Dr Felia Allum, senior lecturer in Italian politics and history from our Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies (PoLIS), has been awarded the Political Studies Association (PSA) Jennie Lee Prize for Outstanding Teaching 2019.

The award was presented at the PSA Annual International Conference Dinner on 16 April 2019 in Nottingham. Dr Nicholas Startin, Head of Department, collected the award on behalf of Felia as she is currently on fieldwork in Italy for a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow (2018 to 2021) researching the role of women in criminal organisations.

Founded in 1950, the PSA has an active membership of over 1,800 and has been internationally recognised as a leading Learned Association in the study, research, support and worldwide promotion of political science.

Dr David Moon, Senior Lecturer in PoLIS, nominated Felia for the award. Speaking about the nomination he commented:

I was delighted to nominate Felia for this award. Her innovation in group teaching has demonstrated that a student-written role-play approach has many benefits, allowing students to have complete ownership of the learning process, learning new skills and developing both knowledge and self-confidence. The excitement students felt to research and inhabit particular characters, and their subsequent motivation to learn shone through in their own reflections.

In awarding the prize to Felia Allum, the judges commented:

This nomination evidences a highly innovative approach to teaching that clearly meets the criteria for this prize. In particular, the use of carefully-designed, research-informed role-play exercises is clearly effective in engaging students actively as learners. There is also clear evidence that the format has been shared with colleagues within her institution and beyond and that there is very real scope to contribute to the wider scholarship of teaching and learning in political science. A worthy winner of the Jennie Lee Award for outstanding teaching.

Speaking about the award, Felia commented:

I am very humbled to have won this award. I have been very fortunate to be able to develop this course around a role play which has allowed me to implement a variety of different teaching techniques: from traditional lectures to mock interviews, from weekly on-line e-diaries to a group report and from public speaking to decision-making briefings. The students have thoroughly engaged with this energetic and interactive way of learning. I also have learnt a lot from the flipped classroom approach and have found this type of blended learning invaluable and very successful.

Speaking about the award, Dr Nicholas Startin, Head of Department commented:

It’s great news Felia is the winner of this year’s PSA Jennie Lee Prize for Outstanding Teaching which is thoroughly deserved. She's a very innovative lecturer who contributes units in PoLIS in the areas of Italian, EU and Comparative Politics. More specifically, she also draws on her outstanding research to deliver specialised units in the area of Organised Crime. I know from discussion with our students that her use of role play and simulation in her teaching is very highly regarded. On a personal note, it was a real pleasure for me to accept the award on Felia’s behalf at the PSA Annual Conference in Nottingham as she is on a field trip in Italy as part of her Leverhulme Research Fellowship on Transnational Organised Crime. I have known her since we studied for our doctoral theses together at Brunel University.

Felia Allum

Felia Allum has a degree in Politics from Newcastle University, an MSc (Econ) in European Politics and Policy from the London School of Economics and a PhD from the Government department at the University of Brunel, West London. She was joined the University of Bath in 2002.

Her research interests are:

  • Italian politics
  • West European politics
  • European Union
  • local government
  • organised crime

She is currently working on women in organised crime, the state witness protection programme and EU policies towards organised crime. She is co-covenor of the ECPR standing group on organised crime.

She is the author of Camorristi, Politicians and Businessmen: The Transformation of Organized Crime in Post-War Naples and The Invisible Camorra: Neapolitan Crime Families Across Europe which won the American Society of Criminology Outstanding Book Award in 2017.

Furthering innovation

Felia was previously awarded the Innovation in Learning & Teaching Award from Bath in 2016. You can read more about her innovative approach in her blog post: How time and space impacts on teaching with role play.