The Magnificent Seven

Posted by er134 at Sep 27, 2013 10:35 AM |
University of Leicester celebrates seven academic milestones in its history

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 September 2013

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The University of Leicester is to celebrate seven academic milestones at the start of the new academic year.

The Legacy of Leicester is a campaign that highlights the University’s world-class achievements and reflects the breadth of its ground breaking research.

2014 will mark the final year in his term as Vice-Chancellor for Professor Sir Robert Burgess and the year will also mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War – the University of Leicester being Britain’s only living memorial to the First World War.

Professor Burgess said: “When University College received its Coat of Arms the founders chose to represent the University with the motto ‘Ut Vitam Habeant’ – ‘That they may have life’.

“Those words serve as a reminder of our purpose and continues to inspire our work.

“The University has so many distinctive achievements of which we are proud. We have selected just seven to describe the depth and diversity of our impact on the academic world and on society as a whole.

“A University is all about advancing knowledge and understanding and each of these achievements is illustrative of terrific advances in different fields.”

The University will feature the achievements on a dedicated website, through podcasts and talks, via exhibitions and local and national publicity.

The seven milestones are:


The Making of the English Landscape Published

This ground-breaking book by WG Hoskins, Head of Leicester’s innovative Department of English Local History, completely changed the way that people view the English countryside by showing how locations had changed over time to accommodate the agricultural, industrial and social developments of local communities. The renamed Centre for English Local History is still an active research body with a unique ‘Leicester approach’ to considering local history in a national context.


Mass Communication Research enters mainstream academia

The University broke new ground by identifying mass communications as a subject worthy of academic study when this centre was founded by Professor James D Halloran. Twelve years later, the centre launched Britain’s first taught degree in communication studies, the MA in Mass Communication which continues to attract a high number of students today.


Searching for Black Holes in Space

At least one Leicester-built instrument has been in Earth’s orbit continuously since the 1960s. Among the most successful was the Leicester Space Survey Instrument (SSI) on board NASA’s Ariel 5 satellite. Designed, manufactured and operated under the aegis of Professor Ken Pounds, co-founder of the University’s world class X-ray Astronomy Group, the SSI identified a binary system containing a super-dense object subsequently identified as one of the first confirmed examples of a black hole, as predicted by Einstein.


DNA Fingerprinting discovered

In the Department of Genetics, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys experienced a ‘eureka moment’ when he realised that DNA could be used to identify individuals. The potential for this new technique – subsequently hailed as one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century – was demonstrated two years later when it was used to solve the murder of two Leicestershire teenagers. DNA fingerprinting is now used by police forces, courts and governments around the world for a host of applications including cases of paternity and immigration.


Textbook of Hypertension published

Professor John Swales, who helped to found Leicester’s Medical School, is regarded today as one of the great names in the scientific study of hypertension. Among many publications his most notable was the Textbook of Hypertension, named Medical Book of the Year by the Society of Authors. He was also a keen exponent of broadening medical knowledge and understanding beyond clinical science to art, literature and philosophy – an idea which is reflected today in Leicester’s Research Centre for Medical Humanities.


One of the most important sociologists of the twentieth Century

One of the most important sociologists of the twentieth century, Norbert Elias’s contribution was an approach which combined an analysis of social, psychological, and historical processes into a unified scheme, known as ‘figurational’ or ‘process sociology’. Today, the Norbert Elias Foundation exists to promote his life and work, which is also commemorated by continued research and teaching in the College of Social Science. A much revised edition of his seminal work On the Process of Civilisation has recently been reissued as part of the Elias Collected Works.


The discovery of Richard III

The most remarkable and exciting archaeological discovery of recent times was the excavation of the remains of the last Plantaganet King, lost for four centuries, under a Leicester car park. Richard Buckley of University of Leicester Archaeological Services led the dig to examine an area first identified as the King’s likely resting place in a 1986 paper by a Leicester lecturer. The discovery of a skeleton with battle wounds and a twisted spine sent shock-waves around the world and was followed by extensive multi-disciplinary research by the Departments of Genetics, Forensic Pathology, Archaeology and Ancient History, English and others which confirmed the identity of the bones in February 2013.

You can access multimedia and more information via the following site:

  • The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.  The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.


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