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Imagine a ‘fangtastic’ rock show with amazing light effects and set, combined with an amalgamation of bizarre, daredevil and astounding circus acts, accompanied by a rock n roll soundscape and all performed with a forked tongue firmly in each cheek!

Featuring unbelievable sword swallowers, a hairculian woman swinging around the auditorium from her hair, demon dwarfs, a strong man, whirlwind acrobats, flaming limbo, sensational sinister aerialists, knife throwing, cross and long bow wielding Bond like diva's, twisted contortion and lots more in this rock and roller coaster of a show.

Age guidance 16+ Contains some nudity and language of an adult nature and is not suitable for children. £10 STUDENT OFFER* Quote promo code STUDENT at booking Offer applies to bands A & B tickets only. Book in person at the Box Office, online at or call 0844 871 3022 Calls cost up to 7p per min, plus your phone company’s access charge. Fee applies to phone and online sales.

*£10 student offer applies to price bands A & B tickets only. A one-off transaction charge of £3.65 applies to online and telephone sales. All sales including, but not limited to, tickets, promotions, discounts and concessions are subject to terms and conditions of sale and availability, cannot be used on premium seats, in conjunction with any other discount or applied retrospectively. Offer may be withdrawn without notice. T&C’s apply.

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From 5 April at City Campus the entire ground floor of Gateway building will be closed off to staff, students and visitors for major refurbishment.

A temporary main entrance to Edinburgh Building will be accessible via The Quad from 8 April.

From Friday 5 April:

  • Students should report to Murray Library with any queries
  • Staff must arrange to meet their visitors personally at another location on campus
  • No events are to be held on Gateway ground floor

Please look out for further details and updates on the City Campus transformation.

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Dame Frances Cairncross was commissioned by the Government to carry out the review into the sustainability of high quality journalism.

As part of her inquiry, she spoke to journalists, academics and tech companies across the UK and overseas. One of those asked to take part was University of Sunderland Online Journalism Lecturer Neil Macfarlane.

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 “Government action on the likes of Facebook and Google is long overdue, and hopefully this review will lead to meaningful change that helps online journalism across the UK.

These are extremely difficult times for newspapers that are making the switch to online. The tech giants can hoover up 90% of advertising revenue from publishers across the country, while facilitating the spread of fake news that is having a destabilising effect on society and fundamentally undermining democracy.

Over the last decade they have grown to become the richest businesses in history – while apparently paying little in tax.

This matters because it is having a devastating effect on our understanding of the world around us. Local newspapers used to employ hundreds of council reporters, court reporters and investigative journalists who served the public interest with their reporting. That level of scrutiny is disappearing. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs over the last 10 years and hundreds of newspapers have closed altogether. 

Hopefully the Government will now take action to ensure that the tech giants are held to the same level of accountability for accuracy of content as news organisations are, and to address the funding gap by ensuring a fairer share of revenues that can be used to pay for the important work of journalists across the UK.

The role of the BBC has also been flagged up in the review. Paid subscription to online news providers is thriving in parts of Europe and the US, while it has been slow to take up in the UK. The difference is that we have a vastly funded public broadcaster, which aggressively fights against its commercial rivals for audience share. Why would people pay to read their local paper online, when they get news for free from the BBC?  

 The likes of Facebook, Google and the BBC have taken steps in the right direction recently.

Google does good work funding the likes of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Facebook recently agreed to pay for 80 local newspaper reporters across the country, and the BBC now funds 150 Local Democracy Reporters based at local papers.

“These are promising developments, but they do not restore news coverage to the levels of the past. The Cairncross Review calls for more to be done in this direction, and I hope the Government takes real action to ensure that happens.”

Excellence pays dividends

The University has been recognised for our commitment to improving customer’s payment experience, and improving staff efficiency, at the Excellence in Online Payments at the WPM Education 2019 Annual Awards ceremony earlier this month.

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The University is proud to have been highly commended for Best Payment Acceptance Scorecard – which shows the University of Sunderland are leading the way in payment acceptance best practice.

