News and Events


On Tuesday 17 December we held our annual research conference, RESCON, at the Parkside Building, City Centre Campus.

The conference included presentations from research staff and students on a diverse range of topics from across the faculties. There was also a poster competition, and finally an evening reception with music provided by students from Birmingham Conservatoire.

View the RESCON13 photo gallery

Climate KIC funded Doctoral Studentship available

Birmingham City University and Climate-KIC are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded PhD studentship and stipend for a January 2014 start.

The studentship is called 'Making Transitions Happen: HS2 Landscape Vision' and concerns transforming the design process of the High Speed 2 rail link into an iconic city-to-city, low carbon landscape infrastructure planning demonstrator that will play a significant role in shaping the UK's response to major environmental and carbon reducing challenges.

The award provides support for three years of full-time study leading to a doctoral degree including tuition fees, maintenance grant and mobility payments. The maintenance grant will meet the National Minimum Doctoral Stipend level set by the UK Research Councils, for 2013/14 this is £13,726.

The application deadline for this studentship has now passed.

Find out more about the Climate-KIC Funded Doctoral Studentship (PDF)

Can games have positive effects on young people's lives?

Researchers from Birmingham City University and Birmingham Children's Hospital are exploring how computer games and game based learning can be applied in the healthcare sector in a bid to boost young people's understandings of medical conditions that they may be living with and how to best to care for themselves.

Thanks to contemporary improvements in healthcare, children diagnosed with long term medical conditions are now more likely to live a longer and healthier life. The research between the two institutions is exploring how game based learning could be used to encourage young people to learn about and actively participate in acquiring necessary skills in order to maintain their care as they grow older and become increasingly more independent as adults.

Andrew Wilson, researcher and senior lecturer at Birmingham City University's Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment, said: "The research into game based learning looks at how the processes and mechanics used in games, such as feedback and rewards and measurement of progress and achievement, could be used to help encourage young people to get involved in understanding their condition and the effects it has on their body, as well as improving their understanding of how to better take care of themselves."

Andrew, along with Janet McDonagh, a consultant and advocate of adolescent centred care at Birmingham Children's Hospital, have acknowledged that there are many important factors to be taken into consideration when developing game based learning for young people who are dealing with long term health issues, particularly actively involving them in the decision processes that are associated with creating the games.

The team recently presented their work at the European Conference on Game Based Learning in Portugal. They hope that by raising awareness of their research into the use of games in the management of young people's healthcare, it will provide an insight to a wider audience of how games can be used for positive benefits on young people and their health rather than be seen to be a negative influence on their lives.

For more information on the research, contact Andrew Wilson.

Birmingham City University looks to revolutionise arts and humanities research

Birmingham City University will form part of a pioneering scheme for arts and humanities research in the Midlands.

The Midlands Three Cities consortium has scooped a £14.6 million award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - which, after match-funding from partner organisations, will offer hundreds of doctoral studentship opportunities across the region.

In this exciting partnership, Birmingham City University will work with five leading universities in Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester to provide doctoral training opportunities for students across the region, including fully-funded PhDs.

"The announcement of such a significant investment into postgraduate provision in our region is tremendous news," said Professor Cliff Allan, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of Research for the AHRC, added: "This investment will not only support university researchers but also enrich the contexts in which arts and humanities skills and capabilities contribute to advancement and growth in sectors across the wider UK economy."

A key driver behind the scheme is to help postgraduate researchers find solutions to real world challenges and boost their employability.

"This partnership will revolutionise the way we teach our postgraduate students - it will open up so many doors to those who study as part of the scheme," said Professor Tim Wall, who represents Birmingham City University on the consortium's steering group.

"All six universities that form this consortium are equal partners; all sharing their resources, expertise and crucially, their partnership links, to help create a new generation of highly-skilled arts and humanities researchers. Each institution has its own academic strengths and links with cultural partners."

In support of the University's own ambitious research strategy, Professor Wall said Birmingham City University will be recruiting students to its strongest research areas, including:

  • art and design
  • English and linguistics
  • media and cultural studies
  • music and performing arts

The consortium brings together academic expertise led by the University of Nottingham and drawing upon academics in Birmingham City University, Birmingham University, the University of Leicester, De Montfort University and the Nottingham Trent University.

The Midlands group will form one of 11 new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) announced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) which, along with seven new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), will deliver postgraduate supervision, training and skills development from 2014.

The Midlands Three Cities DTP will have a strong emphasis on collaboration and will work closely with a number of partner organisations to offer exciting placement opportunities for postgraduate students.

All six universities will also provide additional match funding, which will increase the amount of available studentships to over 400 over three years and will include dedicated resources for placement opportunities and skills training.

The funding will cover the cost of fees and a stipend to cover living expenses while the student studies for a PhD. The project will also encourage the partner institutions to work closely together on development activities to support joint supervision of students, sharing of resources and further activities such as student events, conferences and the fostering of peer support network.

Central to the new DTP will be a focus on the development of broader skills for postgraduate students such as partnership working, language skills and experience of working outside academia to enhance their employability.

