Edge Hill graduate features in popular music video

A former Edge Hill student has recently featured in popular music video by the band Feeder.

Through networking with colleagues in the industry, Philip McGuinness, who graduated in 2012 with a BA (Hons) in Drama, stars in recent music video Figure You Out for the popular band Feeder. The video has gained increasing popularity with over 51,000 views and over 1000 likes.

Philip plays the lead role of a solider returning from conflict in the video. It shows him with the band and a growing crowd of people walking home where he is reunited with his loved one.

Philip McGuinness recently returned to campus to advise and inspire current students

“I worked with a fantastic guy called Wes on a previous production,” said Philip. “We kept in touch and a friend of his was looking for an actor to play a soldier in a new music video. I was recommended to the director and got the job.”

“I have done a lot of theatre however I really enjoy filming. I am always intrigued by the process of film making so getting to see the director and his team work was fantastic. I really enjoyed working with the band who were incredibly humble and very generous with their fans. I also enjoyed the responsibility that came with playing the lead role. We were on set from 7.30am until 5pm, and believe it or not we had everything from snow, sleet, rain, wind and sunshine so I saw it as my responsibility to keep everybody entertained during takes and we all had good fun in the snow -even if we couldn’t feel our fingers.”

“I still love being part of Edge Hill, it’s such a big part of who I am,” added Philip.

Philip has appeared in a number of TV commercials and theatre productions, and we will continue to see Philip on our screens in the exciting new short film ‘Being Keegan’, playing the role of ‘SPUD’, which is due to go to film festivals across the globe as well as featuring online.

University appoints new Head of Media

An academic who describes his research interests as ranging from fifteenth century portraits to blockbuster films, via the cultural heritage of 1997 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has been appointed Edge Hill’s new Head of Media.

Professor Matthew Pateman has joined Edge Hill University with the vision of ensuring the department builds on its research and employment links and looks to the future to become an outward facing, confident, first choice destination for students and academics.

Matthew visited Edge Hill University for the first time 20 years ago as a guest lecturer for current Sociology Programme Leader Paul Reynolds.

“I remember really liking the experience and was genuinely interested in Edge Hill. So when this opportunity came up I was really excited,” said Matthew.

“I like the area and have family in Lancashire and this looked like the ideal opportunity to come to an institution that had the care and intimacy that I remember from my first visit in the 1990s but is also growing and has great ambition.

“It is a beautiful campus and a lovely place to work and study.”

Matthew joins the University from Sheffield Hallam where he was Head of Humanities for four years. He was previously Head of School in Performance and Screen studies at Kingston University and Head of Media and Film at the University of Hull. He received his PhD for his research about the fiction of Julian Barnes.

His most well-known research focusses on the late 1990s American Supernatural drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its creator Joss Whedon, but his interests span all ages of culture and the arts. Matthew is currently writing a book about 1997 which he describes as being ”the most important in terms of global cultural heritage of the last 100 years.”

He said: “I study art and ancient classical works through to contemorary fiction. I could be interested in a novel from the 1700s, a film from the 1960s or a portrait from 1483. I study the heritage of human creativity.

“I may have made a career out of Joss Whedon and contemporary fiction, but I’m equally interested in the Brontës.

Matthew plans to explore research and partnership possibilities, particularly links with industry, to build the profile of the department regionally, nationally and internationally.

He is also keen to capitalise on the University’s location in the North West which provides opportunities to work with creative industries across Greater Manchester and Merseyside as well as Lancashire and beyond, positioning Edge Hill University as the North West’s local media partner.

Find out more about the department of Media here.

Academics conduct research to help people become vegan

Many of us may wonder why veganism comes naturally to some while others struggle to keep up with it, and two academics from Edge Hill University are on a mission to find out why.

Dr Richard Twine and Professor Claire Parkinson, who are both Co-Directors of Edge Hill’s Centre for Human-Animal Studies (CfHAS), have received funding from The Vegan Society which will help them conduct research exploring the reasons stopping people from becoming vegan, with results expected to be published at the end of the year.

Research questions will be directed at non-vegans and aim to explore how the public perceives veganism and which messages or tactics are effective in the promotion of the lifestyle.

The project will involve a questionnaire and household interviews exploring barriers to veganism, and focus groups to establish what constitutes effective communication.

