Student research success at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Thirteen Newcastle University undergraduate students brilliantly represented all three faculties and their own research at this year’s British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR).

This annual event is going from strength to strength with over 250 presentations and 180 posters over two days at this year’s host institution, the University of Sheffield.

Recognising that this was a fantastic opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning and develop key employability skills, Professor Suzanne Cholerton (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching) sponsored eleven students to attend.  An extra two students successfully applied for funding from their Schools, so Newcastle was very well represented.

Delegation of staff and students at the BCUR
Delegation of staff and students at the BCUR


Student submissions were carefully considered by a panel at Newcastle University who picked the students who successfully presented their research in a way that non-experts could engage with. That was just the first step as students then went on to submit their abstracts directly to the conference; they were then reviewed by the conference committee. All Newcastle University submissions were accepted with no revisions.

Students were invited to present in a wide variety of formats including oral presentations, poster presentations, installations, demonstrations and performances.  A performance from Warwick University aimed at exploring To What Extent Can an All-Female Punk Band, from Warwick University in 2017, Be Authentic? definitely got people talking!

Our students’ presentations reflected the multi-disciplinary nature of the conference, ranging from The Politics of Happiness: An Investigation Into The Relationship Between Political Participation and Wellbeing to Are Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Still Found in Treated Wastewater? Evaluation of the Local Domestic Wastewater of Johor Bahru, Malaysia. You can take a look at the full conference programme on the website, and you can see all the Newcastle contributors here. Many of the posters that our students presented are also now on the walls in their Schools across the University.


Issac Goh standing in front of poster at the conference
Issac Goh (Biomedical Sciences): poster presentation
Photo of Chess Ridley discussing her poster with another delegate
Chess Ridley (Natural and Environmental Sciences) discusses her poster with fellow Newcastle student Ben Leach (Law)

One of Newcastle’s successful presenters said it was ‘an amazing experience to see people like something I have worked on’, and they haven’t hesitated to tell the organisers it has added a valuable angle to their CV.

Dr Damien Hall (School of Modern Languages) and Dr Stephen Overy (Philosophical Studies) ran the competition and promoted BCUR across the University. Damien sits on the National Steering Group for the BCUR; he is committed to seeing this conference and its sister event, Posters in Parliament, grow over the coming years. He said:

‘I was delighted with our students’ response to the competition from all corners of the University—we got many more submissions than we had thought we would! We had a great time at the conference, too. We made valuable contacts, and, most importantly, we did it in a fun way.’

Damien would love to hear from any students interested in presenting at either of next year’s two BCUR events: Posters in Parliament, in Westminster in February 2019, or the main conference, at the University of South Wales in the Easter holidays 2019. If you are a student or a member of staff with some impressive student research in mind get in touch with Damien directly.

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