Postgraduate news and views: Human rights, Young Entrepreneurs, Display Technology

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The Independent Online

With an eye to the sway of events at home and abroad, the University of East London has devised a postgraduate LLM in Human Rights, starting in October. Options look at areas such as Islam and human rights; women and the law; law and development; the environment; the World Trade Organisation; globalisation; and international refugee law.

The underlying theme will be to examine human rights in a comparative context, says John Strawson, the co-ordinator of the LLM programme. "This is exactly the time when we need a human rights course that deals with the fact that, after 11 September, human rights seem to be more fragile. We are the only law course in the United Kingdom looking at Islam and human rights, for instance, and we do a lot on the Middle East in general."

Aiming for an intake of about 20 students, Mr Strawson believes the course will appeal to people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including lawyers, politicians, journalists, social scientists, and those working in international relations and refugee organisations.

¿ Fancy yourself as an entrepreneur as well as a scientist? Want to boost your career prospects and learn the fundamentals of setting up a successful business? Well, get your head down and enter Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme), an innovative competition sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham. The aim is to make postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists more aware of commercialising their bioscience ideas.

Run as a long-weekend workshop, the competition offers seminars on topics such as intellectual property and patenting, product development, financial planning and marketing, to help each team prepare a business plan for an "imaginary" biotech start-up company. On the final day, participants make an oral presentation of their plan before a panel of business, financial and academic representatives, who take the role of venture capitalists. Six teams will progress to the final, and the overall winners will receive £1,000. Last year, four Norwich scientists beat 28 other teams with their idea to develop a genetically modified "no mow" grass for golf courses.

Although it is hard work, competition entry is free, and travel, accommodation and meals are provided. The deadline for entries for the 2002 competition is 31 July: see www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk.

¿ A consortium of universities, led by Dundee and including Abertay, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Napier, Oxford and Nottingham Trent, has launched an MSc in Display Technology, in a national initiative backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The aim is to tackle the growing shortage of specialists in what is rapidly becoming one of the largest sectors of the electronics industry.

Electronic displays are found in everything from mobile communications devices and aircraft cockpits to virtual-reality and home-entertainment systems, but engineers are not always getting it right, according to Dr Merv Rose, the course leader at Dundee. "Displays are going into every piece of equipment and mistakes are being made. The consequences can be just annoying, such as not being able to see the display on an ATM when you're standing in sunlight, but in the case of an aeroplane, the wrong technology could be disastrous. The industry is screaming out for highly trained technologists."

Running since September, the course is aimed at new graduates and industrialists. It covers a foundation in displays, current markets and emerging technologies, as well as studying existing technologies in detail.

Brian Todd, a 42-year-old engineer working on display products for BAE Systems in Edinburgh, signed up to gain a wider knowledge of the area. "Things quickly move on, and the course is giving me an appreciation and understanding of other technologies, what they are and what they can be used for in the future," he said.

e.haughton@dial.pipex.com

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