“We are thrilled to have our efforts recognised for all the work and time put into the administration and application of the system to make payment experiences as straightforward for our students as possible."

In an increasingly digital world the ability to pay for goods and services online is taken for granted.  Student expectations for simple, seamless and secure online payment experiences are the norm.  WPM Education’s payment gateway is used by over 160 of the UK’s top universities and colleges to securely take online payments from students, for everything from tuition fees to library fines, printing credits and accommodation fees.

Holger Bollmann, Director WPM Education said: “It’s fantastic to see so many universities and colleges valuing the importance of the payment experience for their students and increasingly moving more and more of their payment requirements online.  Understanding the pain that these experiences can provoke for all concerned when done badly is the first step to becoming an outstanding partner.  The awards recognise the achievements of higher and further education institutions to deliver cost effective, efficient and secure payment methods which meet the needs and expectations of students.”

Who are WPM Education?

WPM is helping the education sector to redefine the way they accept payment.  Through unique sector knowledge and close collaboration, we can help institutions work smarter to deliver a better payer experience.

Double-denim heaven

It’s where east meets west; McQueen clashes with Westwood; country turns kimono.

University of Sunderland fashion students have been getting versatile with denim as part of a unique exhibition.

Now on display in the University’s Priestman building, the array of denim creations is proving a big draw after the 2nd year Fashion, Design and Promotion students let their imaginations go wild.

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Aaron Cooper, 20, from Washington, created three outfits as part of the Raw Denim exhibition.

He said: “My kimono is a mixture of Asian influences and country-and-western. I wanted to bring together the East and the West.

“When I was coming up with ideas, I knew I didn’t want to go with just one culture but rather bring lots of different influences under one roof.

“The other outfits also have a cowboy flavor to them, as well as a 60’s influence.”

Aaron, who says he hopes to be either a designer or a stylist, says he is often influenced by Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.

Shaun Mills, 21, opted for a more urban edge for his creations.

The 2nd year student said: “My two outfits were about street style, the skater look combined with city scapes.

“Denim is always on trend but it was actually quite hard to work with because it is so heavy.”

Matthew Maltas, 20, from Sunderland, said: “My outfits were inspired by the effects of medication and taking types of psychedelic drugs.

“This will form part of my portfolio of work as I’m hoping to ultimately get a job designing for a big company, something like Pretty Green.”

Emily Addison, 19, used locally sourced denim from Yorkshire to come up with her creations.

She said: “Part of our remit was to be as environmentally friendly as possible so the material came from Sam Weller in Yorkshire and the only thing I really needed to pay for were the large zips.”

Jill Kirkham, Programme Leader and Module Leader for the Raw Denim project, said: “On this course we try to involve as many live industry links as possible.

“The connection to the denim supplier, Sam Weller was made in May last year, when I attended the Make It British fair in London.

“They were introducing these amazing “raw" denim qualities that I knew would excite the students for their 2nd year project. We are looking at all aspects of sustainability, low impact and ethical issues throughout all modules on the course and the fact that this fabric was produced “down the road” in Yorkshire made it even better.

“The students have really engaged with the fabrics, researching current and heritage looks and forthcoming trends. They have all worked incredibly hard and produced some really original but marketable garments.

“I’m very proud of them and excited to see the ultimate reveal when they show these outfits in a fundraiser fashion show in May.”

The Raw Denim exhibition is currently on display until February 22.

To find out more about the Fashion, Design and Promotion programme at the University of Sunderland, click here


Guy Starkey memorial symposium

The memory of a Sunderland University professor will be honoured at an event debating radio’s current and future role in society.

Guy Starkey, former Professor of Radio and Journalism, died last August aged 59.

On Monday, February 18, friends and former colleagues of Guy will gather for a one day symposium to pay tribute and discuss some of the key themes of his work.

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The event will feature presentations from leading academics and practitioners including Emeritus Professor Andrew Crisell and Kevin Maguire, Sunderland’s Visiting Professor of Journalism and Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror.

