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Sixth form lecture series

The University of Manchester is home to experts in a wide range of academic fields. In order to share this expertise and enrich the A-Level curriculum, we offer subject-specific lectures to schools and colleges in a range of academic disciplines.

Where: The majority of lectures will take place in your school or college.

When: You can arrange a date and time that are mutually convenient for you and the academic.

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes.

Cost: All lectures are free of charge.

Geographic range: Schools and colleges must be based within approximately one hour’s travelling distance of The University of Manchester.

Group size: Minimum 20 students.

Please select a subject area from the drop-down list below and use the email addresses provided to send in your request. Upon receipt of your request we will forward the details to the appropriate academic, who will liaise with you directly. Please note that delivery of sixth form lectures will depend on the availability of the academics so not all lectures will be available at all times. There is a limit of five lectures per institution per academic year to ensure that as many institutions as possible are able to benefit from the lecture series.

We will contact you shortly after the lecture has taken place to gather feedback, in order to make ongoing improvements to the lecture series.

The University of Manchester records some of the talks that take place on campus, including the popular schools lecture given by Professor Brian Cox in June 2010. These can be found on our YouTube channel.

or list all lectures.

Subject areasLecture title and descriptionContact
  • Anthropology
Living Cultures: The Rehabilitation of a Victorian Anthropology Collection
Over the past several decades museum anthropology has been in transition. Victorian curators viewed non-European people as primitive and failed to fully appreciate their complex societies. Today’s curators recognise this mistake and are constantly developing new techniques to better understand global cultures.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences
Personhood on a Gap Year
We will explore the structured gap year programmes in Central America and the kinds of global citizens the charity aims to produce. The lecture will consider the links between these ‘citizens’ and the changes occurring in the UK job market and think about understandings of appropriate forms of citizenship.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences
Rochdale to Rabaul: Globalisation and the 'Commodification' of Everyday Life
Has globalisation led to the commodification of everyday life and the destruction of traditional local cultures? This lecture takes the reconstruction of Rabaul – a town in Papua New Guinea that was destroyed by a volcano in the mid 1990s – as the starting point for examining these issues. Drawing upon ongoing field research, this lecture explores what anthropological analysis of disputes over the changing nature of local custom can tell us about changes in social life across the world, such as claims that football and other forms of popular culture are becoming commercialised in the West.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Lindow Man at the Manchester Museum
Retrospective look at three Lindow Man exhibitions which were held at the Museum.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Dark Age Skeletons from Heronbridge at the Manchester Museum
The discovery in 2011 that the Museum holds human remains from the Battle of Chester (c.616 AD) prompted a reassessment of the significance and historical context of this previously unrecognised material.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Disputed Points: A Controversial Mesolithic Discovery in Yorkshire
A 1920s controversy offers an unusual introduction to the first period of human occupation of the British Isles after the last glaciation.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Archaeology of Feasts
The coming together of groups of people to share food and drink, whether for formal or ritual occasions or to affirm social relationships, is an important feature of human behaviour. Using case studies from the Bronze Age Mediterranean, this lecture will explore how understanding the material traces of feasts in the archaeological record can tell us about community relationships, power struggles and belief systems.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Reconstructing the Past
After an archaeological site has been excavated we are usually left with holes in the ground or rows of stones from wall foundations, with the associated material culture removed to a museum for safe keeping. These traces can be difficult for visitors (and even experts) to interpret or appreciate. This lecture explores how reconstructions and replicas of sites and buildings can enhance the visitor experience but can also mislead. We will examine these issues using an example from a recently reconstructed prehistoric roundhouse in Cyprus, where traditional building techniques and 3D computer modelling have been combined to create a snapshot of the past.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Dead Don’t Bury Themselves
The choices people make over where to bury their dead, the objects that accompany them and how they interact with their remains inform on our understanding of the living community. However, in the absence of written records outlining belief systems it is difficult to understand the meaning of funerary remains. We will examine case studies from the Cypriot Neolithic through the Bronze Age to explore how changes in burial practices can inform our understanding of people's relationships with each other, their homes and the wider world.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Environment
Environmental Catastrophes: Volcanic Eruptions, Tsunamis and Earthquakes in Prehistory
This lecture will provide an introduction to the world-famous eruption of the volcano of Thera (modern-day Santorini) in Greece which is fabled to have caused the demise of the Minoan civilisation. We will explore the sequence of the volcanic eruption, its environmental consequences for the inhabitants of the island and nearby regions, and explore the social impact of environmental catastrophes in prehistory.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • History
  • Politics
  • Tourism
Islands of the Mind
Over the last few centuries islands have become one of the most commonly used literary tropes, whose meaning changes according to the historical context. This lecture traces our attraction to islands and explores why islands are anything but simple constructs. This lecture is deliberately cross-disciplinary and will touch upon archaeology, history, literature, tourism, economics and politics.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
What Do Archaeologists Really Do?
This lecture will include an introduction to archaeological methods, an introduction to key concepts used in archaeology (which are also applicable to geology, history, science and maths) such as stratigraphy and dating techniques, and some hands-on experience of archaeological kit and artefacts.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology

Forgetting the Flinstones: Rethinking Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers
This lecture will include a critical examination of how modern media presents hunter-gatherers and a re-examination of the archaeological evidence, including a hands-on session using real prehistoric artefacts.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Thinking Through Things
This lecture will include a critical analysis of what material culture can tell us. It will consider whether material things static, passive and meaningless or do they communicate information? If so how can they do this? And how might this be useful to archaeologists and anthropologists?

