Report on the 2021 BAME Humanities Study Day

Participants at the BAME study day 2021

On Thursday 8th April 2021, 125 students of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background from across the UK joined outreach officers, academics and undergraduates from various colleges and humanities departments for a virtual study day. This was the second year that this event has been successfully run online funded by the Humanities Division and organised by University College, Magdalen College and the Faculty of History.

Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, delivered an opening address and Vanessa Worthington, who is responsible for BAME projects in the University’s Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team, introduced the opportunities and resources available to students at Oxford. The day included an interactive admissions workshop delivered by outreach colleagues from across the collegiate university with assistance from our fantastic student ambassadors.

We have long been aware that our current students are our very best ambassadors and when describing their favourite part of the day one participant commented – “seeing so many passionate students pushed me to work harder to get in.”

Students had the opportunity to attend 2 subject lectures from a selection of 8 humanities courses –

  1. Classics – Is a robot a human? Ancient dreams of a technological future by Dr Marchella Ward
  2. English – Medieval English and Arabic Devotional Texts by Dr Ayoush Lazikani
  3. History – Representing the First World War by Dr Michael Joseph
  4. History of Art – Decolonise Art History? By Dr Neal Shasore
  5. Medieval and Modern Languages – Sixteenth-century French Women’s Writing: Challenging Gender Expectations in selected works of the Dames des Roches by Nupur Patel
  6. Music – History and Philosophy of Music Education by Professor Samantha Dieckmann
  7. Oriental Studies – Islam and Politics in the Middle East by Dr Usaama al-Azami
  8. Philosophy – Minds, bodies and causation by Umut Baysan

This fascinating selection of talks allowed attendees to experience topics outside of their prescribed curriculum and offered an introduction to university level study.

There was the opportunity for participants to ask questions of the lecturers and current students studying the course. This opportunity to engage with academics of BAME heritage was a highlight for several of the participants with one commenting that their favourite part of the event was:

Seeing people of colour in academia! All the professors were such wonderful people and so down to earth and their talks were so engaging.

When asked about her involvement in the study days, Nupur Patel the Medieval and Modern Languages Lecturer in both 2020 & 2021 made the following comment:

It has been an absolute pleasure taking part in the BAME Study Days for the past two years. I have thoroughly enjoyed engaging with students through my research and hope that I have inspired them to consider Modern Languages, and more broadly the Humanities, as a valid discipline to study in Higher Education.

A plenary Q&A chaired by Vanessa Worthington with current students closed the event. One of the participants on the day commented:

Originally, I wasn't sure about applying to Oxford at all, but this study day gave me more confidence in my ability and made my voice feel more important and valued, something which often does not happen at school.

In conjunction with organising this event, Outreach and Admissions staff from across the university along with current students and Tutors collaborated to produce new admissions test resources for Humanities subjects to support prospective applicants.