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Radio at the University of Sunderland, said: “Professor Guy Starkey was a well-respected and popular radio scholar who played an important part in the development of Radio and Journalism Studies at the University of Sunderland and internationally.

“This event will celebrate and explore contemporary research in the field of Guy's beloved “resilient medium".

“We hope that anyone interested in new developments in radio research and current issues in radio, media and journalism will come to listen, debate and contribute to a lively discussion throughout the day.’

Professor Clarissa Smith, Director of the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at Sunderland, said: “For more than two decades, we’ve achieved notable successes in radio including the award winning Spark FM, the Sounding Out conference and cutting edge work on podcasting. Guy Starkey was a key part of these developments.”

Between 2000 and 2017, Guy Starkey produced a number of internationally renowned books and articles on radio. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Radio Studies Network within MeCCSA and, in 2008, was appointed chair of the ECREA Radio Research Section.

In 2016 he left Sunderland to become Associate Dean (Global Engagement) for the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University.

The event, Radio Studies, Practices and Futures – Guy Starkey memorial symposium, will take place on Monday, February 18 at the MediaCentre of Sunderland University’s St Peter’s Campus.

It is free to staff, students and alumni from the University of Sunderland and students from other institutions, with a £10 charge for others (to include refreshments).

The event is organised by Sunderland’s Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies and part-sponsored by MeCCSA Radio Studies Network.

For more details, please contact either or

If you’d like to attend, please register via the event space on the University’s online store by clicking here

Event Timetable

1300 - 1330 Registration

1330-1345    Welcome

1345 -1430   Emeritus Professor Andrew Crisell: Broadcasting and New Media: The tyranny of liveness versus the autonomy of the audience

1430-1445    Appreciations of Guy Starkey

1445-1515    Dr Evi Karathanasopoulou, Senior Lecturer in Audio Production, University of Bournemouth: Never Static

1515-1530    Refreshments

1530-1600    Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror and Visiting Professor of Journalism, University of Sunderland: Covering politics and challenging power on radio1600-1630          

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Radio, University of Sunderland: "This is so cool - radio at my fingertips!" Young people's responses to and potential benefits for the radio industry

1630-1700    Richard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Radio, University of Sunderland: Podcasting: New aural cultures

1700-1745    Panel discussion on Future of Podcasting

1745             Wine reception - Media Centre foyer   

Join the 100% Club

Four COURSES have achieved 100% participation in Survey US: BA (Hons) Events Management and BA (Hons) Fashion Product and Promotion (both final year) and BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism and BSc (Hons) Applied Business Computing, all taught at Sunderland campus.

As of Monday 11 February 834 students have filled in one of our three surveys.

Thank you for filling in Survey US 2019. If you haven't - make YOUR voice heard!

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Proud to be a civic university

The University of Sunderland has reaffirmed its commitment to the city by pledging to prioritise its economy and quality of life.

Sunderland joins 30 other institutions in committing to produce a ‘Civic University Agreement’ in partnership with local government and other major organisations.

The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published recently by the Civic University Commission. The commission was set up by the University Partnerships Programme (UPP) Foundation and chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake.

The report sets out how universities like Sunderland have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based, to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.

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These issues range from helping regional software and advanced manufacturing business adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education for school pupils and adult learners, and training and developing new civic leaders in every field from politics to the arts.

The report aims to help universities to build on the excellent work that many, such as the University of Sunderland, are already carrying out in these areas, working alongside councils, employers, cultural institutions, schools and further education colleges.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of University of Sunderland, said: “Universities have an important role to play in a fair and democratic society. At the University of Sunderland we measure our success not just by awards and league table results, but by the contribution we make to society.

“The Civic University Commission’s report highlights the type of impactful initiatives that universities such as Sunderland are delivering - diligently and effectively. For those who benefit from these initiatives, civic universities are life-changing.

“In our evidence to the Commission we highlighted the University of Sunderland’s work to raise aspirations and widen participation in higher education; our collaboration with industry and our commitment to place shaping - benefitting the local population by improving Sunderland’s culture, economy and sense of civic pride.”

Lord Kerslake Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government, said: “The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have, alongside Brexit, made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in.