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Who Were the Neanderthals?
This lecture looks at our close relatives the Neanderthals. It explores how they dealt with the difficulties of living in Ice Age Europe. It also looks at debates surrounding their extinction. Did they die out because they were less intelligent than our own species or are there other explanations?

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Finding Britain's First House
This lecture will give students an understanding of an archaeological excavation. The example is a site in North Yorkshire known as Star Carr which dates from around 9,500BC. The talk will discuss the findings of excavations between 2004 and 2010, culminating in the discovery of Britain's oldest dwelling and a massive timber trackway.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Mystery of Easter Island
Easter Island is famous for its gigantic stone statues known as moai. This lecture will examine the creation of these monuments at the quarry of Rano Raraku. The industrial process of producing the statues will be contrasted with the sanctity of creating ancestors in physical form.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Stone Circles of the British Isles
The stone circles that are distributed across the British Isles have long been a source of archaeological uncertainty. This lecture will look at the construction of these monuments and question whether their final architectural form was the main reason for their creation.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Life and Death in Late Neolithic Orkney
Orkney is famous for its range of evidence for the Neolithic period and settlements such as Skara Brae display some of the best preserved stone houses in north-west Europe. This lecture will explore the domains of the living and the dead, portraying Stone Age life in the north as both alien and highly ritualistic.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Introducing African Archaeology
This lecture introduces the richness and diversity of archaeology on the African continent, from hominins to historical archaeology, using personal experiences and detailed examples.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Emergence of Civilisation in Ancient Mesopotamia
This lecture provides an overview of a period in which some of the foundations of modern civilization can be seen for the first time. Between 4,000BC and 2,000BC cities and states developed, writing was invented and empires were founded in southern Iraq, forming a new way of life that had a fundamental influence on subsequent periods of history.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
Cannibalism in Prehistory?
Cannibalism is a dramatic and controversial topic. Studying its possible presence as part of prehistoric ceremonies at the site of Domuztepe in southern Turkey provides an insight into human behaviour and the way in which archaeologists can begin to understand ancient practices.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Stonehenge Landscape Before Stonehenge
Where did Stonehenge come from? This lecture, which is based on the work of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, describes the emergence of the monumental landscape on Salisbury Plain.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
The Olchon Court Cairn: Re-Inventing Tradition
This lecture describes the excavation of an impressive stone cairn in Herefordshire.  Was it a Stone Age tomb or a Bronze Age barrow? Or a Bronze Age mound that was built to resemble something much more ancient?

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
Shrines, Sacrifice and Medicine in West Africa
Not for the fainthearted, this lecture will cover what African indigenous religions are, and how practices (sacrifice and medicine) and the sites (shrines) associated with them are recognised archaeologically.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Art History
Cave Art
This lecture looks at the appearance of the first European art around 32,000 years ago. From this time onwards we get the first decorated caves and sculptures of both humans and animals. Can we hope to understand why people decorated caves and look for the meaning of the earliest art?

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
Bog Bodies: Interpreting the Mystery
This lecture will provide learners with an introduction to the extraordinary preservation of prehistoric bog bodies. We will look at the science and environment of bog bodies, review the lives and deaths of different bog bodies (including Lindow Man, Grauballe Man, Tollund Man, Worsley Man) and interpret the different motives which explain this gruesome phenomenon.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
Battlefield Archaeology
What can archaeology contribute to the understanding of war? We will review key case studies including Fromelles and the Fleville bomber, and discuss the ethics and politics of digging up the war dead.
 

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
Polynesian Voyaging
Between c. AD 700 and AD 1200 Polynesian voyagers 'colonised' islands over a massive area of the Pacific Ocean. This lecture will investigate both the method and reasons for such a large-scale expansion. What was it that drove people to voyage over such huge areas and what happened when they set foot on new uninhabited islands?

