Doctoral study of crime pays
A university has received almost 80 applications for a three-year doctoral programme in cultural and global criminology, which is being supported by European Union funding. The University of Kent, which won Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate money from the European Commission to fund fellowships on the programme, is working on the project with Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest and the universities of Hamburg and Utrecht. Aspects of criminology that candidates will consider include human rights and international e-security policy, social change and exclusion, and transnational environmental issues.
Can you die from a broken heart? That is the question asked by scientists at Imperial College London, who are examining why some people die within days of a sudden, devastating loss. Research will centre on a syndrome known as stress cardiomyopathy, in which a massive release of adrenaline in response to a shock paralyses the bottom half of the main pumping chamber of the heart. This rush of hormones forces the upper part of the heart to work harder, which causes a coronary. About 90 per cent of known cases are among older women, but Alexander Lyon, the study's lead researcher, believes that the condition is greatly under-reported and more deadly among men.
Home truths from the shop floor
Interviews with workers and union leaders can now be heard on a new online archive. Materials from the Trades Union Congress' library collections at London Metropolitan University are now publicly available thanks to Britain at Work: Voices from the Workplace 1945-1995, an online resource offering audio clips and transcripts of interviews with workers from a multitude of occupations, such as engineering, public transport, healthcare, entertainment and journalism. There are also video interviews with key figures in post-war union history, including Barbara Castle, Jack Jones and Len Murray.
City University London
Safe travels to the islands
A London university has signed a deal to teach aviation courses in the Caribbean. Under a new arrangement, City University London will offer postgraduate courses in air safety, transport management and aircraft maintenance at the new training facility of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority at Piarco International Airport, Trinidad. It follows the establishment of partnerships with organisations in Bahrain, Dubai, Frankfurt and London. Steve Bond, programme director for air transport engineering and air safety management at City, said the arrangement would be more convenient for students in the Caribbean and the Americas and would "open up our courses to a wider range of aviation professionals in the region".
Evidence-led policy plaudit
A university-based policy unit has been named the number one science and technology thinktank in the UK and sixth best in the world. The University of Sussex's Science and Technology Policy Research unit was given the rank by the University of Pennsylvania's Global Go-To Think Tank project. The project, now in its fifth year, is based on a ranking of 6,545 policy institutes from 182 countries, compiled through a worldwide survey of 1,500 scholars, journalists, policymakers and scholarly peers.
Best on show, Milan to Moscow
Visual arts students at an English university are seeing their work shown at United Colors of Benetton stores in Europe as part of a collaboration with the brand. The University for the Creative Arts was among the institutions invited to take part in a project to turn flagship storefronts into intelligent digital displays. Ben Findlay, a third-year student in graphic communication and one of four students at the university whose work was chosen, created a Valentine's Day "window" shown at Benetton shops in Barcelona, Milan, London, Munich and Moscow on 14 February.
Boost to Bolivia
Population pressures, land and water use and climate change pose a threat to Bolivian ecosystems that are among the world's richest - but university researchers aim to help. In a bid to ensure that local development and activity is sustainable, a team from Cranfield University has joined forces with the Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History in Santa Cruz to develop a new virtual Geospatial Centre for Biodiversity to bring together animal data aligned with countrywide conservation strategies. Web-based geographic technologies will collect and synthesise information and scientifically robust biodiversity knowledge to bring them together on a single web platform. This will then be made available to students, policymakers and the public in order to promote the sustainable management of Bolivia's biodiversity.
Bloody marvellous experience
Students at the University of Bedfordshire have learned how to simulate gruesome injuries for stage and screen with the help of a prosthetic make-up expert. Stuart Bray, who has worked on films such as Stardust and Shaun of the Dead, said the initiative allowed him to "take something that I know and turn it into a language that others can understand". When he addressed Bedfordshire media performance students, he was able to show them how to create realistic injuries and help them develop the skills to make their own fake wounds.
Bludgers and seekers sweep UK
Students have organised the first UK varsity game of "muggle quidditch". The fictional sport of quidditch, as described in J.K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter books, involves participants flying on broomsticks. A "muggle" version of the game - for non-magicians - was invented in the US and is already played competitively at US universities. Now students at the University of Leicester and Keele University have organised the first UK varsity game played according to international rules. Players of both sexes compete together, holding a broom between their legs and trying to score points by shooting volleyballs through hoops.
Vote of no confidence
Nick Clegg's plans for an elected House of Lords have been attacked by a leading constitutional expert. Rodney Brazier, professor of constitutional law at the University of Manchester, told an audience of students that the deputy prime minister's draft Lords reform bill should be abandoned. He said that the proposed smaller upper house with elected members would inevitably rival the legitimacy of the House of Commons. An elected house would also lose the part-time experts who "add so much value" to the current House of Lords. "Hands up those who want more fully paid politicians?" Professor Brazier asked.
Something's stirring in the labs
The University of Hertfordshire's outreach team has developed a series of science, technology, engineering and maths events - known as the STEM Twilight Club - intended to encourage post-16-year-olds to consider studying and making a career in these areas. Each event will use clips from film and documentaries to accompany an accessible and entertaining presentation by an academic expert. At the first session, on 5 March, Richard Wiseman, professor of the public understanding of psychology, is due to consider "The Paranormal on Film", revealing the science behind parapsychology through an evening of spoon-bending, fire-walking, mediums, levitation and ghostly photographs.
Added degrees of security
Two new courses aim to help keep the UK safe from attack and the country's borders secure. The University of Central Lancashire's BSc (Hons) in airport security management - the first of its kind in the UK - and the MSc in counterterrorism, both run out of the School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, are intended to equip future security professionals with the skills needed to protect the public. The courses will be overseen by lecturer Andy Johnson, a former detective chief inspector with the Lancashire Constabulary. He said: "At a time when our border controls are under increased scrutiny...these two new courses will help train security professionals so they are prepared for the evolving security landscape."
Emergency services, right on cue
A university campus was transformed into an "emergency village" to launch two degrees. More than two dozen emergency vehicles, including a boat and a helicopter, were due to be at Wolverhampton Science Park for the University of Wolverhampton event on 28 February. The event marks the launch of two higher degrees, an MSc in emergency planning, resilience and response, and a postgraduate certificate in the management of passenger transport emergency incidents. The new programmes have been developed with input from industry experts and aim to equip emergency and passenger transport professionals with the skills to deal with major incidents, such as accidents or terrorist attacks.
Shoes fit for a prince's bride
If the popular press is to be believed, the Duchess of Cambridge has already attained the status of fashion icon. But students at De Montfort University hope to cement that reputation by designing a pair of shoes for her. Students on De Montfort's footwear design BA submitted more than 120 entries to a competition, and the best six will be presented to the Duchess next week when she visits De Montfort with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The design she selects will be manufactured and presented to her at a later date.