Past Public Lectures

Details of our larger public lectures will be archived here shortly following the event.  If a recording was made of the lecture, it will be also be made available here. Our most recent videos are also featured at the bottom of the What's On homepage for a short while after the event.

If you can't find what you are looking for please contact the Events Team, either Gail Street ( Tel: 0114 222 8893, or Jeanette Peat ( Tel 0114 222 1030


The Basil Hicks Lecture -

Britain's Security: Maritime Strategy - What next?
Sir Charles Montgomery, KBE, Former Director General of Border Force, and Honorary Graduate of the University of Sheffield - 8 NOVEMBER

Commemorating the Centenary of the end of the First World War and Armistice Day

Thursday 8 November, Students' Union Auditorium

Watch the recording of this lecture

We were delighted to welcome Vice Admiral Sir Charles Montgomery, KBE to the University on Thursday 8 November to deliver the Basil Hicks Lecture. Sir Charles, an alumnus and honorary graduate of the University, has had a distinguished military career. He is former Director General of the Border Force.

The 2018 Basil Hicks lecture commemorated the Centenary of the end of the First World War and Armistice Day.

Sir Charles Montgomery’s lecture opened by remembering those who lost their lives in the war and outlining the background to Basil Hicks and the Basil Hicks lecture.

Basil Perrin Hicks was the younger son of the University of Sheffield’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor William Mitchinson Hicks FRS and his wife Ellen Perrin. Educated at Hanover, Bonn and Cambridge, he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps at the outbreak of war and received his Commission in September 1914. Basil Hicks went to the Front on 7 August 1915 as a Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was shot and killed whilst leading his men on the morning of 15 September, the first day of the three-month long Battle of Loos, in which 380,000 men lost their lives. He was just 22 years old.

Basil Hicks is commemorated by the Lecture series endowed by his parents.

Sir Charles’ key note lecture focussed on Britain’s maritime security. He discussed how the sea is crucial to global trade - a huge natural resource that offers global prosperity. However, access to the sea is often taken for granted and can be abused through threats such as, terrorism, human and drug trafficking. Sir Charles looked into Britain’s maritime strategy and how the UK needs to respond to the threats posed to that security. Sir Charles concluded that maritime security needs to be one of the nation’s highest strategic priorities - to do this we need to better understand what happens in our own waters, invest, share knowledge with international partners and act early.

Higher Education - Past, Present and Future

with Sir Michael Barber, Chair, Office for Students - 4 OCTOBER

Thursday 4 October, 6.30pm, Firth Hall 

Watch the recording of the lecture here


On Thursday 4 October we were delighted to welcome to the University, Sir Michael Barber, Chair at the Office of Students, to talk about higher education – past, present and future. Sir Michael spoke about H.A.L Fisher and the 1918 Education Act, 2018 marked 100 years since the act was established. Sir Michael discussed the main features of the Act and how far the system has come along since 1918, he stated ‘we’ve learnt a lot from Fisher, that legislation is not enough, we need to invest’. Sir Michael’s outlook was overall very positive, complimenting universities as places that stand for truth - they have moved away from being an elite system to a mass system, without losing equality.

Sir Michael was later joined by Shakira Martin, President at NUS, Harry Anderson, Policy Advisor at CBI and the Rt Hon the Lord Blunkett for a panel debate and discussion on higher education, chaired by Professor Marie Kinsey from the Department of Journalism Studies. Questions were taken from the audience, exploring themes such as the biggest challenges to higher education, teaching excellence and the value and quality of degrees.

The evening was closed by Professor Wyn Morgan, who stressed the challenges and opportunities that higher education faces at the moment. He praised the panel for offering their views and sharing their passion.

The Annual Krebs Lecture by Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor Richard Henderson - 24 APRIL 

The Annual Krebs Lecture

Watch the recording of the lecture here

The University welcomed 400 students, staff, alumni and members of the public to the Annual Krebs Lecture on Tuesday 24 April.

Dr Richard HendersonThe guest speaker for the evening was the 2017 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor Richard Henderson, FRS FMedSci. Professor Henderson is a molecular biologist, biophysicist and a pioneer in the field of electron microscopy of biological molecules.

Professor Henderson’s lecture discussed the increasing power of cryoEM for macromolecular structure determination.

In the last few years, single particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) has experienced a quantum leap in its capability, due to improved electron microscopes, better detectors and better software, and this is revolutionising structural biology. Using the technique invented by Jacques Dubochet and his colleagues, a thin film containing a suspension of the macromolecules of interest is plunge-frozen into liquid ethane at liquid nitrogen temperature, creating a frozen sample in which individual images of the structures can be seen in many different orientations. Subsequent computer-based image analysis is used to determine the three-dimensional structure, frequently at near-atomic resolution. Professor Henderson described some recent results and discussed the remaining barriers to progress.

The lecture elucidated that CryoEM is already a very powerful method, but there are still many improvements that can be made before the approach reaches its theoretical limits.

Cold Case Investigations –

Fact vs Fiction

by Professor Angela Gallop, CBE - 15 MARCH

Thursday 15 March, 6pm, Students' Union Auditorium

Professor Angela GallopThe University was delighted to welcome Honorary Graduate Professor Angela Gallop on Thursday 15 March to deliver a public lecture in British Science Week. The lecture proved incredibly popular with staff, students, alumni and members of the public alike, with nearly 400 guests in attendance on the evening.

Angela Gallop is one of the UK’s most eminent forensic scientists, she is known for setting up full scale forensic science laboratories and for leading scientific teams responsible for solving many of the UK’s most complex and high profile cold cases.

Professor Gallop opened the lecture with an insight into some common misconceptions about forensic science, being in the laboratory and in court and how these all compare with reality.

The lecture went on to outline the many challenges forensic scientists are faced with when working on cold cases, these included factors like the nature and condition of evidence when it is found as well as potential shortcomings in integrity (ensuring evidence is not contaminated) and continuity.

Professor Gallop presented the audience with five high profile and complex cases that she was involved in throughout her career. These included the murders of Lynette White (Cardiff 3), Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell, Stephen Lawrence and the Coastal Path Murders. Each case study elucidated how critical evidence was unearthed in the investigations and how the offenders were brought to justice. The cold cases discussed by Professor Gallop emphasised the crucial importance of accuracy, precision and gathering more than one type of evidence.

To conclude, Professor Gallop talked about forensic science as a career, detailing what the job involves and what qualities are needed to make a successful forensic scientist.

The lecture was incredibly interesting and provided the audience with a real insight in to the complexities of cold cases from one of the leaders in the field of forensic science.

Unfortunately, there is no recording of the lecture.

