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During the School’s Graduation reception this year, a new annual prize was announced and named in honour of Professor Sioned Davies, who has retired after 40 years at Cardiff University.

The Sioned Davies Prize will be awarded to the postgraduate student, from the School’s MA in Welsh and Celtic Studies programme, who produces the best dissertation.

While presenting the inaugural prize this year, Dr Dylan Foster Evans, who succeeded Professor Davies as Head of the School of Welsh in 2017, said: “Sioned’s contribution and impact over 40 years at the University, and 20 years as the Head of the School of Welsh, is impossible to overstate. She has played a vital role in the development of the Welsh discipline and made significant contributions to Wales’s social, political and literary progress.

“Under her leadership, the School of Welsh grew in size and influence, with expertise across the Welsh discipline, from medieval studies (Sioned’s specialism) to language planning, policy and acquisition.

“Establishing this new prize and naming it for Sioned is our way of celebrating her contribution thanking her for her hard work over many years and recognising her transformative influence on generations of students. We wish her the very best in retirement but she will always remain an integral part of our School community.”

First prize

The first winner of the Sioned Davies Prize was Judith Musker-Turner for her MA dissertation project ‘Yng Nghledr y Clyw: Gwybyddiaeth Ymgorfforol a’r Broses o Farddoni’. This was a creative and experimental project composing poetry through sewing words onto a costume and gloves. This original and multidisciplinary project combined literary criticism and cognitive science and developed a new understanding of the creative process.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh held its Graduation ceremony and reception on Thursday 18 July 2019.

St David’s Hall played host to the ceremony which was followed by a reception held in the Council Chamber of the University’s architecturally imposing Main Building.

After the formalities of the ceremony, the reception provided graduates and their families with the opportunity to celebrate this major milestone over canapes and wine with their peers and School staff.

This year, the School was celebrating the achievements of 39 undergraduate and postgraduate students, with four undergraduates achieving a First-Class Honours Degree.

Five students were presented with an MA in Welsh and Celtic Studies with five other students achieving their PhD.

During the reception, Dr Dylan Foster Evans, Head of the School of Welsh, spoke about the special community and atmosphere within the School as well as the close relationship between staff and students. He stated that the enthusiasm, curiosity and passion of the students for the Welsh language had enriched the School’s community and culture.

Prizes

Dr Foster Evans also presented the G. J. Williams Memorial Prizes to Carwyn Hawkins (BA Welsh) and Alys Greene (LLM Law and Welsh). The prizes are given in honour of the noted scholar who lectured at Cardiff University for 36 years. They recognise the academic achievement and final degree results of the recipients.

In addition to the G.J. Williams Prizes, Dr Foster Evans announced the creation of a new prize in honour of Professor Sioned Davies. Professor Davies served as Head of the School of Welsh for 20 years until 2017. At the end of July, she will retire after 40 years at Cardiff University. The new prize given in recognition of the best performance, during the taught component or the dissertation, on the MA in Welsh and Celtic Studies. This year, the Sioned Davies Prize was given to Judith Musker-Turner for her creative and experimental project composing poetry through sewing words onto a costume and gloves. This original and multidisciplinary project combined literary criticism and cognitive science and developed a new understanding of the creative process.

Farewells

Dr Foster Evans said: “Graduation is a special occasion for everyone involved, and one that, we as a School, take great pride in.

“It was fantastic to celebrate with our graduates and their families and to have the chance to thank School staff for all of their hard work, especially Sioned Davies and former School Manager, Eirwen Williams, as they retire. Their contribution, over many years, to the success and development of the School is impossible to measure.”

Several of the graduates will be returning to the School to undertake higher degrees and many have secured exciting roles in a range of different professions and sectors. The School has a long track record of supporting students into employment and the most recent statistics show that 91% of undergraduates were in work, or further study, six months after graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17).

Cardiff University will explore Welsh culture past and present at the 2019 National Eisteddfod in Conwy county.

Events will examine Welsh language, poetry, heritage, identity and much else, at the University tent on the Maes.

Science is also prominent, with visitors to the tent and Science Village able to take part in hands-on activities that showcase the University’s research and teaching.

Other highlights include the University’s annual media debate - featuring new Golwg chief executive Sian Powell - the return of our digital news service Llais y Maes (Voice of the Maes) and analysis of Wales’ economic performance.

