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Arts and Humanities Taster Day

Queen’s Junior Academy Wednesday 2, December

Over 60 pupils from 14 non-selecting schools attended the first of 3 Faculty Based Taster Days as part of the Widening Participation Unit’s - Junior Academy Programme. The aim of this year’s activity is to give pupils a flavour of the various subjects that Queen’s University have to offer. As the pupils who attended are currently in Year 10, they will soon be electing their GCSE course of study. With this in mind not only will they map the subjects needed for future choices and 3rd level study but they will receive valuable advice on which options will best match their individual school/college and career aspirations.

The Arts and Humanities Taster Day took place on Wednesday 2, December. Pupils attended a selection of workshops including:

  • Film Studies hosted by Declan Keeney
  • Modern Languages Hosted by Phd Students:
    • Michael McKenna
    • Leona Blair
    • Padraig McGonagle
    • Poppy Boyd
    • Stephanie Brown 
  • Sociology, Social Policy hosted by Bronagh Byrne
  • Law hosted by Kevin Brown, assisted by Lauren Young (current Law Student)
  • English & Creative Writing hosted by Garrett Carr, assisted by 2 current undergraduate students Nadine Sullivan (History Student) and Nicola Kelly (English Student)
  • Music hosted by Simon Mawhinney

The students will return for two further events throughout the year

Engineering and Physical Science Taster - Tuesday, 4 February 2016

Medicine, Health and Life Sciences - Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Schools represented at the event included;

  • Ashfield Girls High Schools, Belfast
  • Bangor Academy & 6th Form College
  • Belfast Model School for Girls, Belfast
  • Corpus Christi College, Belfast
  • Malone College, Belfast
  • Omagh High School, Omagh
  • Shimna Integrated College, Newcastle
  • Slemish Integrated College, Ballymena
  • St Aidan’s High School, Enniskillen
  • St Joseph’s College, Belfast
  • St Louise’s Comprehensive College, Belfast
  • St Patrick’s College, Belfast

St Rose’s Dominical College, Belfast

Strangford College, Newtownards 

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School receives ringing endorsement for PhD supervision

The School of Creative Arts has received a ringing endorsement for its supervision of PhD students from the most recent Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, 2015. The School achieved 100% for ‘My supervisor/s have the skills and subject knowledge to support my research’. It received 96% for ‘My supervisors provide feedback that helps me direct my research activities’, and 92% for ‘I have regular contact with my supervisor/s, appropriate for my needs’. The School continues to value its postgraduate students and we look forward to the new cohort joining us in a couple of weeks.

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QUB Drama Students head north to 'the Bay of the Tigers' and south to the 'Town of the Book'!

In the final weeks of June the cast of  the First World War play Medal in the Drawer, written by Drama Lecturer Brenda Winter-Palmer, assembled once more to move on to the next stage of the project, now renamed the Medals all Around Community Drama Initiative . Since its first performances in the Brian Friel Theatre in May 2014 the cast of the play have been engaged in travelling all over Northern Ireland to perform scenes from the play in community and civic venues, schools, libraries, and museums. So far the play and its accompanying workshop, in which the characters are 'hot-seated' in role by the audience, has played to 1250 people. Response to this outreach programme has been overwhelmingly positive and has further convinced us that there is a real role for the play, and drama methods in general, in stimulating community groups to research, create and stage their own stories.

Touring the original full length drama, with its realistic reconstruction of a trench was always out of the question. It would have been far too expensive and would not have fitted into to the kind of community venues which we wanted to reach. Accordingly the mission was on to formulate a 35 minute long, pared down production which could play in all kinds of venues. It was surprisingly easy to transform the 90 minutes of the original script into a portable 'pop-up' performance which conveyed the personal journeys of 4 young Belfast Men who went to fight in 1915. But both writer and cast were unsure if it would maintain the emotional impact of the original promenade production. We were fortunate to have two prestigious invitations to perform at the end of June which would let us see how well the concept worked both in a community and theatre settings.

Our first outing was in helping to launch a new First World War Mural in the Tiger's Bay area of North Belfast as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Connected Communities Festival. The rapt attention of the audience and the lively debate provoked in the after-show discussion indicated that the potted version of the performance had its own strength in providing a more intense and intimate experience for the audience. The passion of the engagement between actors and audience in the hot-seating exercise confirmed two things: firstly, that in areas designated as predominantly Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist in Northern Ireland the heritage of the First World War is current, vital and deeply-revered, and that secondly, this audience was totally prepared to suspend disbelief and question the actors in role as if they were real Belfast Tommies re-embodied in the room.

Two days later Medal headed south for its first foray over the border. The invitation to perform at the prestigious Hay Literary Festival in Kells County Meath meant that we would be sharing a platform with luminaries such as the poet Paul Durcan, musician and writer Paul Eno, television dramatist, Lynda La Plante, historian Diarmuid Ferriter and Booker Prize Winner Ben Okri. No pressure there then! We were also a bit worried about whether the very Northern Irish focus of the play would resonate with a predominantly Southern audience.

There was no need to worry! The play was received very warmly and the post-show discussion revealed amongst the audience an enduring consciousness of the service of relatives who fought in the First World War, despite over ninety years of the Republic's state-condoned erasure of such histories. Audience members spoke movingly of grand-fathers and great-uncles whose service, up until recent years, could only be mentioned in whispers for fear of the censure of neighbours horrified by any military association with the departed British colonial power. The willingness of those present to finally name and own these histories was palpable. By the end of the event it was clear that the emotional attachment to the memory of these men and women was as deeply felt in rural, Meath as it was in the PUL heartlands of Belfast's Tiger's Bay.

These two events in their different, yet interrelated ways, suggest that on the island of Ireland there is the interest and will within local and community groups to reclaim and tell their own stories of the First World War. It is hoped that Medal in the Drawer and can help to spear- head and support such initiatives through the medium of drama during the remainder of the Centenary and beyond.

Myles Dungan, of the Hay Festival Kells Committee writes:

Medal in the Drawer was invited to the 2015 Hay/Kells Festival as an element of our 'Reconciliation Strand' which was part- funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund. So the play became an integral part of four events which also included a debate involving Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, and talks by East Belfast Irish language teacher Linda Ervine and Glencree Reconciliation Director Eamon Rafter.

 The play was a reminder of the historical and commemorative context of the strand and played to an enthusiastic and engaged audience. The script and performances were of the highest calibre and the reaction to the play itself was extremely positive. The question and answer session that followed the show demonstrated the level of engagement of the audience and their clear enjoyment of the poignant drama they had just witnessed. In this context Medal in the Drawer is a hugely valuable addition to the Decade of Commemoration and a reminder to Southern Irish nationalists of one of the many bases of the culture of Northern unionism, just as it undoubtedly serves as a reminder to Northern Unionists that their nationalist compatriots played a vital part in the tragedy that was the Great War.



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New Collaboration to Further Research Development on Culture in Ireland

We are delighted to announce an exciting new initiative known as the All-Island Cultural Policy Research Network. This network has been funded under the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme 2015 andaims to create an all island research network in Ireland that will grow, connect, and platform academic research regarding the practices and policies of the cultural sector in Ireland.

Developed through a partnership between Kerry McCall, Lecturer (Humanities and Arts Management) at The Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) and Dr. Victoria Durrer, Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at Queen’s University Belfast, the network will connect individuals carrying out research relating to the various ways in which arts and culture interact with the social, economic and political realms, including the cultural practices and values apparent in governments, institutions, communities and individuals.


The All-Island Cultural Policy Research Network will be of interest to thosewhose work considers and explores the meaning, value, impact and functions of arts and cultural policies, both implicit and explicit, in the island of Ireland.The first phase of the network will bring together academic researchers from across the island to collate existing research, develop plans to exchange ideas and knowledge with cultural producers, practitioners and policy makers.  We will draw on both the Republic of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s ‘ and structural similarities and difference’ and aim to provide a resource for those interested in research regarding the practices and policies of arts and culture.


For further information, please contact:

Republic of Ireland:  

Kerry McCall, Lecturer (Humanities and Arts Management), Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, E:

Northern Ireland: 
Dr. Victoria Durrer, Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy, Queen’s University Belfast, E:

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Queen’s Drama graduate has just been named Best Actor at the 2015 IAWTV Awards in Las Vegas.

Shaun Blaney takes the Best Male Performance at the 2015 International Academy of Web Television Awards

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QUB Music graduate wins the 2014 Reel Awards prize for Best Score

BMus graduate, Graeme Stewart (2004), has won the 2014 Reel Awards prize in the Best Score – Drama category for his soundtrack to the film A Nightingale Falling. According to the Reel Awards website:


‘Graeme Stewart’s score for Garret Daly & Martina McGlynn’s historical drama A Nightingale Falling, set in Ireland during the War of Independence of 1919-1921 is a beautiful little score and worthy winner of the Drama catergory [sic]. Tender woodwind solos are among the highlights of some wonderfully evocative thematic material that’s given a strong outing by The Ulster Orchestra (currently at risk from UK finding cuts). The overriding emotion is one of sadness reflecting those caught up in the conflict but Stewart’s score turns up the drama when required to give a strong and varied soundtrack.’


Congratulations to Graeme! You can read more about the awards at

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Oscar nomination for local film worked on by QUB students

Film studies students in the school of Creative Arts are keeping everything crossed for the success of short film Boogaloo and Graham which has just been nominated for an Oscar. Directed by Michael Lennox and produced by Brian Falconer and Out of Orbit productions, the film has been nominated in the live action short category.

Third year film studies students Rebecca Kelly and Rebekah Davis worked on the short film as assistant producer and runner respectively and are hoping for a good result from the Hollywood awards ceremony which takes place on Sunday 22 February.

Davis commented about the experience, “I basically got involved because I've worked with Michael Lennox on lots of other Cinemagic projects. He asked me to be a runner but I ended up doing lots of bits and pieces during the four days such as location managing and taking actors to and from the unit base to the set.

Michael knows I'm interested in the camera side of things and he made sure I was able to see what was being shot on the monitor so I had a real close up look at what was happening. 

It was so exciting that I was able to see the workings of an Oscar and BAFTA nominated set, and to realise that it is possible for people like me and the rest of my class to make material like this. Northern Ireland is going places!” 

The QUB students are pictured here with the young stars Riley Hamilton and Aaron Lynch.

Congratulations all! 

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