We meet Dr Rachael Attwood, Lecturer in History in the Department of History, Sociology, and Criminology. Rachael has a lot of experience of supporting students and plays a key role in welcoming students to Westminster each September.

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.

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