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About us

Research at the Royal Docks School of Business & Law (RDSBL) is underpinned by innovative inter-disciplinary enquiry into emerging areas in business, management, political economy, international relations, law and criminology. The main objective of the school is to create an inclusive and vibrant research environment that enables staff to produce high quality and impactful research output. Staff are committed to producing work of the highest academic rigour and quality while remaining mindful of the relationship between theory, policy and practice. Our research strategy is influenced by the following factors:

  • Our location: The University of East London's (UEL) Royal Docks School of Business and Law (RDSBL) is home to a diverse, inter-disciplinary community of scholars and academics. The RDSBL is located in the London Borough of Newham, adjacent to the London Docklands regeneration area and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This area is one of the most culturally mixed and socio-economically challenged areas of the UK. It is also host to a diverse and multifaceted business infrastructure from small to medium-sized enterprises to global multinational corporations in Canary Wharf.
  • Our diverse staff and students: The diverse ethnic, religious and national backgrounds of our staff, students and many of our external stakeholders shapes our approach to research and the nature of our collaborative partnerships and external public engagements.
  • Our long-standing collaborations and partnerships with our local communities and businesses: The RDSBL has close ties with the local authorities, SMEs and local communities through various inter-disciplinary projects, consultancy work and professional support work that we engage with. Our Legal Advice Centre and our Tax and Accountancy Clinic support the local businesses and communities and have been particularly active during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are involved in the ARENA project through the Sustainability Research Institute at UEL to provide business consultancy to SMEs working in green and innovative projects. We have been working with the local authorities of Newham and Tower Hamlets to support and advise on their COVID-19 initiatives.
  • Our international collaborations: Staff at the RDSBL work with a wide range of international partners on global projects. These collaborations include advising and informing government and global policy in a variety of areas such as youth unemployment and outbound migration, land rights, cyber security, fin-tech and cryptocurrency, political economy of tourism, Balkan, European and Middle Eastern Studies, political economy of US-China conflict, human rights and right-wing extremism and terrorism, hate groups and hate crimes and racism.

Research centres

  • Centre for the Study of States Markets and People (STAMP): Launched in 2013, STAMP is a major inter-disciplinary research centre in the RDSBL whose members are drawn from across the school and the University. Its primary focus is the study of global and European political economy and the forms of governance and regulation required to address socio-economic/financial issues and geo-political conflicts and crises. The Centre hosts the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies (Routledge, eight issues annually since 1998).
  • Noon Centre for Equality & Diversity in Business: The Noon Centre was funded by Lord Noon (Kt. MBE) in 2012 and supported by the Noon Foundation. Its original focus was to provide both a research base and a platform for engaging UEL students with industry, career development and self-employment through three student development programmes: Global Scholars and Civic Engagement, Elite Scholars, and Young Black and Ethnic Professionals. In 2019, the Centre expanded its focus and aligned its activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. The Centre has established several collaborative partnerships and a portfolio of UN funded projects on gender and land development, climate change and human rights, and gender and age. It has carried out consultative services for several international organisations and governments. At local level, it supports key collaborative projects in Newham Council, such as '50 steps to a Healthier Newham' and is developing work on the economic impact of COVID-19 in East London.
  • Centre for the Islamic Finance, Law & Communities (CIFLAC): CIFLAC provides a forum for research, education, training and consultancy on Islamic finance and banking industry and is a major platform for dialogue between lawyers, bankers, academics and policymakers working in these areas. Research projects include review of land fragmentation in Muslim countries, as well as a comparative analysis of a Muslim woman's claim to matrimonial property in 12 countries.
  • Centre for Innovation Management & Enterprise (CIME): CIME was relaunched in autumn 2020 with support from an international advisory board drawn from business and academia. CIME brings together an inter-disciplinary group of scholars to promote and develop interdisciplinary impactful research, business-relevant teaching and practitioner engagement in the areas of technology, industry and society. CIME's principal focus relates to the theory and practice of innovation and enterprise, including but not limited to the following research themes: sustainability; finance; innovation in business and management.
  • The Centre on Human Rights in Conflict (CHRC): Established in 2006, the CHRC conducts academic and policy-oriented research on human rights in situations of political, military, cultural, social and economic conflicts and on countries in transition from authoritarian regimes. The Centre has carried out projects on accountability and the rule of law in several countries of West Africa, South America, East Asia and Eastern Europe, and on minority land rights. The Centre has also provided training and education in human rights in Cyprus and Georgia. At local level, the Centre has led the Step Up to Stop Hate project aimed at raising awareness and understanding around hate crime in local schools and colleges.
  • The Institute of Connected Communities (ICC) incorporating the Online Harms and Cyber Crime Unit In 2018, the RDSBL established OHCCU to promote its research into the behavioural, human and legal aspects of cybercrime, as well as the impact that this may have on government policy and practice. The OHCCU forms part of the Institute of Connected Communities. The ICC incorporates the former Institute of Health and Human Development, and the Online Harms and Cybercrime Unit. The ICC is an interdisciplinary cluster including world leading academics from health, criminology and cybercriminology, psychology, cyberpsychology, policing and law working across the university and wider society. The ICC has a substantial portfolio of high-quality, externally funded national and international research projects that are innovative and impact upon policy, practice and communities. Its focus is on social, psychological, legal, economic and cultural factors that influence safety, security, health and wellbeing.
  • The Centre for Mediation and Conflict Management (CMCM)  is a collective of professionally trained, staff mediators from multiple disciplines in the University. We aim to widen understanding of mediation and conflict resolution practices in the workplace, contribute to academic debates and provide a knowledge platform to share information and mediation good practices.
  • The Centre for FinTech has been created with the aim of building a pipeline of FinTech talent that ultimately facilitates the global digital economy and will work in collaboration with a number of industry partners who are part of the Strategic Development Board of the Centre.

