Professor Dave Cowan is a Professor of Law and Policy in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.
Tell us about your journey into academia…
I became an academic by chance, really. I had an undergraduate degree in law, and decided not to take up my training contract at a City law firm, as I wanted to focus on different (not really specific) interests. I was forwarded an advert for a law lectureship at my old university by a friend and couldn’t believe it when they offered it to me. I was asked to teach land law, and from there I developed a deep interest in, and passion for, housing issues and social change. It has led to work changing the law on renting homes in Wales, and influencing changes in the law on housing standards in England. After 30 years, I still skip into work, although that is a virtual skip at the moment.
What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students?
The most important thing is to look for the kind of programme that does more than merely interest you – it should inspire you and offer you the chance to do more. That’s what we think we offer here.
What’s your experience of events at Bristol?
I love meeting and engaging with our future students, and telling them about what we do here, the way we teach, and what is unique about us. Most of all, though, my colleagues and I get to talk about what we do and why we do it – I love hearing their passion for their research and conveying that research in their teaching.
Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the virtual events?
Make use of all the resources available and take the time to browse on the platform. There will be lots of information available, both programme-specific and more general information. What may well surprise you is the range of choice we offer, which we hope will spark your interest. You will have questions that you want to ask, so we hope that you will engage with us during the webinar, which will offer you the chance to have your questions answered by my colleagues and I.
What kind of things can students ask you?
You should feel free to ask us anything. We are happy to answer any question about our programme, such as its modules and structure, and the way we teach it. You may want to ask advice on your next steps after studying on my programme. We are an approachable bunch so feel free to ask away. One of the great things about the open day is that we can never prepare for the kinds of questions we get asked, and so our responses are natural and demonstrate our passion for our subjects and the law school. The most common questions we get are around the format of teaching and assessment, as well as around the extra employability that our degrees offer.
Why is it important to attend the events?
What I have found is that, even though it’s virtual and so you don’t necessarily get a feel for the physical virtues of Bristol which are many, you can find out in a really focused way about the programme and the University. You can make sure that our programmes are tailored to your interests, and we might pique your interest in a slightly different area. By the end of the day, we hope that you will know that our University is the right place for you.