Spotlight on Westminster: Meet Dr Rachael Attwood, History lecturer
History 19 August 2016
What’s the best thing about being a lecturer in History?
I love having the chance to inspire students and share the most interesting aspects of the past with them. It’s exciting to hear students give their opinions about a topic and relate with the people they are studying.
What advice would you give a student starting out at university for the first time?
Grab the opportunities you are offered at Westminster with both hands. Enjoy being a student in London - the world of work is often not half as fun.
What made you want to get involved in teaching in higher education?
I come from the first generation of my family to go to university and I believe passionately in widening access to higher education. I wanted to become a lecturer to play a role in changing people’s lives for the better (and to hear what students think about the past).
What are your biggest successes?
There’s nothing quite like having a group of students fired up over an issue, and bursting to express their opinions and debate with their peers. I once held an explosive seminar on Victorian gender politics and I left feeling so proud of my students.
What is the best part of your job?
I really enjoy teaching and, particularly, lecturing. I’m not very traditional when it comes to lecturing – I like a certain amount of audience participation, and I love to see students really engaging with a subject.
How does your research inform your teaching (and vice versa)?
I try to draw upon my research into modern British cultural history as often as I can when teaching. What is the point in researching if it isn’t shared with others? But teaching is not just a one-way street. My students sometimes say things in seminar classes that make me completely rethink my research. I once rewrote most of a chapter because of the insight given to me by one of my dissertation students.
What do you love about working at the University of Westminster?
The academic environment is close-knit and very friendly. There are no ivory towers. I also love how eager my students are to learn. I get the feeling that my students want to be at Westminster and are committed to their degrees. This makes my job a lot more pleasurable.
About the University of Westminster:
The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.
We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 175-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.
Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.
Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.