collaboration with Leeds Beckett University

Collaboration with Leeds Beckett University MA Graphic Design

In this blog post, we’re thrilled to announce our collaboration with Leeds Beckett University (LBU).

Specifically, we will collaborate with the MA Graphic Design students and its course director Dr Ian Truelove.

As part of the course, the students will have to creatively communicate a piece of research conducted at LBU and ‘digested’ by our team.

Last week we met the diverse group of MA students and we’d like to share more insights into our collaboration.


How did this collaboration with Leeds Beckett University come about?

After meeting at the Research and Enterprise Conference in June this year, Dr Ian Truelove proposed a collaboration to Mihaela with a focus on research communication and design.

Research Retold, Leeds Beckett Collaboration 1

Ian was interested in designing a task for his MA students that would:

  • Have a real-life, practical feel to it
  • Be inspired by our creative process
  • Provide students with a range of tasks to develop new skills

“I chose to collaborate with Research Retold because I was excited about the opportunity for MA Graphic Design students to work with a progressive company that recognises how powerful graphic design can be when communicating complex research.


At postgraduate level, the problems we ask our students to solve need to be complex in order to stretch their intellectual and practical capabilities, and the nature of the work carried out by Research Retold fits this remit perfectly.”


Dr Ian Truelove, Principal Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University

“I was intrigued by the proposition and immediately wanted to be involved. I was keen to help communicate a piece of research and provide this material to the students so they can unleash their creativity.’ Mihaela Gruia, Director, Research Retold

In choosing the piece of research for the students, they both agreed that the collaboration would be even more valuable if the research came from LBU.

As a result, they roped in a researcher from LBU with whom Mihaela also had a very positive engagement at the Research and Enterprise Conference in June.

Her name is Dr Anne Schiffer, Senior Lecturer at the School of Art. Anne’s research uses design thinking to tackle tackling world challenges particularly in areas around sustainable energy transitions, energy and water access.

“We are really pleased to be collaborating with Dr Anne Schiffer on this project. Anne has provided us with the raw research that our student will find ways to visually communicate. Anne’s research is important, suitably complex and of the highest standard.” Dr Ian Truelove


What does the collaboration between Research Retold and LBU entail?

The MA students will be tasked with communicating a piece of research in creative, visually appealing ways under the supervision of their module leader in order to bring more comprehension to the research at hand.

In doing so, the collaboration will use a piece of research from Anne‘s research on the topic of energy access.

“The aim of communicating my research is to influence high-level stakeholders and re-frame energy access related debates and decisions.” Dr Anne Schiffer, Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University

The task will largely unfold in the following ways:

  • Dr Anne Schiffer provides a summary of her research
  • Mihaela digests this summary, provides editorial advice and communication expertise to craft a 700-word accessible summary
  • Ian shares the summary with the students
  • Anne presents a lecture to the students so they get more background into the research and the methods used
  • Over the course of 12 weeks, Ian gives the students a series of tasks and problems to solve for the purpose of communicating Anne’s research in creative ways
  • Students complete the tasks and present their creative solutions in December 2019

“By collaborating with Research Retold, our student gain valuable experience of working with the sort of company that may employ them in the future, and they have already benefited in our first session from insights into the kinds of collaborative technologies in common use. By mimicking the way that Research Retold explore a range of methodologies to visually communicate research, we are hoping to provide our students with an authentic project that has scope for experimentation and personalisation.”

Dr Ian Truelove

The students will be required to produce a series of solutions to retell Dr Anne’s research in creative ways that will be beneficial to several audiences.

They will be expected to do so by:

  • Applying an appropriate range of materials, tools, methods, technical skills and modes of communication
  • Applying appropriate design methodologies
  • Identifying a range of innovative solutions


In coming up with ideas, the students are encouraged to explore a range of mediums and formats. This includes photography, animation, digital design, typography, and more.

“We are studying different design methods through this project, so we are also interested in supporting our students as they forge new ways of communicating complex research. We are hoping that our students surprise and challenge us through their visual outcomes. Our students come from a very diverse range of backgrounds, so we expect unconventional approaches to emerge as they work individually and collaboratively on solutions to the brief we’ve developed with Research Retold.” Dr Ian Truelove


Launching the collaboration

On Tuesday the 1st of October, the Research Retold team joined the MA students for their lecture where the brief was launched.

Research Retold’s Director, Mihaela Gruia, was joined at the lecture by Grace Maina, Content and Communications Coordinator, and Nida Noor, Social Media and PR Executive.

“It was really beneficial to have members of the Research Retold team at the launch of the brief. Their input through their presentation about the company and the discussions that followed really helped the students to focus on the tasks ahead. A spirit of collaboration was firmly established at the briefing, and the students are really excited about working on this project.” Dr Ian Truelove

The lecture was an opportunity for the students to learn more about Research Retold, ask questions and familiarise themselves with the brief.


When asked how will they go about tackling this brief, the students offered different responses.

While some are considering a more exploratory approach (i.e. taking several pictures or imagining many solutions before settling down with one idea), others prefer more focus (i.e. either choosing three main ideas or only one to begin with).

“I find it difficult to have many ideas at once and I was challenged by my lecturer to be open to having more ideas rather than one when thinking of the direction in which I would like my work to go.” Graphic Design student, LBU

This task will enable the students to open up to various opportunities and go out of their comfort zones in terms of the chosen medium.

Moreover, it will challenge their ability to communicate complex ideas in creative ways for a target audience.

“I look forward to developing our collaboration with Leeds Beckett University, seeing the visual interpretation of Anne’s research and experiencing this creative journey with the students!” Mihaela Gruia

We will keep you updated with developments on our collaboration with Leeds Beckett University so keep checking our blog. If you’d like to explore a similar collaboration for your organisation, please get in touch at

Many thanks to Grace Maina, our Content and Communications Coordinator, for contributing to this blogpost with research, writing and editing.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.