Book your place on the UCL Campus Run Grab a ticket

We are delighted to introduce Dr Sam Blaxland who has taken up his post as Generation UCL Research Fellow. Sam will work with the project’s directors Dr Georgina Brewis (IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society) and John Dubber (Chief Executive, Students’ Union UCL) on this exciting new research and engagement project exploring 200 years of student life in London.

Sam Blaxland comes to UCL from Swansea University, where he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow from 2016-2020, and a Lecturer in Modern History from 2021 until the start of 2022. Sam’s postdoc project focused on the history of Swansea University, building up to its centenary in 2020, culminating in Swansea University: Campus and Community in a Post-war World, 1945-2020. The book focuses on the development of what was, for most of that period, the University College of Swansea, placing its story into the wider history of post-Second World War Britain.

Sam brings to UCL a huge amount of experience in the field of oral history. The research for Swansea University involved conducting nearly 100 interviews, many of which were utilised in the final volume. People from every academic department were spoken to, and as wide a time period as possible was covered. The oldest interviewee was 102 and had been a student in the mid-1930s, whilst the youngest were the then sabbatical officers who made up the Student’s Union leadership team. Swansea University’s alumni voices feature in a four-part podcast series written and narrated by Sam and an in exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum. The Swansea history project involved a programme of public engagement which included festivals and events for local history societies and school groups.

Sam is also a keen tour guide and has spent much of the past four years showing anyone who is interested around the Singleton Park campus of Swansea University, pointing out unusual or easy-to-miss historical features (this continued remotely with the aid of Google Maps during the height of the lockdown era!).

Aside from his interests in the history of students and higher education, Sam wrote a PhD on Welsh political history and a book based on that thesis is forthcoming. His research coincidentally dovetailed with both the ‘Brexit’ referendum, and the 2017 and 2019 general elections, and as a result, Sam was sucked into being a regular ‘talking head’, or political pundit – when he thinks he knows what he is talking about! – on radio and television. He often appears on BBC Wales and BBC Radio Wales, but has also done stints on BBC Breakfast, the BBC 6 o’clock News, BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC. 

Outside of work, Sam is a keen runner and tries not to miss the Saturday morning parkrun. This allows him to eat and drink more than he should (cooking and learning about wine also being hobbies). He is old-fashioned in that he likes reading hard copy newspapers, which he attributes to being a historian and therefore sometimes likes doing outdated things. Sam was born and brought up in Pembrokeshire, about as far into West Wales as you can go. Since leaving there, however, he has lived, studied or worked in Swansea, Cardiff, Oxford and London – and he is enormously excited to return to the latter, and to the stimulating environment of UCL.