“The civic universities of the Victorian era were founded as expressions of civic pride, and as a way of sharing knowledge and opportunity at a time of rapid change.

“We are now entering a new industrial revolution when it will be even more vital that knowledge is accessible in as many communities as possible.

“It is not just people outside university grounds who will benefit. Universities are under unprecedented challenge and need to find a broader base of support. Universities need to be part of a community which is engaged, supportive and shares objectives.”

Lord Kerslake added: “Universities have an irreplaceable and unique role in helping their host communities thrive – and their own success is bound up with the success of the places that gave birth to them.”

Richard Brabner, director of the UPP Foundation, said: “Universities have the ability to make a real difference to the places they are located in through reinvigorating their civic role. But this is not just a responsibility, it’s also an opportunity.

“This is an important report with concrete recommendations that all universities will want to consider. The UPP Foundation created the commission to look at what it means to be a Civic University in the 21st Century and ask local people what they wanted from their local institution.

“We know that many universities want to build engagement with the community around them. It’s excellent news that such an impressive list of institutions has already signed up and the UPP Foundation strongly endorses the report’s findings.”

The report warns that there is a danger that any cut in the resources available to universities -  such as a reduction in student fees without the deficit being made up in funding from the Treasury - will mean that work already being done in this area could be slashed.

The report was based on evidence-gathering sessions held across England. The authors also commissioned opinion polling and focus groups in cities and towns to hear from the public what they wanted from their local university.

This research discovered communities welcome opportunities to connect with universities, and there is great local pride about how universities put their hometown on the map.

The report says that the Government needs to fundamentally review policies to support further civic engagement by universities. Until the recent creation of an industrial strategy, government has for many decades been too indifferent about places within the United Kingdom – contributing to some regions falling behind.

But universities can take a vital step at this pivotal time by adopting the Commission’s idea of a Civic University Agreement setting out what they will offer local communities and which major local strategic needs they will seek to address. All this needs to be based on listening to the local community.

The Civic University Agreement signed by 30 universities includes four key points:

  • Understanding local populations, and asking them what they want. Analysis of their place and people’s priorities are essential.
  • Understanding themselves and what they are able to offer.
  • Working with other local anchor institutions, businesses and community organisations to agree where the short, medium and long-term opportunities and problems lie for communities. Linking with local authorities and other local plans, such as the local industrial strategy is particularly important.
  • A clear set of priorities. A process of agreeing clear priorities will therefore be necessary and, again, this is where collaboration and aligning resources with local authorities, LEPs (Local Economic Partnerships), NHS bodies and the like can help to identify the live issues that universities can most usefully help with.

The full report can be downloaded here.

These adorable triplets are a picture of joy - but they certainly came as a huge surprise to their parents.

When Sunderland student Chloe Bates began feeling poorly she never suspected she might be 10-weeks pregnant, but once confirmation came through she was in for an even bigger surprise when her scan at 14 weeks revealed she was expecting three babies.

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Although only in the second year of her Business and Management BA (Hons) degree at the University of Sunderland, 20-year-old Chloe decided to continue her studies, until Jaxon, Alana and Aria were born November 26.

However, giving birth to triplets naturally is rare, about 1 in 4,400 in the UK, and left Chloe is hospital three weeks before the births with pre-eclampsia. The babies also had to spend time in neonatal intensive care at Sunderland Royal Hospital when they were born prematurely at 33 weeks.

Despite their rocky start, all babies got a clean bill of health and were all home in time for Christmas. Remarkably, Chloe was also keen to return to her studies, with partner Dylon Freeman, 21, taking a break from work to raise his new family.

“It has been quite a shock and was definitely not yet part of the plan,” explained Chloe, from Sulgrave, Washington, “but the triplets are absolutely lovely and now they’re here we are adjusting to life as a family as best we can, but they’ve been no bother. Dylon has been a great support. Luckily, we also have very supportive family and friends, who are all helping out, although my mam did not believe me at first and thought I was winding her up until I showed her the scan. There are no twins or triplets in either side of our families, so this is a very rare occurrence. I also never really showed throughout the pregnancy as I’m quite small anyway.”

