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Category Archives: City News

A Better Space to Make a Difference

City News.

City, University of London is very excited to announce the upcoming launch of Better Space right in the heart of Islington. It will be an inspiring and affordable co-working and event space for social entrepreneurs, change makers and under-represented founders, that will become the home for those striving to make the world a better place. We’re due to open our doors in May 2021.

Better Space is a partnership between CityVentures (City’s team responsible for Entrepreneurship) and Islington Borough Council, which will uniquely blend the power of entrepreneurship, Higher Education and local authorities to help with regeneration and recovery post pandemic. 

There is enough money, technology and startup know-how in the world to make it a much better and fairer place for everyone and at Better Space we think we need to figure out a better way of starting and running businesses, with social & environmental impact at their core. Creating the space and platform to cultivate ideas and support change makers, social entrepreneurs and the local community will accelerate this. We want to support the next generation of ethical businesses like Patagonia, Olio, Ustwo, Bulb and many more like them!

Across two floors in the iconic Ray Building, Farringdon, Better Space will provide 80+ desks, plenty of meeting rooms, phone booths and an interactive event space, so members and the local community get the space, support and opportunities they need to grow.

We’ll be encouraging under-reprepresented founders and people based in or around Islington who run digital or creative organisations, with a positive and clear social or environmental impact, to join us as members and to get involved with events. City alumni are more than welcome!

We’d also love to hear from City alumni who may wish to support with:

  1. Mentoring members and social entrepreneurs
  2. Volunteering e.g. legal, accounting, marketing to organisations in the space who are tackling the world’s biggest challenges
  3. Finding potential members by helping us raise awareness for the incredible space we are building

Better Space will be best suited to impact led organisations or startups that need 1-6 desks to work from. The waiting list is growing each day and pricing will be 60-80% of market cost. 

 We’ll have flexible monthly packages, daily passes and memberships which include access to a great space to work from, a fantastic location, creative workshops, accountability buddies, mentoring, expert advisors, regular events, productivity & focus workshops, opportunities to support the local community in a meaningful way and lots more! 

Better Space is being built with the below pillars in mind:

  1. Social & environmental impact
  2. People
  3. Productivity
  4. Creativity & wellbeing …

… whilst aiming to bridge the gap between fast growing tech startups and social & environmental impact focused organisations, to make the world a better place. 

To keep updated on Better Space, be sure to sign up to the Better Space Newsletter below and follow us on social, or email Sam on Sam@BetterSpace.London to discuss how you’d like to be involved.

Spread the word far and widebetter space and better times are coming and we can’t wait to have the City alumni network along with us for the journey! Your future self will thank you for it. For the full story, check this out.

Sam, Simon & Alex
The Better Space Team

Missing City and your alumni services?

City News.

Campus: With the new academic year just around the corner, colleagues across City are working hard to ensure new and returning students get off to the best possible start. Safety is of course paramount. This also means that, for the time being, physical access to campus has to be tightly managed and is currently restricted to small groups of staff and students. It is our hope and wish that we can soon welcome you as well as all staff and students back to campus.

CitySport: Members are very welcome to use the facilities again. Booking in advance is mandatory and can be completed by phone on 020 7040 5656 or at CitySport Reception. CitySport re-opening FAQs for members

City Sight: Student clinics will resume on campus from early October, where you are entitled to free sight tests. Please call 020 7040 8338 or email to book to book an appointment.

CityLibrary: Due to a phased return, it is not expected that alumni members will be able to access the libraries during the first term of 2020-21. To compensate for this disruption, all current alumni library memberships will be automatically extended for six months. Any items currently on loan from the Library will also be extended and no further action is required at this stage.

A range of book return facilities are currently available.

  • Northampton Square Library – outside the main entrance to University Building
  • Business Library (Bunhill Row) – on the ground floor of the Business School

Alumni Card: If your Alumni Card is due to expire before the end of November, we can confirm that it will be automatically extended to Thursday 31st December. We will be writing to those affected shortly, explaining how you can still make use of it.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018

Alumni Notice Board, City News.

Congratulations to the following alumni and staff who have all been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018

Mr Huw Thomas
Auditor General For Wales, Wales Audit Office
Administrative Sciences MBA, 1971
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
For services to Public Audit and Accountability in Wales.

Mr James Law
Professor of Speech & Language Sciences, Newcastle University
PhD Clinical Communication Studies, 1993
Order of the British Empire
For services to Speech and Language Therapy.

