About Us

Who We Are

Spark is the University of Stirling’s interdisciplinary, online journal of postgraduate research. We review and publish research from across all academic disciplines, and our issue topics are aimed at encouraging the integration of disciplines, theoretical practices, and data gathering. Based at the University of Stirling, we accept submissions worldwide, and much of our content is aimed at liberating international perspectives on global themes and issues.

We are focused on encouraging and publishing high-quality postgraduate articles and book reviews, which can also help with students’ own research skills and the development of an academic presence within their field of study. Our articles are double-blind reviewed, and our peer reviewers offer in-depth feedback, aimed at providing authors an experience of the submission process that is essential to academic life.
The journal also offers a number of training events on peer-reviewing, copy-editing, and journal software management to encourage postgraduates to get involved with the running of Spark and enhance their CV.

Current Issues

Founded in

A Historical Perspective

From Our Founding Co-Editors
Soha Elbatrawy
I was so fortunate to be one of the main founders of the Postgraduate Journal for the University of Stirling, in 2011. It started with just an idea which we all took seriously, we were very motivated, cooperative and full of energy, and we managed to make it and we started our first issue! Everyone was extremely helpful and although we came from various disciplines but we managed to join forces and think of the best theme that can encompass all the articles. I contributed to planning for the journal and recruiting postgraduate students who joined the journal team. I arranged with my team members structuring our own templates and guidelines for peer reviewing and copy-editing.  I was appointed as the point of communication of the journal. I also allocated tasks and communicated with authors, copy editors and peer reviewers, at this early stage; I remember that we did everything manually, so it consumed a lot of my time and effort too but I enjoyed all these tasks. I also worked with the marketing team in order to enlarge our network. I also liaised with our colleagues in order to plan for the new themes. I remember getting a lot of support from Professor Leigh Sparks who gave us all the courage to start a postgraduate journal and gave us a lot of guidance. I was also one of the peer reviewers and copy editors and at the same time, and prepared some presentations to the new postgraduate students in order to encourage them to join our team and gain similar experience as we did. I am so lucky to be part of this flourishing academic journal which I consider an amazing experience for any researcher or a postgraduate student.
Soha Elbatrawy
Founding Co-Editor

As co-editor of Spark until 2012, there were so many decisions to take in the first months of the journal’s inception in 2010: should the journal be confined to arts and humanities topics; alternatively, should it have a wide scope to include other faculties; what name should it be given; formatting guidelines; who should be responsible for which task? So many decisions to be taken, not least of which was a timetable for putting out the call for articles; should each edition have a specific theme?

Initially, I put out the call for papers to my academic contacts at universities around the UK and Europe, read submissions in order to select those which most closely focused on our chosen themes, proof read articles chosen for publication and proof read the articles pre publication. Publication of the first issue was so exciting, but there was little time to enjoy the feeling – decisions had to be made and preparations begun for the next issue.

Margot Buchanan
Founding Co-Editor

Our Issues

Call for Papers: Contributing to Society


Our current Call for Papers is now closed. Thank you to all authors for your submissions!

Issue 9 will be released later this year. Please find the original text of the call by following the link below.

The theme for our upcoming ninth issue will be "Contributing to Society". This is a broad topic that can be approached from many different perspectives. We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

Follow the link below to learn more about the theme.

New Issue: Sustaining Change


Issue 8 is now live!

In our new issue, writers from around the UK and the world engage with topics of sustainability and change in varied forms. From literature to health to industry, this issue includes articles, book reviews, and a letter to the editor.

Follow the link below to see more!


The 2022 Ember Awards have been announced!


Our Ember Award for Undergraduate Writing is back!

Click through to see this year's winners!
Read the top essays as well as check out past winners.


Peer Reviewers Wanted!

Want to join Spark? Want to read new literature in your field?

We are looking for peer reviewers for our upcoming issue, "Sustaining Change."

Interested? Click below to find out more or reach out at spark@stir.ac.uk.

Issue 07: Connections and Divisions


In the seventh issue of SPARK, authors from across the UK tackle topics about both what divides us and what brings us together. Connections and divisions have become particularly relevant as the world continues to struggle with a global pandemic—from distancing measures and isolation to the promotion of new ways of connecting with others. While divisions can be harmful and restrictive, they can also be crucial in safeguarding and structuring our daily lives and experiences and inspire new ways of relating to others. Ranging across history, religion, gender, education, health, law, and more, our articles examine the intricacies of boundaries, networks, and togetherness.

One of our largest issues yet!


Issue 06: Resistance & Movement(s)

Our sixth issue of Spark tackles the dual forces of resistance and movement. From political protests to climate crisis, the world as we know it has become increasingly contested and polarised; the fast and global dissemination of information contributes to rapid changes and a state of flux. In social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental processes and systems, both resistance and movement appear, either as catalysts for, and/or responses to, change. In some cases, ‘an irresistible force meets an immovable object’ in direct opposition, while at other times the dynamic is more complex and entangled. However, forms of both resistance and movement(s) hold the potential to be destructive, generative or creative. 

