths (SSEHS). Researchers at other UK institutions (Sheffield and Southampton) and international partners (Kenya and Malawi) are also involved. Well done Kate!

Households below a Minimum Income Standard

The latest report in the Minimum Income Standard programme, funded by JRF was published today. The report looks at the changes in the adequacy of incomes, as measured by individuals’ ability to reach the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), between 2008/09 and 2015/16. It is the sixth in an annual series of reports tracking the total number of individuals in the UK living below the MIS threshold.

The report shows that in 2015/16, 30% of individuals were in households below MIS, an increase of a fifth since 2008/09. This means that there were 19 million people with household incomes insufficient to afford the things that the public think are needed to meet material needs and participate in society, up from 15.6 million in 2008/09. The likelihood of being in a household that has an income below MIS is three times higher for children than pensioners: 44% compared to 15% . All groups, including working age adults, have seen the likelihood of falling below MIS increase since 2008/09.

In the middle of the present decade, there was some reduction in the number of working age adults and children below MIS, at a time when earnings were rising and prices were stagnant. However, this meant only a slight reduction in the overall increase of people below MIS since 2008, and the return to inflation combined with falls in real wages and a freezing of benefits are expected to cause further deterioration in future years. Meanwhile, the number of pensioners below MIS, while low relative to working age people, has been rising, linked to an increase in pensioner costs.