Supporting our Research Communities

  • Supporting our Academics:The RDSBL is committed to creating a vibrant and inclusive research culture that fosters high-calibre research outputs. The RDSBL staff are encouraged to produce and disseminate work through a range of professional, policy and other media that is relevant and accessible to wider stakeholders and the general public. The School has put in place the following staff development initiatives to support staff publications:
  • Researcher Development Programme: This programme supports Early Career Research (ECR) staff, Postgraduate Research (PGR) students, new staff and all staff who self-identify themselves to be developing researchers. The programme offers funded initiatives, interdisciplinary events, and resources to enhance grant applications, academic publishing and career development. Senior academic staff in the school also work as mentors to offer guidance, support and help in the design of personal research development plans and research grant applications.
  • Annual research review process: the peer review process provides feedback and comments on staff outputs prior to publication. This has been extremely effective in enhancing the focus on originality, methodology and significance, thereby raising the quality of the work.
  • Methodology workshops: methodology workshops have been developed for early and mid-career researchers inviting both in-house and external speakers to present innovative and updated research methodologies in various fields of study related to business.
  • Writing retreats: (off campus) retreats provide a conducive environment for staff to focus on their writing with minimal distraction. There are additional workshops that focus on topics such as writing techniques, writing research proposals and impact case studies.
  • Mentoring system: Directors of the research centres and other senior research staff provide support and guidance to ECRs and mid-career researchers in developing their research plans, setting clear performance measures and expectations underpinned by effective support and personal development reviews. External mentors have also been hired to provide expertise support in niche research areas.
  • Investment in research infrastructure: improvements to the research infrastructure and facilities.
  • Grant writing support: Staff work with Grantcraft for support with grant writing, appraisal and training. They have the opportunity to attend a three-day Grants Academy training programme. Staff can also receive support for their funding application through the University central service Research and Development Support team (ReDs).
  • Research Professional: This account provides colleagues with access to an online database of research funding opportunities, as well as news on international research policy and practice.
  • Research Excellence Team: This is a University support structure that provides guidance and support to academics throughout the REF assessment period and works closely with the unit of assessment coordinators, impact champions and annual review panel members.
  • Supporting our Students: Postgraduate (PGR) students are an integral part of the research community within the School. They work with their supervisory team and are usually aligned with relevant research centres within the School. This allows them to work on collaborative projects and provides them with the opportunity to organise and participate in public events and activities. The School has two active PGR student research groups namely, The African Legal Society and the STAMP research centre, which has a high level of PGR student engagement and participation.

In addition to the annual monitoring system to monitor progress, PGR students are also encouraged to participate in the annual Poster Competition which is a University-led initiative. The competition winners sometimes receive additional funding for their research projects and are often supported by the university to showcase their work at national and international level.

PGR students are actively encouraged to teach, enabling them to obtain classroom experience and teaching skills. They are also supported and encouraged to pursue a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching and obtain certification from the Higher Education Academy.

The School also offers PhD students resources and funding to participate in conferences and research related workshops.

PGRs/ERCs are supported through the annual Researcher Development Programme and Early Career Researcher Network Forum and Mentoring Scheme. The aim is to enhance their research skills through encouraging the following:

  • Participation in drafting research bids making use of their expertise and methodological skills.
  • Participation in workshops and seminars by way of presenting their ongoing research to wider audiences (students, members of UEL staff, general public).
  • Participation, together with PhD students, in the organisation of research workshops, seminars and special events taking care of logistical and practical issues concerning preparation and dissemination of their research.
  • Organising their research material for publication and having one-to-one meetings with their supervisors and mentors to discuss publication outlets and peer-review processes, targeting high impact journals.

