How COVID-19 has altered the way we work and learn

As part of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, we pride ourselves on the high standard of our research output. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve focused much of our efforts into contributing to the research that helps us understand the coronavirus and the impact it has on our lives. This in turn has had an impact on the ways that many in our staff and student community work and learn.


Gaining real-world knowledge

Vishal, MSc Public Health

For some of our master’s students, the real-world events that have been unfolding over the last year have directly impacted their learning experience. For example, Vishal, from our MSc Public Health, has been taking part in theoretical tasks which critically assess what sections of society should receive vaccines first.

It’s very surreal. It‘s happening in reality and we are the ones who would be working in the background in the future.”

Vishal is going to take this combination of theoretical understanding and practical knowledge forward with him into the future and hopes to work for the World Health Organisation.

Are you considering studying a master’s with us? Register for our virtual events running throughout March to find out more.


Academics in the public eye

The pandemic has thrown many of our academics into the limelight. The far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 can be assessed from the perspective of any discipline or subject area, ranging from science, to policy studies to economics. Here’s a few examples of the research being conducted at Bristol:

  • In a ground-breaking study, a team of researchers headed by Professor Christiane Schaffitzel from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry and Professor Imre Berger from the Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, discovered a ‘druggable pocket’ in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that could stop the virus in its tracks. This discovery led the team to being hailed the ‘Pride of Bristol‘!
  • If you’ve been glued to the news like us, you might have seen or heard from Professor Adam Finn. Professor Finn is a Professor of Pediatrics at Bristol and has been featuring in interviews for a variety of media channels. Recently, Professor Finn has contributed to the creation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Handbook, has been running a number of vaccine trials here in Bristol and he has been helping our student community by featuring in mythbusting videos.
  • Researchers in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) at Bristol led the analysis of seven trials which found that corticosteroids reduce risk of death by 20 per cent in critically ill COVID-19 patients.
  • Perhaps you’ve come across Dr Nilufar Ahmed, a Lecturer in Social Sciences here at Bristol. Dr Ahmed has produced work which will help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on BAME and marginalised communities, the response of communities to government advice, and the mental health crisis that will hit services as a result of the pandemic. Dr Ahmed has also recently been interviewed by the BBC to provide advice on how to be healthy and productive while we continue to work at home.
  • Many of our academics have been working to understand how our economy will be affected, including Dr Daniel Tischer, a Lecturer in our School of Management. Dr Tischer has been researching into the way the pandemic may speed up our inevitable move to a cashless society.
  • Thanks to a collaborative project which included a team from the University of Bristol last year, singing was deemed no more risky than talking. This study is crucial in providing guidance on how we can safely begin to attend live musical performances once again.

These are just some examples of the work of our diverse research community, consisting of postgraduates, staff and academics from a variety of disciplines. We’ve also partnered with institutions in over 40 countries around the globe, ensuring we are drawing on the expertise and knowledge of the very best teams. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important the role that universities play is in our society, and we are proud to have such an amazing team of staff and students, working together to combat the virus.

Professor Klaus Schaeck

Professor of Banking and Finance
Programme Director of MSc Banking, Regulation and Financial Stability

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I used to work in banking in Germany but was always more interested in understanding it from an academic perspective. On top of that, I experienced a bank failure myself when the bank I worked at failed. I wanted to get to the bottom of things and so I pursued a master’s degree and a PhD at the University of Southampton, before my appointment as Lecturer in Finance. Prior to being at Bristol, I was Professor of Finance at Lancaster University, Professor of Empirical Banking at Bangor University and Lecturer in Banking at Bayes Business School.

My research interests focus on the empirical modelling of bank behaviour. In particular, I primarily investigate the role of the government in banking systems in terms of regulation, supervision, and bank bailouts, and how such government interventions affect bank conduct.

Why should prospective postgraduates choose to study banking and finance at Bristol?

My programme (MSc Banking, Regulation and Financial Stability), is aimed particularly at recent graduates who wish to pursue a career in banking or financial regulation, or for those who wish to continue to a PhD.

The banking programme has a unique focus on regulation, supervision, compliance and risk management. It goes beyond traditional banking and finance courses by exploring the regulatory demands within banking and examining the role of central banks and international organisations.

We designed it that way because many bankers told us that there is a shortage of people who are interested in the regulatory aspects, there are not enough graduates who know about bank capital regulation, how to comply with changing rules and regulations, and make good choices to help banks perform well in such an environment. A lot of the recruitment in banking is focused on these areas and we wanted to offer a degree programme that fits exactly such needs. We also have a large number of academics who interact with these regulators that teach on the banking degree, and so it made perfect sense to capitalise on these unique features that Bristol offers and students will gain a lot from the anecdotes our staff can tell from their own experience interacting with bankers.

How do you share your industry experience with students?

I have strong links with central banks and international organisations. For example, I’m a frequent visitor to the International Monetary Fund, and have held several visiting appointments at the Deutsche Bundesbank. I was also a consultant in the ECB’s Financial Research Division, and for the World Bank. This research experience is something that I bring to my students and integrate it into their learning, meaning it has real-world relevance. My other colleagues who teach on this programme share this approach.