Chloe, who refuses to give up on her career ambitions to one day run her own bar and restaurant, added: “I managed to return to university recently, and I’m catching up with the course work, but everyone understands my ‘extenuating circumstances’ and my lecturers have been great.”

Jaxon was the first to arrive at 3lb 8ozs, followed by Alana weighing 3lbs 13ozs and finally Aria made an appearance at 2lbs 13ozs. Aria also had to spend two extra days in hospital until she was ready to go home.

Chloe said: “They were on four hourly feeds at first and it was becoming exhausting, but we’ve begun bottle feeding and it’s making life a little more manageable, we are also just catching sleeps in between. It’s tiring, but they are actually lovely little babies, so we feel very lucky they are healthy and happy. However, we are definitely not planning any more just yet!”

Dr Paul-Alan Armstrong , Senior Lecturer in HRM and Leadership at the University of Sunderland, said: “As Programme Leader I have a great deal of admiration for Chloe’s determination and personal motivation to continue with her studies.

“The University, through its supportive environment of staff, students and the community is the ideal place for Chloe to fulfil her dreams of being and becoming an authentic graduate. I support her and wish her success in her life as a mother of triplets and as a future graduate of Sunderland.”

After completing her Btech in Business Studies at Sunderland College, Chloe chose to study at the University of Sunderland due to its location and having visited the campus during an Open Day.

She said: “I loved what the University had to offer and the course has been brilliant. Due to the support I have had I would recommend Sunderland to any students thinking of a career in business.”

Go for Silver

Helen Pailing has brought glass to the street - thanks to a DOSH scholarship.

Helen, who is studying for her PhD n ‘Recrafting Waste’, took the skills of Sunderland's glass makers to the seafront as part of the Glass Heap Challenge, with financial support from the Silver Fund.

The Silver Fund is now open for applications - but don't hang around, you only have until 28 February to apply. 

To find out what DOSH (Development Office Scholarships) may be available to you, click here.

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The Silver Fund offers up to £2,500 to support students to create innovative ideas that could enhance and enrich the student experience. Last year students and academics took glass and ceramic making out of the classroom to the general public on their doorstep, using the Silver Fund to create Sunderland's first 'Glass Heap Challenge' - and creating artworks for one of city's most iconic structures.

Sunderland students, graduates and academics joined with glass artist Matt Durran for the Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge, bringing together recycling and art. The results of the event were temporarily installed inside the historic Roker Pier tunnel and lighthouse.

The Glass Heap Challenge was funded by the Silver Fund, created to give students studying at the University of Sunderland unique opportunities they would not otherwise have the chance to enjoy.  The fund has supported dozens of students’ and staff's creative ideas – from installing equipment that allowed media students to set up their own DJ Society to creating a hiking club; created for students who are not interested in traditional sport but want to stay fit and see some of our beautiful region.

The Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge took place earlier this year at the Roker Pods on Marine Walk, and gave the public the chance to watch artists and makers explore the creative potential of salvaged glass and clay from National Glass Centre.

The Challenge was originally inspired by figures which show that for the first time in its manufacturing history, the production of glass has reached a tipping point. Globally, there is now enough waste glass in circulation to make it completely unnecessary to mine raw materials. The Glass Heap Challenges were created by Matt Durran to show that we can avoid adding to the heaps of waste glass designated ‘low value’ and stockpiled across our planet, and we can even reduce the amount of waste we already have.

Helen Pailing, who is studying for her PhD in ‘Recrafting Waste’, led the project for the University of Sunderland with 15 other Sunderland glass and ceramics students, staff and industry professionals.

She says: “There is often excess material produced when working with glass and clay, and we’re keen to show what can be made out of these remnants.

”The event was a great success and everyone enjoyed taking part. Installing the artworks in Roker Pier tunnel and lighthouse was a very special experience for those involved.”


The event was such as success that the University and Roker Lighthouse Trust are run a similar event again next year.