Find out more about postgraduate research.

Public Engagement and Impact on Society

The RDSBL encourages all staff to generate and disseminate high quality research that impacts policy, industry and society more broadly. Our research work makes a significant contribution to the wider community. RDSBL staff engage with a diverse and broad range of commercial (London City Airport; Good Projects, ADKN, Nomad Projects), government (e.g. London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham; Republic of SRPSKA, Bosnia & Herzegovina; Region of Crete, Greece), inter-governmental (e.g. UN-HABITAT), not-for-profit (e.g. Global Learning London) and numerous academic stakeholders in local, national and international contexts.

RDSBL staff are closely engaged with the local authorities, SMEs and local communities to provide professional support work to specific organisations and residents in the area, particularly the more vulnerable, through the following centres:

Legal Advice Centre: The Centre provides a learning facility for our students, and at the same time serves the needs of our local communities by giving the opportunity to our students to provide, under supervision, free legal advice to members of the public who are unable to pay or obtain legal aid for such advice. Since April 2020, the Centre has prioritised three areas for the provision of advice in the light of COVID-19: landlord and tenant, welfare benefits, and family law. The Legal Advice Centre has partnerships with Duncan Lewis Solicitors and the Sycamore Trust, with which it runs the Romford Autism Hub Legal Advice Centre, providing free legal advice to individuals affected with Autism. The Centre also runs several student projects including mooting and debating (in collaboration with the Old Bailey) and the public legal education project (to produce information leaflets). Its patrons include Imran Khan QC, a School’s alumnus, who has generously participated in several events organised by the Centre over time. The Centre also regularly organises events on employability and inclusiveness in the legal profession, the most high-profile of which have included the participation of two Supreme Court Presidents.

Tax and Accountancy Clinic: The Clinic was set up to support the economic and financial wellbeing East London community. The Clinic is interested in the social wellbeing of our immediate community, especially regarding economic and financial inclusiveness, creating economic and financial awareness and providing access to government incentives and ensuring effectiveness of public policies. To this end, the clinic offers free consultancy to local SMEs on tax compliance, financial management and accounting regulations affecting their businesses. It also holds weekly public enlightenment programmes to create awareness on the operationalisation of government fiscal policies (including automatic stabilisers) at the grassroot level, managing procurements, managing credit facilities with suppliers and customers, and accessing finances for SMEs. The Clinic facilitates linking local employers to trainee accounting and finance students who are willing to work on part-time basis. Such adverts will be made available on the Tax and Accountancy clinic website and through the University Twitter account once such opportunity arises.

Institute of Government and Public Policy (IGPP): The Institute was established in 2020 and aims to be a pre-eminent think-tank with the goal of making governance and policy-making more inclusive and open to a broad coalition of stakeholders. IGPP produces and provides wide ranging research, reports, CPD, consultations and public policy briefings to help inform, influence, impact and educate the ongoing debates across key topical issues currently facing the UK. The institute offers an independent environment in which leading practitioners and decision-makers can collaborate and exchange ideas across the public policy divide.

Noon Centre: The Noon Centre supports key collaborative projects in Newham Council, such as '50 steps to a Healthier Newham' and is developing work on the economic impact of COVID-19 in East London. As part of its commitment to promoting a fairer and more inclusive society, the Centre provides advice to local businesses and helps to link students with employers through the Elite Scholars programme.

Working in partnership with the Sustainability Research Institute: Staff at RDSBL are working with the Sustainability Research Institute (UEL) to support local residents and other actors (housing developers, local council) on community enterprise initiatives. They also provide business consultancies to SMEs working in green and innovative projects as part of the Advancing Resource Efficiency and Urban Ecology Innovations (ARENA) project. The school also works with the Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries (Bath Spa Business School) to analyse the governance of collaborations in creative industries.

Knowledge Exchange and Consultancy

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme helps businesses in the UK to innovate and grow. It does this by linking them with an academic or research organisation and a graduate. KTP enables a business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project through a knowledge-based partnership. Contact M.Moniri@uel.ac.uk for further information.

Consultancy: At the RDSBL we have access to world class researchers and expertise in a range of exciting disciplines. We will tailor our bespoke consultancy services to directly match your business requirements. By working closely with you every step of the way we will make sure we meet your business objectives, whether introducing a new product or service, developing your employees or looking to diversify into new areas. Get in touch to talk about how we can assist with your consultancy requirements. Contact M.Moniri@uel.ac.uk

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