Professor Jane Marshall
Divisional Lead – LCS, City, University of London
PhD Speech and Language Science
Order of the British Empire
For services to Education in Health Sciences.

Dame Janet Vitmayer
Former Chief Executive Officer, Horniman Museum & Gardens
MA Museums and Gallery Administration, 1990
Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire
For services to Museums and diversity.

Professor Jennifer Temkin
Professor, The City Law School, City, University of London
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
For services to Criminal Justice.

Dr Kathryn Adie
Presenter (former chief correspondent for BBC News), BBC Radio 4
Honorary Doctor of Letters, 1989
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
For services to Media.

Professor Kenneth Grattan
Dean of Graduate School, City, University of London
Order of the British Empire
For services to the Science.

Ms Mary Morley
Director of Therapies, South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust
MHM Health Management, 1998
Order of the British Empire
For services to Occupational Therapy.

Dr Ruth Caleb
Chair, Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education
MA Psychotherapy and Counselling, 1996
Member of the British Empire
For services to Higher Education.

Mr Thomas Ilube
CEO/Founder, Crossword Cybersecurity
Finance MBA, 1988
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
For services to Technology and Philanthropy.

Professor Tong Sun
Senior Lecturer, SEMS, City, University of London
BEng Electrical & Electronic Engineering, 1999
Order of the British Empire
For services to Engineering.

Image credit:

2016 Research Round-Up

Business School Stories, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News.

City, University of London produces high quality research on an incredibly broad range of topics. We have put together a quick overview of some of the top research stories from the Insitution in 2016. For all the latest news please go to the Research homepage.

Inspired by Airbnb

airbnb sign

We all know when a new business comes along and disrupts the status quo, but how do they do it? Cass PhD student Tatiana Mikhalkina and Professor Laure Cabantous have had their research “How do innovative business models become the exemplars for a new category of firm?” published in Business Model Innovation: How Iconic Business Models Emerge. This explores how a new company emerges and the power of iconic business models. Read article.

More excuses to keep playing video games

ps3 controller

Stop feeling guilty about how much time you spend with your PS4 or Xbox. Dr Irene Scopelliti from Cass Business School has published research on decision-making bias and the use of video games. The paper, published in Policy Insights in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, explored ways to improve upon traditional methods of training designed to reduce bias and improve people’s decision-making ability. The research team developed two interactive computer games to test whether they might substantially reduce game players’ susceptibility to cognitive biases. Full text.

Online dating in The Independent

man with smartphone

The saying goes “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” – but what if the fish send you unwanted explicit messages? Laura Thompson, a PhD student from the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, tackles just that and has had her research published in The Independent. The feature explores the issue of why some people choose to send graphic images to other website users without consent and looks at how different genders interact on dating websites and how this links to offensive or insulting behaviour. More details.

A better measure of obesity?

waist measuring

If you’ve ever worried about your BMI, it’s time to give that up and measure your waist-to-height (WHtR) instead. Dr Margaret Ashwell, Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School and her colleague Sigrid Gibson, have proposed this new measure in BMJ Open. The research found that 35% of adults judged to be OK using the current measure were found to have higher levels of some cardio metabolic risk factors when using the waist-to-height ratio (WHtR). These risk factors can be early indicators of health problems including diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Full information

Cancer costs keep adding up even after a decade

operating theatre

The cost of cancer treatment on the NHS is a hot topic, and new research from Dr Mauro Laudicella and Dr Brendan Walsh at City, University of London shows that even a decade on, cancer survivors cost the NHS in England five times more than someone without the disease. This study was commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support and published in the British Journal of Cancer and it reveals that hospital care for the average patient diagnosed with the four most common cancers (breast, colorectal, prostate or lung cancer) costs the NHS in England £10,000 in their first year of diagnosis – but nine years on is still costing £2,000 a year. Academics from Imperial College London also contributed to the report. Continue reading.

UK creativity on the up

coloured lights

If you’re looking to get in to the creative industries, the UK outperforms the US and Canada. Professor Andy Pratt, Director of the Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries at City, University of London, was part of the team behind a report for the charity Nesta titled “Creative Economy Employment in the US, Canada and the UK”. The research showed that employment in the UK creative economy grew at 4.7 per cent per annum on average, between 2011 and 2013 – faster than the US (3.1 per cent). Read on.