Dr Twine said: “This is an exciting opportunity to enter into dialogue with non-vegans on the subject of veganism, to better understand what veganism means to them and to explore this in terms of social differences such as gender and age. We hope we can make a further contribution through this work to the growing literature on sustainable transition.”

“With so many media messages competing for our attention every day, this research can help to answer questions about the efficacy of advocacy communication strategies. Thanks to this funding from The Vegan Society, we have the chance to gain meaningful insights into how different groups receive and interpret messages about veganism,” added Professor Parkinson.

Dr Lorna Brocksopp, Research Officer at The Vegan Society, said:

“Despite the world increasingly heading in the vegan direction, there are a number of difficulties that prevent people from transitioning, and we’d like to recognise and tackle those.

“There are many methods of vegan outreach but it’s unclear which are effective and which aren’t, and this research will change that.

“We hope it will inform our work, as well as that of other vegan organisations and activists, to help more people go vegan and stay vegan.”

The Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) promotes interdisciplinary research that engages with questions about the complex material, ethical and symbolic relationships between humans and other animals and asks how rethinking our relations with other animals can create meaningful social, policy, environmental, ethical and cultural change.

The Vegan Society is a registered educational charity (no. 279228) that provides information and guidance on various aspects of veganism, including to new and potential vegans, caterers, healthcare professionals, educators and the media. Visit www.vegansociety.com for more information.

Fumaroles and boiling mudpools in the caldera of the volcanic system Krafla in the north of Iceland (Mývatn region).

Improved predictions of volcanic eruptions

Fumaroles and boiling mudpools in the caldera of the volcanic system Krafla in the north of Iceland (Mývatn region).

An Edge Hill academic, together with a team of scientists from the Open University and the University of Ednburgh, has developed a new technique to help predict when a volcano is most likely to erupt.

Dr Joaquin Cortes

Dr Joaquin Cortes, senior lecturer in Geography at Edge Hill University and Dr Stephen Blake, a reader in Volcanology at The Open University have co-authored the research which can help predict eruptions based on measurements of how much the nearby ground swells, or inflates.

Gradual inflation of the ground often occurs before an eruption and is a well-known phenomenon at many active volcanoes. It is attributable to pressurised magma accumulating within a shallow chamber and usually culminates in a rapid deflation caused by magma escaping from the chamber.

This can, in some cases, produce a volcanic eruption. Through analysing this activity at Krafla volcano in Iceland, the team of scientists found that the time when eruptions started was closely related to the changing rate of ground swelling, which can be measured ahead of time and therefore used to make forecasts.

Dr Cortes said: “Although our methodology has been applied to a specific type of eruption triggering at Krafla volcano, we are currently working to develop a more general approach, which will have deep implications on monitoring other active volcanoes. I believe we are indeed a bit closer on the elusive issue of fully forecasting volcanic eruptions”

The research, ‘Forecasting deflation, intrusion and eruption at inflating volcanoes’, is published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.


Post-Punk poetry

An Edge Hill academic has been interviewed in the journal Punk & Post-Punk about his lyrics taking on a new life as poetry.

Dr Richard Witts, Reader in Music and Sound and Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Music is interviewed in the music journal which places punk and its progeny at the heart of interdisciplinary investigation. It is the first forum of its kind to explore this topic in critical and theoretical terms.

In the late 1970s Richard formed the band The Passage which released four albums on various labels. Their songs discussed gender, love and sexuality as well as issues of the time.

Last year, a book showcasing Richard’s words and publishing them as poetry was released by Eyewear Publishing. The Passage: Post-Punk Poets features lyrics revolving around Richard’s poetic exploration of power, fear and love, infused with relentless energy.

Discussing his lyrics being published as poetry, Richard said: “When I write a song, I write down the lyric and the music… Actually, I would write cues and patterns rather than the whole thing, and the lyrics without repetition. Then I’d learn them.

“I don’t expect the lyric to be seen by anyone: it is something to be heard. In print the lyrics look cold to me, like mortuary bodies on slabs.”

Later this month, Richard will host Graham Massey, champion of acid house and founder of 808 State at an event in the University’s Art Centre.

In this wide-ranging talk Massey will consider the post-punk scene – and what has followed it – in conversation with Richard on Wednesday 24th January at 8pm.

