New OU/BBC series ‘Meet the Lords’, BBC Two

A new three part series, House of LordsMeet The Lords starts on Monday 27 February at 21:00 on BBC Two. This is the first time free-roaming cameras have ever been allowed to film in the House of Lords Chamber and in its committees.
In a TV first, Meet The Lords takes viewers behind the scenes at the House of Lords, with exclusive access and unique insights into was a turbulent year for the peers, as they battled it out with the Government over dramatic changes to the political landscape.
Over the course of a year the series follows some of the larger-than-life characters who inhabit the House of Lords, one of Britain’s oldest, most idiosyncratic and important institutions. For the first time, free roaming cameras have been allowed to film inside the Lords Chamber and in its committees to capture moments that matter to the UK, but usually go unseen.
Featuring new people’s peers, hereditaries and political grandees, as they try to change or influence legislation, we follow their personal passions and clashes with the Government, all in a gothic palace where centuries-old ceremony and tradition still dominate proceedings.
It is a year where the nation split over Brexit; a rapidly-changing Parliament and a Conservative government is for the first time having to tackle a Lords chamber where the opposition outnumber them.
With more than 800 peers it is now the biggest parliamentary body in the world outside of China, and most of the Lords are over 70. Many argue there is a desperate need to reform – but will they manage the task?
It is not just the peers who may be in need of modernisation. The grandiose Palace of Westminster is now in desperate need of repair. We follow the decision as to what is to be done with the one of Britain’s most iconic buildings and whether all of the Lords will have to move out for a number of years to allow the repairs.
Episode 1 introduces the larger-than-life characters that populate the House of Lords, one of Britain’s oldest, most idiosyncratic and most important institutions. This episode features new people’s peers, hereditaries and political grandees as they try to change legislation, follow their personal passions and clash with the government, all in a gothic palace where centuries-old ceremony and tradition dominate.
Produced in partnership with The Open University, the Open University’s Academic Consultant was Dr Richard Heffernan
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PhD studentships in Development Policy and Practice

PhD studentships are available from October 2017 in the doctoral training pathway in Development Policy and Practice at The Open University.

To find out about further details and how to apply, go to:

The Development Policy and Practice doctoral training pathway is part of the ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership between Oxford, Open and Brunel Universities.

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My Classics Career: Prof Helen King

How did one of the UK’s leading Classicists get to where she is? Prof Helen King blogs on her career on the Women in Classics site.

“I’ve managed (and that word suggests more of a conscious process than it should!) my academic career without a single day of unemployment. But this doesn’t mean it’s all been a bed of roses, and I’m writing this to share my experiences of uncertainty and to tell people how it was in my past, and how I coped, from starting my PhD in 1980. While some things were easier, getting a permanent job in academia wasn’t one of them.”

Read more at the Women in Classics site:…/my-classics-career-prof-he…/

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The OU at The Edinburgh International Book Festival

The OU will be supporting six events at The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016, Friday 13 to Monday 29 August 2016.

The prestigious festival, the largest public celebration of the written word in the world, brings together more than 800 international writers and thinkers and promises to take visitors on a journey of discovery through fact, fiction, poetry, personal stories and world affairs.

The events include OU Honorary Graduate Jackie Kay, in conversation with The Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, followed by a reception including key figures in Scottish politics, media, business and higher education.

Thanks to knowledge exchange funding from the Scottish Funding Council, our sponsored events focus on a range of topics:

We will also be hosting two open days during the festival where we will give current and prospective students the opportunity to find out more about the courses we offer.
For more information about our open days please click here.
To find out more about The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016 please click here.

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Conference: Owning our emotions – emotion, authenticity and the self

owning our emotionsSenate House, London, 21-22 September 2016. Registration closes on 8th September 2016.
How do emotions relate to the self? On one possible view, emotions stand outside the self: they reflect biological drives or cultural demands independent of our own interests or values; when we act out of emotion, we are driven to act by psychological forces external to ourselves. But on another view, our emotional dispositions help to constitute who we are; words and deeds that come ‘from the heart’ are judged to have a special kind of worth, due to their authenticity. Can these two views be reconciled? And if not, which view comes closer to the truth?
The aim of this conference is address these questions, drawing on a range of philosophical traditions.
The conference is sponsored by the Mind Association and by the Institute of Philosophy. Speakers include Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, Professor Denis McManus, Professor Monika Betzler, Dr Jonathan Webber, Professor Fabrice Teroni, Dr Carolyn Price.
The conference will take place at To register please visit the conference website here and follow the links. Please address any inquires to
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OU/BBC Series “Full Steam Ahead” starts 21 July