The University’s presence is part of our ‘civic mission’ commitment to Welsh language and culture.

The 2019 National Eisteddfod takes place in Llanrwst from 3-10 August 2019.

Several University activities examine aspects of the Welsh language, including the opportunity to explore a major language resource - the National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh, or Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes (CorCenCC).

The corpus is nearing its target of 10 million words of contemporary Welsh and will be demonstrated ahead of being fully launched next year.

CorCenCC events take place on Tuesday 6 August and Wednesday 7 August at the Cardiff University tent and on the same days at the Societies tent.

Head of the School of Welsh, Dr Dylan Foster Evans, will examine the use of the language as seen via walls, graffiti and castles. His talk takes place on Thursday 8 August.

Political philosopher Dr Huw Williams, Dean of Welsh at the University, investigates a fascinating period of Welsh history which resonates with a contemporary audience.

Dr Williams’s story kicks off in the 16th century with one of Llanrwst’s famous former residents, Welsh scholar William Salesbury, best known for his work translating the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into Welsh.

Wales, England & Llanrwst: Contemporary Identities through the Humanist Looking Glass takes place at the University tent on Thursday 8 August.

If you have ever pondered the finer points of Welsh language poetry then 2017 Eisteddfod Chair winner Osian Rhys Jones aims to debunk a few myths in his talk on Wednesday 7 August.

His whistle-stop tour of cynghanedd will allow visitors to learn about this much celebrated – and sometimes misunderstood - form of Welsh poetry.

This year’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC) debate considers the future of print journalism in Wales with a high-profile panel of industry experts, including new Golwg chief executive Sian Powell.

The former Cardiff University student and lecturer starts her new role during Eisteddfod week so her views on the industry will be keenly awaited. The event takes place on Friday 9 August at the University tent.

The University’s digital news service for the National Eisteddfod, Llais y Maes, in which Cardiff University students work alongside industry professionals, returns for the seventh year.

Two former Llais y Maes ‘graduates’, Liam Ketcher and Ellen Davies, who now work for ITV Cymru Wales, will be supporting the students and sharing their skills.

Other highlights include:

  • The University’s Medicines Discovery Institute explores the design of innovative medicines of the future in a lively discussion (Monday 5 August, Cardiff University tent); The Institute is also explaining the journey through the process of creating new medicines (Saturday 3 August to Tuesday 6 August, Science Village)
  • Police services, law courts and prisons have borne some of the largest spending cuts since the start of austerity measures in 2010. Join Guto Ifan from the University’s Wales Governance Centre for a talk and debate about public spending on the justice system in Wales (Monday 5 August, Cardiff University tent).
  • Guto Ifan and Cian Sion, of Wales Governance Centre, discuss how austerity has affted UK, Welsh and local government spending; the effect of devolving taxes; and the outlook for public spending (Tuesday 6 August, Societies tent 1)
  • In partnership with the Stroke Association, Cardiff University Medical Students will take your blood pressure and offer advice (Tuesday 6 August and Wednesday 7 August, Cardiff University tent)
  • Dr Andrew Connell, from the Wales Centre for Public Policy, explains how youth homelessness in Wales can be prevented (Tuesday 6 August, Cardiff University tent)
  • Professor Arwyn Jones is this year presenting the National Eisteddfod science lecture and will recount how Conwy Valley tadpoles inspired his passion for biology while growing up in Llanrwst and his subsequent journey of international research (Thursday 8 August, Societies Tent 2)
  • Cardiff University alumni are invited to a reception offering a chance to meet your fellow alumni, socialise and share stories of your time at Cardiff and lives since (Friday 9 August, Cardiff University tent)

The University once again has a series of fun and educational hands-on activities at the Eisteddfod Science Village:

  • Visit the Fantastic Antibodies Exhibition to find out, with the help of a priceless sheep called Darwen, how antibodies protect us from bugs and how she is helping us to make antibody medicines
  • We all have red and blue blood but it is not the same stuff – discover how antibodies are used to barcode your blood and how blood donations save lives
  • Find out why honeybees have near-magical powers and are inspiring the next generation of Welsh scientists
  • Surprise your friends and family with lifelike wounds painted by the University’s Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair
  • Discover how polymers have amazing properties that can be used to make water-loving nappies, water-hating rugby balls and materials for healing humans

An American student is exploring her Welsh heritage through her research of The Mabinogion.