What will the NHS be facing on its 90th birthday? by Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health - 15 FEBRUARY

We were delighted to welcome Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health, to the University on Thursday 15 February to deliver the 20th Sir Arthur Hall Memorial Lecture.

chris whittySir Arthur John Hall, a physician, was born in Sheffield on 27 July 1866. Sir Arthur Hall is remembered as probably the most influential early figure in the University’s Medical School. He came to Sheffield in 1889 as Assistant Demonstrator in Physiology, and in a long career he successively held the posts of Professor of Physiology, Professor of Pathology and Professor of Medicine. Sir Arthur Hall played a major role in every aspect of the Medical School’s development into the University’s Faculty of Medicine following the granting of the Charter in 1905. He retired in 1931 and died in 1951 at the age of 75. The lecture was founded in 1953 in memory of Sir Arthur John Hall.

The 2018 Sir Arthur Hall lecture considered where we have come from and where we are going over the next two decades in health and medicine. Professor Whitty gave an interesting and insightful lecture into what the NHS could be facing on its 90th birthday.

Professor Whitty spoke about the significant changes in health and medicine in the UK over the last two decades and in many areas of healthcare there have been very substantial changes since the initial foundation of the NHS in 1948. These include major reductions in the impact of heart disease and stroke, large changes to infectious diseases and many improvements in the prevention and treatment of cancers. Professor Whitty explained that in some areas however such as diabetes or antimicrobial resistance things are moving in the wrong direction.

Professor Whitty talked about how the demography of the UK has changed and is continuing to change. Many trends have been stable so it is therefore possible to realistically project forward 20 years in many areas of medicine and public health. This is crucial in helping to plan policy and research.

Feeback from attendees

'Fabulous speaker, incredibly interesting.'

'An insightful lecture.'

' The content was fascinating and highly informative; Professor Whitty is evidently an expert in his field and an experienced, engaging presenter . All the points and opinions he put forward were supported by relevant data.'

Watch the recording of the lecture here

In Conversation with Kevin McCabe - 5 FEBRUARY

In Conversation with Kevin McCabe

On Monday 5 February 2018, the University was delighted to welcome 500 guests to the Octagon for a special ‘In Conversation’ evening.

Andy Giddings from BBC Radio Sheffield and regular on Football Heaven was the compere, putting questions to Dr Kevin McCabe and special guest, Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United Football Club.

Kevin is an Honorary Graduate of the University of Sheffield and founder and Chairman of the Scarborough Group of Companies, a company with roots stretching back to 1976 and one of the UK's busiest privately-owned Investment, Development and Leisure corporations. He remains Chairman and Owner of Sheffield United Limited which owns the Blades Real Estate interests and is a driving force behind the Football Club that does so much for the city of Sheffield.

The special guest had not been announced prior to the event. Chris Wilder was the mystery guest to take to the stage and joined Kevin in the conversations. Chris is a former professional footballer and has been manager of SUFC since May 2016.

Andy Giddings put questions to Kevin and Chris about business and football and discussed some of SUFC’s highlights, including when they were promoted at Bramall Lane against Northampton. Kevin spoke about the spirit of the club and how important the club is for the city of Sheffield, ‘United and Wednesday are so important to Sheffield – some clubs at the top have lost their soul’ he said. To conclude the conversations, Andy presented Kevin and Chris with a selection of pre-submitted questions from the audience. The event was highly entertaining and engaging and provided a fantastic insight in to Sheffield United Football Club.

The event also raised money for the Sheffield Scanner, a campaign that Kevin is a keen supporter of, through the sale of raffle tickets. Sheffield United Football Club generously donated five fantastic raffle prizes. The evening raised an impressive £1225.00 towards the Sheffield Scanner campaign and a big thank goes to everyone who contributed to the evening.

Feedback from attendees

'Great night, great hosts, great guests.'

'The event was both interesting and entertaining, I was pleased that by attending I was contributing to the Scanner campaign. I was surprised that Kevin McCabe's special guest was none other than SUFC Manager Chris Wilder - absolutely fantastic!'

'An excellent evening, well organised and delivered.'

Watch the recording of the event here

Women in the Holocaust: One Hungarian Woman's Story by Agnes Grunwald Spier - 31 JANUARY

Wednesday 31 January 2018, 6pm, Students’ Union Auditorium, Students’ Union Building

Agnes Grunwald-SpierThe University was delighted to welcome alumna, Honorary Graduate and author, Agnes Grunwald-Spier to deliver a public lecture on Wednesday 31 January.

Watch the recording of the Lecture here

The event was timely with Holocaust Memorial Day taking place on 27 January, Agnes started the proceedings by asking the audience to join her in a minute’s silence to remember victims of the Holocaust.

Her lecture began by talking about her family’s experiences during the Holocaust. Agnes was born in Budapest in July 1944. She was a baby in the Budapest Ghetto in November 1944, until January 1945 when Agnes and her mother were liberated by the Russians. She talked about how ‘the man in charge sent back the women with children’, Agnes went on to say how this man effectively saved her life – without him she and her family would not be here today.

When Agnes was in her fifties, she realised she could talk little of the Holocaust to her three sons and subsequently decided to undertake an MA in Holocaust Studies at Sheffield University (1996-1998). Agnes said the degree ‘changed her life’ and resulted in her having three books on the Holocaust published. It was her third book ‘Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust’ that Agnes discussed in her lecture. The lecture was the first time that the book had been discussed to an audience, having only been released on 15 January 2018. The focus on women, Agnes explained was due to the fact that women had very different stories to tell from that of men. Agnes presented the audience with different case studies from the women in her book, stories that were harrowing and stories where women displayed resistance and strength.

Agnes spoke to a full and wholly engaged audience, the lecture was moving, emotive and thought-provoking. Agnes’ down to earth presence and warm demeanour made for a lecture that left the audience wanting to hear more.

Feedback from attendees

‘I thought the speaker was incredible and held the attention of the crowd perfectly.’

‘Agnes was a passionate speaker and I was completely engaged. I would love to see her speak again!’

‘An excellent event. I think we all wanted it to last longer.’

The Orwell Lecture in the North 2017 by Grayson Perry - 15 NOVEMBER

Grayson Perry"I’ve Read All the Academic Texts on Empathy"

by Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry

On Wednesday 15 November 2017, Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry, delivered the first Orwell Lecture in the North in almost 20 years in the Octagon Centre - a fully subscribed event to an audience of a thousand.

The lecture signified a new partnership between the Orwell Foundation and the Sir Bernard Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield and was significant in the re-establishment of the prestigious event in the North of England.

The lecture was opened by President & Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who welcomed attendees and introduced Jean Seaton, Director of the Orwell Prize, to talk about the Orwell Foundation.

In his lecture, titled ‘I’ve read all the academic texts on empathy’, Grayson Perry explored an artist’s view on our emotions around politics and identity.