Full Steam AheadOn Thursday 21 July, a new 6 part OU/BBC series “Full Steam Ahead” starts on BBC Two at 20:00, produced with the support of the Faculty of Arts, with academic consultants Dr Chris Williams and Dr Denise McHugh.
It’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring back to life the golden age of steam and explore how the Victorian railways created modern Britain. The introduction of the steam railways in the early 19th century changed Britain in a way no one could have predicted.
Dr Chris Williams from the OU’s History Department and academic consultant on the series said:
Full Steam Ahead brings the history of the industrial revolution and the steam age to life. It will show millions of people how the UK became the first industrial nation: a country powered by steam, feeding its population through national markets, and creating the first global brands. As usual, the programmes presenters Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, are doing this by showing us how things worked, as the team get their hands dirty. This series hits the spot: it’s informative, educational and entertaining. ”
In the first episode, the team explore how the railways created a domestic revolution, changing the way we lived, from the houses we lived in to the food we ate. It’s the middle of winter and the team arrive at the Ffestiniog Railway in Snowdonia to find out how millions of tons of slate were moved down the mountain. This was the slate that covers roofs in every corner of the country and all of it was moved by rail.
Underground, Alex experiences the brutal conditions faced by miners in the Llechwedd Quarry who would have endured 12 hour shifts, suspended from iron chains. Then it’s an exhilarating ride down the narrow winding track aboard the “gravity train” with the whole crew hanging on to the brakes all the way.
At Foxfields Railway in Staffordshire, built to transport coal to the nearby mainline, Ruth gets on the loco’s footplate and helps to drive it up the steepest standard gauge railway in Britain. Coal was to change everything in our day to day lives right down to way we cooked, the shape of our pots and the role of women who had to deal with the tyranny of keeping clothes clean in this dirty industrial world.
The following programmes in the series explore how the railways had an impact on the movement of people, agriculture, communication, trade and leisure.
Free OU Wall Poster “Our Railways”
To accompany the series, there is a fascinating free wall poster “Our Railways” exploring how, over a hundred years, steam-powered railways transformed the lives of those in the British Isles. To order a copy call 0300 303 2062 or go to


OpenLearn also has extensive content in connection with the topics in this series. For more information go to – the home of free learning from The Open University.
The series was commissioned for the University by The Open Media Unit, the OU Nominated Academics are Dr Chris Williams and Dr Denise McHugh. The Media Fellow for Arts is Dr Chis Williams.
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Fully-funded PhD Studentships in History/Historical Studies

To mark the launch of our Graduate School in October 2016, The Open University is making a strategic investment in up to 30 PhD studentships. As part of this initiative, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is keen to receive applications for studentships in history/historical studies or sociology (both broadly defined to include historical and/or sociological approaches to any area of the Arts and Social Sciences). Open University Graduate School PhD studentships will cover full fees and stipend (currently £14,057 p.a.) for 3 years commencing October 2016 (or shortly thereafter). Applications are invited from both UK and EU citizens for full-time study.

The Faculty performed strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), with 76% of research in History and 64% of research in Sociology assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*) for its overall quality. Other highlights include Music, which had 94% of research world-leading or internationally excellent, Art and Design with 86%, and Geography and English Language and Literature, which both had 76%.  Art and Design, Development Studies, English, Geography, History and Music all had 100% of their research assessed at 4* or 3* for impact.

The Open University has a world class reputation for research and our research student community is part of this research effort.  In joining us you will join an existing community of over 1,000 PhD students, receive high quality supervision from leading academics, and undergo training that will support you to reach your potential and develop as an open, engaged researcher in our digitally interconnected world.

The deadline for applications is 29th July 2016 and full details on how to apply are set out below.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Science has a strong track record of innovative, interdisciplinary research, and hence is very open to projects which apply historical sources/methods/approaches to other Faculty subject areas.

The Open University is a pioneer in co-supervision across traditional disciplinary boundaries and interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged. Successful applicants who wish to study across traditional disciplinary boundaries will be allocated supervisors from two or more disciplines according to the needs of their planned research.

Applications are particularly sought which apply an historical approach/perspective to the folowing areas:

Art History/History

Specialisms include Byzantine art; the Renaissance (both in Italy and in Northern Europe); a cross-period interest in gender studies; eighteenth and twentieth-century architecture; and Heritage Studies.

More details:

Classical Studies/Digital Humanities/History

We particularly welcome applications from candidates with  interests in a study on how linked ancient world data, which enable the generation and analysis of networks of people through the events, places, dates and prosopographical data that connect them, could impact on the study of ancient history. The project will include observational and literary analysis of digital scholarship in ancient history, as well as a small experimental or demonstration project of the student’s own design.

More details:

Digital Humanities/History

Digital Humanities is the critical study of how digital technologies and methods intersect with Humanities scholarship and scholarly communication. Historically focused areas of Digital Humanities at The Open University include Digital Classics, History of the Book, and Commodity Histories.


Historically-focussedresearchby academics in English spans the early modern period to the present day. Both the Book History and Postcolonial Literatures Research Groups have long-standing AHRC-funded projects, such as the ‘Reading Experience Database’ and the ‘Beyond the Frame’ project.

More details:


While open to applications in any of its areas of research, the History discipline is particularly keen to receive applications on topics related to criminal justice history, imperial and postcolonial history and the early modern period.

Further information about existing research in these areas can be found via the following links:

More details about PhD study in History.


The Department has expertise in various aspects of music history and the cultural study of music from the middle ages to the present day. In addition to studies of individual composers, historical research covers areas such as systems of musical patronage and dissemination, music and literature, film music and devotional music.

More details:


There is a particular interest in late 19th and 20th century European intellectual and cultural history, history of philosophy, or history of science.

More details:

Religious Studies/History

Specialist expertise in religious history includes evangelical and charismatic movements in the 19th and 20th century North Atlantic world, modern Hinduism, historical approaches to religious conflict, and the history of pilgrimage.

More details:

Application process

Potential applicants not already in contact with a member of Open University academic staff and interested in a studentship in History/Historical Studies should, in the first instance, make informal contact with Professor Paul Lawrence (History Department) using the email address and the Subject Line ‘History PhD Studentship Application’. Professor Lawrence will liaise with relevant colleagues within the Faculty to enable informal discussions with potential supervisors to take place prior to formal application.

The deadline for applications is 29th July 2016. Applications should be made via the Research Degrees Application form, available via

In addition to the application form, and as part of the application process, all candidates must prepare and submit a Research Studentship Proposal.

Interviews will take place in week of 22nd August 2016, with short-listed candidates informed during the preceding week.

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