In a recent post I outlined my excitement for an upcoming day: the Research Showcase held at University Centre South Devon College. It is a day in which students and staff complete 20 minute talks on research that they have conducted over the past year, and the range of topics always enthuses and astounds me. For example, this year there were talks about a suffragette from Torquay (Elsie Howey), the 1936 abdication crisis, a reflection on a student trip to Auschwitz, and the tale of a missionary who ventured to Honduras. Furthermore, there was an enjoyable keynote speech from local historian Kevin Dixon, as well as a talk from English lecturer Darran Whatmore (‘Masters of Suspicion’).

My own talk – ‘The Entire History of a Single Pub’ – wasn’t something I had necessarily planned for, but it was very nice to have the opportunity to talk through some of the key themes that I have come across during the research and write-up. I did conclude that I don’t have any actual answers, and perhaps this is true of most histories. Maybe the main motive and goal is in asking relevant questions. I hope to complete the short book come the summer to make it more readily available.

In terms of the day, what was particularly enjoyable was the depth of academic research coupled with humour. This is something that makes this degree programme stand-out from many others, and this can be seen in a reflection of the comments provided by those in attendance (mostly students from current and past cohorts).

Some were comments about the day itself:

‘Such a great informative day, it was really inspiring to hear Yr 2 Presentations. Really great course, with great tutors who always make the lessons interesting.’

‘Thoroughly enjoyed the day. Love the degree.’

‘The FdA History with English showcase is a great opportunity for learners to share their research and hard work. The local history stories are always engaging and inspire others to carry out and research of their own. Well done to everyone who spoke and to the staff for arranging it.’

Others were general about the experience of doing the foundation degree:

‘Such a great course with fabulous passionate and supportive lecturers…Fabulous day sharing experiences.’

‘FdA History with English has been a journey of emotions. Overall one of the best things I have ever done!’

‘A wonderful opportunity to grow as an individual and create fantastic work whilst being guided by thoughtful and knowledgeable lecturers.’

‘A unique and inspiring FdA that has made me look at the world around me through the sharp eye of a historian.’

‘FdA History with English has been an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience. The opportunities to learn and discover a real passion for the topics has been a most welcome surprise. The team are brilliant, knowledgeable and inspiring and the people on the course will be my friends for life.’

And some were relieved that perhaps the talk had gone better than what they initially envisoned:

‘It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!’

Undoubtedly, the lecturers on the degree – like myself – were overwhelmed at the positive experience of the day and the great comments of others. The next step is in attempting to strengthen the bonds with the previous cohorts – our alumni – and in showcasing their unique research in a more permanent place than a showcase held once a year. Hopefully the summer will see the beginning of a new, academic journal that can demonstrate the fantastic work that students complete on this programme.