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School of Social Sciences

Two awards for the School in University awards ceremony

13 June 2016

The Distinguished Achievement Awards Ceremony has been held to recognise achievements across the University.

Award-winning teaching – Peter Backus

The judges were looking for a candidate who ‘stimulates students to learn, whilst at the same time showing a commitment to innovation and excellence in education’.

They found it in Dr Peter Backus who joined Economics in 2012 and who has proved to be a superb addition in terms of the quality of his teaching and in his on-going efforts to engage with students and increase their enthusiasm for economics.

Peter has been a great modernising influence as he has taken on board the changes needed to teach today’s students and the media – including the use of social media – through which information is delivered.

He has been determined to make economics relevant by using real-life scenarios that students can relate to - something which clearly works as he consistently receives very high scores in student evaluations.

Outside of his scheduled teaching, Peter also does so much for his students, giving them opportunities to meet with academics and external speakers in informal settings, and, in so doing, he encourages a greater depth of engagement with the subject and an increased ability to develop critical thinking skills and independent learning.

Undergraduate of the year - Gulwali Passarlay

Gulwali Passarlay has just completed his Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences degree.

Gulwali has an outstanding record of serving others and acting as an ambassador for both his School and the University, achievements which are all the more remarkable given the immense hardship he had to overcome to reach the UK and enter higher education.

Gulwali was born in Afghanistan and was sent out of the country by his family to avoid the Taliban. He endured an incredibly hard journey, with his life often in danger, and arrived in England aged 13.

Eventually he was placed in foster care in Bolton and joined this University’s Access Programme – a programme which seeks out and supports talented students who are under-represented in higher education. 

He began studying here in 2013 and since then has been a spectacularly successful ambassador, not just by the way in which he embodies this institution’s approach social responsibility and widening participation but through his work with a wide variety of voluntary and non-governmental organisations particularly in relation to refugees, asylum seekers and care-leavers.

Gulwali has written a highly acclaimed book about his experiences in which he raises awareness of the difficulties encountered by those displaced from their homes through conflict.

He hopes to have a successful career in politics where he can, in his words, “bring peace, justice, freedom security, unity, democracy and stability in war torn countries, and hopefully become President of Afghanistan”.

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