Issue 05: Successes & Failures

Our fifth issue of Spark is focused upon successes and failures. Pathways to success are often talked about, and the causes scrutinized. Science journals have been historically blamed for omitting the publication of failure (or negative findings). Yet how success and failure are defined will depend on the nature of the goal or objective. This 5th edition of SPARK focusses on overcoming obstacles and adversity, progress and learning in a variety of settings. 

Issue 04: Translating Communities

Issue 4 of Spark is on the topic of translating communities. This theme concerns the way in which one community, be it linguistic, cultural, or academic, communicates with others. Translation, then, does not just concern the transformation of one language into another, but also how bodies of knowledge, learning strategies, cultures, and identities are shared with the world. To this end, the articles in this issue address these techniques. Sue Rawcliffe, in ‘Imagining the Past, Imagining the Future: Communities and Social Welfare in the West of Scotland’, looks at how imagination and memory, crossed with archival records and stories about events within two communities situated in the West of Scotland, might help to develop perceptions of these communities’ futures. Charlotte McPherson, Samantha Punch, and Elizabeth Graham, in ‘Postgraduate Transitions from Masters to Doctoral Study: Managing Independence, Emotions, and Support’, explore the significantly overlooked area of student transition in Higher Education from Masters to Doctoral study. They find the process a complex, demanding, and emotional one for students, who must engage in a translation of their academic selves, research, and critical thinking to meet the needs of their doctoral research communities. Aileen Lobban, in ‘Louise Bennett: On Writing the Creole Community, Poetically’, analyses how Bennett engages in a gendered Jamaican identity through the dub poet’s poems, identifying her community through Jamaican Creole and Jamaican proverbs to help push it beyond colonialism and patriarchal hegemony – a translation that is linguistic, socio-cultural, and national. Kelly Gardner reviews Contemporary Spanish Gothic (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), by Ann Davies.

Issue 03: Quality of Life

Issue 3 of Spark is focussed on issues and themes on the topic of quality of life. It concerns the role of Twenty-First century global technology and communication in shaping the definition and status of quality of life in two papers: ‘Linguistic Imprints of Deception in Financial Text: A Corpus Linguistics Based Approach’ by Saliha Minhas, and ‘Society Must Be Defended: Online Quality of Life, a Foucauldian Case Study of Gamergate’, by Stuart Lindsay. The former article seeks to provide a framework for technological apparatus measuring deceptive content in financial texts, and explores the impact of the results of such financial subterfuge on economic quality of life at a national and personal level. The latter analyses the online, cultural videogame phenomenon known as Gamergate from a theoretical perspective based on the writings of French philosopher, Michel Foucault, to measure the impact on gamers’ individual identities against the collective gaming identity established by the Gamergate movement. Intergenerational concerns regarding differences between quality of life and its perception between this generation of scholars and the preceding one are explored in Susie Peacock’s paper: ‘The Quality of Innovative Academic Lives: Influences Past, Present - and Future?’ Kari Vezke investigates care and support options for older people in Scotland, and the impact of these choices on their quality of life, in her article ‘What Influences Older People’s Decisions about Care and Support?’ Soha El-Batrawy reviews the collection Communication and “The Good Life”, edited by Hua Wang.

Issue 02: Global Protests and Neoliberal Cities

Issue 2 of Spark deals with the theme of the upsurge of global protests in opposition to the neoliberal organisation of politics and economics, as reflected in the Arab Spring of 2011-2012, and the austerity measures enacted by governments around the world as a recovery response to the financial crash of 2008. Nagwa El Gazzar analysed the employment of social media technology among an increasingly-politicised Egyptian youth in her paper ‘The Role of Social Media Networks in Enhancing Political Change among Adolescents in Egypt’. Aspects of this issue explored architectural aspects of cities, and their role in facilitating or hindering the protests taking place therein. Simona De Simoni and Gabriele Proglio’s paper ‘On the streets of Turin, next to the Arab Spring’, and Tereza Galatoula’s paper ‘The Indignants of Athens as a Multitude of Singularities’ were revealing in this regard. Mauro Dilullo’s article ‘Global Resistance, Communism and Global Empire’ analysed an emergent yet partially-thwarted new political Left in theoretical terms, influenced by philosophical writers Maurice Blanchot, Antonio Negri, and Giorgio Agamben. Lucinda Dean reviews the book Cities Under Siege: The New Urban Militarism, by Stephen Graham, and Margot Buchanan reviews the collection Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy, edited by Larry Diamond and Mark F. Plattner.

Issue 01: Continuity and Change

Spark opens its first issue with Continuity and Change, an open theme offering a variety of useful interpretations on maintenance, progress, and alteration of social experience, mobility, and improvement. Among the papers included in this issue are Hannah Donaldson’s ‘Disability, Society and International Law: The UN Disability Convention as a Catalyst for Change’, Emma Smith’s ‘Exploring Change and Continuity in the Context of Gender Inequality: The Example of Domestic Violence’, and Murray Cook’s ‘Romans, Picts, and Development: Continuity and Change in Aberdeenshire’s Archaeology and Informed Planning Decisions’. Ewan McDonald reviews Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, by Paul Mason, Jamal Bahmad reviews Morocco: Challenges to Tradition and Modernity by James Slater, and Lucy Wilcox reviews Work Engagement: A Handbook of Essential Theory and Research, a collection edited by Arnold B. Bakker and Michael P. Leiter.