Emma Watkins, who is currently studying a Masters in Welsh and Celtic Studies at Cardiff University and is an American Fulbright postgraduate, developed a play called Trailing Rhiannon in her final undergraduate year at Princeton University. The production reimagines the First Branch of the Mabinogi from the perspective of its female protagonist.

The play, which was initially performed near her home in New Jersey, has been developed further during her postgraduate year, with funding from the University’s School of Welsh and in collaboration with Chapter Arts Centre. A four-day workshop involving creatives from the Welsh stage culminated in a performance where the audience offered their feedback.

Preserved mainly in fourteenth-century manuscripts, the 11 medieval stories that make up The Mabinogion have their roots firmly in oral tradition, evolving over centuries before reaching their final written form.

Emma, whose father Paul’s side of the family is from Pembrokeshire, Wales, said: “My brother and I were very lucky to grow up with a father who was a novelist and an excellent storyteller, well-versed in the tales of Wales.

“On long car rides, he would entertain us with stories from the Mabinogi, which he would embellish with his memories of Wales, and snippets of family history.  As a result, Wales always played an important role in my family’s own mythology.

“Outside of my family, very few audience members back home had encountered the Mabinogi - although many expressed an interest in learning more after seeing the show. The research and development workshop in Cardiff has allowed us to explore the play’s resonances in contemporary Wales, sharing this theatrical adaptation with Welsh people who grew up with the Four Branches.”

Emma with her father, Peter

Emma learned about Cardiff University’s School of Welsh while reading Professor Sioned Davies’s translation of The Mabinogion. Professor Davies has supervised and mentored Emma during her time at Cardiff.

Following the play’s performance in its latest form, Emma now hopes it can be shown to new audiences – both in Wales and further afield.

She said: “Although Rhiannon’s story is deeply embedded in the Mabinogi and the Welsh landscape, it is also a story that is universally relevant - that of a resilient female storyteller using her voice to navigate injustices...”

Professor Sioned Davies, based at the School of Welsh, said: “It was a privilege working with such a creative and committed student. Emma’s innovative adaptation highlights the flexibility of our MA programme, allowing her to combine academic research with fieldwork (interviewing contemporary storytellers) and creative writing.”

The School of Welsh’s position as one of the most prominent and successful Celtic Studies departments in the United Kingdom has been cemented in the 2020 Complete University Guide.

The School rose to take the top spot in Wales, and fourth in the UK, for Celtic Studies – climbing one place from 2018’s rankings.

This latest result corresponds to the findings of other assessments of the School of Welsh’s quality. In the most recent Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide (2019), the School achieved third place for Celtic Studies.

The University is supporting one of the most prestigious events at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod – the crowning ceremony.

The Crown is regarded as one of the main literary awards at the annual youth festival, this year being held in Cardiff Bay.

Presented to the winning author of the best prose of over 4,000 words, this year’s Crown was unveiled live on S4C’s Heno programme.

Iolo Edger, a jeweller from Bridgend, created the solid sterling silver Crown this year, inspired by Gaenor Mai Jones from the Pontypridd area, who is presenting the Crown to the Eisteddfod in memory of her parents.

Gaenor’s parents met while working for the Urdd in Aberystwyth during the 50s.

Gaenor said: “I have a lot to thank the Urdd for! I look forward to the Eisteddfod week's crowning ceremony and being able to imagine the thrill my father had as he won the Maesteg Crown in 1953.”

The Crown is sterling silver and the main theme is the concept of individuals raising their hands in joy to celebrate unity.

Iolo said: “The story of Gaenor's parents made me think about the unity of people, about Wales, our culture and our language. And I began creating a crown that conveyed that unity, unity through the Welsh language and the celebration of Gaenor’s parents meeting as young people, and combining that with the Urdd's youth celebration.”

The University is sponsoring the crowning ceremony which will be held on Friday 31 May at 16:00.

The partnership with the 2019 Urdd Eisteddfod, which takes place from 27 May to 1 June, is part of the University’s ‘civic mission’ commitment to Welsh language and culture.

The University will have a major presence on the ‘Maes’ with staff and students involved in talks, discussions and activities.

Cardiff University is highlighting how it supports young people in Wales as part of its presence at one of Europe’s largest touring youth festivals.

