Dave Jarman – Arts

Dave Jarman is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the Faculty of Arts.

Tell us about your journey into academia… 

Like most of the team at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I’ve followed a slightly unconventional path into academia! We actually pride ourselves on the diversity of experience we’ve collectively accumulated!  

After my own master’s degree at Bristol, I was initially a skills trainer and development coach in the Students’ Union and later the Careers Service here at the UniversityThen just over 10 years ago started supporting freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs whilst working for the University’s Research and Enterprise Division, supporting new social and commercial ventures ranging from healthcare and high-tech ideas to charities and creative freelancers.  

I eventually became the Head of Enterprise Education here at Bristol, chaired the UK’s national network of entrepreneurship educators, and then became the Head of both Careers and Enterprise at a creative arts university just down the road. I got tempted back to Bristol with a switch to the academic side of the house as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at what was then a brand new Centre in 2016. 


What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students? 

My top tip for prospective postgraduate students when applying is to show us the trajectory that you’re on; what I mean by this is if we’re going to invest in you and support you, we want to see in your application some evidence of your passion and skill so far, and also your ambitions for the future. We want to invest in students who’ve got the motivation to make the most of the course, so show us your initiative, show us your burning interest, show us your hopes for the future and that’ll excite us about wanting to work with you to achieve that. 


What’s your experience of events at Bristol? 

Whilst events have moved online they’re still a great way to meet people. I love meeting prospective students and talking through their ideas and ambitions. It’s really fun sharing our programme with people who are usually surprised by just how practical it is. 


Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the virtual events? 

Make the most out of all the resources and opportunities available. Read the information, come to events and ask questions using the chat, listen in to the briefings and try to get a feel for what we do. If you’re still not sure about something, get in touch and ask! 


What kind of things can students ask you? 

Applicants can ask almost anything, certainly about what and how we teach, and what and how we assess (clue: no exams), but I’d also welcome questions about what a great city Bristol is for start-up and innovation. We often get questions about getting the chance to work on a specific idea during the master’s, which is possible, but most students tend to have better ideas whilst they’re studying! I also get asked if you need a business idea to even apply, to which the answer is a definite “no”, we can help you have all those ideas! 


Why is it important to attend the events? 

Research is important! Obviously I’d say that, but it is important to get a proper feel for what you’re applying to. It’ll help you make the best choice and it’ll help give you content to put into your application too. It’s also fun!


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Professor Dave Cowan

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. 

Meet the lecturer: Dr Florian Scheding

Meet Dr Florian Scheding, Senior Lecturer in Music.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

There was no grand plan behind my journey into academia. Rather, it was a journey of curiosity. One aspect of this is that I wanted to know about and live in different countries, and moving from degree to degree led me to study at universities in Germany, Spain, and Britain. I was very lucky along the way (and perhaps I also did well in my academic work) because opportunities always presented themselves, until, after jobs at different institutions, I was fortunate to be offered a position in Bristol.


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

The MA Music in Bristol rightly has a reputation of being one of the country’s best postgraduate taught programmes in music. I love teaching the excellent students who choose to study here. With their diverse backgrounds and interests, many of our postgraduate students take advantage of the flexibility the programme offers them and tailor their unit choices to best suit them, and accompanying them on their journey is a real privilege.


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduates?

Embarking on a postgraduate taught programme at a top University like Bristol may be one of the most intense experiences you ever do: you learn things every day, you are challenged every day, you discover something new every day. Try to get the most out of it while you’re here: go to events, be proactive, get involved with societies, meet people. Your postgraduate study is a unique time, and that intensity can make it one of the most enriching years of your life.


Meet the lecturer: Dr Andy Flack

Meet Dr Andy Flack, Lecturer in Modern and Environmental History.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

To be honest, I fell into my academic career. There was no particular plan that I opted to follow. Having completed my BA in History, I undertook an MA in Contemporary History before going to work in the Third Sector in London. I was lured to undertake doctoral study – An Animal History of Bristol Zoo – four years later not because I aspired to an academic career, but because I was relentlessly curious. I missed the university environment and the kind of learning that it fosters.

Indeed, I’ve loved learning from an early age. From childhood through my teenage years and into my adult life, I could usually be found with my nose buried deep in a work of history, or alternatively a work of natural history. From that point of view, it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve ended up working as an environmental historian; a field which combines history with the natural sciences, and which studies the ways in which people in the past have interacted with the natural world. I also need to note that I undertook all my degrees here, at the University of Bristol. There is certainly something about this place – and the way in which it teaches History – that has kept me ‘hooked’.


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

I love teaching on postgraduate History programmes. MA students on our courses tend to be committed to learning about the past in active conversation with their peers, both staff and students. Indeed, we very much feel that our master’s students are valuable co-investigators as we collectively look to the past to see what we can unearth.