It will encourage students to consider the impact of their research and how it contributes to the wider world, right from the start of their postgraduate studies. The Midlands Three Cities DTP will also devote a portion of the funding to Masters training - aiming to effectively bridge the gap between BA and PhD.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for Birmingham City University to collaborate more widely with the Three Cities partners for the benefit of our research students and our staff," added Professor Keith Osman, Director of research at Birmingham City University.

"The successful consortium bid enables us to build on our demonstrable track record of research excellence in Art and Design, English, Media and Music as we grow both the quality our research and our research community over the next seven years."

For more information visit the website for Midlands Three Cities.

RESCON13 Announcement

Staff and research students are invited to this year's annual research conference which will take place on Tuesday 17 December 2013.

The venue will be the impressive new Parkside Building at our City Centre Campus. Further details, including how to register to attend and/or present your research at the event, will be confirmed very shortly.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Faculty of Health Research Conference

The 9th Annual Faculty of Health Research Conference is taking place on Wednesday 20 November 2013, 9am - 4pm at City South Campus.

Book your place here.

If you have any queries please contact the Health Research Office on 0121 331 6192/7111 or email

University experts spot early signs of Alzheimer's

Early signs of Alzheimer's disease can be detected years before diagnosis, according to researchers at Birmingham City University.

The study found that sufferers of a specific type of cognitive impairment have an increased loss of cells in certain parts of the brain, which can be vital in detecting which patients will progress to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

A team of researchers from Birmingham City University (UK), in association with colleagues from Lanzhou University (China) and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, conducted a brain scan analysis over two years, of patients suffering from amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) – a condition involving the diminishing of cognitive abilities, from which 80 per cent of patients progress to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

Scans showed that the loss of grey matter in the left hemisphere of the brain was particularly widespread and degenerative for those patients at high risk of developing Alzheimer's, compared with those with no active neurological disorders.

This region of the brain has been associated with language, decision making, expressing personality, executing movement, planning complex cognitive behaviour and moderating social behaviour.

One of the researchers involved in the study, Professor Mike Jackson, from Birmingham City University, said: "Continuous loss of cells within the regions of the brain highlighted in this study should act as alarm bells for doctors, as they may indicate that the patient is on course to developing Alzheimer's."

The brain's parahippocampal gyrus, a region which is known to be related to memory encoding and retrieval, was highlighted as an area that should be looked at carefully when examining brain scans to detect early signs of the disease.

Treating Alzheimer's early is thought to be vital to prevent damage to memory and thinking. Although treatments are available to temporarily ease symptoms, there has been little in the way of success in slowing down the cognitive decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, which has been partly put down to the late timing of the diagnosis.

Experts at Birmingham City University hope that this study will aid other researchers to find an effective clinical treatment to delay the conversion to Alzheimer's.

New book on town planning in Birmingham published

Routledge have published a new book focusing on the planning and rebuilding of Birmingham in the 1940s and 50s.

‘When We Build Again’ is a reprint of two classic books, with a new introduction written by Peter Larkham, Professor of Planning at Birmingham School of the Built Environment.

“The 1940s proved to be a crucial decade in British planning, with the destruction of wartime bombing providing an opportunity to deal with slums and overcrowding, inadequate roads, and provide better developments for hospitals, schools and employment,” said Professor Larkham.“Several hundred plans were produced for towns, cities and whole regions. Birmingham was influential in this movement and one of the earliest planning studies, affecting many of the plans to follow, was a detailed social study by Bournville Village Trust.”

'When We Build Again’ outlines the Cadbury family’s long-standing involvement looking into housing conditions and quality in Birmingham, as well as looking specifically at the village of Bournville, set up and managed by the Trust. “The book will be of interest to those who are keen to know more about the study that the Trust were involved in, reviewing housing and living conditions across Birmingham,” said Professor Larkham.

“The study shows the contribution of private initiatives to understanding how people lived, how they wanted to live and how better places to live and work could be built. In many ways, modern planning has lost some of this ability to communicate both the clear factual basis for action and the excitement and anticipation of the future.”

Birmingham City University wins £1.2million from EU Climate-KIC

Birmingham City University has won European funding in excess of £1.1million to lead a consortium of eight large companies, universities and small businesses to create a suite of innovative climate-aware planning support products and services. 

The KIC-Transitions project consortium is led by Birmingham City University and includes industry giants IBM and ESRI, the powerhouse university ETH Zurich and local company GreenHill Sustainability founded by Birmingham entrepreneur Siobhan Hill.

The 18-month project has been funded through the European Climate-KIC (Knowledge Innovation Community), which drives innovation in climate change through partnerships between business, universities and public bodies, hosted regionally at the Birmingham Science Park Aston (BPSA).

Katharine Fuller, European Funding Manager at Birmingham City University, said: “The results of this project will feed into many of the sustainability policies being developed by Birmingham City Council through the Smart City Commission and complement research in sustainability and smart-cities undertaken by the University.”

Professor Keith Osman, Director of Research at Birmingham City University, added: “This project represents a tremendous success for Katharine and for the University and builds on the excellent local and pan-European relationships we have with businesses universities and public bodies. The KIC-T project will be critical to advancing our research and knowledge exchange agenda in sustainability and smart-cities.”