Academic guest lecture series

The University of Manchester is home to world-class experts in a wide range of academic fields. In order to share our expertise and enrich your curriculum, we offer subject-specific lectures to students in local schools and colleges in a range of academic disciplines.

Where: Online using your preferred delivery platform (Teams, Zoom etc).

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

Duration: The guest lecture is approximately one hour.

Cost: All lectures are free of charge.

Book a live virtual lecture

To request a live virtual lecture, please complete the booking form

Information on the live virtual lectures that we offer is available below.

or list all lectures.

Subject areasLecture title and descriptionContactAge range
  • English Language
English language in the real world: Accent and identity
A discussion of accent is provided to see how our accent contributes to our personal identity and sense of self. However, when confronted with linguistic prejudice  accentism  do we choose to modify our accent to avoid negative stereotyping? If so, I investigate how this further affects our sense of who we are, as some equate accent modification with linguistic selling out.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for primary to secondary/sixth form.
  • 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, if it has come down 'heads' seven times in a row, does that mean that 'tails' is overdue? However, what many people don't 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 phenomena 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
Suitable for Year 7 and above.
  • 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, through to the (much harder to crack!) Enigma machine, and (impossible to crack!) one-time pads. 

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk

Suitable for Year 7 and above.

  • 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

Suitable for Year 7 and above.

  • Pharmacy
  • Biology
Bugs 'n' drugs
The presentation will focus on the spread of microbial infections, treatment and respionse by the microorganisms to antimicrobial therapy.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk

Suitable for Year 11-13

  • Meteorology
  • Mathematics 
  • Physics
  • Computer Science
  • Weather

Why do good weather forecasts go bad?
The future of the atmosphere can be determined from a fairly simple set of five physically-based equations. If so, why are weather forecasts sometimes so bad? In this talk, I present the scientific basis for why weather forecasts are possible, how modern weather prediction occurs by computer, and why we sometimes fail. I will also describe a web-based tool that anyone can use to forecast the weather on their own.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Can be adapted for any audience.
  • Astronomy
  • Computers
  • Data
  • Scientific Analysis
Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA)  Observatory schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for 12-18 year olds.
  • Medicine
  • Healthcare
  • STEM

Doctors in schools
As part of The University of Manchester Medical School’s commitment to widening access to the medical profession, we have recruited a team of doctors who would like to deliver presentations on a “Career in Medicine” to pupils who attend state schools in the Greater Manchester area. The doctors we have recruited have been fully trained to deliver presentations which outline the admissions process for Medicine at The University of Manchester as well as talking about their own career path and motivation for being a doctor.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Years 9-11.
  • Medicine
Cancer: What do I need to know if someone I love has it? 
Interactive lecture/question and answer session about hospices, palliative care and how people at the end of their lives can be supported. The aim is for participants to appreciate what end of life care involves, but also to dispel myths and fears about treatments, hospices and other aspects of the end of life.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Years 10-11. 
  • Physics

Liquid crystals: Organising of 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. Nonetheless, some people are 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
Suitable for 16-18 year olds.
  • Physics
Soft Matter
In contrast to the general views provided in school education, matter does not only consist as solids, liquids, and gases. There is a fourth state of matter, which comprises liquid crystals, polymers and colloids, which can be called "Soft Matter". And we do encounter these every day, in mobile phone, laptop and flat screen TV displays, as plastics and Kevlar and as cotton T-shirts, or simply as ketchup, all the way to NASA developed aerogels. This will be a lecture introducing the field through making relations between "simple physics" and numerous applications, such as displays, colour changing thermometers, light reflecting beetles, crazy putty (visco-elastic fluids) and the like.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for 16-18 year olds.
  • Physics
Fractals everywhere! 
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
Suitable for 16-18 year olds.
  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • American Studies
Shakespeare
Lectures can be offered on a range of topics (nearly all plays could be covered).
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
 
  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • American Studies

History in 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 what topic(s) you're interested in covering in your email.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
 
  • Philosophy
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 thoughts 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
Suitable for 16-18 year olds.
  • Philosophy
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
Suitable for 16-18 year olds.
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Engineering

