Step Ahead
Fine-tune your development as a student in the UK.
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STEP AHEAD IN THE UK

You already know a lot about the interests of same-age students. You will see the daily headlines, spend time online and watch some TV. But the headlines don't always tell us what's happening at a deeper level. What about the top scientists, thinkers, writers, artists, academics and journalists? What are they researching, discussing and producing? In many cases their work today becomes our reality tomorrow.

Here are some ideas on how to get a flavour of what's really happening in the UK and the wider world. Bear in mind that your tutors and teachers will probably be accessing these easily available sources on a regular basis. 
 


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IN THE LOOP

It's easy to keep up-to-date with popular culture: it's everywhere. But what are the leading thinkers around the world working on right now? What are your teachers and lecturers thinking about?
While most of the world watches TV, academics and other leading figures in world affairs still use the radio to communicate to a critically-minded audience.
If you want to keep up to speed with what your teachers are listening to and thinking about, check out the programmes on BBC Radio 4.
Much of the UK wakes up to Today, a news and current affairs programme running from 6am to 9am, Monday to Saturday.
The interviewing style is typical of debate in the UK, posing hard questions and seeking clear answers.
You will find plenty of programmes relating to your subjecty of study and you can listen again on the BBC iPlayer. Tune in and stay in the loop.
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THE LECTURE LISTS

It's always worth keeping an eye on the lectures available in your area, even those taking place outside your university. If you're in an area or at a university with several colleges, find out who's lecturing where. There may be some eminent person lecturing nearby, or some fascinating subject being explored just down the road. Almost all lectures are free on a first come first served basis.

Many leading figures are very approachable. You can go up to them after a lecture, introduce yourself and ask a question or two. A few are less approachable and have assistants who ward off direct contact with their employers. Do  not be disheartened or offended: most academics are generous with their time.

Websites such as www.lecturelist.org post lists of lectures by region.

Also visit the Forum for suggestions on lectures and other upcoming events posted by other students.



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CUTTING EDGE TALK RADIO

BBC Radio 4 will almost certainly broadcast programmes related to your area of study. Check out the schedule on the Radio 4 website: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/. You can listen to the programmes when it suits you by using the 'listen again' feature on the BBC iPlayer. Most programmes are available for up to 7 days after the first broadcast. Some are podcast so that you can save to hard disk.
Popular programmes are Start the Week (Mondays 9am), a dynamic look at new ideas and developments in a wide range of subjects. In Our Time (Thursdays 9am) also has a substantial archive going back many years:  
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/in-our-time/archive/

More or Less takes a critical look at the uses and abuses of statistics. Thinking Allowed is a social science discussion programme presented by former sociology Professor, Laurie Taylor. Material World explores what's new in the world of science.
Keep an eye on the daily schedules and keep up with new thinking.