High praise for gender balance research


Leading figures from the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 joined politicians in praising City research into gender imbalance on the country’s top news programmes. Professor Lis Howell is running an ongoing study of the proportion of women experts, reporters and presenters in news programmes. This issue was discussed at the Women on Air conference, which highlighted the lack of women on television and the radio. More here.

Augmented reality

computer simulated augmented reality

Augmented reality can now help you choose wine by overlaying information on the bottle, and is opening the door for brand new ways to enhance online shopping. Professor Ko de Ruyter, Professor of Marketing at Cass Business School, said, “Companies such as IKEA, L’Oreal, and BMW have already added AR applications to their frontline service delivery.” The team’s research shows that adding AR into retail systems could reverse deep-rooted consumer dynamics and helps the customer to make choices that are more consistent with their personal goals. Fast-forward to the future.

Taking your phone to bed causes harmless blindness

man in bed with phone

Have you experienced that temporary blindness from spending too much time using smartphones in bed? A new study by academics from City University London, Moorfields Eye Hospital, King’s College London, and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, seeks to raise awareness for physicians and reduce costly investigations, while also reassuring patients. Although ‘temporary blindness’ sounds alarming, the experience is completely harmless, and not confined to smartphone use, but due to the wide use of smartphones in bed, has been most commonly observed in connection with them. Read on.

Malnutrition and obesity on the rise

apple with world map

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report was Co-Chaired by Professor Corinna Hawkes of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, and it reveals insufficient progress in the fight against all forms of malnutrition. Forty Four per cent of countries with data available (57 out of 129 countries) now experience very serious levels of undernutrition as well as overweight and obese adults. Despite good progress in some countries, the world is off track to reduce and reverse this trend. Professor Hawkes said “One in 12 people globally have diabetes now, and nearly two billion people are obese or overweight. We must stem the tide.” Find out more.

Gender stereotypes strong in infants

boy with car

What have you got for the little kids in your life this Christmas? Something ‘gender appropriate’, or something that breaks those stereotypes? A new study from academics at City University London and UCL found that children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to the research in Infant and Child Development. The paper found that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated. It continues that boys and girls follow different developmental patterns with respect to selection of gender-typed toys due to both biological and developmental-environmental differences. Continue reading.

How easily can you spot an online lie?


Spotting an online lie is now easier than ever thanks to a team of academics who have designed an algorithm that can detect lies in emails. The research team from Cass, Westminster Business School and Catholic University of Louvain developed the algorithm by identifying linguistic cues of deception found within online communications such as emails. The full paper, ‘Untangling a Web of Lies: Exploring Automated Detection of Deception in Computer-Mediated Communication’ is published in the Journal of Management Information Systems. Read further.

Men still dominate sports journalism


Despite some high-profile female sports presenters arriving on our screens in the past decade, the story is not the same throughout sports journalism. Professor Suzanne Franks, Head of the Department of Journalism, highlights why the number of women working on the sports desks of UK national newspapers has not improved over recent decades. The study, by academics at City, University of London and the University of Huddersfield, asked journalists why there were not enough women in the field and found aspects of the modern media climate could be hindering progress. The findings were published in the US journal Media Report to Women and built on their previous study which was conducted after the 2012 Olympic Games. Find out more.

Worldwide attention for City economist

mutual funds headline

The Wall Street Journal cited a research paper co-authored by a City economist which showed a link between national monetary policy changes and decisions by investors to withdraw their money from investment funds. Professor Gabriel Montes-Rojas is one of three academics behind a study that found that sudden actions by central banks, such as the US Federal Reserve, can have significant effects on the behaviour of investors and this can result in financial instability in bond and equity markets. Continue this article.

Virtual reality world helps stroke recovery

screenshot of programme

Impaired speech and language following a stroke has profound consequences for quality of life. The effects on personal and social relationships are particularly devastating, with loss of friends commonly reported. New research shows a virtual reality world called EVA Park can help, according to a paper published in PLOS ONE by academics at City, University of London. It shows the potential for technology to play an important role in improving the everyday lives of people with aphasia, which is a language disorder affecting about one third of stroke survivors. Further details.

Men 25% more likely to get a payrise

money v gender

The gender pay gap has been big news in 2016, and this report from Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin is helping to shed light on why it persists. The paper confronts the previous theories, which have all been based on reasons why women might be reluctant to ask for an increase in their pay packet. Co-author Dr Amanda Goodall at Cass Business School said “Ours is the first proper test of the reticent-female theory, and the evidence doesn’t stand up.” In fact, their report shows that females do ask for payrises, but are less likely to get them than men. Keep reading.