Grayson Perry emphasised the importance of the power of culture to communicate in ways that are particular to the arts and a more holistic style of relaying information that talks not only to the intellect but to the heart, body and soul. He emphasised to his audience that ‘empathy is incredibly important in a democracy’. As a society, there is a collective lack of empathy: a fear of dialogue, of being exposed to other people’s views and a fear of changing our minds- something he termed as ‘diaphobia’. His key message was that people don’t like being told what to think, so if you want to influence people, talk to them as equals.

The lecture was incredibly well received, Grayson Perry discussed complex ideas to a diverse audience in an engaging and accessible approach. It was a compelling, intellectual as well as humorous lecture, that will be remembered for many years to come.

Crick Centre


Restorative justice: is anything new under the sun by The Right Hon Lady Justice Rafferty, DBE, Chancellor of the University - 26 OCTOBER

Anne Rafferty, DBEThe 10th Edward Bramley Sheffield Law Lecture

by The Right Hon Lady Justice Rafferty, DBE, Chancellor of the University of Sheffield

Thursday 26 October, 6pm, Firth Hall, Firth Court

In her lecture Dame Anne Rafferty discussed the origins of Restorative Justice, past attempts at implementation, and possibilities for the future.

Unfortunately, there is no recording of this lecture. 

Diane Blood - Life after Death: A woman's victory in having her deceased husband's children - 24 OCTOBER

Life After Death

Tuesday 24 October | 6.30pm | Arts Tower, Lecture Theatre 4

Twenty years ago, Diane Blood won the legal right to conceive a child using the sperm of her deceased husband Stephen Blood. This was a landmark legal case which sparked a lot of debate at the time. Two decades on from Diane's legal victory, it is still a very topical issue. The University was delighted to co-host with the Progress Educational Trust (PET), an event on Tuesday 24 October which discussed the story. The evening brought together for the first time Diane Blood, Diane’s son Liam Blood, Ian Cooke the Obstetrician and gynaecologist involved in Diane's care and Michael Fordham QC who was a member of Diane’s legal team. The event was expertly chaired by Professor Allan Pacey, a trustee at the Progress Educational Trust, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield and Head of Andrology at Jessop Fertility. The event took place in the Arts Tower to a full audience.

Diane retold her story to the audience from the beginning, speaking of how Stephen’s wishes to have children were always explicitly clear but there was never any written consent due to the circumstances relating to his illness. Diane revealed the court argued it was illegal to store Stephen’s sperm, not that it was illegal to take it. After a long battle, Diane won her case. However, she was then faced with a second legal battle in having her husband's name on her sons' birth certificates. The other panel members explained their role and views on the case, there was a clear passion in fighting Diane’s very high profile case. The discussion considered the many legal, medical and ethical aspects of the case as well as the issues associated with written consent. The story told was extremely articulate and educational. It was a truly thought-provoking event that generated debate and opinion from both the panel and audience, proving that such scenarios still lead to legal difficulties and provoke public debate.

Watch a recording of the lecture below:

Power lies with the powerful - or has social media allowed social movements to defy gravity?

By The Rt Hon the Lord Blunkett - 12 OCTOBER

David BlunkettThe 12th Roberts Lecture

Thursday 12 October 2017, 6pm, Firth Hall.

The University was to delighted to welcome alumnus and Honorary Graduate the Rt Hon Lord Blunkett to deliver the 12th Roberts Lecture on Thursday 12 October 2017 in Firth Hall.

In his lecture, Lord Blunkett examined sources of power in the 21st-century, and explored whether anything has substantially changed over the last half-century.

He discussed what power is, who possesses it and what ingredient in modern democratic society allows for the challenge to such power, including traditional as well as more modern forms of national and international market forces.

Lord Blunkett looked into whether social media and the development of new forms of communication substantially changed the rules of the game and explored where the traditional political process fitted into the equation. The talk concluded by looking in to what lessons can be deduced from recent international as well as domestic political events and how can democratic institutions and processes empower the powerless, in the absence of control over the levers of significant power.

Stuck: Britain’s social mobility problem

By Dr Lee Elliot Major, Chief Executive of The Sutton Trust; Trustee of The Education Endowment Foundation, and Honorary Graduate of the University - 25 MAY

Lee Elliot MajorPrestigious Lecture Series

Thursday, 25 May 2017, 6pm-7/7.15pm, The Diamond

Synopsis: Britain’s lack of social mobility or ‘stickiness’ is particularly persistent at both the top and bottom of society: the privately educated continue to dominate the leading professions and the proportion of children leaving school without basic numeracy and literacy skills remains stubbornly high. Education has largely failed to be the great social leveller; and widening inequality has limited social mobility. Failure to tackle immobility in modern Britain will not only cost the country economically, but lead to ever deeper divisions in society.

Watch the lecture below:


Uses and Abuses of Economics in the Debate on Universities
Martin Wolf, CBE, Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times -

24 MAY

The PresMartin Wolfident and Vice-Chancellor's Annual Guest Lecture

Martin Wolf CBEMartin Wolf, CBE

Wednesday 24 May 2017, 6.30pm, The Diamond.

Synopsis: This lecture examined the logic underlying the government’s current higher education bill. It concluded that it relies too heavily on naive economic arguments. Economics has an important role to play in analysing the future of universities, but it must not play a preponderant role.

Watch the lecture below:

Annual Krebs Lecture in collaboration with Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineeering: The rise of the mechanical bond: from molecules to machines by Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart - 14 MARCH

Professor Sir Fraser StoddartKrebs Lecture in collaboration with Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering

By Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016

Tuesday, 14 March, 6pm, The Diamond

In 2016, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the former University of Sheffield Lecturer, Sir Fraser Stoddart.

As part of the Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering, Sir Fraser delivered the Krebs Lecture to a full lecture theatre in The Diamond. Sir Fraser provided an entertaining and informative mix of the chemistry he has pioneered and the people and researchers who have helped him throughout the years.

During the lecture, Sir Fraser spoke about the research performed at the department here in Sheffield into rotaxanes. These are structures where a wheel is trapped around an axle with no covalent bonds between them. The fundamentals of this research led to the identification of the molecular shuttle where the wheel moves between two sites on the axle.

Synopsis: The hurly-burly life of a scientific nomad will be traced through thick and thin from the Athens of the North to the Windy City beside a Big Lake with brief, and not so brief, interludes on the Edge of the Canadian Shield, in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, on the Plains of Cheshire beside the Wirral, in the Midlands within the Heartland of Albion, and in the City of Angels beside the Peaceful Sea.

Watch a recording of this lecture

Accompanying news article: Nobel-Prize Laureate Prof. Sir Fraser Stoddart visits the Department of Chemistry


SPERI annual public lecture by Nicola Sturgeon MSP - 7 November 2016

SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute) annual lecture

Scotland and the UK: Economic Policy after the EU Referendum

Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon MSP

Monday 7 November 2016, Octagon Centre

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP and First Minister of Scotland, addressed an audience of over 1000 people and reiterated her determination to defend the interest of the people of Scotland in all of the forthcoming discussions relating to Brexit.

