Category Archives: Winter 2014

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Interactions in early music – viols and voice

The University of Huddersfield’s performance-led research into the consort of viols and its relationship to the voice has resulted in the performance of music largely unknown to modern audiences, as well as new perceptions and understandings of this area of music.

Closely associated with the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) and supported by awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the resulting public performances, lecture recitals, CD releases and radio broadcasts have raised the profile of this previously neglected area of music and performance.

The music of the past is an important part of our cultural heritage which needs to be interpreted in order to appreciate and understand the intentions of its composers and original performers. Research carried out by the University of Huddersfield has resulted in a range of innovative approaches, including iconographical, organological, archival and source-based evidence, being used alongside musical analysis. These ideas are then tested out through performance.

Creating and using replica instruments

A collaboration with the Rose Consort of Viols has allowed the use of accurate copies of historical instruments strung throughout in gut and using bows with clip in frogs. These give the player a more intimate ‘grip’ on the string than later bows allow, enabling a more articulate approach to playing.

The development of these instruments has been based on the very few surviving originals, and has led to new business for instrument makers and specialist publishing companies. The instruments have been used to explore techniques of performance alongside specialist singers using researched historical pronunciation, leading to further understanding of instrumental and vocal performance from historical periods including Jacobean (c.1610), Venetian (c.1560) and early Italian instruments based on a painting
by Costa (1497). Connections have been found between the singers’ communication of the text and the instrumental bowing techniques, highlighting the complex nature of this interaction.

Performing live to international audiences

Funded by the AHRC, the research carried out at Huddersfield has fed into a range of live performances locally, nationally and internationally, with locations including Florence’s Uffizi Palace and the BBC Proms. Collaborations with York Early Music Festival and the Dartington International Summer School have attracted diverse audiences and helped to further understanding of the new approaches to performance revealed by the research.

Reaching a wider audience through album releases and radio

In addition to live performances, the research into viol composition and performance has resulted in the release of more than 20 albums with international listening audiences, as well as broadcasts by BBC Radio 3 and German network WDR. The releases have earned critical acclaim for their novel presentation of familiar repertory, with particular emphasis on the diversity of sounds displayed within the music when appropriate viols are used.

15 Lisa Stansbie installation

ROTOЯ – Engaging new audiences through cultural arts programmes

Researchers based at the University of Huddersfield have, supported by Arts Council policies and funding, introduced new audiences to contemporary art and design through the ROTOЯ programme of exhibitions and events.

As well as raising awareness, inspiring curiosity and providing
cultural enrichment, the programme has initiated changes to local authority policies on providing cost-effective, high-quality cultural services. The impact ROTOЯ has had on the community has been a prime example of local authority and university sectors working together to offer innovative public services whilst generating and measuring engagement.

A push for growth in the arts sector

In 2010 a Work Foundation report warned that the UK’s creative industries were at risk of failing to fulfil their potential to drive growth and innovation. The drive for greater engagement and collaboration has been supported by Arts Council policy goals aiming to attract and inspire new audiences to ensure the arts sector is sustainable.

Drawing on research to inform exhibitions

Launched in 2012 in partnership with Huddersfield Art Gallery, the ROTOЯ programme aimed to address these concerns by providing a broad spectrum of exhibitions to engage and involve a wide range of new audiences with the UK’s diverse creative and cultural industries. ROTOЯ is underpinned by and continues to nurture research into public engagement and impact measurement, particularly in relation to how practice based research can be communicated effectively beyond academia.

From model aeroplanes to mining culture

ROTOЯ exhibitions have covered a diverse range of forms and subject material, including Flight, an exhibition of work by Dr Lisa Stansbie exploring the idea of ‘flight’ through sculpture, film and the use of re-appropriated Airfix model aeroplane kits, Insufficient Allure, a curated exhibition by Dr Kevin Almond and Kathryn Brennand investigating historical and contemporary aspects of creative pattern cutting, and Mining Couture, an exhibition by Claire Barber and Professor Steve Swindells exploring conceptual connections between coal mining and fashion through the metaphor
of ‘seam’.

The first programme of exhibitions attracted over 14,300 visitors, increasing access, opportunity and understanding of the arts for a diverse range of new audiences.

Through a programme of exhibitions developed and delivered in partnership with the local authority, ROTOЯ has transformed public views on the significance of contemporary art and design and initiated change to local authority policy decisions to provide cost-effective, high-quality cultural services. It has also generated practical models, good practice and further research on public engagement strategies for partnerships between universities and cultural sectors.

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Language Unlocked – linguistic consultancy and communications

The University of Huddersfield’s research using corpus stylistics has led to the development of Language Unlocked. A consultancy service operating out of the stylistics research centre in the Linguistics and Modern Languages subject area, Language Unlocked uses linguistic methodologies and interpretative procedures to assist public, private, third-sector and non governmental organisations, including Unions21 and the Green Party.