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
The Convict Era in Australia
From 1788 Britain established a series of penal colonies across the Australian continent. Over the subsequent 80 years approximately 170,000 men, women and children were involuntarily transported from the British Isles as criminal exiles. This lecture examines archaeological perspectives on the nature of life within the antipodean convict colonies. Questions of assigned labour, institutional experience, strategies of resistance, commodity consumption and community life will be examined, in addition to a brief examination of the comparative role of British imperial penal transportation in Australian and Irish heritage.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
The Archaeology of Prisons
With over eight million people incarcerated within the world’s penal institutions, confinement serves as an increasingly prevalent human experience. But the unique form of this modern carceral landscape is neither accidental nor inevitable. This lecture draws from architectural, historical, sociological and archaeological scholarship to explore the emergence and proliferation of the penitentiary from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
The Archaeology of Working Families in North-West England
Although deceptively 'familiar', the recent past has been a period of unprecedented social and material transformation. This lecture focuses on how archaeological excavations can be combined with archival and oral history research to expand our understandings of how the everyday life of local families changed dramatically from the Victorian era to the mid-twentieth century. It demonstrates how powerful dynamics of globalisation, urbanisation, commodities and the rise of a service economy have modified our shared experiences of community life. Further, it demonstrates how everyday domestic assemblages may reveal complicated (and sometimes contradictory) relationships of gender, class, occupation, age, family and social status.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
Timbuktu and the West African Empires
This lecture covers trans-Saharan trade and the archaeology of the medieval west African empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, and how the myth of Timbuktu as a city of fabulous wealth evolved.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • History
Archaeology in the Twentieth Century Middle East: A Turbulent Discipline
The Middle East was one of the most volatile regions during the twentieth century following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. The human past has often been used as a weapon in the forging of new nations and this lecture looks at the often striking relevance archaeology has had to contemporary societies over the last century.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Medicine
Disease, Illness and Medicine in Prehistory
This lecture explores how diseases, illnesses and general living/working conditions affected the ancient Greeks of the Minoan and Mycenaean periods. Drawing on skeletal evidence from a wide range of cemeteries, we will be investigating differences in life expectancy, nutrition, and access to medical and surgical skill.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Archaeology
  • Psychology
Sigmund Freud and Archaeology
What does the founder of psychoanalysis have to do with archaeology? And what can archaeologists learn from him? Actually, Freud once said that he’d probably read more archaeology than psychology, and that he was obsessed with the subject . . .

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Astronomy
Hunting for Other Earths
How do we find planets around other stars? What kind of planets have been found so far? How common are planetary systems and how do they form? What are the prospects for finding evidence of life on other planets? This talk discusses the current situation in the relatively new research field of extra-solar planets.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Astronomy
Measuring the Microwave Universe: From the Big Bang to Spinning Dust
Radio astronomers are now measuring the universe in immense detail. Using the latest technology to measure microwaves, we can make maps of the entire universe when it was just 380,000 years old – just after the Big Bang which took place some 13.7 billion years ago. This talk will show how this is done and what we can learn about the universe we live in.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Astronomy
Cosmic Explosions
We are all made of stuff that was created inside stars and spreads into space when they explode. In this talk the life cycle of a star will be described ending with the most powerful explosions in the universe: novae, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Astronomy
Life in the Universe
Does life exist on other planets? This talk discusses the development of life on earth, the search for life on other planets in our solar system and on newly discovered planets orbiting other stars. Finally, the current status of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is discussed.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Astronomy
Infinity!
A wide-ranging overview of our current ideas about the universe. We will travel from the solar system to the most distant galaxies, describing the Big Bang interpretation of the origin of the universe and exploring the future of the sun, the Milky Way and the universe as a whole. Finally, we will discuss whether modern cosmology has a chance of answering the fundamental question of whether space goes on forever.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health and Social Care
  • Medicine
Being a doctor: communication is key
This lecture will give an insight into the qualities needed to be a medic, focusing on communication and providing case studies from general practice. It will be delivered by a practising GP who also teaches communication skills to medical students. Although academic skills are crucial when it comes to being a doctor, many other practical and interpersonal skills are also essential – including understanding what it takes to communicate effectively with sick and vulnerable people.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Biology
  • Environment
  • Natural History
Siberia and its Nature
Siberia as seen by a field zoologist – a talk about the vast region eastward of the Ural Mountains, which is seen by many people as a totally frozen land during most of the season. This is a light and richly illustrated presentation based on the personal experience of the speaker, who has been to many places in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Biology
  • Environment
  • Natural History
Spiders: A Brief Introduction
A brief introduction to the fascinating world of spiders, with lots of interesting facts about their biology, behaviour and reproduction.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Business
  • Management
  • Politics
Good Government: The Creative Power of Public Administration
Government bureaucracies often get a bad press, when attention is drawn to their supposed inefficiency and red tape. While they undoubtedly have their problems, we tend to ignore the positive and creative roles that government administrations have played for centuries. This lecture will take a broad look at the history - both positive and negative - of public administration and ask what to expect from 21st century evolution of democratic governance.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Chemistry
Chemists Without Lab Coats
The impact of computers on chemistry increases day by day, from materials to life science. For example, computer programs can return the preferred geometry of a new molecule faster and more cheaply than crystallography, and with more detail. Computers can also predict reaction profiles and the atomistic structure of liquids. Research in this area focuses on enhanced accuracy and faster implementation.

pla@manchester.ac.uk

  • Classics and Ancient History

We offer a variety of lectures in Classics and in Ancient History topics. 