What is special about your programme?

One of the things that I think is special about our programme is a mentoring scheme that we have set up with several banks, including the Bank of England. Students can apply for this scheme which involves them being put in contact with experts at the banks. They provide further insight into the industry, and can offer help and advice around academic work, job applications and assessment centres etc.

What can prospective students get out of attending virtual events?

I’d recommend you attend a virtual event to find out a bit more about our programmes and what we offer. You can ask questions to help you decide if the course is right for you. I’d encourage you to make a note of some questions in advance of the event, or during the main presentation, then ask them using the chat function.

Despite not being able to experience our city and university facilities in-person, you can still ask just as many questions such as: what’s unique about our programmes? What are the likely career outcomes? What links do our academic staff have with industry? Please don’t be shy! We’d love to hear from you!

Sustainability at the heart of Bristol

Our postgraduates choose to join Bristol for their master’s for a wide range of reasons. Increasingly, with the threat of climate change causing irreversible damage to our planet, the sustainability of our institution and city is cited as one of those reasons. 

Students consulting a campus map in Royal Fort Gardens

In 2019, Bristol was the first UK university to publicly declare a climate emergency. This is a statement that we are proud to be able to say, but what does it mean practically? 

Well, we consider our environmental impact in everything we doour research, our curricula, our buildings and the student experience. We’ve made a range of pledges to reduce the impact we have, including becoming a net carbon neutral campus by 2030, and we regularly make changes, big and small, to achieve this. For example, just last week, we rolled out Ecosia as our default search engine across all University-owned devices which will lead to thousands of trees being planted, with thanks to two of our students who led the initiative.

The living wall on the Life Sciences Building

Our students are actively encouraged to help us meet our targets. A wide range of sustainably-oriented volunteering opportunities are offered through the University as well as the Students’ Union. Not only do these opportunities benefit the community and environment, but they also contribute to the student experience and provide skills that can be taken forward once students graduate.

Our increasingly biodiverse city campus is nestled in the centre of our environmentally-friendly city. Bristol was the first British city to be awarded European Green Capital in 2015 and sustainability is key to the ethos and policies of the city. 

Claire, MSc Environmental Policy and Management


People kept telling me it was a green city and actually living here you can tell that the people here do really care about the environment and a lot of environmental issues, so for someone on an environmental course it’s a really cool place to live.” 

The sustainability of our institution stems from our like-minded and forward-thinking community of students, academics and staff. If you’d like to join our community as a postgraduate student, find out more at our postgraduate virtual events running throughout March. 

You’re invited to our virtual events!

Postgraduate taught virtual events: 1 – 26 March.

Register your place today.

Get ready to study your master’s at Bristol by attending live subject sessions with our academics and explore our webpages to find all the information in one place, at a time that’s convenient to you. Whether you’re just beginning to consider postgraduate study or you’ve already got your offer, take the opportunity to start a conversation with us and get your questions answered.

Subject sessions

Our academics are hosting a range of live subject-specific sessions for you to get to know the key features of the programme you’re interested in. These sessions will all have a live chat function allowing you to submit the questions that you want answered. Our academics are a friendly bunch, and you can get to know some of them ahead of the events by checking out the blogs they’ve written for us!

Student life sessions

Studying for a master’s degree at Bristol is not just about getting a qualification at the end, it’s also about the supportive and friendly learning community that you will become a part of. Our student life sessions will be hosted by a range of teams, and will help you get advice on topics such as the admissions process and funding your degree.

Live chats with current postgraduates

We think Bristol is obviously the best choice for your master’s degree, but don’t just take it from us! Our current postgraduates will be available to speak to in weekly live chats so you can hear about their experiences and ask your questions about what it’s really like to be a postgraduate at Bristol.

On-demand resources live throughout March

During the month-long event, a huge range of on-demand resources will be available to explore on our webpages. Recorded subject and student life webinars from previous events will help you get an overview into your programme and the range of services that will support you while you study. Take the time to browse your unit catalogue to get an understanding of the modules you’ll be studying. You can also watch a variety of videos that will give you an insight into life at the University from a range of perspectives.

Virtual tour

We would love to show you around in person, but in the meantime, why not take a virtual tour of our vibrant city and beautiful campus that sits at the heart of it.


Register your place today.


Dr David Grant

Simulation & Inter-Professional Learning Lead

Programme Director Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Improvement

Programme Co-Director Master’s in Healthcare Management

Find out more about Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals and Healthcare Studies on 11 March.


Tell us about your journey into academia…

The stimulus for my journey into academia came from a desire to continually learn and improve the healthcare we deliver to our patients. I realised that in order to achieve that, we needed to find ways to not only better prepare healthcare professionals to perform well when it matters, but also to arm them with the tools to critically evaluate both the care they deliver and the systems they deliver it in.