Cass leads the call for financial reform

number crunching exec

A Cass Business School report for New City Agenda says that Britain’s financial regulators must change to avoid sleepwalking into another financial crisis that will have a devastating effect on our economy and political system, and that crucial changes made following the 2008 economic crash are already being watered down. Get the details here.

Boko Haram’s media strategies studied

map showing Nigeria

Reserach from Dr Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar shows how the changing media strategy of Boko Haram reflects their change from a peaceful movement in 2002 into a violent insurgency of 15,000 fighters. Published in a chapter of Africa’s Media Image in the 21st Century and based on interviews with individuals who have had first-hand dealings with Boko Haram, the research found that the organisation rose to notoriety through their long-standing commitment to self-promotion, barbaric activities, effective communication with journalists and the western media’s “obsession” with jihad-related stories. More information.

Chinese M&A in the UK

handshake with UK and China flags

Cass has published innovative research into Chinese M&A market, focussing on acquisitions from China to the UK from 2012 to mid-2016. During this time Chinese companies began making frequent acquisitions in the UK. With the growth of Chinese outbound M&A activities and their foreign direct investment (FDI) becoming increasingly important to the world’s economy, the research is both timely and useful in examining whether these investments create value to shareholders of the acquiring firms and which factors will drive performance. Continue reading this arcticle.

Weavee-ing Your Future Career

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, City News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News.

DSC_1105In 2015 James Grant completed a BSc in Computer Science with Games Technology. He acquired not only a 2.1, but also three years of professional experience. It gave him the ‘edge [he] needed to build Weavee. Weavee is a career platform that doesn’t just help people to get the job they want, it helps them to discover what they can do. Here James tells us how his time at City equipped him to build the platform of the future.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

The defining part of my time at City University was undertaking the Professional Pathway scheme, a scheme that gave me the chance to gain three years work experience in addition to my degree. The professional pathway has informed all I do now.

At the start of the scheme, I joined the web development team at City University for a year, which is where I learned most of the web skills I have today. I then moved on to a new role with Euromoney in my second year, where I set up and ran a graduate scheme later progressing on to a startup called Bar Pass for four months and onto a contract with BOAT international for five months. My final placement was with Hays recruitment for five months.

Because of the various positions I held, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I left university. I wanted to build a business.

How did the idea for Weavee come about?

I was originally building a social network for my dissertation and during that time I considered the idea of scaling it outside of a university, however after pitching the idea at several startup communities it was clear that there is more to building a business than having an idea.

Throughout the employment process I found I was always facing the same process; put my CV in as many places as possible and hope that a job suiting my skills came up. It became increasingly harder even though my skills were developing. I figured that if I was having problems with an expanding CV, what was happening to the emerging talent just leaving University?

It was only during my time at Hays, where I was positioned inside the recruitment system that I considered the ineffective way recruitment agencies work. With UK recruitment agencies costing businesses an average of £4,000 per placement and successful appointment taking approximately three months, there is a lot of room for improvement. The situation won’t get better unless someone does something.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to Weavee?

In the short time that I have been working on Weavee (a mere nine months!), I have learned so much. The constant challenge hasn’t been the creation of the business; instead, it was being able to reach the right people able to advance the business.

At each stage, I have had to choose between building the business and networking. The former has taken priority and now each networking event is an opportunity for me to share Weavee’s progress to try to gain support. So far this strategy seems to work!

What has been the most rewarding experience?

To see how my actions have influenced others is really rewarding – we have some of the stories up on our Weavee blog.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Building a startup is tough. I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless you have some work experience and also a holistic understanding of the problem you are looking to solve. Having experienced first hand (and from various perspectives) the situation I am solving, I can understand the problems each person might face. This means I am better equipped to solve the problem in a balanced way. Only through experiencing the situation can you better understand why the situation exists, be able to appeal to stakeholders and solve the problems they have.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!

Favourite place in London:  St Paul’s
Favourite holiday destination:  Florida
Must-check every day website:
Dream travel destination:  Outer space
Cheese or chocolate: Cheese

If you would like to find out more about Weavee or get involved with their latest project WeaVR, please visit or connect with James via LinkedIn.





Finding a Passion; Lost in the City

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, City News.