More details are available on the Classics and Ancient History website.

andrew.fear@manchester.ac.uk
  • Computer Science
Computers and Brains 
An overview of the workings of computers and brains, focusing particularly on their similarities and differences. We'll look at why brains are interesting to computer engineers and how the SpiNNaker project aims to advance our understanding of brain function, which could have benefits both for the study of medicine and the future development of computers.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk

  • Drama

We offer lectures across a number of topics within Drama, including:

  • Drama, Theatre, Performance: What's the Difference?
  • Applied Theatre: Theatre and Community and Social Settings
  • Early Naturalism and Theatre
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Language
English Language in the Real World: Advertising and Film
A discussion of accent and dialect from a sociolinguistic perspective will be illustrated via various film clips, thus looking at the power of spoken language on public perception. Written and visual language will then be discussed via an analysis of various print advertisements, illustrating how language from various perspectives affects our perception, be it products or people.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
Shakespeare
Lectures can be offered on a range of Shakespeare topics and plays. Please state your preferred topic(s) in your email.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
  • History

Medieval literature and culture
We offer a wide range of lecture topics on late medieval English culture, including:

  • Life and Literature of Chaucer (Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde)
  • The Works of the Gawain Poet (eg Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
  • Medieval Romance Literature
  • Arthurian Literature
  • Aspects of Nineteenth Century Medievalism (especially the use of neo-gothic in civic building in the nineteenth century)
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
  • History
Contemporary popular culture
Lectures can be offered on history in contemporary popular culture, from film to advertising, from historical novels to costume drama. Please indicate in your email which topic(s) you are interested in.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
  • History

Literature and Colonialism
This lecture will introduce you to the complicated relationships between creative literature and the experience of colonialism. There will be a brief introduction to the history of European colonialism from the early modern period to the present day, followed by discussions of the different ways in which the works of novelists, playwrights and poets have responded to that history. We will cover Shakespeare's The Tempest, some of the great works of Victorian fiction and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, in addition to the works of writers from the postcolonial world in Africa, Asia and Latin America, such as Chinua Achebe and Aime Cesaire. Questions asked include:

  • How does English literature register the experience of colonialism?
  • How does postcolonial writing resist or write against colonialism?
  • How do writers respond to these experiences today?
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
  • History
  • Languages
John Rylands Library (Deansgate) Activities
The John Rylands Library at Deansgate offers a range of on-site activities for post-16 learners, which are related to the specific collections of the Library.
jrul.education@manchester.ac.uk
  • English Literature
  • Irish Literature
  • History
Ireland: Its History and Its Literature
This lecture will introduce you to some of the key events in modern Irish history, from the Rebellion of the United Irishmen in 1798 to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. We will also examine the intimate relationship between history and literature in Ireland, as expressed through the work of internationally famous writers such as James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Anne Enright.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History
Auld Alliance – The Longest in History?
In 1295 an alliance between France and Scotland was established which functioned as a coalition against the common enemy of England. After the Scottish Reformation in 1560 the significance of the Auld Alliance supposedly diminished, due in part to the development of a common Anglo-Scottish religion. The common perception that the Auld Alliance ended in 1560 has been additionally fuelled by the retrospective knowledge that England and Scotland were to be united in 1603 through the union of crowns, and further in 1707 through the union of their parliaments.
This lecture will contest this view. After introducing the initial function of the Auld Alliance and outlining the reasons why the alliance has been assumed to have ended, this lecture will look at why and how the alliance continued after 1560. In some form the alliance can be said to have continued into the 20th century, eclipsing the Anglo-Portuguese alliance as the longest in history! The content of the lecture will correspond with many aspects of  current affairs, including the anticipated results of the 2011 census (particularly questions regarding nationality) and the proposed 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History
Atlantic Slavery: Debates and Controversies
This lecture focuses on the impact of slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and abolitionist campaigns in the British empire during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It explores how historians have sought to recover the experience of the enslaved, and the controversies over how we understand slavery and abolition today.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History

The Evacuation of Guernsey Schoolchildren to Northern England, June 1940
This lecture explains why thousands of Channel Island children were evacuated to industrial towns in northern England with their teachers in June 1940. German forces occupied Guernsey a few days later, and so the children remained here for five years, finding the sights and sounds of northern England so very different to those of their rural island home. Most children were cared for by local families and, when their island was liberated in May 1945, they had to readjust once again to life in Guernsey with their real parents. Many Guernsey families failed to bond with each other after the war and children missed the English families that had cared for them. 70 years later, many are still in touch with those that cared for them in northern England during the war.

This lecture may also be suitable for 14-16 year-olds.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History
Migration and the Making of Contemporary Britain
This lecture will explore the development of immigrant communities in Britain since the Second World War. It examines the dynamics of emigration, the changing experiences of immigrant groups over time, and contemporary debates over the segregation of ethnic communities.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History
  • Biology
  • Environment
  • Natural History
The Work of a Classical Taxonomist: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums
A talk about natural history museums, their collections and the work museum curators do behind the scenes. A brief introduction to taxonomy, why it is important, how biodiversity on Earth is studied and the role of natural history collections.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • History
  • Biology
  • Environment
  • Natural History
The Great Natural History Collectors
An introduction to some of the great collectors of the 19th century – what they did, why they did it and how they did it. This talk links developments in trade and transport with the development of the culture of collecting, focusing on Victorian bird collectors. This is based on research on Henry Dresser, one of the main contributors to Manchester Museum’s bird collection. Dresser participated in the American Civil War and was one of the leading figures of the British conservation movement, in addition to writing some of the most famous bird books of the late 19th century.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Languages

Persepolis en Bande Dessinée (2000-2003) et en Dessin Animé (2007)
This is a 50-minute lecture, with seminar activities, delivered in French. The level of French and the topics covered are aimed at a sixth form audience.