Find out more and view the lecture via TUOS Livestream

On the eve of departure: homelessness, exile and art.

by Edmund de Waal - 16 May 2016

Part of the Festival of Arts and Humanities

Monday 16 May 2016, Firth Hall

Edmund DewaalDelicate porcelain vessels stand on a shelf, obscured by frosted glass. These vessels tell a story. A story of homecoming

For world-renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal that story is personal. He is the son of a refugee.

In 1939 his Jewish father, then just a boy, aged nine, fled Vienna with his uncle. Their home had been ravaged by the Nazis. Carrying nothing with them but a single suitcase, they gained visas and sought sanctuary in England.

Perhaps inevitably, ideas of homelessness, exile and belonging have long influenced Edmund’s works, which are displayed in galleries across the world.

So when the Sheffield alumnus and honorary graduate learnt about the University of Sheffield’s long-standing tradition of welcoming refugee staff and stude

nts, he wanted to do something to honour it.

He offered the University a gift. A new piece of art called fetched home – inspired by a line in a poem by Jewish German poet Paul Celan called Homecoming.

View the lecture via TUOS Livestream

Man Vs Microbe. battle to the death. Keynote Science Week public lecture - 17 March 2016

The University of Sheffield's Keynote Science Week public lecture

By Professors David Hornby and Simon Foster, Molecular Microbiology, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Thursday 17 March 2016, The Diamond

This lecture explored the fascinating world of bacteria. How do they help us survive? and how they can turn nasty. The alarming spread of antibiotic resistance is a major threat to humanity. The lecture discussed how has this happened and what can be done to turn the tide?

There is no recording of this lecture.

Can there be peace between Israel and Palestine? Sir Vincent Fean - 25 February 2016

Thursday 25 February 2016, The Diamond

Sir Vincent FeanThis lecture explored the complicated, dynamic situation between Israel and Palestine. Sir Vincent explained some situations in which peace may be a possibility, and discussed what has been done so far to encourage stability in the region. Sir Vincent has had a distinguished diplomatic career, spanning over 38 years in the British Diplomatic Service which has included appointments as High Commissioner to Malta, Ambassador to Libya and most recently Consul General to Jerusalem from which he retired in 2014. His three year Jerusalem posting entailed promoting UK interests and addressing the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, dealing with President Abbas, the PLO leadership and ministers of the Palestinian Authority. He is also an alumnus and honorary graduate of the University of Sheffield.

View on iTunes

What next for cities and the Northern Powerhouse?

Lord O'Neill - 24 February 2016

The 11th Roberts Lecture

by Lord O'Neill, The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury

Wednesday 24 February 2016, Firth Hall

Jim O'NeillThe Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord O’Neill, who is championing the Northern Powerhouse and who played a key role in negotiating the Sheffield City Region devolution agreement, asked the questions:

. What progress on devolution and the Northern Powerhouse have local leaders and Whitehall achieved together so far;
. How can we ensure that the Northern Powerhouse is more than a sum of its parts?
. What direction should future policy in this space take and what will it take for city regions to succeed; and
. What steps do we now need to take to meet our long-term ambitions for the economy?

View on YouTube


After the armistice: Europe's turbulent peace, 1919-1923.

Professor Sir Ian Kershaw - 11 November 2015

The Basil Hicks Lecture

Wednesday 11 November 2015, Students' Union Auditorium

Basil Perrin Hicks, the man in whose memory the Basil Hicks Lectures are given, was the younger son of the University of Sheffield’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor William Mitchinson Hicks FRS, and his wife Ellen Perrin. Basil Hicks was a Lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, but was tragically shot and killed whilst leading his men against the German trenches on the morning of 15th September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos.

View online (iTunes required)

An Audience with Joe Scarborough - 14 May 2015

Thursday 14 May 2015, Arts Tower

Toby Foster, host of BBC Radio Sheffield's breakfast show, was in conversation with Joe Scarborough. Joe is an accomplished artist best known for his humorous depictions of scenes from Sheffield life. Born in Sheffield in the 1930’s, Joe shared his journey from pea factory lab technician, to coal miner, through to international renown on his quest to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a full-time artist. His work is now collected across the world and features in several major collections. We are proud to have commissioned two of his works which are displayed in the University.

Joe shared anecdotes and stories which have influenced his career, along with the challenges and rewards of doggedly pursuing his lifelong passion.

View online via YouTube

The State of trust in election year.

Sir Nigel Knowles - 5 May 2015

Sir Nigel Knowles, Managing partner and Joint Chief Executive of DLA Piper, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Thursday 5 March 2015, Firth Hall

This lecture was largely based on the second Populus report on the state of trust which was commissioned by Sir Nigel's firm, DLA Piper, and was published last year (2014).

View online via YouTube


The SPERI Annual Lecture. The pricing of everything.

George Monbiot - 29 April 2014

Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) annual public lecture

Tuesday 29 April 2014, Octagon Centre

George addressed what he sees as a growing attempt to reduce political decisions of all kinds to a narrow, financial cost-benefit analysis.

He discussed the threat that he thinks this poses to democracy, considering such issues as privatisation and commodification, payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity offsets and claims by some government departments to have identified ‘the true value’ of nature and of time. He will also explore the worrying ways by which core human values get shifted in the framing of political discourse.

Watch on YouTube

The biggest killer: bad communication.

Stephen Carver - 24 March 2014

The 19th Sir Arthur Hall Memorial Lecture

Public Lecture by Stephen Carver, Leading Lecturer in Project and Programme Management.

Monday 24 March 2014, Octagon Centre

There is no recording of this lecture.

Iterative Cities: renewal and revitalisation from the bottom up.

Marcus Westbury - 11 February 2014

Tuesday 11 February 2014, Octagon Centre

Marcus Westbury argues that social, cultural and technological factors are driving a great surge in creative and economic life at the small scale and that tapping into this is a transformative force for cities and towns around the world.

Marcus Westbury is Founder of Renew Newcastle (Australia) and Renew Australia. Over the past 5 years that program has brokered access to more than 50 once vacant spaces to more than 120 small scale creative enterprises in Newcastle, Australia.

Renew Newcastle is a low budget DIY urban renewal scheme which has led to a major transformation of the city's fortunes. In this presentation he will argue that social, cultural and technological factors are driving a great surge in creative and economic life at the small scale and that tapping into this is a transformative force for cities and towns around the world.

View on YouTube

10th Roberts Lecture.   Our maritime security, Sir Charles Montgomery - 22 January 2014

Sir Charles Montgomery, KBE, Director General of the Border Force

Wednesday 22 January 2014, Students' Union Auditorium

The oceans are not voids between land masses; they connect peoples and nations, both economically and politically. They are vital to promote global prosperity, security and stability. This lecture explored why maritime security is in the interest of us all, both now and tomorrow, and how it is being addressed.

