The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is a diverse and exciting Faculty, embracing research across the various disciplines that span the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Academics within FASS study emerging social, cultural, technological, and behavioural ideas and practices relating to all aspects of human life and experience.

Our themes

We have drawn together six broad and strategically important research themes, as a way to highlight what we do and where we are making a difference.

Crime, security and justice

Research on crime, security, and justice is conducted in many of the disciplines which make up FASS, and we have a substantial history of conducting research in this area.

One exciting strand of our research in this theme concerns the increasingly sophisticated intelligent technologies underlying, for example, the development of driverless cars, automated internet markets, and robot-assisted surgery. These new technologies raise unexplored legal, social and ethical challenges which require us to rethink wider concepts of agency, responsibility and morality.

Other emerging strands of our research relate to cybercrime (from a social science perspective) and the influence of extra-systemic data upon the reasoning of lawyers. Such data includes historical and philosophical developments as well as methodologies used in other legal systems and in other branches of science.

Cultural practices

Our research into cultural practices spans the study of language, literature, music, film, dance, theatre and the creative industries. We have areas of significant focus investigating language diversity and its theoretical consequences, researching endangered and understudied languages, and studying translation and interpreting as practices of intercultural mediation. We also have considerable research strengths in English Literature from Medieval to contemporary, with pioneering research in women's writing and 19th-century literature.

In the Arts, we are at the forefront of industry-focussed activity in creative digital media, spatial audio and psychoacoustic engineering. Our specialisms embrace philosophical and critical approaches to performance, the socio-cultural understanding of historical musics and the contemporary global impact of the guitar, the embodiment of private and social life in documentaries, and novel approaches to Global Shakespeare.

Inequalities, governance and wellbeing

The notion of connected cultures and societies is a fundamental aspect of this theme. A significant focus of the research we conduct under this heading is on the connections that link people with public services and with social, economic and political decision-making.

For example, public services are vital to ensuring citizens’ quality of life. The extended period of austerity that followed the 2008 financial crisis seems likely to lengthen following last year’s Brexit decision. Our research therefore investigates not only how the public sector might deliver ‘better for less’, but also alternative paths for public policy and politics, in the UK and internationally. Similarly, we study economic modelling and banking regulation issues to shape the government’s monetary and fiscal policies.

Innovative methodologies

This theme is characterised by research that is multi-method, collaborative and interdisciplinary, but with a focus that is also human-centred, participatory, and co-created with partners and beneficiaries. Research within this theme pushes the boundaries of what is possible, developing new ways of modelling, analysing and working with data, and shaping the policy and economic decisions of the future.

Our research is driven by the firm belief that the challenges facing humanity and society are too big to be addressed by one discipline alone. We are committed to developing high-quality international research partnerships to address the global challenges of today and of the future.

Living and working in the digital age

Research within this theme eloquently demonstrates the relevance of FASS disciplines to address the global questions that currently face society. Our interdisciplinary research embraces the applications and implications of digital technologies from different perspectives and explores the tangible outcomes of the digital transformation of society including, for example, new and disruptive business models; innovative platforms, products and services; and new media content and experiences.

FASS research investigates the opportunities provided by digital innovation but also the possible negative consequences and their mitigation, exploring the behavioural aspects of society’s digital transformation; its effect on the arts, literature and education; its application in translation and interpreting; its impact on community life, healthcare and cultural experiences; and its legislative implications.

Society, economy and sustainability

This theme embraces a complex set of areas which are excitingly interdisciplinary, delivering reach and impact transcending traditional academic boundaries.

Areas of interest range from sustainability in transport, energy, tourism and enterprise, to research on the practices and behaviours of sustainability and environmental resilience, and explorations of what it means to work and live sustainably. Additionally, this theme encompasses research on the spatial, temporal and cultural impacts of imagined and subversive spaces, and representations of the practice and politics of movement and migration.

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
University of Surrey
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