Knowledge of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis (which recounts the author's journey from childhood to adulthood, from Iran to Austria and France), in either its comic strip form (2000-2003) or in its animated cartoon form (2007) would be a distinct advantage but is not absolutely essential.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Languages

Wolfgang Becker's Goodbye, Lenin! and Nostalgia for the East
A lecture on Wolfgang Becker's popular film which has become a classic document of 'Ostalgie' and of East German cultural memory.

Lectures on Turkish-German cinema and literature can also be requested.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Languages
Russia Under Western Eyes: Perceptions and Misconceptions
This lecture offers an overview of popular Western perceptions of, stereotypes about, and attitudes towards Russia, with a particular focus on the role of popular culture in shaping these views in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Life Sciences
Controlling Calcium
Calcium is essential as it makes our heart beat, our muscles contract and gives strength to our bones. Mammals have developed mechanisms for controlling blood calcium levels but we are still at great risk of mineral diseases such as osteoporosis.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Life Sciences
  • Biology
  • Medicine
Making Sense of the Brain (unavailable until after 28 April 2013)
Neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system, and is one of the most exciting areas of science. Although our understanding of how the brain works has increased enormously in recent years, there is still much we don't know, and diseases of the brain represent one of the largest unmet medical challenges.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics

The Arrow of Time
If you see a film clip of two snooker balls colliding, it's pretty hard to tell whether the film has been reversed: one ball smashes into the other and both zoom off in different directions, but pretty much the same thing happens if you run the film backwards. A mathematical way to see this is to note that the basic equations of mechanics don't change if you reverse the direction of time.

On the other hand, if you see a video of the break at the beginning of a snooker match it's pretty easy to tell whether the film has been reversed. In the version where time is running forward, a single ball smashes into a big cluster of stationary balls and the whole lot go flying, while in the time-reversed version a whole jumble of moving balls suddenly coalesce into a neatly organised, stationary block and a single ball goes zooming off on its own. Only the first of these looks familiar from everyday life. These two examples contain the key ideas of the classical (as opposed to quantum-mechanical) answer to the question ‘why is tomorrow different from today?’

In this talk, Dr Mark Muldoon will introduce the problem more fully and then discuss a certain simple model system, the Feynman-Kac Ring Model, through which one can explore these issues mathematically.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Patterns in the Unpredictable
Why random behaviour is surprisingly non-random.  Most people are very bad at predicting random behaviour.  (For example, would you prefer to pick 1,2,3,4,5,6 as your lottery numbers or 3,17,18,21,33,46? Or if, when tossing a coin, it has come down heads seven times in a row, does that mean that tails is overdue?)
What many people do not realise is that true random behaviour often contains a surprising amount of structure and order.  Using simple ideas from probability theory, this talk gives some examples of this phenomenon, including why certain numbers appear far more frequently in the real world than you think they should, how to detect tax fraud and how to hoodwink your friends!
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Enigma variations: Cryptography and the Enigma machine
How do codes, ciphers and cryptography work? What was the Enigma machine? How did mathematicians such as Alan Turing shorten World War II and save possibly millions of lives? In this talk, we will look at how substitution ciphers have evolved from (easy to crack!) Caesar ciphers to the (much harder to crack!) Enigma machine and (impossible to crack!) one-time pads.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Shuffling Around
Why you shouldn't play cards with a mathematician. What is the best way to shuffle a pack of cards? How many times should you shuffle a pack to ensure that the pack is 'random' (and what does random mean)? What can go wrong if you don't shuffle properly? 
In this talk we'll try to answer these questions, using a branch of pure mathematics known as group theory.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
The Mathematics of Non-Linear Elasticity: How to Be Safe on a Bungee Jump (unavailable until after September 2014)
Making a bungee jump safe for a specific jumper involves a variety of factors, all of which can be modelled by fairly simple principles of mechanics. A specific, very important aspect that should usually be considered is that a bungee cord is not 'Hookean', ie it does not obey Hooke's Law where stress is proportional to strain. In this talk we discuss some of the consequences of this property and how it should be properly taken into account in order to avert disaster!
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Dimensional Analysis
The talk will begin with a brief discussion of the most fundamental of all mathematical problems (dividing ten apples between five people) and will proceed from the 'named numbers' of primary school arithmetic to scaling invariance in mathematics and physics. On the way (time permitting) we will briefly discuss the Pythagoras Theorem, pendulums, walking on earth and on the moon, the heart attack equation and turbulence in moving fluid.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Walking with Euler through Ostpreußen and the Genome
Graph theory is one of the simplest yet most powerful abstractions in mathematics. This talk, which can take between 30 minutes and an hour, begins at the beginning, with Euler's solution to the Königsberg Bridge Problem (a topic that appears in the syllabus for Decision and Discrete) and ends by solving a problem that arises in the analysis of genomic sequences.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Approximating the Heavens (and the Real Numbers)
This talk uses the practical problem of building a mechanical model of the solar system as the starting point for a discussion of ways to represent real numbers. Everyday decimal numbers appear in the form of numbers-as-lengths, but a second view, of numbers-as-areas, turns out to yield a different, interesting and useful representation: the 'simple continued fraction'.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Going to the Dogs: Applied Probability with a Dash of Mathematical Finance
Everyone knows that the only one who makes money at the track is the bookie, but what exactly does the bookie do? Using simple ideas from probability, this talk will explain how bookies can offer odds that will guarantee them a profit.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics

Confining bubbles in small places: instabilities and pattern formation on the pore scale
What links a baby’s first breath to adhesive debonding, CO2 sequestration, or even blister formation? The answer is that these processes are all underpinned by moving or expanding bubbles displacing fluid in a confined space. In this lecture we examine some surprising examples of how spatial confinement can induce instabilities and pattern formation in moving or expanding bubbles. 