The University has teamed up with the Urdd National Eisteddfod, which takes place in Cardiff Bay from 27 May to 1 June, as part of its commitment to Welsh language and culture.

The University will host a series of talks, discussions and activities on the ‘Maes’, or Eisteddfod site, as well as supporting some of the most high-profile events.

Activities at the University tent include a talk on preventing homelessness among young people, a discussion about Welsh in the workplace, a question and answer session with new Welsh journalists, and an insight into life as a medical student.

There are also several hands-on activities for younger visitors such as puzzle and riddle solving, creating medicines and exploring artefacts from a Cardiff hillfort.

In addition, visitors to the tent can find out why honey bees are inspiring the next generation of Welsh scientists, guess how many bottles of blood are in a child’s body and explore how dentistry can help people smile, eat and talk and also find out how medicines are discovered in sea creatures.

As well as hosting events and activities, the University will support the prestigious Crowning ceremony - for the author of the best prose of over 4,000 words - and the end-of-event gig.

Among the University’s most significant events, Cardiff Business School’s Dr Andrew Connell, of Wales Centre for Public Policy, will discuss how homelessness can be prevented among young people.

His talk, which takes place at the Cardiff University tent from 11:00 on Saturday 1 June, is based on Wales Centre for Public Policy research into the issue that has influenced Welsh Government.

Other highlights include:

  • Exciting opportunities to find out more about the award-winning CAER Heritage's new Hidden Hillfort project centred on Caerau Hillfort in Cardiff and to handle artefacts dating back 6,000 years (Cardiff University tent; Tuesday 28 May, 09:30)
  • Find out more about life as a medical student training across Wales with current medical students from the School of Medicine (Cardiff University tent; Thursday 30 May, 14:30).
  • Question and answer session with graduates from the School of Journalism, Media and Culture who are starting careers in journalism at BBC Cymru Wales, ITV Cymru Wales and Golwg (Cardiff University tent; Friday 31 May, 11:00).
  • The School of Welsh hosts a discussion panel about Welsh in the workplace and the importance of producing graduates in the field. The panel will be chaired by School of Welsh alumni Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and will include Eryl Jones (Executive Chair, Equinox), Nia Dafydd (Executive Producer, Boom Cymru) and recent School of Welsh graduates (Cardiff University tent; Friday 31 May, 14:30).
  • Hear the story of the Welsh language in Cardiff throughout the centuries with Dr Dylan Foster-Evans, Head of our School of Welsh (Pierhead Building; Friday 31 May, 15:30).
  • Find out about living and studying at Cardiff University (Cardiff University tent; Thursday 30 May to Saturday 1 June, 09:00 to 17:00).

This year’s Urdd Eisteddfod is being held in Cardiff Bay, the same location as the hugely successful 2018 National Eisteddfod.

The event is expected to host more than 15,000 young people who will be taking part in competitions including song, dance and performance.

Around 90,000 visitors attend the Urdd Eisteddfod and it is held in a different location in Wales each year.

Entry to the Maes will be free and there will be an admission fee to enter the main pavilion and prelims.

The Urdd Eisteddfod was last held in Cardiff Bay in 2009.

Full Cardiff University programme available on this page.

Five current students who are studying in the School of Welsh have been appointed as Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Ambassadors.

The ambassador role is designed to promote the Welsh language in higher education and encourage greater numbers of students to consider choosing to study through the medium of Welsh at university.

This year, 25 ambassadors were selected from seven universities across Wales, with five of the six Cardiff University ambassadors studying in the School of Welsh.

They will represent the Coleg at a range of different events and activities during the forthcoming year, including school visits, UCAS fairs and national events such as the Eisteddfod.

The students agree that it is important to promote the opportunities available to study through the medium of Welsh and encourage prospective students to take advantage of them and enrich their academic experiences and prepare them for the Welsh working world.

Dafydd Orrit said: “Being an ambassador is important in order to spread the message that the Welsh language is alive in the world of higher education here in the capital city and that there is an opportunity to choose to study wholly or partially through Welsh. Personally, studying Welsh and Journalism is perfect for me and allows me to work bilingually and develop my language skills for the workplace.”

