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Professor Brian Cox

Star Lecture Series

Our Star Lecture Series has been developed to allow teachers and pupils access to exciting curriculum resources, delivered by some of our leading academic staff.

Filmed and recorded at the University, these lectures cover topic areas on the national curriculum and exam syllabuses. They link school and college work to current research and offer an insight into university study.

The series aims to cover a variety of different subject areas and age ranges, from Year 9 to sixth form students. As well as booking your place for upcoming Star Lectures, you can watch videos of previous Star Lectures and see accompanying information, such as suggested further reading. See the left-hand menu for a list of previous lectures.

Humanities Star Lectures for 2014/15 

British propaganda and the First World War – imagining a united nation

8 October 2014
For years 11, 12, and 13
Places available: 300

The First World War keeps its hold on us like a horror film, despite the numerous horrors and atrocities that have affected humanity since. Apart from being a great military and political event, the First World War was also a great imaginative event. From its outbreak in 1914, politicians, journalists, and ordinary men and women tried to understand and make sense of what the war meant.

In terms of historical research about the First World War, historians have shifted their emphasis away from the study of military events towards understanding the central position of the war in relation to the lives and experiences of citizens who lived through it. From this has emerged a story centred around the role and strategies adopted by government propagandists in mobilising British society for war, and discussion about how this terrible conflict affected individuals, families, and society over the long term.

This lecture, and the accompanying workshop, will consider the ways in which British men and women understood the war while it was being fought, as well as analysing the role played by British government propagandists. Through an examination of several First World War propaganda posters, students will work towards answering the following questions:

  1. What did war mean in the summer of 1914?
  2. What had it come to mean by 1917?
  3. What were British citizens told to think about the war?

This lecture is part of the School of Arts, Languages and Culture’s The Different Faces of WWI lecture series.

Not the death of hero: heroism and national identity in the Great War

29 January 2015 (please note the changed date)
For years 11, 12, and 13
Places available: 250

The British hero died in the trenches of the First World War, or so the story goes. A generation of young men rushed to volunteer inspired by tales of heroic sacrifice. The popular view is that this romantic ideal perished with the 20,000 soldiers who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

This lecture will challenge this view to show how British heroes proved remarkably resilient. The government promoted heroes for propaganda purposes, while the public celebrated the bravery of figures such as Nurse Edith Cavell, merchant seaman Charles Fryatt and former boy scout Jack Cornwell, victims of German brutality.

Dr Max Jones is a senior lecturer in Modern History at The University of Manchester and a recent winner of our teacher of the year award. He specialises in the cultural history of war and heroism and has lectured widely to public audiences around Britain with the Royal Geographical Society and other institutions.

This lecture is part of the School of Arts, Languages and Culture’s The Different Faces of WWI lecture series.

Booking for this event will open in October 2014.

For more information on humanities Star Lectures, please contact:

Emma Britain
tel 0161 275 8924

STEM and life sciences Star Lectures

We will make provide information on STEM and Life Sciences lectures for 2014/15 later on in the academic year. 

YouTube channel

Our YouTube channel has a number of videos about The University of Manchester. Edited versions of the Star Lectures by Professor Brian Cox and others are also available there for use by learners and teachers.


For further information, email us at