Meet Our Head of School
Sarah Jones is the Head of the School of Media. Learn more about her background, her interests and what she enjoys about working for the School and the University
What did you study at University?
I studied Philosophy at University. I spent most of my time in student politics though and running the Latin and Ballroom club! I did have a part-time job though as an ‘eye in the sky’ travel reporter.
How did you become the Head of School for Media at Birmingham City University?
I spent ten years working as a TV reporter and newsreader before I moved into academia. I ran courses at Salford University before moving to Coventry University. I started at Birmingham City University in 2017.
How would you describe the School?
Our school is full of energy and creativity. We are building a strong community where staff and students work together as creative collaborators. We also do a lot of outreach and community focused work so our staff and students are often engaged in getting our message out there in different groups and organisations.
What does your job involve?
My job is split between work around strategy, meeting with industry to ensure our curriculum is relevant, overseeing new courses, managing our staff, and meeting prospective students. My practice and own work is all around virtual reality so I often play with that, either through making or researching new forms. The best days are when I get to work with the students and make media with them.
What’s your favourite thing about working for the School of Media?
Our staff and students have a great can-do attitude. We’re all here to “do media differently” so we are one step ahead of everyone else. We have some of the best media facilities of any university but more importantly, what we do in them is what makes us great!
What have been your career highlights so far?
So many! When I was in television, I worked in New York for a year for GMTV and it was during the election campaign when Obama won office so that was really exciting. My work in VR has been a huge highlight. I’ve made films that have been shown at film festivals across the world, founded VRGirlsUK and I also spent 48 hours living in VR in April 2017! Getting this job and being given the opportunity to develop this school into the best media school in the country is also a bit of a highlight.
What are your specialist areas and research interests?
I’m an immersive storyteller so I use emerging technology to find new ways of telling stories and creating experiences. This has developed from a background in immersive journalism and now I play with virtual and augmented realities and things like holograms. I make a lot of cinematic VR but also write about it and publish research in this area.
How would you describe your staff?
There are no more dedicated or passionate staff than the ones at BCUMedia. Consistently in student feedback, the relationships and support that the students get is the best I’ve ever seen. When you read stories from our alumni, it always points to this. They are totally focused on creating the best opportunities for our students to learn and develop.
What can new students most look forward to?
Students can look forward to being in an environment that embraces creativity, collaboration and risk-taking. We pride ourselves on having a great track record of students leading the way in the media industries but also being critical thinkers about what they produce and how media is made and consumed. Birmingham is a great city with so much energy and so many things to do. I moved here for my first job and it’s great to be back here now.
How can students prepare for university now?
The most important thing is loving what you want to do so you have to really love media. Consume it and think about messaging and creativity. There’s no point in doing a degree in media, if you don’t consume it. Listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, read industry press.
Do you have any advice for working in the industry?
It’s difficult working and getting your break but anyone can do it. Having belief in yourself is one of the most important things. I always tell everyone to join the hands up brigade. Take advantage of any help and volunteer for every opportunity. If you don’t, someone next to you will.
The School of Media also houses the New Technology Institute. Meet NTI’s Head of School Oliver Williams by clicking the button below.