For Jacob Morris, studying through the medium of Welsh was imperative for him and he is looking forward to working with the Coleg to inform others about the opportunities available: “I'm a proud Welsh-speaker and my whole education since nursery has been through the medium of Welsh. As such, when considering higher education it was important that I could continue to present my work in my mother tongue. Additionally, I hope, in future, to follow a career in the media or politics. There is an increasing focus on being able to communicate to a high standard, and accurately, in Welsh. Studying my degree in Welsh is useful in developing these essential skills.”

Find out more about the ambassadors work.

Professor Sioned Davies presented with a Special Lifetime Contribution Award at the 2018 Cardiff University Celebrating Excellence Awards.

In a ceremony held in the Great Hall of the Students’ Union on Wednesday 21 November 2018, Professor Sioned Davies was honoured for her 40 years of academic excellence, in teaching and research, and for her 20 years as Head of School of Welsh.

Professor Davies was the first female Professor of Welsh and has played an integral role in the development of the discipline and contributed significantly to the growth of literary, linguistic and teaching studies in Wales.

Under her leadership, the School of Welsh has developed in terms of size and quality and Professor Davies was key to the development of a number of initiatives including the innovative Welsh for All programme and the School’s provision as part of the National Sabbatical Scheme.

Professor Davies is an expert in Medieval literature and in particular the Mabinogi. In 2007, her translation into English of the Mabinogi stories received international acclaim and since then the book, recently re-published, has sold more than 50,000 copies and introduced the fairy tales to new and diverse audiences.

After receiving her award, Professor Davies said: “It is a tremendous honour to receive this award. I have been very lucky to spend almost 40 years working at Cardiff University and have received all manner of opportunities during my career. It is a great pleasure to work with the dedicated and energetic staff at the School of Welsh.”

Dr Dylan Foster Evans, Head of the School of Welsh, added: “On behalf of the School community – staff, current students, and alumni – I would like to congratulate Sioned on this recognition. It is highly deserved. Without a doubt, Sioned’s contribution to the Welsh discipline, and to Wales, is something to celebrate. Everyone who has worked with her is grateful for her energy, her expertise and her support over the years.”

Professor Davies remains a committed member of the School’s staff and is currently working on a new project concerned Medieval Welsh prose.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh is offering an MA scholarship for Entry 2019.

The scholarship will pay full fees for a full-time Home student (12 months) or partial fees for an International student, who joins the School for the 2019-20 academic year.

The MA in Welsh and Celtic Studies is a flexible programme which is tailored to student interests and the research expertise of current staff. It is possible to study the programme through the medium of Welsh or English, or a combination of both.

It offers the opportunity to study a wide range of subject areas concerned with Welsh and Celtic Studies including Welsh literature through the ages; literary criticism; children’s literature; sociolinguistics; and language policy and planning.

Dr Siwan Rosser, Director of the MA programme, said: “We are proud to be able to offer an MA scholarship once again this year in order to attract the very best candidates to Cardiff to study with us.

“The challenging programme offers a special opportunity to explore Welsh language and culture, scrutinise the exciting changes the Welsh language is experiencing and develop the necessary skills to analyse and interpret the impact of these changes. The programme develops people who can create change and who will contribute to Wales’ social, cultural and professional future.”

The School’s MA students receive significant employability support including a period of work experience to help them achieve their professional ambitions and connect their research interests with the demands of the modern workplace.

Osian Morgan was the recipient of the 2018 MA scholarship. He started his postgraduate studies in the School in September 2018 and spoke about how the scholarship has helped him: “It was an honour to receive this generous scholarship from the School of Welsh. I was keen to continue with my studies in the School and the scholarship enabled me to do this without having to worry about the financial impact. The School’s generosity in offering the scholarship is representative of its supportive and helpful nature which underpins how it treats and cares for students.

“The programme up to this point has been exciting, useful and very interesting, providing me with the opportunity to research in more depth the themes I was interested in at undergraduate level. Without a doubt, the programme’s flexibility and variety makes it a unique postgraduate offering allowing students to develop a greater understanding of a range of subjects concerned with the Welsh language and Welsh and Celtic peoples. The programme is well worth following and I’d recommend applying for the scholarship.”

The scholarship will close on 1 March 2019 and prospective students can apply online.

For further information, please contact Dr Siwan Rosser - rossersm@caerdydd.ac.uk / +44 (0)29 2087 6287.