Tickets are £5 each and free for students with Arts Centre membership. Click here to book a place.

Edge Hill celebrates Wonder Women

A group of Edge Hill students, early 20th century


Throughout 2018, Edge Hill University will be marking the 100th anniversary of the first women’s right to vote with a packed programme of free events.

Wonder Women: 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage will celebrate the inspirational women – and men – who have helped to shape democracy over the last century.

The programme begins on Thursday 25 January 2018 with a hotly-anticipated public lecture by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow. As well as sharing his views on the modernisation of Parliament, John will also discuss his commitment to making the democratic process more accessible and inclusive, and his involvement with the Government’s Vote 100 project which commemorates the key milestones on the road to universal suffrage in the UK.

Other Wonder Women events during the year include:

Thursday 8 February – Baroness Lynne Featherstone, Equal Ever After

Political champion of same-sex marriage, Baroness Lynne Featherstone delivers a public lecture as part of LGBT History month, discussing her role in effecting change and the place of women in politics.

Wednesday 28 February – The Suffragette Symposium

Join academics, authors and artists to explore the historical, political and cultural impact of suffrage and the progress made since the passing of the ‘Representation of the People Act’ in 1918. Keynote speakers, Mary and Bryan Talbot, will present an illustrated lecture on their acclaimed graphic novel, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, and the symposium ends with a screening of the 2015 film Suffragette.

Thursday 22 March – Caroline Lucas, Something’s Got to Change

Leader of the Green Party and three-time winner of The Observer’s Most Ethical Politician award, Caroline Lucas, talks about being a woman, and the only Green MP, in the House of Commons and how politics itself needs to change.

17 May-17 June – Festival of Ideas 2018

To mark 100 years of votes for women, Equalities is the theme of this year’s Festival of Ideas. Now in its third year, the Festival boasts a programme of entertaining and accessible public events aimed at opening up conversations about overcoming past injustices and how we can formulate a more egalitarian society in the future.

Later in the year, founder of the Social Democrat Party and former Cabinet Minister, Baroness Shirley Williams will visit the University and the campus will also host an event for the Great Get Together, a nationwide series of community events to celebrate the life and beliefs of Jo Cox MP. Marking the a highspot of this year’s Festival of Ideas, the event will include performances, installations and activities to trace the journey towards equality. 

There are also plans to create a Suffrage Garden on campus to commemorate Edge Hill’s part in the history of the Suffragist movement – as well as many other exciting events to be announced throughout the year.

Edge Hill has a long and proud history of championing women’s rights and equality, from its pioneering role as the first non-denominational teacher training college for women, to its links with the suffrage movement.  Today, this heritage is reflected in the green and purple of the University’s corporate and ceremonial colours and in Edge Hill’s active commitment to promoting diversity and equality.

Find out more here

Student creates award winning film about autism

After witnessing the effects of autism on his brother’s life, Edge Hill student Tom Griffiths decided he wanted to create a film in an effort to learn more and raise awareness of the neurological condition which affects so many people.

Tom, aged 21 from Chirk in Wrexham, who is studying Film Studies with Film Production, has directed, written and produced Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind which has won awards and praise across the globe.

Tom with his brother Owen

Through the piecing together of home videos and interviews with people both on and off the autistic spectrum, Tom attempts to learn more about the condition whilst telling his own story and that of his  younger brother Owen. He created the hour long documentary with a group of fellow film students on a small budget of £370 in an attempt to raise awareness and society’s understanding of the condition.

“I was due to set off to university after my final year in college so I thought that it would be a good time to learn more about my brother’s condition and other peoples life experiences with autism,” said Tom. “Documenting it on film allowed me to share my experience with the audience – hopefully helping them understand the condition better too.”

Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind was the winner of Best of Festival and Best Feature Documentary at Carmarthen Bay Film Festival 2017, nominated for Best Documentary Feature at Prince of Prestige Academy Awards 2017, a semi-finalist at Los Angeles CineFest 2017 and a semi-finalist at Oniros Film Awards in Italy.

“People all over the world have seen my work and it is mind-blowing,” said Tom. “To think that this film was made by a few teenage film students from North Wales and to now reflect on its message being watched and applauded from all over the world is absolutely surreal.

