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School of Law

Professor Sean McConville's Penal History Project awards stipendiary internships


The Penal History Project is directed by Seán McConville, Professor of Law and Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), and funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The current phase of the Project is focused on Professor McConville’s fifth volume in History of Punishment series, examining Irish Political Prisoners between 1960 and 2000. Previous volume – Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962: Pilgrimage of Desolation – was published by Routledge in January 2014.

The two internships, each £2,500, were awarded in October 2016 to Lucy Jennings and Billy Ewins for the academic year 2016/2017.

Applications were open to second-year students in both History and Law departments – reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the Project. Billy and Lucy are both second-year History students at Queen Mary.

Both students are receiving on-going training in research methods. They are working with primary source material across different London libraries, such as the Newspaper collections at the British Library, and Parliamentary Paper collections online and in hard copy.

The internships also give Lucy and Billy the opportunity to expand their skills as researchers, and develop their experience of planning and working autonomously.

Lucy Jennings said: “The Penal History Project Internship has enabled me to gain transferable skills through a variety of research tasks such as using online programmes and newspaper archives within the British Library. These skills will be massively useful to me when I complete my dissertation project as I have learnt how to be more thorough in my investigations into a topic. I have enjoyed working in a small team and have effectively managed my time between academic work and the flexible hours of the project.”

Billy Ewins said: “Working as an intern for the Penal History Project has been an excellent way to develop research, analytical, and evaluative skills in the fields of historical and legal study. It has also demonstrated the values and nuances of working with archival material and primary sources within a number of research centres, including the British Library. Not only does the project complement my degree in honing my organizational abilities, but also exposes me to the wider discussions of criminal justice and penal reform, from both a historical and current perspective.”

As well as receiving advice and support from Professor McConville, they are supervised by Emily Rose Hay, the Research Assistant for the Project, and Claire Green, whose PhD studentship is funded by the Project.

Claire Green said: “It has been a really valuable and interesting experience to supervise the interns. I have had to pay attention to my own communication and time management skills in order to make sure they get the support and information they need, which has been a useful process. It has also been informative to see our project and my own work from a different perspective, and understand how it might fit into and enhance their studies going forward.”

Billy and Lucy will continue to work on the Project until June 2017.



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