If you’ve been doing some research into the University of Leicester then you’ll probably know that it’s a ‘research led’ or ‘research-intensive’ University. But perhaps you don’t really know what that means, or how it will impact upon the course you’re looking to study. So I’m going to try and help to answer those two questions based on my experience with the School of Historical studies.
First of all, what is a research-intensive University? To answer this question I’m going to go into full historical essay mode and add a quote from a recognised academic. John Taylor, a professor at the University of Liverpool, comments that the ‘use of terms such as “research-intensive” or “research led”… does not mean that the institution is not committed to teaching and learning… rather, it means that nature and content of these other activities are shaped by their research base’(1).
So, basically, a research intensive University is one where the research interests of the lecturers are brought into the teaching. Research and teaching go hand in hand however, and one is not neglected for the other, so don’t worry!
From my personal perspective and experience, being taught by or receiving a lecture from academics that are doing work that is current in their field enriches rather than detracts from the experience you have at University. When a Doctor or Professor is able to bring share their own research with students it makes for very interesting lectures and seminars for a number of reasons:
- Academics are automatically more enthusiastic about work they’re personally doing! Of course they are, why else would they be doing it?
- You are able to understand more fully the way the topic you are studying has developed as you’re experiencing current issues that arise from a specific subject.
- If you’re interested in academia as a future profession, it’s a great insight into how it works.
So, now for a couple of examples from BA History about how you get the chance to interact with scholars that are at the forefront of research in their fields.
Today I had a lecture with Dr Turi King, a lecturer on Genetics and Anthropology and worked on the project which led to the discovery and the identification of the remains of Richard III. It was fascinating to hear about the processes and the work that went into the project and it made me feel a strong sense of pride that this cutting edge research took place at the University of Leicester. She then applied her study of genetics to the question of whether the concept of race can be defined solidly by DNA and discussed her own research and experience of this topic with us.
Another example occurred to me as I was looking down my reading list for my first assignment. I found a book that I thought was interesting so I searched for it through the library database, and then realised that the author had given me a lecture that very same day. I find it incredibly encouraging to know that the people who are teaching me are involved in the current academia and debate within their field and can therefore give the most up to date summary of their study.
When someone is discussing their own personal experiences I find it so much more engaging and I feel like it has benefitted my studies to have lecturers and seminar leaders that are heavily involved in there scholarship of their subjects of interest.
P.S. For perspective history students, here’s a quick peek at the way some footnotes are organised.
(1) J. Taylor, ‘Managing the Unmanageable: the Management of Research in Research-intensive Universities’, in Journal of the Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education: Higher Education Management and Policy, 18, no. 2 (2006), p. 11.