University of Reading Research Blog

Beyond the Numbers: Reflections on REF 2021

Following the publication last week of the REF 2021 results, Professor Dominik Zaum, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation), shares some personal reflections on the REF process.


On International Legal Academia in the UK (Part II) – Navigating the Expectations Placed on ECRs

In my first post [Securing Your First Academic Post] I introduced you to various aspects of academia in the UK, including the types of positions and the Research Excellence Framework, as well as suggestions for how to lay the groundwork to be competitive in the job market. This post will shift the discussion towards the situations you will encounter once you take up a position at a UK institution, and some nuances for international lawyers. I will mainly focus on academic probation, managing workload, and coping with the rejection you will encounter while chasing the targets and pressures placed on you in your new role.


Ukraine: boosting European defence spending now won’t make up for decades of underinvestment

The west has to dramatically “reboot” its approach to dealing with aggressors in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to UK foreign secretary Liz Truss. “Geopolitics is back”, she told an audience at the Mansion House in London recently in what has been reported as a major foreign policy speech. “We must be assertive. Aggressors are looking at what has happened in Ukraine. We need to make sure that they get the right message.”


Sport and the anti-apartheid movement: evidence from the archives

“Sport has the power to change the world.” These memorable words of Nelson Mandela will be the leitmotif for a conference about the role of archives in defending and promoting human rights to held in Girona (Catalonia) in May. Here literary archivist David Sutton reflects on the role that sport played in the Anti-Apartheid Movement of the 1970s and 1980s and the importance of archives to documenting actions and their role in political change.

Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) organised direct action against the 1969Ð70 Springbok rugby tour of Britain. Protesters ran onto the pitch and held up play, and harassed the South African team on their arrival at Heathrow Airport and in their London hotel. Although the tour went ahead, the protests helped secure the cancellation of the Springbok cricket tour planned for 1970. Maker: Stop the Seventy Tour Committee. Date: 1969. Format Poster.


On International Legal Academia in the UK (Part I) – Securing Your First Academic Post

The pathways for early career researchers (ECRs) to enter an academic career can look very different depending on the jurisdiction in which you are based. International law academia results in individuals moving to institutions around the world but it can be hard to understand the key differences when you haven’t studied or worked in that jurisdiction. What I hope to do in this post is shed some light on what ECRs need to demonstrate for an early career post in the UK and some of the challenges for international law academics in particular. In the first part I discuss some of the key preparatory activities you can undertake to ready yourself for the academic job market. In the second part I explore aspects of what to expect when entering UK academia.


How Studio Ghibli films can help us rediscover the childlike wonder of our connection with nature

Films with powerful environmentally centred narratives can transform our thinking and connect us with nature in ways that scientific papers cannot. For example, Studio Ghibli, a renowned Japanese film studio co-founded by animator Hayao Miyazaki, creates complex visual stories about human-nature relationships that transcend barriers of culture or age. A key message of Miyazaki’s work is that we must respect nature – or face our own destruction.

My Neighbor Totoro, Studio Ghibli. Photo by Kyla Duhamel on Flickr CC-BY-SA


How we are pioneering climate and sustainability education for teacher training programmes

The government strategy on climate and sustainability education, published on the 21st of April provides a strong vision in supporting schools and teachers in implementing climate and sustainability education. The highlights include curriculum innovation through a new natural history GCSE, and a commitment to strong leadership of sustainability in school by having a sustainability lead in all schools by 2025. Furthermore, the sustainability leads will get funded carbon literacy training as part of their role.

Bee hotel. Photograph author’s own.


Why Bulgaria and Poland can withstand Russia cutting off their gas supply

Russian energy giant Gazprom has completely cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Both countries are apparently being punished for refusing Russia’s demand that they pay for their gas in roubles.


So here we are again… sex and misogyny in Parliament

So here we are again, after a weekend of press and parliamentary misogyny, the subsequent outrage will inevitably simmer down and go away until the next time…and the next time… and the next time.


How a new GCSE in natural history can help us towards a greener future

The UK’s education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has announced the launch of a GCSE in natural history, a key part of helping bring back the study of plants and animals into the lives of young people. Long championed by the environmentalist Mary Colwell, this qualification is welcome.