The success of Birkbeck’s ‘On Track’ Summer Programme

Access Officer, Mona Kadhum, from the Access and Engagement team reflects on revised and improved ‘On Track’ summer programme offered to incoming students every year.  

To support student transition into university, Birkbeck’s Access and Engagement team ran our popular ‘On Track’ Summer Programme once more in July this year. On Track aims to introduce our upcoming students to every part of university life at Birkbeck to give them a boost of confidence ahead of starting with us in October 2023.  

On Track used to be a subject-specific programme that looked very different. This year we altered the way it was delivered and expanded the invitation beyond subjects, to all first year and foundation year students, in order to give them an opportunity to interact with people from all different courses. We ran the two-day intensive programme with a total of 84 students attending at least one day of the two-part event.  

Day 1 started off with a scavenger hunt activity for the students to get to know each other and familiarise themselves with the campus. This activity was a favourite as it sparked a competitive edge in them, knowing a surprise prize for the winning team was on the line!  

“Scavenger Hunt was fab and even better because my team won, let it be known that my team won!!!!!” 

– On Track 2023 Attendee  

We then had an activity called Introduction to Professional Services,with staff from the Library, Student Advice, Study Skills, Disability & Dyslexia, Careers, Student Union, and the Wellbeing Service all present. Students worked together to create a presentation about the key areas of the service to present back to the rest of the group. 

Students returned on the second day and started with a ‘Being Successful in your First Year’ session. This involved Rachel Wood from the Student Engagement and Success team running an activity that encouraged participants to identify their existing strengths and skills. Students were then broken off into smaller groups for their academic focused sessions with someone from their school/department. Students were able to have an immersive experience of how their life at Birkbeck might look and feel utilising the cinema at Gordon Square for Arts students, the biomedical labs for Biological Sciences and having a panel discussion with current students for Law. 

To end the day, we invited all students and staff to our 5th Floor Terrace Café for an end of programme celebration to hand out the all-important prizes for the scavenger hunt (well done Team Spartans!), highlight the successes of the programme, and network in a more relaxed environment with food and drinks.  

“It was an amazing experience throughout. I met classmates, I shared my experience and my goals, and finally, i attended the class with the lecture, which was interesting. However, the best is yet to come. It will be tough, but I will never give up!”

– On Track 2023 Attendee

More information: 


Management consultancy and organisational change: are you up for the challenge?

Each year, students studying MSc Management Consultancy and Organisational Change work directly with clients of PA Consulting on a variety of challenging consultancy projects.  

A unique aspect of Birkbeck’s MSc Management Consultancy and Organisational Change programme is that students have the option to complete the Consultancy Challenge in place of a traditional dissertation or research project. 

Partnering with PA Consulting, the global innovation and transformation consultancy, students on the Consultancy Challenge are assembled into teams to work with a PA client on a real, live problem across an intense twelve-week period. Working with a client brief, the range of past projects include topics such as culture mapping, knowledge governance, performance management, change readiness, and hybrid working. For these students, it is an opportunity to deliver solutions to real problems that clients face, reflecting the work of management consultants, and experiencing a unique journey alongside team members who all offer different skills and knowledge. 

MSc Management Consultancy and Organisational Change Students taking part in the 2022-2023 Consultancy Challenge

For the 2022 academic year, the client organisations were two large UK charities who provide essential support to vulnerable members of our society. Our first student team completed a project building a quality review framework, and the second student team worked to develop an effective wellbeing strategy. For 2023, the students have recently delivered their final presentations to their clients, again two UK charities. One team worked on developing an environmental plan for sustainable practice and the other on a project investigating non-financial reward.  

Melissa O’Connor, Principal Consultant from PA Consulting commented on the students’ work: “The work that Birkbeck students do on these real-life, complex change projects has a huge, tangible impact on client organisations. They get to work on some of the most interesting challenges facing organisations today, including net zero carbon emissions, all while being supported and learning from real-life PA consultants”. 

Dr David Gamblin, programme director and module convenor of the Consultancy Challenge, said: “It was a joy to see the students in action over the twelve-week consulting cycle, from initial scoping of the briefs with their clients to the final presentation of deliverables. Both of the clients were charities that provide important, valuable support, so it was very rewarding to see the students contribute in a positive way and make meaningful impact.”  

Throughout the project, each student team is mentored by a consultant from PA, who provides support and guidance, as well as assurance that the work is of a standard that PA would be proud of.  

The consulting projects culminated in July with the student teams presenting their final analyses and recommendations, which were met with positive reactions from the clients, PA consultants, and Birkbeck supervisors. The clients highlighted the hard work and professionalism of the students, their problem solving, the ability to adapt and to provide meaningful recommendations for positive impact.  

The 2024 Consultancy Challenge is planned to kick-off in April 2024 – if you think you are up for the challenge, please do have a look at our Management Consultancy and Organisational Change programme page, or contact David Gamblin to learn more. 

Further information 


Reflecting on the Organizational Psychology Summer Seminar – Existing in Uncertain Times

The Department of Organizational Psychology recently hosted an inspiring Summer Seminar on the theme “Existing in Uncertain Times”.

a line of six people stood in front of a stage with a projector screen behind them.

Photo of the Summer Seminar Speakers, (L to R) Dr. Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, Dr. Caroline Kamau-Mitchell, Aretha Rutherford, Cathy Lee, Dr. Hayley Lewis, Dr. Pedro Gomes

The event held on the 12 July at Birkbeck, University of London was filled with thought-provoking presentations and discussions, exploring the complexities of our ever-changing world and the ways we can navigate through uncertainty.

