Discovering the fascinating world of medieval history at Bristol

Have you ever heard someone say ‘history is boring’? Those people probably also think that studying history is just remembering dates and famous battles. But here, at the University of Bristol, we want to challenge that view and show how fascinating history can be!

Read on to find out about some of the wonderful discoveries that have been uncovered by Bristol’s academics and archivists over the last couple of years…


February 2021

Accounts uncovered about weird weather in Bristol 400 years ago.

The chronicle entries, seemingly written by a Jacobean weather enthusiast, describe how Bristol and its wider region was affected by crop failures, famines, great freezes, floods, unseasonal blizzards, tempests and droughts. It was even possible to walk over frozen rivers for months on end in those ‘strangely altered’ times.

September 2020

Beautiful page of an 800 year old ‘Glastonbury Bible’ is acquired by the University’s Special Collections.

Students on the University’s popular MA in Medieval Studies make extensive use of manuscripts in the Library’s Special Collections throughout their master’s. The high quality of the acquired leaf and its local provenance make it an inspirational asset in the teaching of medieval book production and culture and will help our students learn to decipher medieval handwriting!

October 2019

13th century, 22,000 line love poem with one of medieval Europe’s best known sex scenes identified by a Bristol academic.

Professor Ailes called Le Roman de la Rose ‘the blockbuster of its day’ and it gives us an intriguing insight into sex, love, and romance in these times. The pages found were particularly interesting, as they related to the conclusion of the story which describes a sexual encounter between the two main characters. It is thought that these had been removed by someone who was offended by the perceived vulgarity of the encounter!

January 2019

Lost manuscripts from the 16th century found hidden away in the Bristol Central Library relating to Merlin the magician, one of the most famous characters from Arthurian legend.

The manuscripts were discovered by Michael Richardson from the Special Collections Library, whilst looking for materials for students studying MA Medieval Studies. One of the most exciting elements of this particular find is that the Bristol fragments contain evidence of subtle, but significant, differences from the traditional narrative of the stories that we know and love.

Have these stories peaked your interest in Medieval History and the potential for making exciting historical discoveries yourself? Come along to our upcoming virtual event all about MA Medieval Studies on 7 May. The event will be hosted by our academics and you’ll get the opportunity to ask them your questions.

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.

Happy holidays from the Postgraduate Team!

Here at the University, we’re winding down and getting ready for the festive season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, we hope that you get some time to relax and enjoy this holiday period.

Our Enquiries Team will be taking a break too, with the University closing down from 5pm tomorrow, 18 December, so we’ll respond to any queries during this period from 9am on 5 January. This includes phone calls, emails and our social media channels.

Many of our students, including postgraduates, will be staying in Bristol over the holiday season, so we’ve organised a range of activities and events to keep our students entertained during this time.

2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, and we hope that we can all enter 2021 with a newfound resilience and hope that the year ahead will be brighter.

If you’re going to use the break to find out more about pursuing postgraduate study with us, we have a wealth of on-demand resources on our webpages from our postgraduate open weeks in November. You can watch recorded webinars hosted by our academics about the subjects you’re interested in, as well as student life webinars to find out about the support available to you while you’re here. If you’d like to attend a live event, register your interest for our virtual events in March and you’ll be the first to know when bookings go live.

If you have any queries, please contact, and we’ll get back to you in the New Year.

We hope you stay safe and enjoy the holiday season.


The Postgraduate Team


Four tips for attending the postgraduate virtual open weeks

We’re looking forward to you joining us online for our postgraduate taught and research open weeks! Read on to find out our four tips for making the most of the event:

1. Make sure you’ve registered for all the subject and student life webinars you want to attend and you’ve scheduled them into your day.

You’re welcome to attend as many webinars as you like. Haven’t quite decided what programme is right for you yet? No problem! By attending all the subject webinars you’re interested in, you can compare our programmes and work out which one suits your interests and experience the most. If there are any clashes, you’ll be able to watch webinars on demand after the events are finished.

Our student life webinars will be hosted by our expert staff in a variety of departments, from the Accommodation Office to the Admissions Team, so make sure you come along and get their specialist advice.

2. Come prepared with your questions.

Our academics are a ‘friendly bunch!’ They will be hosting their subject webinars and and are happy for you to ask them all the questions that matter to you, so that you get all the information you need about postgraduate study with us.

Our current students will also be manning the live chat sessions which are available to drop into throughout the week. These are specifically for you to get your questions answered by people who have been in your position and can give you their advice and share their experiences.

3. Spend some time navigating our resources.

We’ve been working hard to make sure you have access to all the same information you would if you were at a physical event. Watch our welcome video and hear from our student panel, and take a virtual tour of our campus to get a real feel for our University.

