Professor David Tollerton delivers his session at the Discovery Day

GCSE and A level students across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset have been afforded the chance to sample a taste of university life thanks to Exeter’s Department of Classics, Ancient History, Religion and Theology.

Around 150 pupils from schools as far afield as Truro and Highbridge attended this year’s Theology and Religion Discovery Day, which was coordinated with the University’s Widening Participation team.

Tours of the Streatham campus, talks provided by Exeter’s student ambassadors and several engaging presentations from some of the department’s leading academics and professional services staff were all provided in a packed schedule.

“We know that many of our South West communities have historically been underserved by higher education, and so to be able to bring young people onto campus and show them the reality of university life is great for widening participation and demystifying what we do,” says Susannah Cornwall, Professor of Constructive Theologies, and lead for the day.

“It also serves to help prospective students understand that the theology and religion taught at Exeter is a much broader discipline than people might think, drawing upon contemporary fields including history, politics, gender studies and philosophy and ethics.”

The student sessions provided a mix of practical information, such as how to apply to university, and tasters of some of the subjects and themes that a student might experience. This included a session with Professor David Tollerton on Saṃsāra (the circularity of life) and Groundhog Day, and a discussion on the Barbie movie and The Woman’s Bible by Professor Louise Lawrence and Dr Rebekah Welton.

“We have had some fantastically positive feedback from the schools and the pupils, some of whom have told us that they’re now thinking of applying to university” added Professor Cornwall. “And these sessions also offer valuable subject enrichment for teachers of RE, which can help with their own professional development and confidence.”

Dr Rebekah Welton and Professor Louise Lawrence