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Counting to infinity, and beyond
Infinity is usually thought of as a rather vague idea but mathematicians take it seriously and Georg Cantor, at the end of the 1800s, developed a theory of infinite numbers. For example it turns out that there is a smallest infinite but there are also other bigger ones! All sorts of strange, apparently paradoxical, things happen once we move beyond ordinary finite numbers.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Arithmetic Round the Clock: Modular Arithmetic and Secure Communication
Using modular arithmetic is something that we often do (for example, clocks work in hours, modulo 12 or 24). The mathematics involved, especially in relation to the work of Fermat and Euler, has turned out to have completely unexpected applications for the security of internet communications.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Complex Numbers – Through the Looking Glass
This talk explores the algebraic and geometric properties of complex numbers, starting with solving quadratic equations and leading to amazing fractal images.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
The Shape of Space
This talk explores different models of space and how they can be used to model the universe.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Fysics of Frisbees ’n Further Flying Fings
This talk looks at the history and science of ball sports. It will show, by practical  demonstration, how the size and design of balls, and the rules of the various sports maximise excitement and competition. The talk ranges from the flight of bumble bees to reverse swing in cricket. It will be presented from the viewpoint of an applied mathematician, so a cursory mention of the underlying mathematical equations will be made.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
Please Forgive Me for Nearly Repeating Myself
This is an asymmetric and imperfect talk on quasicrystals and their relation to periodic and aperiodic tilings. We will show how an innocuous research paper published in 1984 changed the subject of crystallography, and reveal how it is related to Penrose tilings, which is a fascinating area of pure mathematics. This fairly easy-to-understand lecture starts off with the views of Greeks (in particular Plato) and proceeds, via the enlightenment, to the present-day atomistic view of matter. As time allows we will include related topics such as engineering materials, Islamic tiles and the geometry of viruses.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine

What Makes the Heart Beat?
The cardiac conduction system (CCS) is responsible for your heartbeat. If it becomes diseased, this has serious consequences and is life threatening. Despite its importance, the CCS is the 'Cinderella' of the heart and it has been poorly researched and understood. This talk will consider:

  • The actual position and extent of the sinus node, and how this is different from what is portrayed in textbooks;
  • The distribution of major cardiac ion channels (responsible for the heartbeat) in the sinus and atrioventricular nodes, and the importance of this for our understanding of the CCS;
  • The complexities of CCS disease in ageing and heart failure.

This talk will particularly focus on the giant leaps forward made by recent research in this area and their importance in understanding of the heart.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine
Children and Teenagers Who Have Kidney Disease
This interactive, clinical talk covers what the kidneys do, why children can get kidney disease and what treatments they can receive (eg transplantation and dialysis) at the new Manchester Children's Hospital.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine
Finding Out Why Babies Are Sometimes Born With Malformed Kidneys
This interactive lecture will look at human genetics and also animal models, which we can use to learn how organs grow normally and what happens when this process goes wrong.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine
Getting to Grips with the Guts
It's surprising how many illnesses affect the digestive system – but doctors have lots of exciting ways to explore the 'inner tube of life', literally from top to bottom . . .
This interactive talk offers food for thought as well!
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
Psychiatry as a Career
This talk will answer your questions about a career in psychiatry.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
So You Want to Be a Psychiatrist?
This talk covers a week in the life of a busy consultant psychiatrist.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Pharmacy

Bugs'n'Drugs
This presentation will focus on the spread of microbial infections, treatment, and the response of microorganisms to antimicrobial therapy.