“The more people that watch the film, the wider platform the message reaches and hopefully the more aware our society becomes of this fascinating condition.”

The film has received a large number of positive reviews. Ukfilmreview.co.uk states “Griffiths is young and just starting in his filmmaking career, and to tackle such a subject so early on is a bold move and as I said the content is there, it’s engaging and most importantly…informative.” Blogger Emmakwall described the film as “a very thoughtful, interesting documentary with the added twist of including the complex relationship between two different brothers. Well written and made, it’s a pleasure to watch.”

In the future Tom wants to continue making films and music videos and plans on working hard to build a reputation for himself and solidify a career within the film industry.

The film is now available to watch on Vimeo.

Students dance their way on to Lithuanian TV

Two students from Edge Hill University who are studying in Lithuania on an ERASMUS placement have made their way on to Lithuanian national television.

Third year Dance students, Madeleine Jefferson and Chloe Fryer, are on a year-long placement at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where they hope to expand their horizons and experience studying and dancing in a different culture.

As part of their composition module, Madeleine and Chloe worked with Vytis Jankauskas Dance Theatre and performed in choreographic pieces that celebrated 20 years of creative activity of Vytis, one of the most important Lithuanian choreographers.

“The company were putting on a show to celebrate their 20th anniversary of works,” said Chloe. “They re-worked their piece ‘Budejimai’ which in English translates to ‘vigil’ and we performed the piece at the Arts Printing House in Vilnius.

“As Vytis is respected and loved for his art within Vilnius, we were filmed and appeared on a local news channel to promote and celebrate his success and the show itself,” said Chloe.

As well as featuring students from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the performances also starred theatre dancers and well known professionals from the contemporary dance generation.

Click here to watch the news piece

“I feel the ERASMUS scheme is very important for future employability,” added Chloe. “It’s honestly the hardest thing I’ve done and sometimes I feel I am missing out on opportunities at home, however I know I am gaining knowledge and a wealth of experience that I wouldn’t have access to in the UK.”

Professor Vicky Karkou from Edge Hill’s Performing Arts department said:

“Performances received coverage from the National TV of Lithuania, making Madeleine and Chloe a wonderful example of how successful our students can become abroad.”

ERASMUS+ is a student mobility programme organised by the European Commission, which allows students to study at a University in Europe that has an ERASMUS+ exchange partnership with Edge Hill University during their degree programme. The University  currently partner with over 50 universities across Europe in many different subject areas. Find out more here.

One of human behaviour’s greatest paradoxes explored in Professor’s new book

Why do we say one thing and then do something completely different? In his new book, which will be launched at an event next month, Edge Hill psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie explains how the conflicting subsystems of the human mind, one slow, deliberate and conscious, one fast, automatic and unconscious, operate together to such telling effect.

The Conflicted Mind – And Why Psychology Has Failed to Deal With It, which was recently published by Routledge to international critical acclaim from leading psychologists, is aimed at a wide audience from students and academics to the general reader.

“This book explores that wide and deep gulf between our experienced lives and our psychological models,” Professor Beattie says. “We think of ourselves as positive and fair-minded, caring about other people and our environment, yet our behaviour lets us down time and time again.”

“Both science and literary writing are integral to the book,” he continues. “I have situated a critical academic perspective in literary descriptions of everyday life. The aim is to bring the two genres closer together.”

In this ground-breaking new book, Professor Geoff Beattie shows how the idea of the ‘conflicted mind’ has been central to some of the most important research in social psychology over the decades. Each chapter begins with a detailed description of a time, place and behaviour to situate the psychology, and ultimately to test it.

To understand the conflicted habit of smoking and how it was promoted so successfully by tobacco companies using psychoanalytic ideas, he describes working-class Belfast in the sixties, what smoking meant in his street, and how it was defended.

To appraise psychologist Leon Festinger’s well-known work on cognitive dissonance, he writes about the boxing gyms of Sheffield where many ‘counter-attitudinal’ statements were said without any apparent effects on underlying attitudes.

To explore conflicted memories he sits down with the artist Tracey Emin who describes her early memories and her attempts at resolving them, and how these processes have influenced her art.

