Arts, Humanities & Cultures – Undergraduate Research

Students as Scholars

Overview of the Programme

In order to ensure that undergraduates benefit from the Faculty’s research culture, the Students as Scholars programme collaborates with the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) and the Faculty of Arts Graduate School.

The programme, now in its sixth year, matches undergraduates with postgraduate mentors (PhD candidates), and encourages their engagement in the University’s research culture through attendance at research events such as seminars, lectures, conferences and workshops. The undergraduates will be supported by their postgraduate mentors, who are on hand to discuss ideas, offer valuable feedback, and promote the benefits of being part of a research-intensive university.

The programme allows undergraduate participants to not only experience the University’s research culture but also to contribute to it through the forms they complete. Through these forms and the mentors’ feedback, the programme also provides guidance to students wanting to cultivate their own methods of collecting, organizing and assimilating their notes and research ideas. In addition, the chance to actively partake in fundamental scholarly activities in a safe, non-judgmental environment can help the students discover, develop and gain confidence in their own research skills.

 

How to Join the Programme

Participants are usually nominated to the programme by academic staff members. However, we welcome students who have an interest in postgraduate study or are generally interested in exploring the University’s research culture.

For more information about the programme, please contact Andrea Basso (clab@leeds.ac.uk).

Follow us on Twitter @SaSMentoring.

Like our Facebook Page

 

Students as Scholars Blog

The latest addition to the programme has been the Students as Scholars blog, which provides a safe and encouraging space for participants to explore their writing styles, the research they encounter and to chart their transitions from students to scholars. The blog welcomes dialogues and responses through the comments section.

We are currently working to enhance the accessibility and impact of the blog, expanding the number of students who actively contribute with articles and comments. The blog is a great opportunity for both UGs and PGs to experiment with writing and editing in a safe and friendly environment: a little but important step towards the world of academic research.

Visit the blog on the University Site: http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/sas/

We also have a Tumblr: http://sasleeds.tumblr.com/

 

Responses to the Programme

One of our postgraduate mentors feels strongly that the programme has helped undergraduates overcome some of the anticipation they might feel when attending professional academic seminars, and ‘legitimises’ their presence, allowing them to expand and develop their ideas in a supportive space.  The undergraduates themselves spoke highly of their experiences, stating that Students as Scholars gave “a deeper understanding of what academic research looks like”, allowing them to engage “previously unfamiliar” fields of study and helping them “develop a more open and critical academic mind”. This programme helps students to become independent and responsible researchers and thinkers in their own right.

From the perspective of the 25 postgraduate (PhD) students who volunteered their time to mentor undergraduate students, the programme provides an opportunity to think about how research is presented, deepening skills in teaching, supervision and editing. Dr Catriona Firth, whose students in the School of Modern Languages participated in the programme, states that it has “inspired and facilitated autonomous learning and has encouraged the participants to regard themselves as members of a wider research community. From a staff perspective, it has noticeably enriched the research environment in the department, which has benefited greatly from increased student attendance at research events”.

Other comments:

“It was useful as it encouraged me to attend seminars that I would not usually have considered and as a result of this I was encouraged to approach my own academic work from different perspectives.”
– SaS participant, 13-14 scheme

“Very useful for me – I had previously been semi-considering further academic study, and being part of this programme has cemented in my mind the idea that this is what I would like to do. Attending the research seminars, as well as getting to know postgraduate students, has really helped to make the world of postgraduate study seem less of an intimidating prospect and much more of an attainable goal.”
– SaS participant, 13-14 scheme

“The programme was invaluable. The programme made me attend research events in Spain that I would not have attended without the programme – not only did I thoroughly enjoy these, but I learnt about a wide range of material, improved my Spanish language skills and also made friends from the events.  The programme has enhanced my year abroad!”
– SaS participant, 13-14 scheme

“I’ve been a mentor for the Students as Scholars scheme twice, and on both occasions I’ve been struck by the enthusiasm of the undergraduates who take part, and by the sheer diversity of their academic interests. It’s wonderful to see the students accessing current research and becoming part of the academic community – and the ideas we discuss have been helpful and exciting for me too! When you’re doing a PhD, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by your project at times, so it’s fantastic to take a break from your own work and to encounter fresh perspectives on research from the undergraduates. The scheme has certainly helped the students I’ve encountered to feel more confident talking about their ideas and plans, and it’s also a great way for postgraduates to feel more comfortable with teaching and with communicating their research. It’s also a brilliant opportunity for undergraduates and postgraduates from across the faculty to encounter people they might not otherwise have met, and to access research events outside their own subject areas, which really helps to foster a sense of community in the faculty. Most importantly, the scheme fosters a sense of community between undergraduate and postgraduate students, and highlights the immense contribution undergraduate students are capable of making to the university’s research culture.”
– Kathryn Bird, PhD Candidate, School of English, and Students as Scholars mentor

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