My journey started in simulation-based education, but as I grew to understand simulation as a modality, I was able to position and integrate simulation as a tool central to the institutional strategy for systems evaluation, quality improvement and patient safety. This experience underscored the importance of close relationships between educational and governance infrastructures of healthcare organisations to establish learning organisations that continually learn and improve whilst delivering a service.


Why should prospective postgraduates choose to study healthcare at Bristol?

Health systems are increasingly complex, and the global challenges pose significant demands in terms of the skills and knowledge of future healthcare professionals.

The University of Bristol master’s level programmes, MSc Healthcare Management and PG Certificate Healthcare Improvement, aim to create a new generation of healthcare professionals who understand, critically analyse and provide solutions for the challenges faced by health systems and healthcare organisations in the 21st century.

Led by a team of experienced staff passionate about innovative postgraduate education, the Bristol programmes are unique in a variety of ways.

In addition to capitalising on the interdisciplinary strengths of leading academics in the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Economics, Finance and Management, it uniquely facilitates the practical application of academia and research in a real life working environment. In the form of a Quality Improvement project via a capstone unit, students are able to demonstrate what they’ve learnt and the skills gained during their studies. This not only allows students the opportunity to gain deeper understanding, but directly links improvement and management strategies with the challenges faced by the healthcare organisations, granting our students the opportunity to work on real healthcare problems with the goal of providing viable solutions that their healthcare organisation can implement immediately.


What can prospective students get out of attending the virtual events?

Students will be able to get a high-level overview of both the master’s level programmes and ask the programme directors clarifying questions. This will allow you to make sure that the programme is the right one to suit your interests, aims and objectives.


Find out more at our virtual events in March.


Professor Charlotte Villiers

Charlotte Villiers, Professor of Company Law and Corporate Governance  

Tell us about your journey into academia… 

Having trained and qualified as a lawyer in a City law firm I took up practice, specialising in employment law in the City. It did not take long for me to learn that the legal system was not at all perfect and the inequalities built into the system were plain to see. I wanted to have the opportunity to write critically about the law and the limitations within the system and so I took a master’s degree whilst in practice. After completing my master’s, I began life in my first post as a Lecturer in Law (a PhD was not required all those years ago!).  

I have stayed in academia and am now Professor of Company Law and Corporate Governance. It is such a rich subject that involves not just legal technicalities but includes discourse on how to organise production and delivery of services, how to manage people, how to balance different interests, how to ensure accountability and how to conduct business sustainably. Whilst many companies do great things, providing useful products and services for society, there are also many harms arising from corporate activities including exploitation of workers, environmental damage and human rights violations. Company law and corporate governance regulation have a role to play in reducing these harmful impacts and my research explores how law and regulation might be developed to help companies to be operated sustainably within planetary boundaries. My postgraduate courses are designed with a central focus on this key concern.  

have had a wonderful, interesting career filled with variety and opportunities to work with people in many different roles and across the world. I still write critically about the law, a system still filled with limitations but also great promise. The best part of my career has been all the students I have met and taught throughout my career. As I have taught them, they have taught me, to be humble and ever open to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. As the Law School’s current Postgraduate Director of Studies, I lead all our taught programmes and I am the main contact for our postgraduate students.


Why should prospective students choose Bristol for studying law at postgraduate level 

Our postgraduate programmes have something to offer everyone. We have a fantastic range of different LLM streams covering all areas of law, including international law, commercial law, employment law, corporate governance, health law and banking and finance law to name just a few. Within all of the programmes, there is a large variety of options to choose from. These reflect the wide and diverse interests of all the lecturers and professors in this big Law School. As research-led courses, they are designed to provide our students with information and discussions that are at the forefront of cuttingedge research. We share our research with our students and encourage them to engage with it and to be involved in the key debates within the fields in which they are studying. Our students are then supported in developing their own research ideas in their dissertation which forms a compulsory part of all our LLM programmes.

Many of our students go on to publish their dissertation research and to pursue it further in PhD research either in Bristol or elsewhere. They gain confidence as a result of the small class sizes, which provide a genuine opportunity to be known personally by all their tutors, as well as by their personal academic tutor who supports their study and development whilst they are members of the Law School.  This is a Law School with a culture built on interesting and original ideas, as well as kindness and collegiality. It is a place in which staff and students can thrive intellectually and socially. It helps that the University of Bristol is located in a beautiful, lively, open-minded city that blends history and modernity in a way that makes it vibrant and unique.  


What advice would you give to a student applying for a postgraduate law course? 

Have a clear idea of what you want to study and what you want to achieve. Be prepared to immerse yourself fully in our Law School community, academically and socially. Explore Bristol and make lots of new friends. 


What can prospective students get out of attending the virtual events? 

The virtual events will be an opportunity to meet some of the academic staff and students and you can ask any questions about the University, the Law School, the courses and the city. These events enable you to make sure that the programme is the right one to suit your studying, research and career aspirationsthat the approach to learning suits the way you work best, and that Bristol is the city that suits your social and cultural interests.