A-Level Masterclasses MAC Birmingham, 14th March 2018

Welcome from the Institute Director

Welcome to this series of interactive Masterclasses provided by the Institute of Geography, History, Politics and Psychology at Aberystwyth University.

Our aim is to provide you with general background on a range of topics, as well as giving you extra information and case-study material that you can use.  For those thinking about applying to University, our Schools Liaison Team are also on hand to give you information about applying to University and to give advice about the UCAS process and student finance.

Booking in advance is essential for this event as places are limited, so do please complete the on-line Booking Form.

We are always keen to hear from students with ideas and suggestions for future events so please do contact us - and enjoy the day.


Professor Neil Glasser
Director, Institute of Geography, History, Politics and Psychology
E-mail: nfg@aber.ac.uk

Masterclass A: Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation

Masterclass A: Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation

Presenter: Dr Tom Holt

Synopsis: The focus of this session is on Earth’s climate. Students will explore how Earth’s climate has changed through time, and discuss natural and anthropogenic forcings of greenhouse gases. Then, taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of geography, students will conduct a Climate Change Risk Assessment for the United Kingdom over the next 100 years, focusing on risks and opportunities on the physical landscape (e.g. forestry, agriculture, coastal and freshwater systems) and society (e.g. people, place, business and infrastructure).

Masterclass B: A Shrinking World for Migrants? How the Media Influences Migration

Masterclass B: A Shrinking World for Migrants? How the Media Influences Migration

Presenter: Dr Sinead O'Connor

Synopsis: Migration is a distinctly geographical phenomenon, and one that is becoming increasingly politicised in everyday life. From Donald Trump's plans to build a border wall, to the Syrian refugee crisis, migrants are increasingly subject to management, control, and containment. To examine these issues, students will be using discourse analyse to look at the how the media 'constructs' migrants and migration as a security issue, and begin to trace the relationship between these representations of migrants and how this influences social perceptions as well as government policy.

Masterclass C: Fake News and the Art of Historical Interpretation

Masterclass C: Fake News and the Art of Historical Interpretation


Presenter: Dr Matthew Phillips

Synopsis: In recent years History has been a subject of major contestation and as a result it has become even harder to discern what is ‘fake’ and what ‘fact’. This session will engage with the problem of doing History in a multi-media digital age and how Historians attempt to interpret the past without supporting ‘fake news’.

Masterclass D: Europe 1945: A Humanitarian Crisis

Masterclass D: Europe 1945: A Humanitarian Crisis

Presenter: Dr Arddun Arwyn

Synopsis: At the end of the Second World War Europe was in ruins. Its infrastructure was destroyed, people displaced and millions were suffering from hunger and disease. This session will develop your critical thinking skills through taking part in a crisis game, as well as learning about the historical context of the period.

Masterclass E: Brexit – Independence or Isolation?

Masterclass E: Brexit – Independence or Isolation?

Presenters: Dr Brieg Powel & Dr Alistair Shepherd

Synopsis: On the 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. This decision has significant ramifications for the UK, its constituent nations, and the European Union. This interactive Masterclass explores the main political, economic and societal implications of Brexit. What kind of relations can and should the UK establish with the EU after it leaves? Will Brexit lead to an independent Scotland? What does the political fallout mean for the future of UK political parties? What divisions has this exposed within UK society and how might they be overcome? This Masterclass allows students to explore and discuss these issues and step into the role of the UK government ministers and advisers to make decisions that will shape the UK for decades to come.

Masterclass F: In Trump's shadow: Change and continuity in US politics

Masterclass F: In Trump's shadow: Change and continuity in US politics

Presenters: Dr Brieg Powel & Dr Alistair Shepherd

Synopsis: In November 2016 the citizens of the United States of America elected a new President, Donald Trump. This interactive Masterclass explores the main reasons that voters supported Trump, and the extent to which his election has changed US politics as well as the wider world. We will look at Trump's policy priorities and the extent to which he has been able to implement his election promises. The Masterclass will also think about the way in which Trump communicates with his supporters and opponents, and what this means for the way in which politics is done. Students will get an opportunity to step into the role of different political actors, and advise on political priorities and strategies in light of the Trump presidency.  