This lecture may also be suitable for 14-16 year-olds.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk 
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences
Could a Computer Think?
Science fiction is full of thinking computers. But is such a thing really possible? Some people think that our brains are complex computers and our thoughtsare akin to the programs that run on them. Is this the right way to think about thought? We will explore these questions by looking at what both philosophers and cognitive scientists have said on the topic.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences
Is it Rational to Fear Death?
Most of us are afraid of dying. But is this rational? It would seem irrational for me to fear things that are not bad for me. Yet how can my death be bad for me given that as soon as I die there is no me for my death to be bad for? What attitude should we take towards our own death? Why does post-life non-existence seem so much worse than pre-life non-existence? We will explore these questions and more, looking at the relations between existence, non-existence and value.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
What the Universe Is Made of
This talk will explain what the building blocks of the universe are and how these fundamental particles are arranged to build the world we see around us. The talk will also cover the Large Hadron Collider and the famous Higgs boson particle.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Liquid Crystals: Organising Fluids for Technology and Biology
Liquid crystals are a part of everyday life - people use liquid crystal devices (LCDs) in their televisions, mobile phones, computers and many other appliances but people are often unaware of what liquid crystals are and how the devices work. This talk describes liquid crystals in terms of organised fluids and explains why they are so important technologically. It also explains the key position that these materials hold in biology – for example your brain is 70% liquid crystal! Finally, the talk  considers how liquid crystals might impact our life in the future.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Debating Nuclear Energy
Everybody's talking about nuclear energy but what exactly is it? Nuclear energy is again the subject of public discussion after the events in Japan, but do you really know all the details about how 16% of the world's electricity is provided? For example, is radiation always dangerous? Should we continue with plans for new nuclear power plants in the UK? Discover some facts about nuclear energy and radiation from a nuclear physicist.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Quarks and Gluons
Scientists have long been attempting to find the basic building blocks that make up the universe. This quest has prompted the development of large particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and has reached the strange sub-nuclear world of quarks, gluons and leptons. This talk will give an insight into the development of the subject. The latest discoveries and pointers to the future will also be reviewed.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Particle Accelerators – Why You Need Them!
Most people think that accelerators are only used to smash subatomic particles together to help define the laws of nature, but that's really only a small part of the story. Particle accelerators are used for many purposes that affect our daily lives. This talk describes how accelerators work and the challenges involved in making them more effective. We will look at applications ranging from radiotherapy and making electricity, to making better chocolate and discovering the secrets of the past.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Power from Nuclear Fusion
There is a great need for a new source of energy to meeting the growing demands of the world's population, and without the problems associated with fossil fuels. Nuclear fusion – which supplies the energy of the sun and many other stars – is a very promising possibility. This talk will explain the physics behind this process, showing why extremely high temperatures are required, as well as sufficiently high densities and confinement times. Such a hot gas becomes a plasma, which can be confined using magnetic fields. We will discuss how this is done in devices known as tokamaks, and will outline how close we are to achieving the goal of fusion, and what remains to be done.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Our Active Sun
The sun is our nearest star, and while it has been the subject of scientific study since ancient times, there are still many unanswered questions. This talk will focus on the corona – the outer atmosphere of the sun – which is only visible from the earth during total eclipses. Our knowledge of the corona has developed greatly in recent years due to space telescopes which observe x-rays emitted by the corona. These show the corona to be highly active. The talk will describe the corona and the important role played by magnetic fields, explaining phenomena such as sunspots, the solar cycle and solar flares. We will also cover the topic of 'space weather' and explain the major effects that solar activity can have on the technology we now depend on.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Blood, Guts and Lasers
This lecture looks at lasers and others light sources, and the properties that make them useful in medical and biological applications. Following a brief explanation of the interactions, we will then cover specific examples, from cancer treatments to laser tweezers.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Superfluids, Superconductors, Vortices and Cosmic Strings
Superconductors are materials that lose any resistance to current when they are cooled well below room temperature. Tin and lead are superconductors but copper and gold are not. Superfluids are very cold liquids that completely lose viscosity and hence can flow in circles without ever slowing down. Understanding the underlying quantum physics of these phenomena has greatly enriched our knowledge of the laws of nature. It has also resulted in various applications that include MRI scanners in hospitals, high-power motors in the navy, levitating trains and particle accelerators. This talk includes a general discussion of the meaning and uses of low temperatures as well as some practical demonstrations.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Astronomy
Seeing the Invisible
Modern astrophysics relies on seeing the invisible. This talk traces a journey around the world, from giant optical telescopes in the Andes to global networks of radio observatories, and farther still to orbiting spacecraft. We will explore how modern technology has extended the range of the human eye allowing us a more complete view of the universe.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Chemistry

Physics and Chemistry: More Magic Than Harry Potter!
Please note: this lecture is fully booked for this academic year. 

This is a flash-bang show which covers electricity, magnetism, states of matter, cryogenics, pressure, light and sound waves, lasers, chemiluminescence and chemical energy. Please note: this lecture is fully booked for this academic year.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
On the Face of It – Surfaces and Interfaces in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine
This talk looks at the importance of surface interactions in a whole range of applications, from catalysis to medical implants to new solar cells. All of these applications involve processes occurring on a molecular scale. Surfaces are even thought to be important in the production of the chemicals found in interstellar space.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
Making Energy in the Future – Why Nuclear Reactors Are Actually a Good Idea
Nuclear energy gets a bad press, particularly in the light of Fukushima. But there is a need to understand what the issues are, and to compare nuclear energy with the alternatives, including the alternative of just making do with less. This talk will be an entertaining and thought-provoking look at the subject.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Maths
Fractals
Fractals are structures that appear very complicated, but can be described by very simple mathematics. Examples are the root systems of plants, the lung or structures formed during urban growth. Even some modern paintings may be described by fractal geometry. All these structures have one thing in common: they exhibit scale invariance – one can zoom in further and further but always see the same structure. Interestingly, this leads to a fantastic world of non-integer dimensions. We will discuss all sorts of fractals, mathematical and in the natural world, and show some hands-on examples, such as aerogels developed by NASA to catch the dust of comets.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
Casino Royale
A discussion and demonstrations of the mathematics of gambling.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
Drink to Me
A discussion and demonstrations of the physics of hot and cold drinks including making an espresso with a bicycle pump, Pythogoras’s solution to excessive drinking, the hot chocolate effect and more.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
The Mechanics of Toys
This talk explains and demonstrates the mechanics and mathematics of a whole range of bizarre and unusual toys.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
The Fluid Mechanics of Sport
A discussion, videos and demonstrations of the physics of ball games and others including golf, football, cricket, ski-jumping, hoop-trundling and more!
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
Games and Sport
This talk contains highlights from The Mechanics of Toys and The Fluid Mechanics of Sport (see other entries).
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
Spin!
This lecture contains a discussion and demonstration of the physics of spinning objects, including odd things such as rattlebacks.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Engineering