There is no recording of this lecture.


Festival of Science and Engineering Public Lectures - 11-24 March 2013


Public lectures that took place at the University of Sheffield during the Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering in March 2013.

Is Science Magic? by Professor Richard Jones (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation) and Professor Tony Ryan (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science)

Tuesday 12 March 2013, Richard Roberts Auditorium

10 Years Younger: Use or abuse of science? by Professor Paul Hatton

Thursday 14 March, Richard Roberts Auditorium

How to be a Scientist by Professor Tim Birkhead

Friday 15 March 2013, Richard Roberts Auditorium, Brook Hill, Sheffield S3 7HF

Life Scientific - An interview with Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Tuesday 19 March, Firth Hall

Watch online

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The myth of the mad scientist in horror films by Professor Vanessa Toulmin

Thursday 21 March 2013, Richard Roberts Auditorium

The Great Sperm Race by Dr Allan Pacey

Monday 22 April, 2013, Octagon Centre

A one-off screening of his award-winning drama-documentary, The Great Sperm Race, followed by a discussion with some of the team who made the film.

This film dramatically explains the science of conception by scaling up the process to human size. The journey that sperm make to the egg is probably the most important undertaken and is a story filled with drama, death and destruction. There are insurmountable odds, and with only one survivor it is amazing that women ever get pregnant at all!

Total policing.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe - 26 February 2013

The 9th Edward Bramley Sheffield Law Lecture

Total Policing - including using technology to fight crime

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

Tuesday 26 February 2013, Firth Hall


Our Glorious Dead: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as guardian of First World War memory in Britain.

Dr Edward Madigan - 28 November 2012

The Basil Hicks Lecture

Dr Edward Madigan, Resident Historian, Commonwealth Graves Commission

Wednesday 28 November 2012,  St George's Church Lecture Theatre

The First World War was the bloodiest, most destructive conflict in British history. The extremely costly campaigns waged on the Western Front and elsewhere led to the loss of unprecedented numbers of British lives and had a profound emotional impact on the civilian population. The Lecture looked at the mass bereavement caused across the British Empire as a result of the First World War and examined the initially controversial role played by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission in responding to the needs of millions of British subjects in mourning. The work of the Commission in the 21st Century, as the organisation prepares for the centenaries of the milestones of the First World War, was also explored in detail.

Listen to the lecture (audio file)

Busy Busy...All day long we're in a whirl!  Science Week public lecture - 14 March 2012

Science Week Public Lecture

Dr Tim Richardson, Department of Physics

Wednesday 14 March 2012, Richard Roberts Auditorium

A talk about things that rotate - the Earth, the Moon, electrons in atoms, marbles that roll down a ramp, wheels that spin, a pendulum bob in a clock, a door about its hinges, a computer disk drive.  The science of rotation gives us some interesting phenomena.

Listen to the lecture online

Ed Miliband. SPERI inaugural lecture - 9 February 2012

SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Centre)

Ed Miliband

Thursday 9 February 2012, Octagon Centre.

An Inaugural Lecture by The Rt Hon Ed Miliband to mark the launch of The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI).

View the lecture via YouTube


Rebalancing the Trust Deficit. 

Professor Sir Nigel Knowles - 25 October 2012

Rebalancing the Trust Deficit

The Professor Sir Nigel Knowles Lecture

Tuesday 25 October 2011, Firth Hall

By Professor Sir Nigel Knowles, Managing partner and Joint Chief Executive of DLA Piper and a Visiting Professor and Honorary Doctor of Laws of the University of Sheffield

Sir Nigel's lecture reviews the state of trust in society across business, financial institutions, the media, the political class, the police and other facets of our national life. One of his principal points of reference being a survey, commissioned by the international law firm DLA Piper, by the research firm Populus, of the state of corporate trust through the eyes of some of Britain's leading business people, to be launched on 29 September.

Watch the lecture 

Planning for the Just City.

Susan Fainstein - 21 October 2011

The First Civic University Lecture

Friday 21 October 2011, Firth Hall

Planning for the Just City by Professor Susan Fainstein, Harvard University

The nature of cities affects individual and collective well-being. In the first Civic University Lecture, Susan Fainstein will reflect on the intellectual and policy implications of her significant new book, The Just City. The concept of the "just city" is designed to encourage policy-makers to embrace a different approach to urban development. The objective is to combine progressive city planners' earlier focus on equity and material well-being with considerations of diversity and participation so as to foster a better quality of urban life within the context of a global capitalist political economy.

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The 9th Roberts Lecture.


Dr David Bott - 18 October 2011

The 9th Roberts Lecture


By Dr David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes, Technology Strategy Board

Tuesday 18 October 2011, Firth Hall

Watch the lecture here

7 July.................Sheffield Food Festival public lecture

Diet Advice in women's magazines - from the forties to the noughties

Sheffield Food Festival public lecture

Diet advice in women's magazines - from the forties to the noughties

Thursday 7 July 2011, Richard Roberts Auditorium.

By Dr Margo Barker, Lecturer in Nutritional Epidemiology at the Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sheffield


27 May..............

The Stephenson Lecture 2011

Putting words in our mouths: The King James Bible and the English Language.

The Stephenson Lecture 2011

Putting words in our mouths: the King James Bible and the English language

Friday 27 May 2011, Sheffield Cathedral, Church Street.

By Gordon Campbell, Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Leicester


23 March..........Royal Academy of Engineering 11th Annual Regional Public Lecture

Friction and where our energy ends up (it's all going on at engineering surfaces)

Royal Academy of Engineering 11th Annual Regional Public Lecture

Friction and where our energy ends up (it's all going on at engineering surfaces)

Wednesday 23 March 2011, Firth Hall.

By Professor Robert Dwyer-Joyce, Professor of Lubrication Engineering (and Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering), The University of Sheffield


22 March.........Climate Week speaker event and discussion

Supply chains and energy demand - how can we go low carbon in a manufacturing region

Climate Week Speaker Event and Discussion

Supply chains and energy demand - how can we go low carbon in a manufacturing region

Tuesday 22 March 2011

By Mark Tomlinson, Operations Director of Forgemasters


17 March.......... Project Sunshine - food and energy security.  Science Week public lecture

Science Week Public Lecture

Project Sunshine - food and energy security

Thursday 17 March 2011

By Professor Anthony Ryan, OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, The University of Sheffield


1 November........The 8th Roberts Lecture.  Alignment, leadership and management using DLA Piper as a case study

The 8th Roberts Lecture

Alignment, leadership and management using DLA Piper as a case study

Monday 1 November 2010

By Sir Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO and Managing Partner of DLA Piper

20 October..........The First Sir Hans Krebs Lecture. Tackling climate change: rhetoric or reality?

The First Sir Hans Krebs Lecture

Tackling climate change: rhetoric or reality?