Journalism graduate (1986) turned professional photographer, Nicholas Sack has just released his new photo book ‘Lost in the City’. Here he tells us what led him to photography and the concept behind his latest book.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I had edited the student newspaper whilst I was an undergraduate at Aston University. When I came to City in 1985 the Journalism Department was in a building on the corner of Skinner Street, on the floor above music rehearsal rooms. The sounds would intermingle – the clatter of manual typewriters and the tinkling of pianos – to create a symphony for Olivetti and Bechstein.

Our shorthand teacher was the legendary Harry Butler, who had written the definitive guide to Teeline and helped to decode Samuel Pepys’ own personal shorthand. He was a fearsome character; woe betide any student arriving even 15 seconds late for his lesson. Young women wept with frustration, but we all passed our 100 words-per-minute test at the end of the year.

What happened after you graduated?

I was already photographing for trade magazines between lectures. Photography was my hobby and when I graduated I decided to make a real go of it, to make it my living. I worked as a freelance for 30 years: mainly corporate commissions, portraits of the movers and shakers of commerce and industry in their working environments. This formality was spiced with more colourful assignments: record covers, outdoor clothes in Arctic Sweden, and the redevelopment of London’s docklands in the 1980s for construction and business magazines. I no longer accept commissions, and instead continue my personal projects for exhibitions and books. ‘Uncommon Ground’ was published in 2004, and here now is ‘Lost in the City’.

How did the idea for ‘Lost in the City’ come about?

I live close to central London and have been photographing in the Square Mile for 30 years. I was first struck by the collision of architecture – a Wren church slap-bang next to a tower of glass and steel – and I soon became interested in the office workers in the streets and alleys. Even in crowds they can appear isolated and estranged, scurrying from work-station to sandwich bar beneath overpowering buildings.

In my pictures I avoid tourist landmarks, words on fascias, slogans and logos: I aim to capture a state of other-worldliness, where figures seem strangely dislocated. The camera reveals surprising details: in a frozen moment the alpha-males marching along past the Bank of England have their heels on the pavement and toes pointing upward in a balletic pose.

bank of england

Last year I decided it was time to edit these thousands of pictures for a book, and Martin Usborne at Hoxton Mini Press was keen to publish it. He immediately saw a film-noir quality in these photos – Iain Sinclair notes a connection with Hitchcock in his introduction – and Martin rejected any pictures that included people smiling or looking happy. The City is a serious place; there is a sexual tension in some of these pictures, too.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to ‘Lost in the City’?

It was a challenge to whittle down the pictures for a book of just 60 images. The editing was a collaboration with the publisher and the designer. We didn’t always agree, but I think we each brought creative ideas to the final selection.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Well, I was thrilled when Iain accepted our invitation to write the intro because he has been a literary hero of mine for many years. And it was nice to have a piece in the Observer when the book was launched. I am interested in book design and printing; I involved myself in all the stages of production and learned a lot. I shoot on film, so scans were made of my prints, then tweaked for the book printers in China: the ability to control minute details is fascinating. For example, to enhance local contrast in one particular image we zoomed in on the computer and darkened the shin of a woman walking on the opposite side of the street.

But really, the most rewarding experiences are out there in the streets, taking the pictures. When everything coheres in the viewfinder – the people, the buildings, the street furniture, the shadows – you feel a surge of adrenaline and press the button.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Photography is a most fascinating medium: it’s both cerebral and emotional. I think the best way to understand and learn about pictures is to look at the masters – in books, at exhibitions, and in the Print Room at the V&A, where you consult the catalogue, fill in a slip, and prints by the photographer of your choice are delivered to your desk. This is where I gained a visual education, by studying the great American photographers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan and Henry Wessel. What gives a photograph its power to move the emotions? Is it the subject? The composition? The tones or colours? Searching for the answer is a wonderful exploration.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
Favourite place in London: The Black Friar pub: ornate art nouveau interior and good beer.
Favourite holiday destination: Chicago, a slightly old-fashioned American city.
Must-check every day website: Charlton Athletic Football Club. I’ve been a suffering supporter for 51 years.
Dream travel destination: San Francisco, for the topography of hills and bays.
Cheese or chocolate: Say ‘Cheese’!


Lost in the City by Nicholas Sack is published by Hoxton Mini Press in standard and collector’s editions. 


Header image: © Timothy Cooke

All other images: © Nicholas Sack

Discovering Grace

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, Arts and Social Sciences News, City News.