4. Keep in touch!

We understand that you might not be able to make your decision about whether Bristol is the right place for your postgraduate degree straight away, so make sure you keep in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We post our news and research outputs regularly, and keep both current and prospective students updated via those channels. If you live in China, we also have WeChat and Weibo accounts.

If you have any questions about the event or postgraduate study in general, please don’t hesitate to email us at


To learn more about a master’s at Bristol, register for our postgraduate taught virtual open week, 16 – 20 November.


To learn more about postgraduate research at Bristol, register for our postgraduate research virtual open week, 23 – 27 November.


Dr Emeliana Palk – NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Dr Emeliana Palk manages the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership based at the University of Bristol, and she popped in (virtually) to answer some questions.


Tell us about your journey into academia…

Well, it’s been a ‘Long and Winding Road’ to borrow from the Beatles song! As a child, I loved everything to do with nature from plants to rocks and a bit of chemistry in between. Nevertheless, I didn’t do a degree after leaving school and instead took a job in an accountant’s office. I loved working with numbers to balance the books and loved the detective work of figuring out the missing pieces when putting together a set of accounts. Eventually I qualified as a Chartered Accountant. But this career wasn’t science, my first love, and I missed that.

Fast forward to when started a family: I left my career in accountancy to bring up my two sons and, as time went by, I thought ‘what if I could make up for opportunities that I missed and study for a degree?’ I’m so thankful to Birkbeck College for giving me the chance to take a degree in geology, part-time and in the evenings to suit my caring responsibilities, and I never looked back. After my degree, Imperial College gave me the amazing opportunity to research for a PhD in isotope geochemistry. Here’s the thing: I was able to research for my PhD part-time and the work was entirely based in the lab, which was perfect for fitting the work around bringing up my sons.

Well, I got my PhD four years ago and, after doing some postdoc research, I landed my dream job of managing a Doctoral Training Partnership with around 200 PhD researchers working the entire breadth of the Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences. I love the way I can be involved in a vast array of different scientific fields as I was always interested in so many different things and it suits me better than being immersed in a particular research area. That’s just my preference and you may want something different.

Oh, remember that finance and accountancy experience I got in the dim and distant past? It’s so handy to have that expertise when dealing with all sorts of things in my job, from the intricacies of PhD studentship funding to arranging internships for my PhD researchers!

What’s the most difficult thing you encountered during your PhD?

Could this mean messing up samples by pipetting the wrong solution into them or breaking stuff in the lab? Well, I’ve done all that, and more but, no, these were not the most difficult things to overcome. It’s probably the feeling of inadequacy that you’re doing this complex PhD research and all those around you seem cleverer and more capable, especially when you’re alone with your thoughts in the lab or buried in data. This is very common amongst PhD researchers but was a very strong feeling in me because I did my PhD much later in life than most. We recognise this in our doctoral training programme and provide you with strategies to help you deal with these feelings.

What tips do you have for PhD applicants?

Don’t leave it to January to do your CV and personal statement! Choose your project carefully because it will literally be your life for four years. You should get in touch with the lead supervisor on the projects you’re interested in and ask them questions about the research to make absolutely sure it’s right for you. Don’t be shy asking those questions, either: supervisors love to engage with applicants who show a keen interest in their projects! It’s better to find out now what the research involves rather than later after you’ve started.

It’s also worth spending some time working on your personal statement so that you can put across some of that passion you have for science. When I start writing a draft of something important like that, I give myself enough time to keep coming back to it when thoughts and ideas pop into my head. Eventually it takes shape and portrays the passion I have for whatever it is I’m writing about. So, start now!

What kind of things can applicants ask you?

As a Doctoral Training Partnership, we’re a bit unusual in that we accept applications for PhDs at four universities (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter) and several environmental research organisations, so our webinar will reflect this, too. So whichever university you’re applying to, you’re most welcome to attend my webinar. When you’re accepted for one of our PhDs, you will become a member of our doctoral research community and  be entitled to take part in an extensive training and career development programme.

So, ask me about our cohort events, our conferences and symposia, and our paid internships! Ask me how we support our carers and ask me what support you get if you fall ill. Ask me about the application process. In fact, ask me anything on your mind – you’re not expected to know everything and applying for and doing a PhD is a huge commitment, so feel free to ask questions to your heart’s content!

How can PhD applicants make the most of open week?

Come to my webinar! OK, there are others to go to as well. Apart from the subjects you’re interested in, sign up for things like ‘How to make the best STEM application for a postgraduate research degree’ and hear what actual PhD Researchers have to say by signing up for ‘Perspectives from current science postgraduate researchers – a student panel’.

Oh, by the way, did I mention I’m doing a webinar? Don’t forget to sign up for my ‘NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership‘ webinar. It’s on Wednesday 25 November at 4pm GMT for one hour and you’ll have plenty of time to ask your questions.