Tips from Prize-Winners

We are delighted to announce that three of our academics have recently been recognised in the QMSU’s Teaching Awards. Dr Natalie Pollard won the Postgraduate Teaching Award (for her teaching on the MA module ‘Forms of Modernism’); Professor Julia Boffey won the Postgraduate Research Supervisor of the Year Award; and Dr Sam McBean won the Assessment and Feedback Champion Award.

Here, the three prize winners give their top tips for success:

Dr Natalie Pollard (on what makes for an effective MA class)

  • Interpretation, critique and dialogue as live interaction – not lonely brow-scratching! Complex ideas are read together as part of everyday life, and the social stakes of what we say and do. ​
  • A space of intellectual and creative risk-taking – of ‘serious play!’ – where learning is mutual and surprising.
  • Most important of all is the good – the really good – conversation.

Dr Sam McBean (on what makes good feedback)

  • Point to the strengths

I always try to start my feedback by summarizing for the student what I got from their piece – what the argument was, what points were made. I think it is important to let students know what stands out about their work and what they’ve managed to most clearly convey to their reader. Sometimes we might think of feedback as constructive criticism but it is just as important to outline what a piece of writing has achieved. From my experience, students respond to reading what it is that was successful about their writing and this helps them to model their future assignments on what has worked in the past.

  • There’s always room for improvement

No assignment is perfect! And it shouldn’t be. Students who score a 2:2 should get clear feedback on what they need to do to reach that 2:1; students who score a 2:1 should be able to understand what they need to do to get that 1st; and students who get a 1st should get feedback on how to edge their work into MA level or even towards publication. In my feedback I always try to give clear pointers on how a piece’s strengths might be brought out. For example, while I try to explain what might not have worked as well, I also often tell students where certain parts of their writing edged into a higher grade point. This gives them clear direction on not only what was less successful but also examples from their own work of what could be developed into stronger future work.

  • The feedback is in the detail

Students are always told to “evidence” their claims in their work – close reading, close reading, close reading! I think the same applies to lecturers when it comes to feedback. I always try to evidence my feedback by pointing to particular examples in students’ work, being clear about what I think works or where improvements could be made. Just like I tell my students to avoid vague language in their work, I try to aim for clarity in my feedback. It is through attention to detail that I think students can really achieve an understanding of their grade and the ability to work towards improving their critical writing skills.

Professor Julia Boffey (on what makes an effective PGR Supervisor)

  • Work *with* students to find and shape a worthwhile topic that will interest both them and you, and will enable them to play to their strengths
  • Keep in touch with them, even (perhaps especially?) during periods when they may not be producing written work for discussion
  • Keep them thinking about life beyond the PhD, as well as about completing it (what will they want to do next? how best can they be preparing for this during the PhD? what kinds of contacts/activities/training will help them prepare for what comes next?)

You can read more about the QMSU Teaching awards on their website.

English Postgraduate Research Seminar Series (Spring 2015)

The English Postgraduate Research Seminar is a series of research seminars run by PhD students in the Department of English, Queen Mary University London. The English PGRS welcomes speakers from a number of academic institutions, who come to discuss their current research-in-progress with staff and postgraduate students in the English Department. The papers are followed by a question and answer session, a drinks reception in the Lock-keeper’s Common Room, and dinner in a local restaurant.

Seminars typically take place on Thursdays at 5:15pm in the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage on Queen Mary’s Mile End campus.

The schedule for Semester 2 below is correct at time of publishing, but check the English PGRS website and their Twitter feed for updates.

  • Week 1 – 15. January 2015: Alexandra da Costa (Cambridge), ‘Marketing Forbidden Books and Training Illicit Readers: Evangelical Printing in the 1530s’
  • Week 2 – 22. January 2015: Bonnie Greer
  • Week 3 – 29. January 2015: David Attwell (York)
  • Week 4 – 05. February 2015: Chris Holmes (Ithaca College)
  • Week 5 – 12. February 2015: Rosanna Cox (University of Kent)
  • Week 6 – 19. February 2015: Garrett Stewart (University of Iowa)
  • Week 7 – 26. February 2015: READING WEEK
  • Week 8 – 05. March 2015: Mary Talbot
  • Week 9 – 12. March 2015: David Herman (Durham), ‘Storytelling beyond the Human: Modelling Animal Experiences in Narrative Worlds’
  • Week 10 – 19. March 2015: Susan Wolfson (Princeton)
  • Special Event Week 11 – 25. March 2015: D.A. Miller (UC Berkeley), time & venue tbc
  • Week 11 – 26. March 2015: Graduate Panel tbc
  • Week 12 – 02. April 2015: Stefan Collini (Cambridge)

 

QUORUM Research Seminar Series (Spring 2015)

QUORUM is a series of research seminars run by PhD students in the Department of Drama, Queen Mary University London. QUORUM welcomes academics, artists, professionals, and practitioners working in performance and related fields to share and discuss their recent and on-going research.

Seminars take place on Wednesdays in the ArtsOne Building, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University of London. All are welcome, and wine and snacks are provided.

The schedule for Semester 2 below is correct at time of publishing, but check the QUORUM website and their Twitter feed for updates and for venue information.

14 January    Dr. Matthew Shlomowitz
University of Southampton
‘The Theatre of Music Making’ with performances of Matthew Shlomowitz’s work by dancer Nefili Skarmea & percussionist Serge Vuille

28 January    Clark Baim
Birmingham Institute for Psychodrama
Applied Theatre and Personal Narrative: Ethical and aesthetic considerations when people’s personal stories are used in performance

11 February    Dr. Katie Beswick
Queen Mary, University of London
The Council Estate as Hood: Grass-roots arts practice as cultural politics

4 March    Dr. Jaquline Bolton, Dr. James Hudson & Dr. Agnes Woolley
University of Lincoln / Royal Holloway, University of London
Joint Research Project Presentation, title tbc

11 March    Dr. Michael Shane Boyle
Queen Mary, University of London
Container Aesthetics, Blockade Logistics: The Logics of Innovation in Shunt’s The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face

25 March    Professor Peter Boenisch
University of Kent
Title tbc

Welcome to the QMULsed Blogs

Welcome to All Things SED, the new blogging platform for the School of English and Drama (SED) at Queen Mary University of London.

The School brings together two of Queen Mary’s outstanding departments: the Department of English and the Department of Drama. The School has an international reputation for its high-quality research and its excellence in teaching. The latest REF (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), ranked Drama as first in the country and English as fifth in the country (and first in London) for the quality of their research. The latest National Student Survey revealed high levels of student satisfaction: 100% of Drama students and 94% of English students were satisfied with their programmes.

All Things SED is a platform for our students and academics to blog on cultural developments and reflect on their work and practice. The site will host regular bloggers and one-off writers. We will also host SEDcasts: video and audio interviews with members of the School.

If you are interested in contributing on a regular or one-off basis, please get in touch with the All Things SED Webmaster.