Helen added: “Hopefully this has been a catalyst for an annual event celebrating creative ways to reuse waste materials.”

The Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge is funded by the University of Sunderland Development Trust Silver Fund with support from AHRC CDT and Heritage Lottery Fund (Roker Pier & Lighthouse Project).

"Always improve"

Ready to take the next step? The University’s Postgraduate Loyalty Scheme is now available, offering 20% discount for most postgraduate courses - and don't miss our drop-in Open Day on 13 March.

Elizabeth Dent took advantage of the Loyalty Scheme, and after graduating with a BSc in Psychology, then Msc Psychological Research Methods, she is studying for her PhD with the aim of becoming a university lecturer.

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"I would recommend the University of Sunderland without a doubt! The staff are so helpful and I've had an excellent experience with departments such as student and disability services, and the financial advisers on campus.

"There are frequent opportunities to experience the life of a researcher, with activities such as grant applications, and a term-long placement as a research assistant for a member of staff, as well as conducting your own research project.

 "The best aspect of the course is the encouragement from lecturers to always improve, and pursue my career goals."

As a Sunderland student you may be entitled to our Loyalty Scheme, 20% off course fees for most* Postgraduate courses. 

This the perfect time for you to consider further study - Postgraduate Loans are now available from the Government, and the cost of studying at Sunderland is highly competitive.

Postgraduates study improves your employment and earning potential, on average Postgraduates earn an extra £6,000 average per year compared to Undergraduates.

A Masters degree is also a stepping stone to higher study if you want to find out more about your chosen discipline.

To discover more about Postgraduate study at the University of Sunderland click here.

*Excludes PGCEs

Valentine’s Day disaster?

Can our evolutionary origins predict whether your Valentine’s Day date will break your heart this year?

Dr Helen Driscoll, Principal Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland, tells us exactly what we should be looking for this February 14.

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Imagine you have swiped right on someone on Tinder and have a Valentine’s Day date this week.

You find them physically attractive, yet you know that many Tinder dates don’t work out despite this. What influences whether your date will be a success?

Humans are a sexually reproducing species. In many ways it would be easier to clone ourselves as some species do, but sexual reproduction introduces more variation into the genes of offspring, enabling adaptation and resistance to disease.

However, sexual reproduction requires finding a suitable partner to mate with, and mate quality varies. Dating provides a means of displaying our mate quality to potential partners, and in turn, evaluating their mate quality.

There are a number of characteristics which are typically preferred by men and women in a potential partner and may therefore influence how attractive we find them on a date. This is because, during our evolutionary history, they were reliable indicators of mate quality.

So, what do women want?

Women tend to be sensitive to indicators of good genes in men, because these are passed on to offspring and in turn affect their health and attractiveness.

A number of good genes indicators are signalled by physical attractiveness. Symmetry of the face and body is preferred because it suggests fewer mutations and a good developmental environment.

Muscularity also tends to be attractive in men. It signals strength and, in the ancestral environment, would have indicated an ability to provide and protect.

Masculine features more generally, such as a square jaw, are often attractive, but only when paired with signs of health. This is because masculine features require high levels of testosterone and testosterone is a double-edged sword – it supports masculine features, but it is also an immunosuppressant, which may be one reason men, on average, have shorter lifespans.

Masculine men who are healthy are signalling that they have a strong enough immune system to withstand the harmful effects of testosterone.

However, we know that women don’t always choose the most physically attractive men, particularly as long-term or marriage partners. Instead, women often prioritise indicators of high status and financial prospects.

In the modern world, women don’t need to rely on men for investment, but these ancient preferences still carry some weight. This means that sometimes women will choose man with a high status job who is perhaps older over someone physically attractive.

Ideally women would choose men who are physically attractive as well, but men with all of these features are likely to be in demand and so there are compromises made in mate choice.

What do men want?

Men do not have the constraints of pregnancy and lactation and can reproduce many times.

Psychological research suggests that men on average would prefer to have more sexual partners than women and would be more likely to say yes to a one night stand.

