Centenary Essays

These Essays were inspired by the passion and drive of Professor Hywel Francis who was Chair of the Centenary Essays Editorial Panel. This tribute to the work and life of Hywel Francis was written by Professor John Spurr.

Telling the story of the first one hundred years of Swansea University is both an exciting and a challenging task. In this series of commissioned essays, a diverse range of authors explore a variety of people and ideas relating to the University’s unique and proud history. The University College, as it was known then, opened its doors in 1920 - an unusual time for any higher education institution to be established. Its history since then has been remarkable and multi-faceted; our Centenary essayists draw on both scholarly research and personal experience to present a living, vital, and most importantly human history of Swansea University. 

These essays complement Swansea University: Campus and Community in a Post-War World, 1945 - 2020 researched and written by Dr Sam Blaxland of the University's History Department, published in June 2020 by the University of Wales Press. The book's main focus is the period after 1945, using the history of the institution to shine a light onto various aspects of post-war social, cultural and political change in Britain and Wales - as well as the evolving nature of universities in a rapidly changing world.

Our centenary essays provide a depth of understanding only students and staff - past and present - can provide through their own lived experiences. 

A lecture series, “A Community University on the World Stage”, to take place once circumstances allow, will enable our essayists to deliver lectures on their chosen topics - in either Welsh or English - throughout the communities which the University has proudly served over the past century.

This lecture series will mirror the themes of the essays themselves: a University which is a centre of research, learning and intellectual debate led by scholars of international repute; a University which has always had an enduring commitment to civic engagement; and students who are active citizens in our local communities. 

We welcome further essays from staff and students on their experiences, in both Welsh and English. If you have an idea and would like to contribute please contact: 

Siân Williams, Head of Special Collections: s.f.williams@swansea.ac.uk