Meet Jocelyn RobJocelyn Robsonson, the City alumna who coincidentally found the story that became her debut book whilst studying Creative Writing here at City. Read Jocelyn’s interview to learn how the journey of finding the story became a story in its own right. 

Tell me about your time at City!

In 2008 I started the Creative Writing (Non-fiction) MA course so I could learn to use the techniques of fiction to tell a true story. At the time, I was working at London Metropolitan University as a researcher for the Institute of Policy Studies in Education and I really wanted a change of direction.

I had always wanted to write but I was never sure how I could make a living from it. A short time after starting the course I came across Grace’s story. I had seen some old photographs of girls in a gymnasium and wondered where they were and what they were doing. I soon found out that the girls were attending a technical education school in London and that the first of these Trade Schools for Girls had been founded in the 1900s. I read that someone called Grace Oakeshott had been the driving force behind them. But in an academic article about these schools, there was a footnote that said Grace had drowned at the age of 35 – and it made me think ‘what a tragic waste of life’.

How did this become a story?

Later I found an online review of a play entitled ‘Grace’. The play was about a woman called Grace Oakeshott who had staged her own death and run away to New Zealand. The playwright, Sophie Dingemans, claimed to be Grace’s great granddaughter and she said her play was based on fact.

I immediately began to wonder if this woman was the same as the one I was interested in. Was the footnote wrong? Had Grace not drowned after all? I started to Google. I then contacted the theatre company in New Zealand where the play had been performed and was put in touch with Sophie who in turn put me in touch with her mum, Cherry. Though Grace had assumed a new name in New Zealand, Sophie and her family had always known who their relative really was.

Cherry told me she was the daughter of Tony, one of Grace’s sons. I’m actually a New Zealander myself and when I was there a couple of months later for a conference Cherry met me at the airport. She took me to a cemetery in a small town in Hawke’s Bay and showed me the grave of someone called Joan Leslie Reeve. ‘That woman is the person you know as Grace Oakeshott’, she said.
By this time the story was getting exciting and I was struggling to balance my first year coursework with all the research I had to do. And I still had to decide how to write my book. I didn’t want to write Grace’s story in an academic way nor did I want it to be a dull story about education for girls, so I read lots to get ideas!

Coming to the end of my MA I was required to write 60,000 words which is about two thirds of a book. I told my tutor I wasn’t ready to write that much especially as there were moments when the story was turned on its head by the things I found out. In the end I didn’t complete my Masters but I left with a Post Graduate certificate. I wasn’t too bothered about the qualification because for me it was about the experience, the writing practice and the opportunity to meet others.

I was fortunate that the story and the opportunity to write it came along together.

What was writing your book like?

I left my post at London Metropolitan University in 2009. I wanted to write the book and so I treated it like a job and became a full time writer. My academic experience,meeting deadlines and expectations, helped me to structure my time. I spent 5 years researching and made some significant trips; to Fort Simpson and Fort Rae – where Walter Reeve, the man Grace ran away with, was born.

I thought of them as field trips and I also found more members of Grace’s family, and the descendants of those who had been left behind. I discovered that Walter had trained to be a doctor at Guy’s Hospital and that he knew Grace was married (to Harold Oakeshott) when he first met her. I found out that William, Walter’s father, had lived in Islington before he moved to Canada and that Grace was 1 of 4 children born in Hackney. I found out about Grace’s siblings, who her brother had married and the names of their children.

Not everybody wanted to talk to me but those who did were very helpful. I found a daughter of Grace’s great nephew on the electoral roll. I wrote to her and to my delight, she put me in touch with her parents. A short time later, I was able to meet the family in Kent. The night before my visit I was too excited to sleep! They shared their memories and family papers with me. I also traced the children and grandchildren from Harold’s second marriage – and found that one of his granddaughters lived only a short distance from me!

I had a wonderful time and I learned as much about the social history as I did about the people. It was more fun than anything I’ve ever been paid to do and the story of finding the story was as much fun as the story itself.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The structure was very challenging – trying to keep everyone’s story in chronological order and making the links between the characters clear.

What has been the biggest reward?

The way the book took me back to New Zealand where I was born and brought up. I was able to find out about my country in a different way and when I went back in March it was like bringing the two parts of my life together through the story of Grace’s life.

Any advice to others looking to follow in your footsteps?