With a focus on raising language awareness, Language Unlocked helps organisations to communicate strategies and achieve long-term goals through policies, manifestos and communications. Assessing media portrayal of Britain’s unions In 2012, Unions21, a think tank whose work is centered on the future of the union movement, asked the research team to examine the
portrayal of unions in British newspapers. The goal was to provide advice to press officers and key officials on how to encourage more objective representation of unions.

Following a draft report of the analysis in 2013, the Language Unlocked team was invited to present its key findings at Unions21’s 20th anniversary conference, raising awareness of the continued negative representation of unions in the British press.

Developing communications and training for the Green Party

In the run-up to the May 2013 local elections the Green Party asked the Language Unlocked team to analyse the use of terms including Green Party, green, environment and sustainable in print news reporting in the British press. A draft report was presented to the Party in December 2012 and the findings informed the marketing strategies of a third-party advertising agency, scripting decisions for the Party’s country election broadcast and the development of a new vision statement for the party. The findings also formed the basis of a training workshop delivered by the Language Unlocked team to key Party members, and training materials that were distributed throughout the wider organisation.

Linguistics research to inform industry media messages

Language Unlocked research has also been successfully applied in the private sector in the form of a commission from leading flow process company, Intensichem. The company asked the team to develop media messages that would emphasise the company’s focus on delivering scalable chemical flow processes. By using techniques from corpus linguistics and a large database of written British English, the Language Unlocked team were able to carry out an analysis of the denotational and connotational meanings of a range of Intensichem promotional copy. This enabled the team to develop a new company strap-line with tried and tested positive connotations.

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Analysing and reforming the Prevent policy, locally and nationally

Research carried out within the University of Huddersfield’s School of Education and Professional Development has been a key influence on the Government Prevent strategy, aimed at preventing terrorism. Through a combination of national media coverage and oral evidence given to a House of Commons Inquiry, this research has encouraged a change of focus, resulting in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) placing renewed emphasis on the value of cross-community cohesion.

Controversial launch of the Prevent project

The Prevent policy was introduced in 2007 to address the risk of young Muslims being attracted to terrorism and the ideologies supporting it. The rapid implementation of the programme led to direct interference with existing cohesion policies and posed real issues in terms of approach and organisation for local authority and education partners, many of which immediately recognised the ideological and practical problems the policy created.

Working with local government to reform Prevent

One such authority was Kirklees Metropolitan Council, which, using Prevent funding, commissioned Professor Paul Thomas as an analyst of community cohesion to evaluate its initial year of Prevent activity in 2007/2008. The resulting report represented the only genuinely independent evaluation of the initial pilot year of Prevent activity in England. The key findings of this report were shared with Prevent co-ordinators and elected members of local authorities from across the Yorkshire and the Humber Government Office region.

A collaboration was also formed with the Rochdale Pride Partnership (Local Strategic Partnership) to develop and carry out action research with young people. Prevent was viewed as highly controversial by Muslim communities in Rochdale, and this study was seen as an acceptable way of engaging with the policy agenda.

In July 2008 the results, relating to how young people of all ethnic backgrounds understood identifications, prejudices, fears, experiences of segregation and racial/territorial conflict, were presented to the Rochdale Pride Partnership. The findings were used to inform future policy approaches to both Prevent and community cohesion.

Influencing national Government policy

The research carried out in collaboration with local partnerships resulted in policy change recommendations to local government funders and an evidence submission to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry. This argued that Prevent should focus much more on cross-community cohesion approaches and be supported by wider attempts to encourage political education amongst young people in addition to training and guidance for education professionals.

These recommendations were accepted and later featured in the Committee’s report in 2010 and the re-launch of Prevent in 2011, supporting the need for further emphasis on community cohesion.
This has since led to further on-going research into feelings and dispositions within marginalised, mainly white communities (including attitudes towards groups such as the English Defence
League), commissioned by West Yorkshire local authorities and soon to be published.

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Recovery, rehabilitation and positive attitudes for back pain sufferers

Researchers based in the Centre for Applied Psychological and Health Research (CAPHR) at the University of Huddersfield have helped to bring about a major cultural shift in how back pain is viewed and treated. This has resulted in a new approach focusing on activity, positive attitudes and helping people stay at, or quickly get back to, work.

The research draws on a biopsychosocial understanding of health and findings indicate that individuals, employers and healthcare practitioners need to work together in order to support the recovery and work participation of people living with back pain.

Using psychosocial approaches to solve back pain issues

Back pain is a leading cause of sickness absence in industrialised nations, often resulting in significant healthcare costs and benefit
payments. It has considerable negative impacts on individuals, employers and society as a whole, leading to reduced quality of life, lost production, and an increased healthcare burden.

Research carried out through the Centre shows that these factors can be overcome by tackling the psychosocial factors preventing sufferers from returning to work and encouraging a positive shift in beliefs.

Support from industry and the healthcare sector

The Department for Work and Pensions, the Health and Safety Executive, and the Association of British Insurers have commissioned research through the Centre to develop principles and practice for tackling work disability due to common health problems, including back pain. For the first time, it was shown that work has a positive effect on health and wellbeing, and that promoting work participation improves health outcomes and recovery.