Celebrating Birkbeck’s Intellectual Pioneers

Dr. Caroline Kamau-Mitchell delivered a captivating keynote talk, commemorating Birkbeck’s 200-year anniversary by celebrating the institution’s intellectual pioneers. The audience embarked on a journey through history, paying tribute to inspiring figures such as Rosalind Franklin, Aaron Klug, Patrick Blackett, and others, who made groundbreaking contributions to various fields, from science to the arts. The talk emphasized how connecting with the shared identity of these pioneers can help organizations find meaning amidst change and drive occupational health.

Journey into the unknown

Dr. Hayley Lewis, an award-winning psychologist with extensive experience in occupational and organizational psychology, shared her journey as a first-generation university-educated individual in her family. Her insightful talk shed light on the uncertainties she faced and how these unknowns led her to explore the psychology of women who venture into entrepreneurship, an experience often fraught with uncertainty. Dr. Lewis’ talk inspired many, demonstrating the strength and resilience needed to navigate the uncharted territories of life.

‘Friday is the New Saturday’: The economic benefits of a four-day week

Dr. Pedro Gomes, an Associate Professor in Economics at Birkbeck and author of ‘Friday is the New Saturday’, presented fascinating insights into the economic benefits of a four-day workweek. Drawing from his first-hand experience in designing a four-day week pilot in Portugal’s private sector, Dr. Gomes revealed how this innovative approach can lead to increased productivity and improved work-life balance for employees. The talk sparked lively discussions about new possibilities in reshaping the traditional work model.

Finding my voice: Hitting the highs and lows

Cathy Lee, Head of Internal Communications for a legal regulator in Birmingham, shared her personal journey of returning to academia after more than three decades. Her reflections and findings from her MSc in Organizational Psychology and research project on workplace factors retaining older workers provided valuable insights into enhancing inclusivity and diversity within the workforce.

I am an endangered species / But I sing no victim’s song

Aretha Rutherford, a recent MSc graduate in Career Management and Coaching, was joined In conversation with Dr. Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, Assistant Dean for Equalities and Diversity at the School of Business, Economics, and Informatics (BEI) and Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of MSc Human Resource Management. They delved into the complexities of self-perception, social identities, and career development for underrepresented groups. Their intersectional analysis shed light on the cultural and contextual factors that influence career choices.

The Summer Seminar concluded on a high note, leaving attendees with a sense of empowerment and a deeper understanding of how to thrive amidst uncertainty. The conference brought together current students, alumni, and staff to celebrate Birkbeck’s 200-year history.

Further Information:


Law on Trial 2023: free, public talks based on topical themes

Professor Adam Gearey is a Professor of Law at Birkbeck’s Department of Law. In this blog, Professor Gearey explores this year’s themes of Law on Trial, the School of Law’s annual week of free, public events taking place from Monday 19 to Friday 23 June.

This year’s Law on Trial takes place at a special time. We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Birkbeck, University of London and the 30th anniversary of Birkbeck’s Law School. It is also more or less 191 years to the day that the legal philosopher John Austin finished his lectures on jurisprudence, the philosophy and theory of law, at the University of London, and in a fit of melancholy, immediately left for France. It might seem a little strange to link these two moments together. But perhaps George Birkbeck, John Austin, and Sarah Austin did share a similar concern. The education of the working classes.

John and Sarah, like George, worried that the multitude were condemned to their own “doom” (Austin 1986). Compelled to earn a “precarious livelihood” they could not develop their “childish and imbecilic intellects” (Austin 1986). More worryingly, rather than obedience to the law, the working class appeared to be sympathetic to criminals and were bent on causing trouble (Austin 1986). It was imperative that the “multitude” should grasp the “leading principles” of the moral sciences and apply them to the conditions of their own lives. Only then would the masses be willing to accept the “authority of others” (Austin 1986).

No doubt George Birkbeck did not share all these sentiments. He probably disagreed with Austin’s bizarre idea that teaching jurisprudence would provide the very “rationale” of the law that would legitimise authority to those who were all but ready to tear it all down.

Which, by an interesting coincidence, is almost the title of a Dexys Midnight Runner’s song. A song that, one might think, is the opposite of John Austin’s stuffy defence of the establishment. Kevin Rowland’s ‘Burn it Down’ is a call to be creative: to think, to act differently. Perhaps things now are not that different from 1831: the precarious are required to accept their precarity. However, an education in soul music, rather than jurisprudence, might now be the key to the moral sciences.

Indeed, if there was a “wild philosophy” that so upset Austin, you will find it in the panels and talks that will take place in Law on Trial 2023. Law on Trial kicks off on the 19th June. The first panel is an engagement with intellectual property (creations of the mind). Tattoos and patent drawings will be discussed by Fiona Macmillan, Henrique Carvalho and Guido Comparato. The next panel, on the 20th, celebrates 30 years of Birkbeck graduates. Daniel Monk will chair a panel tracing the diverse paths taken by Birkbeck students from the classroom to practice. On the 21st June, the panel on the social and political lives of trials, reminds us that the old order is very much in place: disciplining bodies and minds. As Allison Tait, Mayur Suresh and Basak Ertur will remind us: what else can you do but resist injustice? Just after the solstice, on the 22nd June, Alex Sharpe summons the presence of the great David Bowie for a spirited discussion about the three love lessons apparent in Bowie’s work. Finally, on the 23rd June, ecological destruction and climate litigation are put on trial by Stewart Motha and Fleur Ramsay. A fitting conclusion for a panel taking place as London heats up for the hottest summer since 1884.

Further information


John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (London: Hackett, 1986) Pages 64, 65, 66, 70.

Dexys Midnight Runners, Burn it Down, on Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, EMI/Parlophone, 1980.