However, we also know that many men don’t prioritise high numbers of partners. Many men form a long-lasting relationship with a single partner. Things which influence this may include a man’s own mate quality (is he able to attract many partners?), whether their partners insist on commitment, and the benefits of long-term relationships.

For men, the competing evolutionary pressures to both provide for offspring and to reproduce many times has resulted in what has been termed a tension between the urge to provide and the urge to philander. So even if an initial date goes well, these tensions can surface later and result in incompatibility between what men and women want from a relationship.

In terms of the kinds of characteristics men prefer in a partner, like women, men have a preference for indicators of good genes, indicated by features of physical attractiveness such as symmetry, clear skin and facial beauty.

Because men can potentially reproduce many times and because fertility varies more in women than men, men are interested in cues to female fertility. This is difficult because ovulation is hidden. Therefore the best proxy to fertility is youth, and this is why men often prefer younger women.

We often hear the cliché that beauty is only skin deep, suggesting that physical attractiveness doesn’t matter and doesn’t tell us anything.

From an evolutionary perspective, this isn’t true. Physical attractiveness does provide information about mate quality.

Female body shape can provide information about health, fertility and mate quality. A curvaceous figure - a slim waist paired with wide hips - is attractive and has been linked to optimal health and fertility.

Findings suggesting that curvaceousness indicates health and fertility and predicts attractiveness were taken by some as suggesting that body weight does not matter. However, later research suggested that whilst curvaceousness matters, body mass index - how fat or thin you are - is a better predictor of attractiveness.

But the relationship is not a simple case of thin is attractive. Increasing body weight is associated with a gradual decline in attractiveness - presumably because it has a gradual impact on health and fertility - but becoming extremely thin can be more detrimental to attractiveness, presumably because when women become extremely thin, they may become completely infertile.

Does this mean that your Valentine’s Day date will only go well if you and your date are conventionally attractive?

The truth is more complex. There are a lot of idiosyncrasies in human mate choice, and a lot of traits which may be attractive, and we have only just begun to study.

For example, sense of humour tends to be attractive, probably because it requires a high level of intelligence.

Sometimes we may like someone because they make us laugh, even if they are not physically attractive. Personality has an impact on mate choice, and we tend to choose people more similar to ourselves; this is associated with relationship satisfaction.

So, a few pieces of advice for a successful Valentine’s date:

•Don’t expect photos on dating apps to be honest – people want to present themselves in the best light possible and the reality may well be different.

•Choose someone you have things in common with. The idea that opposites attract is not supported by research, and relationship quality is typically better for partners who are similar to one another.

•Although it may not be popular to suggest that looks matter, it is true that beauty provides useful information about mate quality.

•Don’t expect to marry James Bond. He may be attractive and a lot of fun, and may make a good short-term mate, but that’s it.

Congratulations to Shah Amin, Placement Support Officer in Academic Registry, who has been appointed an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Last March the HEA reached the milestone of 100,000 HEA Fellows, making it the world’s largest single community for those engaged in higher education teaching and learning, with a global network of Fellows, who continue to demonstrate their commitment to teaching, learning and student success.

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Shah, who supports academic teams in the Faculty of Education and Society in developing placement strategies and opportunities in schools and colleges, voluntary organisations and agencies, was awarded the Associate Fellowship in recognition of his work supporting learning and teaching in higher education.  By applying to be an Associate Fellow individuals show an understanding of specific aspects of effective teaching, learning support methods and student learning. 

Shah said: "I had to meet with my mentor on a few occasions to develop a ‘map’ of my areas of work and my past experiences, and I had to ask two people to act as advocates and had to identify artefacts to support my submission. I then had to present this map of my work at a panel meeting.

"The process was excellent, and the mentoring provided was exceptional."

HEA Acting Chief Executive, Professor Mark Jones said, “HEA Fellowship demonstrates commitment to learning and teaching and the student experience, as well as allowing academics to reflect on their own professional practice.

“We are extremely proud of our global network of Fellows and we are thrilled to be sharing stories about the impact they have had at universities all over the world."

Your Facebook timeline is a powerful tool.