Lord Krebs, Principal, Jesus College Oxford

Wednesday 20 October 2010 Octagon Centre

Scientific experts and politicians agree that tackling climate change is a major and urgent challenge. The UK Climate Change Act 2008 set out how the country will respond to this challenge. Talking about it is one thing, doing it is another. Is there the political will and public support for making the radical changes that are needed?

Sir Hans was first appointed as a lecturer at the University of Sheffield in 1938 and was appointed to the Chair of the newly-formed Department of Biochemistry in 1945. It was during this time that Sir Hans was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the citric acid cycle which revolutionised our understanding of metabolism. Not only was Sir Hans an outstanding scientist in his own field, but he made numerous contributions to the wider development of science on an international stage. It is in recognition of his standing that this new series of lectures has been inaugurated and we are delighted that his son, Lord Krebs, himself an eminent scientist, will deliver the first lecture in this series on such a topical issue.

17 June............... The Plundered Planet

Why we must and how we can manage the world's natural resources to ensure global prosperity

Professor Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. A former director of Development Research at the World Bank, he is the author of the award-winning The Bottom Billion, among other books.

Thursday 17 June 2010, Octagon Centre

Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion was greeted as a groundbreaking book when it appeared in 2007, winning the Estoril Distinguished Book Prize, the Arthur Ross Book Award, and the Lionel Gelber Prize. The Economist wrote that it was "set to become a classic", The Financial Times praised it as "rich in both analysis and recommendations" while Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times called it the "best nonfiction book so far this year."

Now, in The Plundered Planet, Collier builds upon his work on developing countries and the poorest populations to confront the issues involving natural assets. Proper stewardship of these assets is a matter of planetary urgency: unregulated exploitation of natural resources accelerates global warming, overburdens world food markets, exacerbates existing unrest, and leads to new and ever more desperate armed conflicts. The Plundered Planet charts a course between unchecked profiteering on the one hand, and environmental romanticism on the other to offer realistic and sustainable solutions to these dauntingly complex issues.

Collier proposes a series of international standards that would help poor countries rich in natural assets better manage those resources, end agricultural subsidies that depress alternative-energy and food-crop innovation, and promote a clear-headed approach to climate change that acknowledges the benefits of industrialization while addressing the need for alternatives to carbon trading. Revealing how these are interconnected, Collier presents a clear way forward to avoid the resource mismanagement that threatens us all.

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Lectures Archive 2005-2009

Below is a brief listing of public lectures during this period, with synopsis where available.  Unfortunately, recordings of lectures prior to 2009 are no longer available online.

For the details of any lectures before 2005, or if you can't find what you are looking for here, please contact Gail Street in the Events Team, T: 0114 222 8893

email :

An Audience with Lee Child and Andrew Grant

21 July 2009, 6.00 pm
Firth Hall, Firth Court, Western Bank

The evening was chaired by Professor Dominic Shellard. The crime-writing brothers discussed Lee's latest top-ten bestseller `Gone Tomorrow´ and Andrew's debut book `Even´.

Lee Child
Lee Child is the international bestselling author of 13 novels and short stories. His work has been translated into over 15 different languages. He was recently top of all four US best-seller lists at once, and his work is hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Lee studied Law at the University of Sheffield and became a Visiting Professors in 2008.

Lee is the creator of one of the most memorable crime fiction characters of all time, Jack Reacher – a man who has tangled with FBI serial killers, assassins and professional killers to mention a few. Film rights to Lee´s books have been bought by Tom Cruise's production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions – the company responsible for the Mission Impossible series and Minority Report.

Andrew Grant
Andrew Grant´s debut novel Even is published on July 3. In it Andrew introduces British naval intelligence officer David Trevellyan, a man born to fight and trained to win, locked in a suspenseful contest with terrifying adversaries.

In December 2008 Even was listed as on the Seattle Mystery Bookshop´s `2009 must read list´. The Bookseller called it: "A stunning debut. Thrilling from the first pages, it does not let up until the shocker of an ending." Comparisons have been made with John Le Carre and Ian Fleming.

Andrew is also Lee's younger brother and, like him, a graduate of the University of Sheffield. They are the only famous crime fiction brothers in the world.

Mitchell and Kenyon Evening

Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 6.00 pm
Firth Hall, Firth Court, Western Bank

Back by popular demand the award winning Mitchell & Kenyon Collection with a specially curated programme of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire footage including Rotherham, Sheffield, Doncaster and Buxton. With musical accompaniment by Mr Stephen Horne, this rare and special Edwardian footage includes views of Weston Park, the famous Fatty Foulkes, England and Sheffield United goalkeeper, everyday life in Sheffield and Rotherham and well dressings in Buxton. Professor Vanessa Toulmin, co-curator of the Collection and Dr David Fletcher will provide illuminating and additional commentary that will help present a picture of life in South Yorkshire at the dawn of the twentieth century.

My Journey Together

by David Rose, Former Head of Channel 4 Drama

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 at 6pm
Students´ Union Auditorium, University of Sheffield, Western Bank

David Rose's career is remarkable and his influence on British television immense, having championed and nurtured a generation of writers, directors and producers. His title 'My Journey Together' arises from his desire to share his recollections with past colleagues through film of them, specially shot for this presentation.

Joining BBC Television Drama in London in 1954, his direction of dramatised documentaries lead to production of the groundbreaking Z Cars - 176 hour-long 'live' episodes.

Then, as Head of English Regions Drama, based in Birmingham, David Rose launched a memorable series of films and short plays which gave voice to new talent.

After 26 years with the BBC came a change of Channel, being appointed Senior Commissioning Editor Fiction, at the new Channel 4 Television. Here, among a wide range of drama, David Rose implemented a unique policy behind Film on Four - helping to revive the British film industry and at the same time contributing to C4's international reputation.

Through his 'journey' the screen is constantly occupied by a wide variety of images and sounds, after which Questions welcome!

The 18th Sir Arthur Hall Memorial Lecture

Our Responsibilities and the Opportunities of Improving Healthcare in Developing Countries

by Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council

Thursday, 19 March 2009, Students' Union Auditiorium, Union of Students' Building, Western Bank

The numerous issues surrounding the healthcare problems of developing countries are widely documented but hitherto the identification of effective solutions and the approach to them are subject to considerable debate.

Science and Engineering Week

Cybermen and superhumans: converging technologies in the 21st century

by Paul V Hatton, Professor of Biomaterials Science, The University of Sheffield and European EXPERTISSUES Network.
Tuesday 10 March 2009
7.00pm Pool Auditorium, Richard Roberts Building, Brook Hill

What links model Katie Price (Jordan), Cybermen, Viagra, King Louie, and the Nazis? If you want to know the answer and more, attend this lecture. Medical engineering and other emerging technologies can now achieve far more than simply alleviation of pain and restoration of function. Human beings can become everything we have ever aspired to be and more. "Converging technologies" have brought us to the point where our species can indeed become superhuman. The presentation will review the current state-of-the-art with respect to converging technologies (in engineering, science, medicine and dentistry), and evaluate the potential impact on the individual and society. These subjects will inevitably raise questions regarding what it is to be human, and should society now use the opportunities presented by modern technology to create the first generation of superhumans?

