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About Dr Helen Southall

Since joining the University of Chester in 1998, I have taught on a wide range of modules, ranging from programming and digital audio to systems analysis and software design, as well as M.Sc. Research Methods and Dissertation modules, and (more recently) first year Physics.  While seconded to the NTI, I managed the University’s successful application for Accredited Training Organisation status for PRINCE2® project management and M_o_R management of risk training courses; these NTI courses are still running successfully more than ten years later.  My Ph.D. brought together my long-standing interests in social networks, social history, and music, along with my background in computing and data analysis; I have since built on this by developing research threads in the digital humanities and digital heritage, which I have been happy to feed back into my teaching (especially as dissertation topics), as well as producing publications, and collaborating with colleagues both within and outside the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

PRINCE2® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.


I contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules in Computer Science, Electronics & Electrical Engineering:

  • Fundamentals of Programming
  • Software Management
  • Final Year Innovation Project

I contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules in Mathematical & Physical Sciences:

  • Classical and Quantum Physics

I have also contributed to the History & Archaeology Department’s experiential learning module (Historical Research: Methods and Practice), contributing material on digital skills and user experience design for heritage software, and was one of the team awarded ‘Teaching Team of the Year’ for work on this module by the University’s Learning & Teaching Institute in 2019.

I contribute to the teaching of the following postgraduate modules:

  • Concepts of User Experience
  • Research Methods
  • Research Dissertation


My Ph.D. (on ‘Dance Bands in Chester: An Evolving Professional Network’) was based on interviews with local musicians, promoters and fans who had been involved with the dance band scene in Chester and North Wales between the 1930s and the 1970s, and led to a number of conference presentations and publications focusing specifically on that research.

Since completing my Ph.D. in 2015, I have moved into the field of digital humanities, focusing on the application of immersive experiences – such as augmented and virtual reality – to history and heritage.  I am currently looking at how application of good practice in user experience design can make these immersive experiences more effective and enjoyable, both from the point of view of the user, and from the point of the organisations creating or funding them.  I am particularly interested in topics for immersive experiences which have the potential for increasing public engagement with science, engineering and technology.

Published Work

Southall, H. V., Marmion, M., & Davies, A. (2019). Adapting Jake Knapp’s Design Sprint Approach for AR/VR Applications in Digital Heritage. In M. C. tom Diek & T. H. Jung (Eds.), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: The Power of AR and VR for Business (pp. 59 - 70): Springer Nature.

Southall, H. V., & Lupton, A. (2018). Just Imagine…? Imaginary Numbers in the Real World. Poster. University of Newcastle, UK. HEA STEM Conference 2018.

Southall, H. V., Beever, L., & Butcher, P. W. S. (2017). Traversing Social Networks in the Virtual Dance Hall: visualizing history in VR. Paper presented at Cyberworlds 2017, Chester.

Southall, H. V. (2017). Field Hollers, Foxtrots and Fire-watching: The real, imagined and virtual worlds of a wartime dance hall. Conference Presentation. ICTM World Conference (University of Limerick).

Southall, H. V. (2016). Dance Bands in Chester & North Wales, 1930 - 1970: Revealing a Hidden History. Conference Presentation. 'The Hidden Musicians Revisited' Conference (Open University)

Southall, H. V. (2014). Total War and its effects on the Live Music industry in Cheshire and North Wales. In C. Hart, G. Hodgson, & S. Roberts (Eds.), World War II & the media : A Collection of Original Essays: Dept. of Media, University of Chester.

Southall, H. V. (2014). Jazz on the border: jazz and dance bands in Chester and North Wales in the mid-twentieth century. Jazz Research Journal, 7(1).

Southall, H. V. (2012). Throwing Sheep in the Bandroom: Visualising a Social and Economic Network of Musicians in Cheshire and North Wales. Conference Presentation. 7th International Conference on the Arts in Society.

Southall, H. V. (2011). Dance Bands in Chester (1930 - 1970) - an evolving professional network. Conference Poster. Sites of Popular Music Heritage Symposium. (University of Liverpool)

Southall, H. V. (2008). Jazz in Chester - History of an Unexpected Community. Conference Presentation. 14th Leeds International Jazz Conference.


B.Sc. (Keele), M.Sc. (Manchester), Ph.D. (Liverpool)