Find a story that moves you, a subject that you feel passionate about.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Hampstead Heath
Favourite holiday destination: Iceland
Must-check every day website: BBC
Dream travel destination: Yosemite
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Jocelyn’s book ‘Radical Reformers and Respectable Rebels’ is out now and available to purchase from Amazon

Olive is the new Black

Alumni Stories, Black History Month, Oct 2020, City News.

morenikeAfter seeing her first anaerobic digester in operation during her time at City, Morenike Idewu (MSc, Energy, Environmental Technology and Economics 2013) has been considering the ways in which energy can be used more efficiently, particularly in her home country Nigeria. She has since created her own energy blog We caught up with Morenike to find out why olive is the new black.

 Can you tell me about your time at City?
I had an interesting time at City University London. I’m a frequent traveller to the UK so coming to the UK wasn’t new, but studying with lots of students from different countries was. My course mates were from all over the world: Bangladesh, China, Morocco, United States, Iran, Egypt, Brazil, Greece, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Portugal. The cultural exchange both in and outside the classroom was a unique experience for me.

I studied MSc in Energy, Environmental Technology and Economics at the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering. The course covered a variety of topics in the Energy sector including policy, technologies, energy markets, energy purchasing and the transport industry among others. 80 per cent of our modules were taught by industry experts who came in to share knowledge with us directly from real life commercial and industrial experience; all this made the course unique both in delivery and organisation.

What happened after you graduated?
After I completed my course in 2013, I tried, unsuccessfully, to get UK work experience, so after my graduation in 2014 I returned to my home country Nigeria.

How did your idea come about?
During my time at City there were three things in particular that stood out to me. They were the presentation on Risk Management Principles during the course Energy Markets from the Purchasers perspective, an excursion trip to see the Anaerobic Digester at Harper Adam University in Shropshire and the presentation on Combined Heat Power by Paul Gardiner of British Sugar. The visit to Harper Adams University was the first time I had seen an anaerobic digester in operation – the plant supplied the power needs of the University and enabled them reduce their carbon footprint. British Sugar on the other hand have a Combined Heat and Power plant (gas and steam turbine) at their bio-refinery in Wissington; the interesting thing about the plant, apart from improving energy efficiency, is that the CO2 exhaust is channelled to nearby Cornerways greenhouse where tomatoes are grown.

It got me thinking about the many ways energy sources and their technologies can be used in various industries, whilst at the same time considering ways to reduce emissions sustainably and economically. So in 2015, I decided to put my writing skills and my interest in the energy sector to good use by starting my own energy blog; there I write about energy issues and report on events and news in the energy sector and how they primarily affect my home country Nigeria and Africa in general.

My objective is to educate, inform and possibly demystify energy topics and issues. My site’s name is I chose the domain name based on the colours used to represent the main sources of energy. In my opinion the future of energy is a blended energy mix of both fossil-based (black fuels) and renewable energies (green fuels); the composition of the energy mix for any organization, home or country will depend on what’s accessible and what’s affordable.

I have also had the privilege to attend a number of seminars, conferences and workshops in the last year as a media representative.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your idea?

This is still very much the early days so I expect more challenges as I expand and add other services, however I would say that the biggest challenge has been the multitasking that administrating your own site entails. My work is not limited to just content writing; I am also editing, networking, advertising, handling correspondence and graphics, researching and being a journalist, as well as learning a good deal of web development to run the site.  It’s like doing 10 different jobs at the same time and being the non-techie person that I was, learning a bit about web development was a challenge. The good thing is that there is a lot of online help for newbies.

What has been the most rewarding experience?
I would say feedback from those who contact about topics and the companies I have profiled on the site.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
I would say go for it! Even if you are afraid. Look for others with the same interests, study how they did it and reach out for help when you need it.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!

Favourite place in London:  Bar Salsa on Tottenham court Rd
Favourite holiday destination:  Spain
Must-check every day website:
Dream travel destination:  Sweden or Manila (Philippines)
Cheese or chocolate: Definitely Cheese

Communicating Your Transferable Skills

Arts and Social Sciences News, Business School Stories, Careers, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.


On Thursday 17th March 2016, we hosted our second alumni careers webinar. The topic was “Communicating your Transferable Skills”, and focussed on how to best showcase your skills.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 35 mins.

NOTE you may not be able to see the links as mentioned in some of the answers, please find the Prospects job profiles here and the City Careers website here.

This presentation was given by David Gilchrist. For more from him click here.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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