The 8th Edward Bramley Sheffield Law Lecture

Law, Religion and Morals

by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
Thursday 5 March 2009, Firth Hal

Has the separation of the three pillars of English Common Law gone too far? Should the trend be reversed?

Inaugural Lecture


By Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Chair in Early Film and Popular Entertainment

Wednesday 17 December 2008, Firth Hall

Professor Vanessa will be examining the relationship between the world of live entertainment culture and early film produced in the early 1900s, aided by artists Marisa Carnesky, the Insect Circus, Miss Behave, Jon Marshall from Sideshow Illusions with music from Mr Stephen Horne and Miss Anna Scott. Early film footage from the Mitchell & Kenyon Collection, the National Film and Television Archive and Lobster Film will accompany the presentation. Prepare to be amazed by dancing pigs, magical earwigs, burlesque beauties and sword swallowing ladies as the world of Edwardian entertainment is presented, dissected and disseminated for one evening only.

The 6th Lecture in the Firth Series

The Impact of TV

By Professor Dan Cruickshank, Architectural historian and TV presenter.

Wednesday 10 December, Firth Hall

Adventures in Architecture: the ups and downs of making television programmes about architecture, design and life in cities. The story will be told through a series of `case-studies´ that will focus on the issues and problems raised, the editorial and filming decisions that are made, the opportunities presented, the disappointments faced and the public´s response. Special reference will be made to a series called Marvels of the Modern Age that sought to interest and engage viewers in the complex history of 20th century Modernist architecture through reference to work by - amongst other -Behrens, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Melnikov. The locations discussed will include Brasilia; Astana, Kazakhstan; Dharavi, Mumbai, India; Thimpu, Bhutan; Bucharest, Romania; Rockefeller Center, New York; Le Corbusier in Marseilles and Ronchamp; Moscow; Herat and Jam, Afghanistan; Damascus, Syria, and Park Hill, Sheffield.

The 5th Lecture in the Firth Series

The Future of the Brain, The Brain of the Future

by Baroness Susan Greenfield, Neuroscientist, Broadcaster and Author

Wednesday 12 November 2008, Firth Hall

At the beginning of the 21st Century, we may be standing on the brink of a mind-makeover more cataclysmic than anything in our history. The science and technology that is already becoming central to our lives, will soon come to transform not just the way we spend each day, but the way we think and feel. Gradually we are learning more about the dynamism and sensitivity of the circuits of cells in our brain, and how they reflect our moment-to-moment existence and experience: It is in the personalised configuration of these brain cell connections and their two-way interaction with the environment, that the essence of our individuality actually lies.

At all levels, molecular through to macro-environmental, new technologies are starting to impact. At the molecular level, with genetics at the cellular level with drugs, at the cell/body level with nano-technology and scanning, at the body- environment level with information technology virtual and augmented reality and most immediately with an all-pervasive screen environment. The most immediate consequence could be that future generations have different abilities, agendas and styles of thought, - indeed very different types of minds.

An Audience with Lee Child

Best-selling crime fiction author.

Wednesday 19 November 2008, Firth Hall

The 6th Roberts Lecture

Designs on Life: Being Human in the 21st Century

by Dr Maureen McTeer, well-known Canadian author and lawyer

Wednesday 22 October 2008, Firth Hall.

We have entered a new and challenging era of human existence. We can create, manipulate and alter human life in the laboratory; develop synthetic life, artificial intelligence, and designer babies. Evolutions that took centuries will now occur in a short span of years, perhaps months.

It is an exciting time, and a threatening time. It is the best and the worst of times to be human in the world. We are called to shape our own destiny and to ensure the survival and flourishing of the human race. How will we manage that as individuals? As a community, can our public policies shape a better future for us all in this time of scientific and technological revolution? How will we accomplish this? What are some of the core values that must be respected - even resurrected – as we move beyond the relative simplicity of our current ways of thinking and being human, and confront the complicated contexts of the future? How will we ensure that the humanity, empathy, love, respect and care that mark us at our best are preserved and enhanced in this new era? This lecture explores some of these questions and the changes each of us will need to make in order to survive and prosper as humans in the 21st century.

The Stephenson Lecture

Justice and the Promised People of Israel

Professor Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University, North Carolina - a prominent American theologian, ethicist, and Professor of Law.

Thursday 29 May 2008, Richard Roberts Building.

This lecture explored why abstract accounts of justice do not do justice to the God of Israel.

Royal Academy of Engineering 8th Regional Public Lecture

Making urban transport more sustainable

Professor Anthony May FREng of the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds.

Wednesday 12 March 2008, Firth Hall

Professor May talked about his Institute's research on improved decision support for urban transport strategies.

The 4th of The Firth Lectures:

Culture, creativity and research

by Dame Lynne J Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library and Honorary Graduate of the University
Wednesday 6 February 2008, Richard Roberts Building

This lecture seeks to explore the interactions between public investment in the UK cultural sector – our great libraries, museums, galleries and so on – and the UK´s growing and vibrant creative industries. It will argue, using examples drawn from the British Library and elsewhere, that our public institutions, the public infrastructure if you like, promotes creativity and innovation, which in turn inspires new research and new creative outputs. It will also consider the relationship between such creativity and commercial exploitation and success, whether this requires additional public interventions, and speculate what these might be. In this context the relationship between knowledge transfer and the creative economy is critical, if less well understood. Overlay all this with the global nature of the challenge and the increasingly digital nature of the creative and content asset base, there emerge challenges for government, policy makers and institutional leaders. The Government´s Green Paper on the creative economy is a recent contribution to the debate and the lecture aims to make a further contribution to the discussion.

The 3rd of The Firth Lectures:

Strategy, the use of military force and the employment of air power

Air Marshal Stuart Peach, CBE

Thursday 13 December 2007, Firth Hall

The word strategy is in constant use. In the military context, strategy has a particular meaning. In Britain, military teaching talks of the ends, ways and means of achieving a strategic outcome. But, military force is one element of national power. Nor are we likely to act alone. So military strategy should be viewed in a multinational context. The utility of military force is a topical question. Harnessing the levers of power, the balance between hard and soft power are enduring questions. Complexity and the proliferation of non-state or sub-state groups are the hallmarks of current operations. Within this policy construct, the employment of air power is more commented on than understood. The enduring importance of air power as an element of military force within a national, multinational or coalition strategy will be examined in the context of lessons identified in order to guide future strategy, potential operations across the spectrum of conflict with an eye to national security.