Giant molecules and 2D materials
Giant molecules  polymers  are all around us. Research at Manchester is developing new polymers, and putting them together with two-dimensional materials like graphene, to help solve some of society's greatest challenges, such as how to ensure clean air and clean water for everyone.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for 14-year olds and upwards but ideally sixth form.
  • 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. The 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. The talk will explain 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
Suitable for ages 14–18.
  • Astronomy
  • 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 visible from the Earth only at 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. It will also cover the topic of 'space weather', explaining the major effects that solar activity can have on the technology we now depend on.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for ages 14–18.
  • Chemistry
Graphene and its applications in electrochemistry
This lecture discusses the science behind electrochemical energy storage, specifically the lithium ion battery, which powers all laptops, smartphones and is increasingly being used to power cars and for the electricity grid. We also discuss how new developments with materials such as graphene can assist the further development of such technologies.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for A-level Chemistry students ideally.
  • Biology
  • Medicine
Repairing the pump: How technology can be applied to treat heart disease 
Covering techniques to restore blood supply to the heart muscle, open narrowed valves, close holes and correct abnormal electrical wiring within the heart. Linking anatomy, physiology and technology.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for ages 16-18.
  • Mathematics
Why can we solve polynomial equations of degree 2, 3, 4 but not 5?
One of the oldest problems in mathematics is to compute solutions of polynomial equations. For instance, the quadratic equation x^2+x+3 has solutions that can be expressed using radicals, namely 1+sqrt(2) and 1-sqrt(2). In fact, we learn in school that there is a general formula to solve quadratic equations. Turns out this is also the case for the cubic and quartic. However, this is not the case for quintic equations; for example, the solutions of x^5-15x-3 cannot be expressed in terms of radicals. In this talk we will see how this can be beautifully explained using ideas of the brilliant, yet misunderstood at his time, mathematician Evariste Galois.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for sixth form only.
  • Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology
Ghosts in your mind’s machine: What problems with the brain can tell us about the mind
Your brain is one of the most complex and beautiful things in the universe. By studying what happens when part(s) of the brain are damaged – either by accident, injury, or neurological disease – we can get a good look at the mechanisms that make you and me who we are today. This interactive talk guides students through some of the rarest and most intriguing neurological patients and discusses what they can reveal about the inner workings of the healthy human mind.
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Year 10-13.
  • Healthcare
  • Management

Why not be a leader for the UK’s biggest employer?
A discussion about the NHS and why being a leader matters. Lecture with opportunity for discussion would include:

  • A potted history of the NHS….
  • Who is employed in the NHS?
  • What talent and skills do you need to be a leader?
  • Why does leadership in the NHS matter?
  • A day in the life of a senior leader
schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Year 11-13.
  • 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
Suitable for Year 10-11
  • Physics
  • Chemistry

Filling up on sunshine: Solar energy and solar fuel
This talk covers current methods and research in the area of generating energy from sunlight. It includes topics such as silicon solar panels and new methods for generating electricity from sunlight (photovoltaics). It then asks what happens when the sun goes down and describes how scientists are now trying to generate fuels from sunlight using sunlight activated catalysts and the advantages of this over photovoltaics.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Year 10-11
  • Medicine
  • Healthcare

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 practicing 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
Suitable for Year 9-11 and sixth forms in Greater Manchester
  • Medicine
  • Biology

Talking molecules: The biochemistry of communication
Just as all living things sense and respond to changes in their surroundings, individual cells in multicellular organisms alter their behaviour in response to physical or chemical stimuli. Hormones such as insulin cause complex biochemical changes inside body cells to provoke appropriate changes in behaviour, and errors in this signalling process can result in serious diseases, including cancer and diabetes.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Year 10-11 and sixth form
  • Medicine
  • Healthcare
  • Nursing

Mental health nursing
People with mental health problems often represent some of the most stigmatised and vulnerable individuals in the societies in which they live. The presenter has more than 30 years’ experience in mental health nursing and has provided education and training to professionals and volunteers in the UK, the USA and South Africa.

In this talk they will illustrate how mental health is conceptualised in different cultures and how this conceptualisation influences the way people with a mental health problem are treated. They will also describe what mental health nursing is like as a career and the difference a good mental health nurse can make to someone’s life chances.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for 15-18 year olds interested in mental health nursing careers
  • Computer Science

Computer Science: Creative design of (formal) languages
When talking about computing, we often hear “coding” and “programming”…but who makes these “languages” that we use when programming? We computer scientists make them, and they come in many forms and shapes and for different purposes. In this talk, the presenter will sketch how we create languages, and bring some simple examples of languages that we can explore.

schoolsandcolleges
@manchester.ac.uk
Suitable for Year 7-11 and sxith form