Following on from this, and adding to the under-researched ‘social’ component of the biopsychosocial model, the Centre has more recently been exploring how spouses, partners and close family members influence recovery and work participation for those with back pain – this has been supported by grant awards from BackCare and the Bupa Foundation and includes a collaboration with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Findings have demonstrated how the negative beliefs of significant others can reinforce pessimistic attitudes around recovery, whereas positive beliefs can facilitate recovery and a faster return to work.

The on-going research carried out by the Centre for Applied Psychological and Health Research (CAPHR) at The University of Huddersfield has altered perceptions about the nature and course of back pain and its relationship with physical stresses and work. By identifying the key psychosocial obstacles to returning to work it has been possible to help individuals, healthcare providers, and society to recognise these obstacles and move past them towards rehabilitation and recovery.

The CAPHR is continuing research into back pain rehabilitation as there is still work to be done in ensuring that all the relevant services and individuals interact and communicate to form an effective support network.

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Paving the way for a new focus on ethical accounting

Research carried out within The Business School on accounting ethics has made a major contribution to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW ) – one of the world’s premier accounting bodies. Through membership of its Ethics Standards Committee and collaboration with ICAEW staff, this research has brought a unique academic perspective to the ICAEW ’s promotion of professional ethics, helping to shape its ethics agenda for over 140,000 members in over 160 countries and informing a new ethics examination for aspiring Chartered Accountants.

First academic link to the ethics committee

The University of Huddersfield’s involvement with the ICAEW ’s ethics agenda began with the P.D. Leake Lecture to Chartered Accountants, regulators and policy makers, delivered in 2007. The lecture was widely disseminated online throughout the ICAEW network and paved the way for the lecturer, Professor Chris Cowton, to become the first academic to be invited onto the Ethics Standards Committee.

Literature highlights a lack of focus

In addition to providing a practical perspective on whether ethics ‘pays’ and the effectiveness of codes of practice, the research for the P.D. Leake Lecture reinterpreted existing literature on the sociology of professions, resulting in new insight into the responsibility of a professional body not only to develop and adhere to ethical standards, but also to aspire to be a ‘moral community’, and the points of influence, or roles, by which accountants can influence general business ethics.

Building on the review of literature, focus groups involving partners and other senior professionals were held. It was found that, whilst there is a strong focus on ethics in financial reporting and auditing, especially in terms of independence and scepticism, less attention has been paid to the ethical challenges of accountants who work in other roles – who form the majority of the profession.

Keeping these challenges on the agenda of professional bodies is not only vital for the profession itself but also, given the influence of accountants, for the ethics of businesses and other organisations.

Informing new learning programmes for future accountants

The insights developed from the research have also informed the new Ethics Learning Programme (ELP), which is expected to be taken by up to 5000 aspiring Chartered Accountants a year as a requirement for gaining professional membership. Bringing academic research about business and financial ethics into the heart of an internationally recognised professional body is helping to ensure that accountants can fulfil their professional responsibilities in an increasingly complex, dynamic and challenging business environment.


10 Professor Liam Blunt

Surface measurement – improving products and boosting sales

The surface micro-structure of a product affects its performance, quality and service life. Measurement and characterisation can reveal a complex surface structure – often the result of the manufacturing process. Research carried out by the Centre for Precision Technologies (CPT) focuses on improving this measurement process to further understand surface roughness and allow for the manufacturing of superior products.

Launching a collaborative project

In 1998, Professor Liam Blunt of the CPT coordinated the launch of SURFSTAND – an 11-partner EU Framework project. The principal aim was to form the base for a new set of international standards by developing mathematical analytical techniques for characterising the topography of engineering surfaces.

The project demonstrated that characterising surface roughness could influence engine emissions, sheet pressing processes and quality control. These findings were particularly relevant to companies in the automotive, steel production and bio-implant industries including Volkswagen, Volvo, SKF, DePuy, Johnson & Johnson and Taylor Hobson.

Revolutionary measurement and characterisation software

New surface topography characterisation tools have been developed as a result of the SURFSTAND project, leading to a new software package known by the same name. This software allows multiple data formats to be viewed, filtered and numerically characterised. It is the first piece of software to allow for the characterisation of free-form geometry, and the first in surface metrology to deliver wavelet filters for multi-scale analysis.

Forming an industry partnership

In 2011, world-leading metrology company Ametek Taylor Hobson formed a collaboration contract with the CPT to integrate the SURFSTAND software into an existing component-based software package that supports Ametek Taylor Hobson’s range of metrology instrumentation.This improvement in software provision has led to increased sales and helped the company to maintain its position in the competitive market of smartphone lenses and automotive bearing surfaces.

The company established the Huddersfield, Taylor Hobson Chair in Surface Metrology first held by Professor Blunt and now held by Professor Paul Scott. The relationship between the CPT and Ametek Taylor Hobson has since strengthened with two of the SURFSTAND Research Fellows now employed by the company to lead on software development and facilitate further knowledge exchange between the CPT and their industry partner.