A History of Flight
This lecture provides an overview of the history of flight, including demonstrations.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering

My Boomerang Won't Come Back
This lecture covers the physics of why a boomerang comes back to you, with an optional session to make a boomerang depending upon time.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
The Sound of Music
This lecture involves discussion and a demonstration of the physics of musical instruments, including some music!
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics and Astronomy

Soft Matter
Come and meet the fourth state of matter! This comprises liquid crystals, polymers and colloids, which are known as soft matter. We encounter them every day: in mobile phone, laptop and flat-screen TV displays; as plastics, Kevlar and cotton T-shirts; or in items as diverse as ketchup and NASA-developed aerogels.

This lecture introduces soft matter by making connections between simple physics and its numerous applications, such as displays, colour-changing thermometers, light-reflecting beetles, crazy putty (visco-elastic fluids) and more. Students will be able to watch experimental demonstrations during the lecture, and also to try some of them out for themselves. Fundamental physical principles will be demonstrated through experiments.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Physics and Astronomy

Additional Activities in the School of Physics and Astronomy
The School of Physics and Astronomy offers a variety of activities for pre- and post-16 learners in addition to the lectures listed here. 

More details are available on the Physics and Astronomy website.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Politics
  • Social Sciences

Enigma Variations:  Cryptography and the Enigma Machine
How do codes, ciphers and cryptography work? What was the Enigma machine?  How did mathematicians such as Alan Turing shorten World War II and save millions of lives?  In this talk we will look at how substitution ciphers have evolved from easy-to-crack Caesar ciphers through to the much-harder-to-crack Enigma machine, and impossible-to-crack one-time pads.

This lecture may also be suitable for 14–16 year-olds.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Psychology
  • English Language
How Do Children Learn to Talk? 
"The man hit the ball" means something quite different from "The ball hit the man".  When learning how to talk, children have to work out how to combine words into sentences to convey their intended meaning. This lecture explores what we know about children's understanding of sentence structure and considers how children learn grammar.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Religions and Theology

Lectures on Jewish-Christian Relations and the Philosophy of Religions
A range of topics covering philosophy of religion and Jewish-Christian relations can be offered, including:

  • Philosophical and Religious Beliefs about Life After Death
  • The Israel Debate: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations
  • Authority of sources in Mark's Gospel
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Religions and Theology
Natural (Moral) Law: New Perspectives
Recent scholarship in this area has made a theological and scriptural turn. This lecture will consider how this new development impacts on the 'standard' presentation of natural law.
schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk
  • Anthropology
  • Development Studies
  • Economics
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology

Social Science lectures
Social Science lectures give an insight into university study for potential applicants who are primarily interested in studying at Manchester. The lectures will be of value to students looking to study the following subjects at undergraduate level:

  • Accounting
  • Business Studies
  • Criminology
  • Development Studies
  • Economic and Social History
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Politics
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  • Social Anthropology

The aim of the session is to provide an overview of how social sciences are studied in higher education. The session will equip students with essential information regarding their UCAS applications. Furthermore, students will be given an insight into how an undergraduate course is structured and how teaching is organised.

More details are available on the Social Sciences website.

tom.mccunnie@manchester.ac.uk
  • Economics
  • Social Sciences

Social Sciences pre-university classes
The School of Social Sciences offers a 10-week pre-university course for Year 13 learners. The course introduces students to the social sciences as potential areas of future study, through the discipline of economics. Based on the University campus, the course offers students from local schools and colleges some experience of the University and its facilities while providing them with the quantitative skills necessary to progress to undergraduate level. 

More details are available on the Social Sciences website.

tom.mccunnie@manchester.ac.uk
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology

How should we study video games?
Video games are big business, popular culture, a form of self-expression, perhaps even a new kind of art. This lecture asks how we should go about studying and understanding them. Should we focus on the stories they tell or the nature of gameplay (their 'gameness')? Should we concentrate on the games themselves or the people who play them? Are video games a passing fad or do they tell us something important about our culture and society?

This lecture doesn’t answer these questions but it draws on recent scholarship to show how academics from around the world have begun to take video games seriously as objects worthy of study. At the same time it invites students to think about what (if anything) games mean to them.

schoolsandcolleges@manchester.ac.uk