In particular, the MA History course allows students to undertake deep reading and research across historical periods, places, and topics. There are several specific areas where our University is especially strong. We have a strong team of historians of modern Britain, modern America, and slavery, as well as the largest grouping of environmental historians anywhere in the world, beyond a couple of institutions in North America. The MA course gives me an unequalled opportunity to teach my own specialism – modern environmental history – with my colleagues and in depth – to students who are committed to and excited by the past and the lessons we might draw from it that can help us to address some of the greatest crises of our times.


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students?

My top tip for prospective postgraduates is to enter your studies with an open mind. Certainly, you’ll most likely have identified the kinds of histories you know you like via previous degrees, for example. The MA will give you the chance to dive deep into those histories. However, the most rewarding aspect of postgraduate study, in my view, is embracing the chance to study people, places, and approaches to the past that you might be deeply unfamiliar with. Take a ‘risk’. What about Medical History? Or Environmental History (of course…)? Take the road less travelled and you might find that your way of thinking about the world – in the past and present – is changed forever, opening an array of new opportunities in the process.



Meet the lecturer: Dr Juan Zhang

Meet Dr Juan Zhang, lecturer in Social Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I encountered Anthropology by chance! Growing up in China and studying Urban Planning for my undergraduate degree, I wanted to gain a more human-centred understanding on urban space and social relations for my postgraduate training. With that, I decided to study Sociology in Singapore. There I was introduced to Anthropology and fell in love with ethnography and participatory research.

My master’s research was an ethnographic exploration of how migrant workers in Singapore formed weekend communities that led to drastic transformation on urban space. This experience was a revelation that Anthropology could provide a unique perspective into the ways in which people interact, make connections and create new meanings and practices that would challenge any fixed or taken for granted thinking on space and society.

I completed my PhD in Anthropology with a project at the China-Vietnam borderland that looked at the relationship between borders and livelihoods. An ethnographic approach has helped me understand human complexities and social change that challenges any black-or-white thinking about society at the everyday level. With my PhD, I worked as Research Fellow and Lecturer in Singapore and Australia before finally coming to Bristol. (Yes travelling is a big part of being an Anthropologist!)


What’s the best thing about your postgraduate taught programme?

The MA in Anthropology is a PGT programme that I designed and have directed since 2019. I teach the Anthropological Theory and Practice core unit as well as the Work Placement in Anthropology optional unit.

The Theory and Practice unit focuses on both theoretical training and practical application of anthropological knowledge on complex social problems in relation to design, technology, work, and sustainability. Guest lecturers with different disciplinary backgrounds come to our MA class with diverse expertise that cover topics from nature to energy, big data to digital museums, the future of work to social policy. Work Placement in Anthropology offers the excellent opportunity for students to be connected to Bristol-based companies and organisations beyond the university setting. Current placement projects involve We the Curious, Icon Films, Realise Design, local museums, community and charity groups. Immersive experiences with these employers and networks created through internships and placements are what makes the MA Anthropology experience meaningful and rewarding.


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students?

My top tip for prospective students who wish to be the next generation of Anthropologists is to embrace independence and critical thinking. This MA will help you value research and social engagement as a way of understanding people and society through their diversities and complexities.

This programme focuses on research training and will offer opportunities to students who show their passion and ambition towards research initiatives, which may potentially transform ideas and practices!

Meet the lecturer: Dr Egle Cesnulyte

Meet Dr Egle Cesnulyte, Lecturer in Politics and International Development in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I was supposed to be an economist – I did my undergraduate degree in Economics and got a good job in the field after my studies. However, very quickly I realised that thinking as an economist does not help to answer many questions that I still had. I came to Bristol to do MSc in International Development, got super interested in gender and how it interacts with economic and political structures, and this led me to a PhD in International Studies and Politics at the University of Leeds.

In my doctoral research I explored the agency and its limits of women selling sex in Mombasa, Kenya. After completing my PhD I taught at the Universities of Leeds and Warwick before completing the circle and coming to work here at Bristol where my academic journey had started many years ago.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

I love that our MSc student body is so diverse – we have people coming from different places in the world, with different professional backgrounds and with a wealth of local, national and international experiences and knowledge. I teach an MSc unit ‘Gender and Development’ and bringing all those experiences and knowledge into a classroom is an amazing resource – I learn so much from my students, and our conversations and discussions are always so rich and thought provoking.

What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students?

Use your time at Bristol to explore things beyond the compulsory classes. SPAIS has three vibrant research Centres (Gender Research Centre, Global Insecurities Centre, Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship), the University hosts amazing institutes (Cabot Institute, Migration and Mobilities Institute, Centre for Africa Research and Partnerships to mention just a few) – all of them organise events, lectures, discussions and workshops that are open to students. This is your chance to engage with top researchers and hottest research topics in academia as part of our community – use it!