Professor Beattie said: “All kinds of areas in our lives – our attitudes, habits, communication, roles, and memories – are affected by the decisions our conscious and unconscious selves make. From love to politics, and from race to survival, how can we balance the rational and reflective side of ourselves with a darker side, seemingly hidden from view and subject to all sorts of biases?”

The book asks why classic social psychological research fails to deal adequately with the conflicted mind, and what lessons are to be learnt for psychologists (and wider society) going forward.

It has received rave reviews from leading psychologists including Professor David McNeill from the University of Chicago who wrote that it was ‘fascinating and beautifully written. Bold and original it adds a new dimension to a conception of mind being developed now across psychology’. He also praised its ‘rich, nuanced discussions of the six 20th century social psychology giants.’  Professor Marcel Danesi from the University of Toronto, one of the world’s leading semioticians, said that the book ‘deconstructs psychology brilliantly, but also offers an in-depth and powerful assessment of the sources and outcomes of confused and inconsistent emotions. This is a brilliant book.’

Geoff Beattie is Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and was previously Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester and Visiting Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has published 22 books, and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was awarded the Spearman Medal by the BPS for ‘published psychological research of outstanding merit’ for his work on nonverbal communication and the internationally acclaimed Mouton d’Or for his work in semiotics.

He is well known for bringing analyses of behaviour, and particularly nonverbal communication, to a general audience by appearing as the on-screen psychologist on eleven series of Big Brother in the U.K. He has also presented a number of television series including Life’s Too Short (BBC1), Family SOS (BBC1), The Farm of Fussy Eaters (UKTV Style) and Dump Your Mates in Four Days (Channel 4).

The Conflicted Mind – And Why Psychology Has Failed to Deal With It launch will be held in the University’s Tech Hub on Thursday 1st February. Click the following link for more details and to book your free place – https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/events/2018/02/01/book-launch-conflicted-mind-geoff-beattie/


Former student makes directorial debut

An Edge Hill alumnus has written and directed his first feature film after discovering a love of filmmaking during his studies.

Mark Brown, who graduated in 2000 with a degree in Communication Studies, wrote and directed Guardians, a comedy thriller set in the East End of London, which was recently premiered to sold-out audiences in the UK and the US. The film scooped three awards – Best Screenplay, Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actress (for Mark’s fiancée, Victoria) – at the GenreBlast Film Festival in Virginia and was nominated for four others.

Described as a cross between Withnail and I and Panic Room, the film centres around two disparate men who end up living together as guardians of an old townhouse. But what starts as an odd couple comedy turns sinister when there turns out to be more to the house than meets the eye.

“The film was self-funded and only made possible by calling in a lot of favours,” said Mark. “The house that it is shot in is my own house, and we also used the Queens Head Pub across the street. They let us shoot for free until 4am. That is indicative of the generosity we received from people. We couldn’t have made the film without it.”

Although Guardians is Mark’s directorial debut, he has written other films, one of which, Heckle, premiered at Cannes in 2013. He has also written films for Hollywood studios, such as Nu-Image Films, and currently has three other projects in the pipeline including Coldfell, a Scottish set thriller, that won Best Screenplay at the 2017 NOLA New Orleans Horror Film Festival.

“I wrote my first feature script as part of a filmmaking module at Edge Hill,” recalls Mark. “I always wanted to make films but that wasn’t deemed a reasonable life goal by most people. After I graduated from Edge Hill, I did a City and Guilds in Film and TV Production, and after that, I decided I didn’t care what anyone else thought and moved from the North East to London to pursue my dreams.”

Mark set up a theatre company with some friends and produced 55 plays in three years at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington. But film came calling again when he met director Phil Haine. After making a short film together in 2006 called The Empty Chair they set up a film company, Braine Hownd Films which, over the following decade made 17 short films and won awards all over the world, including Cannes, the US, UK and Europe.

“My time at Edge Hill definitely helped me get where I am,” said Mark. “My first script got decent feedback from my tutors so I was heartened enough to keep doing it. I found the environment encouraging and I didn’t feel like I wasn’t insane in thinking that this could be something I could do for a living.”

With another feature film planned and two more ready to go into production, Mark feels he was right not to listen to other people’s career advice. He added:

“It all seems to be going to some kind of haphazard plan so I’m pretty happy at the moment.”