Masterclass G: Your memory and how to use it

Masterclass G: Your memory and how to use it

Presenters: Dr Nigel Holt & Dr Rachel Rahman

Synopsis: One of the biggest fears every student has as they enter the exam hall is that their mind will go blank; there’s the revision charts, highlighter pens and post-it notes all around your room, but you think you’ll forget everything you’ve revised!  This workshop will emphasise the importance of how memory works and show you how you can get the best out of your mind come exam day.

Masterclass H: What on earth is a Psychology degree good for anyway?!

Masterclass H: What on earth is a Psychology degree good for anyway?!

Presenters: Dr Nigel Holt & Dr Rachel Rahman

Synopsis: Psychology is an incredibly broad topic and provides a useful foundation for a range of careers that span both science and the arts. Only a small percentage of psychology graduates go on to become Chartered Psychologists, specialising in clinical, educational, occupational, forensic, health or sports psychology.  All psychology graduates develop the transferable skills that employers want, such as communication, numeracy, independent learning and the ability to work in teams – “teamwork” is the buzzword with many employers today!  A psychology degree means you are well-equipped for numerous roles; with your understanding of people’s behaviour and the science of the mind, you could pursue careers in, for example, human resources and communication, marketing and business management, accountancy, teaching, and social work.  This workshop will provide you with a holistic view of the value of gaining a Psychology degree.

Introducing your University Experts

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Dr Tom Holt

‌‌Dr Tom Holt is the Director of Admissions for the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences and a Lecturer in Physical Geography. Tom specialises in glaciology and remote sensing, specifically the response of glaciers and ice sheets to climate change. His research focuses on glaciers the world over, including Antarctica, Greenland, South America, the European Alps, Svalbard and the Russian High-Arctic.



Dr Sinead O'Connor

Dr Sinéad O'Connor is an Associate Lecturer in Human Geography and specialises in urban-social geography. Her work engages with the outcomes of migration, specifically, the role of urban space in how we 'encounter' difference and how this produces certain forms of social inclusion/exclusion. Her current research explores such encounters of international students living in Ireland.



Department of History and Welsh History

Dr Arddun ArwynDr Arddun Arwyn

Dr Arddun Arwyn specialises in the history of Germany in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her current research project is centred on the ethnic cleansing of Germans from Eastern Europe after the Second World War, with particular focus on the history of the province of East Prussia. Using a range of sources including oral history interviews, memoirs, published and documentary material, Arddun is interested in addressing wider questions not only in German history but also in memory and migration studies. 


Dr Matthew Phillips

Dr Matthew Phillips is the Admissions Tutor for the Department of History and Welsh History. Matthew spend many years in Southeast Asia conducting research for his PhD and as a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service, and is a specialist in the history of Thailand and in particular the cultural impact of American-Thai relations during the Cold War. He has a special interest in how changes in diplomatic arrangements have impacted local identities acros Asia in the late nineteenth and twenieth centuries.

Department of International Politics

Dr Brieg PowelDr Brieg Powel

Dr Brieg Powel’s present research and teaching explores the association between war, the state, and the subject. Building on historiographical research of military revolutions and different eras in military history, he explores the relationship between the state and the soldier as a means of re-examining our understandings of the military foundations of political authority. He is also a member of the Department's schools and colleges’ liaison and marketing team.



Dr Elin Royles

Dr Elin Royles is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. She specialises in territorial politics, including how sub-state governments are active internationally, their policy interventions on climate change and sustainable development and to promote language revitalization. The case study of Wales is her main focus for investigating these issues and she is also involved in comparative projects. She is currently writing up on a research project examining the impact of education on the identities of young people in Scotland in Wales that gave specific attention to the impact of Brexit on young people’s attitude towards identity.

Department of Psychology

Dr Nigel Holt

Dr Nigel Holt is the Head of the Department of Psychology at Aberystwyth University. His research interests are in the relationship between sound and different aspects of cognition including memory, attention and performance and he also does work on the psychology of time and cycling. He has been a senior examiner with a major A-level exam board, is an author of AS and A2 textbooks and is also an editor and author of leading European undergraduate textbooks. 


Dr Alison Mackiewicz

Dr Alison Mackiewicz is the Admissions Tutor for the Department of Psychology. She is also a Psychology lecturer for modules including Applications in Psychology, Gender and the Media, and Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring. Her research interests are in the areas of gender, identity and alcohol consumption.  She specialises in qualitative research methods.