Meet the lecturer: Professor Katharine Charsley

Meet Professor Katharine Charsley, Professor of Migration Studies in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies.


Tell us about your journey into academia…

As an undergraduate I was enrolled on a Geography degree at Edinburgh, but took Social Anthropology as an outside subject and became fascinated by the study of people and society (which played a more minor part in the Geography curriculum), so switched to that as the main subject for my degree. By the time I graduated four years later with an MA, I was pretty sure I wanted to give an academic career in social sciences a stab, and applied for and was offered a research assistant job on an interesting project at the University of Bristol. So, that’s how I discovered this wonderful city and started my connection with this University.

I returned to Edinburgh to do a PhD (jointly in Sociology and Social Anthropology) on marriages between British Pakistanis and partners from Pakistan – a subject I had become intrigued by whilst working at Bristol. The fieldwork took me to Pakistan, and then back to Bristol, and the research led to a passion for the study of migration.

After my PhD I had a postdoctoral fellowship and a one year teaching job at Edinburgh, followed by a 3 year post at Oxford, setting up and running a Migration Studies degree. I have been so fortunate to work in three amazing places with wonderful colleagues, but Bristol always had a special place in my heart, so when a lectureship came up in Sociology, I applied, and have been back working at the University of Bristol since 2009. Here I’ve found a stimulating and friendly community of Sociologists, great colleagues in the wider School, and am part of developing a substantial and dynamic network of migration researchers from across the University.


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

It’s hard to pick one favourite thing, but probably the opportunity to teach on subjects about which I am passionately interested. It’s good for the students – the research-led teaching which is a key feature of our master’s programmes means that you’re being taught by people actively involved in the field rather than just teaching from a text book. It’s also great for me – when I bring my own research interests into the classroom at master’s level I often get new perspectives which stimulate my own thinking. And in teaching on migration, the diverse backgrounds of our students makes for a particularly stimulating conversation.

I’m writing this having just taught my last master’s seminar for this academic year, and it has been so rewarding to hear from students about how their interest in the subject has blossomed across the course of the unit, and the new perspectives it has given them on issues of gender, family and migration.


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduates?

Make the most of the opportunities available to you here, both inside and outside the classroom. Bring an open, critical and curious mind to your studies, and throw yourself into classroom discussions and your own research. Keep an eye out for all the other events and opportunities around the University such as those offered by our interdisciplinary Research Centres and Institutes. And apply your sociological imagination to the social world around you in Bristol, and the local or global communities and activities in which you are engaged. Each should enhance the others in terms of your intellectual development, and your experience during your degree.


Meet the lecturer: Dr Emma Williams

Meet Dr Emma Williams, Lecturer in Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, School of Economics, Finance and Management.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

When I was a student at university studying psychology, I never planned to be a university lecturer. Instead, I’ve taken a more roundabout journey in my career so far, following opportunities that arose and things that I was interested in, and here I am!

I’ve worked in many places, including hospital settings, Special Educational Needs contexts, and in behavioural and social science research roles in both the public and private sectors. In 2015, I decided to return to academia so that I could develop more specialist expertise, undertaking research to explore how people behave online, specifically how we can empower consumers and organisations to be more secure in online and digital contexts.

Last year, I became Programme Director for the MSc Marketing in our School of Management and have hugely enjoyed interacting with our marketing students this year, watching them grow in confidence, challenge their preconceptions and develop their interests and knowledge in relation to contemporary marketing.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

I love interacting with our students, discussing their ideas and critiques, exploring what they think about the various areas that we teach and how they consider this to apply to the challenges of marketing practice.

Within the programme, we very much focus on developing a critical view in students, understanding the ethical implications of marketing practice, as well as current global issues that marketers face, such as sustainability, social impact, and the responsible use of big data and other innovative technologies. In this way, we try and prepare students for the challenges that contemporary marketers may face in the future. This is something that we aim to continually develop on the programme, based on student feedback and emerging research, to identify the best ways that we can engage students and develop a supportive and friendly learning environment where they can work both with others, and with us, to learn about contemporary marketing.

Within the school, we also try and provide students with as many links to industry sectors as possible via visiting speakers and the opportunity to undertake an Applied Extended Project in collaboration with an organisational partner.

What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduates?

My top tip has to be: be open to exploring different interests, ideas and concepts throughout your postgraduate journey.

I was once told to constantly reflect on what it is you actually want to do with your life. Postgraduate study provides a unique opportunity where you’ll have the time and space to read a range of material, be encouraged to challenge and consider different views and experiences, and really explore what it is that you’re interested in and what kind of future you want to pursue. This is time that is often missing when we move into a full-time job! Within the MSc, we provide students with a number of opportunities to critically consider a range of different topics in relation to contemporary marketing practice and students are often surprised about what areas they actually find the most interesting. So, be open to the experience, curious about your interests, and ready to challenge your expectations…!