Tapping into all your likes, it provides a bespoke, one-feed-fits-all adverting board, targeting you individually.

And what is becoming increasingly apparent, according to one University of Sunderland academic, is how charities are now feeding into your feed – eating up your information in a bid to urge you to donate.

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Dr Janet Ward, Reader in Marketing, Strategy and Innovation at the University, said: “Are you suddenly growing weary of the increasing number of Valentine’s Day offers dropping into your email box or social media platform?

“This week it would seem everything from flowers, to meals out, and even slightly more outlandish offers are appearing.

“Well in amongst these offers you will find an increasing number of charities with Valentine themed promotions. Everything from urging you to send an ecard from The Rainbow Trust to support their work to buying a bunch of Rainbow Roses to help LGBT youth.”

Charities it would seem, just like everyone else, are realising the power of tapping into your social media feed. And they are employing an army of weapons to infiltrate it too – none more powerful than the ‘celebrity’.

Dr Ward, who is also Programme Director for MA Marketing, said: “Have you noticed BAFTA award winner Olivia Coleman fronting a campaign for UNICEF in your Facebook feed recently?

“Choosing celebrities to front charity campaigns can be tricky; you risk alienating potential customers just as much as attracting them.

“To overcome this some companies are opting to use multiple celebs in their campaigns. An excellent example is the recent British Airways centenary advertisement featuring the likes of actors Gary Oldman and Riz Ahmed; sporting stars Anthony Joshua, Ellie Simmonds, Nicola Adams, Chris Robshaw, Harriet Millar-Mills and Anthony Watson; and, again, Olivia Colman.”

So, how do companies know which celebrities are going to be a turn-on – and those who will be a turn-off?

Dr Ward said: “Well, perhaps you have mentioned Olivia Coleman by name or discussed seeing her film The Favourite recently or discussed TV drama Broadchurch with your Facebook friends?

“Key words or liking related posts make you and me a very easy target. If you have already ‘liked’ something that celebrity has been involved with, then it would seem you’re much more likely to support a charitable venture they are associated with.

“Olivia Colman has been a High Profile Support for UNICEF since 2015 along with others including Lewis Hamiltion. There are also UNICEF UK ambassadors including Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Andy Murray and Goodwill ambassadors such as David Beckham. So, you may well find any one of these in your Facebook feed depending on your likes and posts.”

Helder Costa, in the final year of his degree in BA (Hons) Business and Management, features in our 2019 Survey US campaign.

Helder writes about his views of studying in Sunderland below.

Make sure you make your voice heard. So far 834 students have filled in Survey US - and their views will impact on how your University and your course develops in the future.

Fill in Survey US today - it only takes a few minutes to have your say:

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"Studying in Sunderland was definitely the experience of a lifetime."

“I have learned so much in the past three years that i can not imagine what it had been like if I had taken my degree in my hometown. Sunderland showed me a multicultural environment always keen in supporting the students personal and professional development.

"I've had the opportunity of being an active member of the academic community while developing a range of skills that will most certainly be useful for my future life. I made friendships all over the world and learned that business is, in its root, a matter of inspiring people to do their very best.

"I learn how to be independent and stand out for myself. And each year, I have learn how to be a more active, more outgoing, more sensitive to others.

"Studying in Sunderland was definitely a life-changing experience and I wouldn't change it for anything.”

Take part in our annual survey of all Sunderland students, and make your voice heard

Survey US is a survey of all Sunderland students* – from Freshers to Postgraduates.

With your help we want to make sure the Sunderland experience is the best that it can be.

Your feedback really does make a difference in everything from how your course is delivered, to major changes in the University. In the last year we have invested over £33 million in your campus – we have introduced a 20% discount to students progressing to Postgraduate study, and two free guest tickets for graduations.

88 per cent of your fees are reinvested in improving and enhancing the student experience.

But what’s your view?

Remember that every student’s opinion matters to US – so we want as many of you as possible to fill in Survey US 2019. So login, and make sure your voice is heard.

*Taught students. Postgraduate student will be contacted about the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES).