I would like to introduce myself to you as the new Head of the School of Law, taking over from Professor Stephen Bailey on 1 August 2014. Professor Bailey’s successful stewardship of the School stretched for seven years during which time we have seen the School’s reputation strengthened. Prior to that Professor Bailey was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University and so deserves a rest, so you might think! Nevertheless, he will continue to teach, research and contribute to the School and University in numerous ways.
It is quite common for Heads of School to change after a few years. Previously I have been Head of School at Nottingham and after that was Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Sheffield for a time but, despite having that experience, find the task of managing a modern Law School of a thousand students and over seventy staff a constant challenge as new initiatives and changes occur on a regular basis. One example, from the student perspective, is that this term will see in the introduction across the University of the ‘Evaluate’ system. This will involve undergraduate and postgraduate students using mobile devices to evaluate and give feedback on both teaching and modules. We hope that this method will continue to provide us with information upon which we can act to improve the ways that modules and degrees are structured, delivered and assessed. I can assure you that we take all feedback of this nature seriously and that we make appropriate adjustments.
A welcome development last year was the successful revival of the Law Revue involving both students and staff, but very much student-led, and we hope to see that again this coming December. I would also like to mention an excellent initiative made by Chris Bevan, who has designed the online Employability Skills Award. This Award enables students to further enhance their professional and employability skills. Chris will continue to develop the Award and welcomes feedback from both students and staff on it. Finally, another significant initiative you may come across is the Pathways to Law programme being organised by Richard Hyde, whereby over thirty sixth form students from non-traditional backgrounds take part in a programme designed to give them a broad insight into legal study and the legal profession.
I had the opportunity of personally welcoming all first year students to the School and would like to extend a warm welcome to all Second and Final year undergraduates, as well as our postgraduate students (both taught and research). Together we are a lively community of legal scholars in which there are numerous opportunities to engage in legal study, debate and discussion within the curriculum but also outside of that: in the Law Society, in the Advocate magazine, with mooting, with pro-bono work, with our research centres and the various scholars and outside speakers we attract during the course of the year. Information on upcoming events as well as news of past achievements can be found on the School’s website.
Best wishes for the forthcoming year.