School of Slavonic and East European Studies

The UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) is the largest national centre in the UK for the study of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, and Russia. It teaches a wide range of subjects including the history, politics, literature, sociology, economics and languages of the region.

About the school

SSEES was inaugurated in London in 1915 by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who later became President of Czechoslovakia. In 1999 SSEES merged with University College London (UCL). Today more than 60 academic staff work at SSEES, teaching and conducting research in the history, economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, culture, literature and languages of the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, and Russia. In 2005/2006 the school had 150 graduate students studying taught MA degrees or undertaking PhD research. In addition the school has over 500 undergraduate students.

Along with its undergraduate and graduate teaching, the school enjoys an enviable reputation for the quality of its interdisciplinary research. It is a major international centre for training the next generation of regional specialists, through a combination of academic rigour and the skills and knowledge required by employers. It also specialises in analysing and disseminating information about changes in the region, publishing periodicals, papers and books, holding conferences, public lectures, seminars and briefings, and providing experts who can act as advisers to government, the media, and public and private institutions.

New Building

In May 2004 the foundation stone of the new SSEES building on Taviton Street in Bloomsbury was unveiled by the President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of London. The school moved to the new building in the summer of 2005 after nearly 90 years at Senate House. Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, delivered the keynote address of his visit to the UK at a ceremony to open the building in October 2005. Following Klaus's address, the Princess Royal unveiled the stone to mark the formal opening of the new building, on the occasion of SSEES's 90th anniversary.

The new building was designed by award-winning architects Short and Associates. As with other buildings by Short and Associates, the aim is not to be 'environmentally-friendly' simply by the addition of elements such as solar panels, but to make the very architecture itself a key part of the sustainability of the building. Thus the design, modelled by scientists at the University of Cambridge and elsewhere, aims to facilitate the passage of cool air around the building and so avoid the need for air conditioning or other expensive, energy-using solutions. This is a first for the 'central London heat island'. [ [1] ] Unfortunately, the ventilating has yet to work adequately. Those working in the building report excessive extremes of temperature and large pockets of foul air [citation needed] .

Short & Associates writes: the building took a long time to commission, controls hardware failed regularly and the software needed to learn from the sequences of actual conditions experienced. A team from the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development with the architects has been monitoring the building closely and continuously. Repairs to the controls and modifications to the control algorithms have greatly improved comfort. A controlled test of the downdraught cooling in mid August 2007 produced a cooling performance in excess of the computer and physical modelling predictions at design stage. All of this process of commissioning and tuning will be written up as journal papers for publication in the near future. For an account of the design see:

• Short, C.A., Whittle, G., Owarish, M., (2006) FIRE & SMOKE CONTROL IN NATURALLY VENTILATED BUILDINGS, Building Research & Information, 34 (1), pp. 21-54

• Short, C.A., Lomas K.J., Woods, A., (2004) 'DESIGN STRATEGY FOR LOW ENERGY VENTILATION AND COOLING WITHIN AN URBAN HEAT ISLAND', Building Research and Information, 32 (3), May - June, pp. 187-206

Discussions with senior SSEES staff indicate, however, that the explanations of Short for the continuing failure of the building to ventilate properly continue to cause concern at Provost level in UCL. If the ventilation is not sorted by 2009, then it is likely that a major review will be instituted.


Comprising around 357,000 volumes of books, pamphlets and periodicals, the library is unique in the UK for the quantity of research material on open access and for the extensive collection of newspapers from the region. Its collections of books, periodicals and archives are consulted by scholars from all over the world, and it has recently developed an important role in the provision of electronic and audio-visual material relating to its area of study.

The library is one of the leading research collections in Britain for the study of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The main fields of interest are the languages, literature, history, politics, economics, geography and bibliography of Russia and the western Republics of the former USSR, Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Subsidiary fields of interest are the arts in general, demography, ethnography and religion. Material is also collected on the former German Democratic Republic (history, political and economic life), the history of Germany and Austria, the Lusatian Sorbs, and Slavonic and Finno-Ugrian studies in general.

Notable Staff/Students

* Robin Aizlewood
* Bojan Aleksov
* Wendy Bracewell
* Richard Butterwick
* Phillip. J Cavendish
* Norman Davies (formerly)
* Dennis Deletant OBE
* Simon Dixon
* Peter J.S. Duncan
* Eric Gordy
* Rebecca Haynes
* Geoffrey Hosking
* Lindsey Hughes
* Egbert Klautke
* George Kolankiewicz
* Philipp Müller
* Roger Moorhouse
* Sir Bernard Pares
* László Péter (Professor Emeritus)
* Robert Pynsent
* Martyn Rady
* John Randall MP (UK politician)
* Susie Rizvi
* Jonathan Ross (entertainer)
* György Schöpflin MEP
* Robert Service (historian) (formerly)
* Robert William Seton-Watson
* Peter Siani-Davies
* Clare Thomas (Administrator)
* Trevor Thomas
* Joey Balls

External links


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