Meet the lecturer: Dr Lloyd Fletcher

Meet Dr Lloyd Fletcher, Lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Management.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I took a long and twisting road, moving from my roots in science and engineering to the ‘dark side’ of social science! I had no long range plans, more a series of tactical steps as my interests and skills evolved.

After a first degree in physics in the UK, I studied computer engineering at master’s level in the States. Despite the urging of my dissertation supervisor to stay on for a PhD in computer vision, I then spent several years in the US telecoms sector as an analyst, project, and product manager. This developed my interest in business and management, so I went back to school for an MBA.

After graduating I spent some time as an independent management and research consultant in America, before returning to settle in the UK, where I ran IT departments for a scientific publisher. Following that, I became a freelance consultant again, helping organisations with their strategic thinking and project management problems.

Throughout my academic and business careers, I had developed a desire to explore and explain why businesses and organisations seemed to be so often dysfunctional, suboptimal, inefficient and disappointing! Plus, I’d nurtured that temptation to go back for a PhD, in part for the intellectual challenge, but mostly because I’d always enjoyed teaching and research, and wanted to do it at the highest level in an area that drew on what I’d learned on my journey so far. This led me to a PhD in management at Bristol, and a lectureship here.


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

Light bulbs going off! (I mean metaphorically in the heads of our students.) Seeing someone ‘get it’ – a challenging or complex idea that we’ve been discussing in class or they’ve been reading about, and through applying it to a real life case, or exploring the theory in depth, they suddenly fully grasp it and get excited about how they could use it – that might be in their future careers or even in their own academic studies.

These sorts of ‘tangible truths’ are especially common in my project management courses, where students leave with practical tools and valuable insights that they can use right away. Projects are everywhere, and we need good project managers, so our focus is on helping students become critical, systematic, and rigorous thinkers about projects and their management: in other words, we try to shed light on the subject from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. So the more light bulbs the better!


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduates?

Develop a clear rationale for why you want to study at this level and what you want to get out of it in the long term. Then be prepared to fully engage and commit to what it will take to get you there. And to figure out what that entails, talk to faculty and students: tell us what you’re hoping to achieve, and ask us what we think you’ll need to do to accomplish those goals on our programme. Armed with those answers, decide if you think you’re willing and able to ‘do what it takes’.

Meet the lecturer: Dr Jordi Paps Montserrat

Meet Dr Jordi Paps Montserrat, lecturer in Bioinformatics in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

The X-Men made me do it! I am interested in how changes in the genetic makeup of organisms have driven the evolution of life. I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool. When I was a kid, I loved reading comic books and sci-fi novels. Well, I still very much do so! They were a fantastic first contact with science and how it provides some answers to life, the universe, and everything. Plus, mutants have very cool powers.

I went to university to study Biology, with a focus on molecular biology. During my degree, I discovered a previously unknown fascination for genetics and evolution, and I wanted to learn more. This led me to do a PhD degree on this topic (Barcelona), in which I also found out how much I enjoy teaching. After my PhD, I embarked on a couple of post-doctoral positions (Oxford). In 2015 I got my first lecturer position in Essex, and in 2019 I moved to Bristol. I love Bristol, the University is an amazing intellectual environment and the city culture is lively. In many ways it reminds me of my hometown, Barcelona, and I feel at home here.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

Teaching is one of the most rewarding activities as an academic. I am thrilled to see the impact the MSc in Bioinformatics is going to have on our students. I think research-led master’s programmes like ours provide skills to our students, allowing them to face modern problems in a way they couldn’t before.

During the last 20 years, all the life sciences have lived a major revolution, a true paradigm shift. Now we have access to humongous amounts of data, in many different fields, from genomics to biochemistry, to ecology or behaviour. And this data has changed how we see and understand the world, but also required new approaches to cope with it. This explosion of data is also impacting the public sector, with projects like Genomics England (sequencing the genome of 100,000 humans), and private companies (think of “23 and me” or “Ancestry.com”).

Many employers seek to recruit intelligent graduate students that have advanced IT skills. Our students will work with world-leading researchers and leave the programme equipped with the critical thinking and skills required to work on any of these areas, from research to private businesses.

What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students?

Stay curious! In this master’s you will do science, and there is no more important quality for scientists. If you are curious about nature, you will be interested in one or more questions, and this interest will lead you to want to learn more and work hard on these problems.

Also, if you love life sciences but are concerned about things like programming, don’t fret! This is a programme designed and taught by scientists for scientists. We are not computer engineers (well, there is one!), we are scientists that have learnt a few computer tricks to tackle biological questions. This programme does not assume you have any previous knowledge of programming, and will teach you from scratch.