The 17th Turner Memorial Lecture

The Development of Glass-Melting Furnaces and South Yorkshire's Pioneering Role

by Emeritus Professor Michael Cable

Thursday 10 May 2007, St George's Church Lecture Theatre.

The invention of the blow pipe 2000 years ago vastly expanded the types of glass ware that could be made. As size of objects and scale of production increased the industry developed its own types of furnaces. By mediæval times two kinds of furnace had evolved, one circular and the other rectangular. These furnaces evolved slowly but became adapted to the special needs of glass making. The only major advance up to the middle of the nineteenth century was use of coal as fuel instead of wood.

The crucial advances were the introduction gas firing and of regenerative and recuperative heat recovery systems, then the development of the tank furnace, all largely due to the brothers Charles and Friedrich Siemens. The latter built the world´s first commercially successful regenerative furnace to melt glass in Rotherham in 1860 and then went on to operate the first tank furnace in Dresden in 1867. However, the principles of regeneration and recuperation had been invented and patented by the Rev. Robert Stirling in 1816.

From that time onwards the builders of glass melting furnaces devoted their energies to improving the thermal efficiency and productivity of tank furnaces. Developments in refractory materials from about 1930 enabled great improvements to be made and today´s well operated tank furnaces last for many years. Although they consume large amounts of energy they do so efficiently and can meet the stringent emission controls of places like California and Germany. However, the future undoubtedly holds challenges as great as any overcome in the past.

Whose risk? Whose choice? Whose health?

Professor Sir John Krebs, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford

Wednesday 28 March 2007, Firth Hall 

Following the footsteps of Mark Firth, one of the founders of the university, we are committed to delivering a series of prestigious lectures to Sheffield presented by some of the leading academics in their field. Sir Cripsin Tickell joined us on 13 February to talk about 'Climate Change: The Hazards' and we are now pleased to announce the second of The Firth Lectures which will be given by Professor Sir John Krebs.

The University of Sheffield is delighted to host a prestigious lecture given by in We all make choices about risks that affect our health, whether it's the food we eat, the amount of exercise we take, or choosing whether to smoke or drink. To what extent, and when, should these kinds of risks be managed on our behalf by others, or should it always be up to us as individuals? How well informed are our choices and do we really have options? Or are the so-called choices really constructed for us by others? If it is up to us to choose, should we also be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences? How does the notion of individual choice and autonomy square with notions of reducing inequalities? I will explore these and related questions, drawing on examples from diet and health, and other aspects of public health policy.

The Stephenson Lectures

Faith, Scriptures and Universities in an Inter-Faith and Secular Society

A series of two lectures held on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February 2007
by Professor David Ford, the Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

A Fresh Intensity: Inter-Faith Engagement with Scriptures

Monday 19 February 2007 at 1.15pm
The Pool Auditorium, Richard Roberts Building, Brook Hill

A New Collegiality: The Inter-Faith and Secular University
Tuesday 20 February 2007, 1.15pm
Lecture Theatre 4, Arts Tower

David F Ford studied Classics at Trinity College Dublin, and later Theology in Cambridge, Yale, and Tübingen. He is currently Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books, including /Christian Wisdom. Desiring God and Learning in Love/ (Cambridge, 2007), /The Shape of Living/ (London, 2002), /Theology: A Very Short Introduction/ (Oxford, 2000) and /Self and Salvation: Being Transformed/ (Cambridge, 1999), and is a member of the editorial board of a number of major journals. He is the Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, and an Academic Member of the Council of 100 Leaders for West-Islamic World Dialogue in the World Economic Forum.

Climate Change: The Hazards

The University of Sheffield was delighted to host a prestigious lecture given by Sir Crispin Tickell, Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at Oxford University.

Tuesday 13 February 2006, Richard Roberts Building

Climate change has been described by the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor as the biggest threat we face, bigger even than terrorism. We have to reckon not only with the direct hazards - changes in patterns of rainfall, storm and drought, and more extreme events of all kinds – but also with the indirect effects of global warming - sea level rise, resource depletion and changes in the diversity of the other living organisms on whom we wholly depend. In the past humans were able to move as climate changed. Now with our proliferating numbers it has become more and more difficult. The prospect of environmental, in particular climatic refugees is an alarming problem facing society as a whole.

The 54th Hatfield Memorial Lecture

Quantifying the Quality of Steel

by Professor John Knott, The University of Birmingham Department of Metallurgy and Materials

Tuesday 5 December 2006, Octagon Centre

Several previous Hatfield lectures have treated aspects of steel quality, focusing on topics such as microstructures, inclusions, impurity elements, tensile properties and mechanisms of fracture. Other lectures have described the use of steel in engineering applications. I take quality to be demonstrated by a steel´s resistance to failure, in one of a number of modes, when challenged by the threats to integrity encountered in its service application. In this year´s lecture, I discuss developments over the last fifty years that have enabled the overall quality of steel to be assessed in a quantitative manner. The developments include electron-optical imaging and micro-analytical techniques; finite- element stress analysis; and analytical assessments based on the concepts of Fracture Mechanics. These concepts lead to a heightened perception of the critical interactions between levels of service loading, material properties and inherent defect size. Importantly, these interactions can be quantified. Fracture Mechanics not only underpins macroscopic engineering structural integrity assessments, but also feeds back to the degree of control needed in material processing and fabrication; to that needed to generate a desired microstructure, with uniformity and reproducibility; and to that needed to specify and control steel chemistry, inclusion content and level of trace impurity elements. Once these issues have been quantified and the steel's overall quality has been established, it is possible to develop a rigorous approach to address issues of 'fitness for purpose' and associated cost-factors: both 'start-of-life' costs and 'through-life' costs. The general theme will be illustrated by examples drawn from University research and from applications in power-generation and transport industries.

The Royal Economic Society, Annual Public Lecture 2006

Hosted by the University of Sheffield

War and Peace in Africa

by Professor Paul Collier, University of Oxford

Monday 27 November, Octagon Centre

An opportunity to hear Professor Paul Collier, Oxford University, speak to a wide audience about an issue relevant to all of us. This lecture will be of interest to specialists and non-specialists alike.

While other developing regions have growth, Africa has become synonymous with poverty and conflict. Continuing divergence would generate unmanageable problems. Tribalism, legacies of colonialism, disease, and IMF policies have all been peddled as explanations. Modern economics can take us beyond the political posturing that has dominated discussion. It offers a distinctive diagnosis of Africa 's problems, and a practical agenda for what can be done.

Professor Paul Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. For five years he was Director of the research department of the World Bank, brought in by Joe Stiglitz, and he was senior advisor to the Commission for Africa. His new book, War and Peace, is about to be published.

The Faculty of Law and The Sheffield District Incorporated Law Society

The Edward Bramley Sheffield Law Lecture

The Proper Relationship between Government and Judiciary

by The Rt Hon Lord Justice Maurice Kay a Lord Justice of Appeal

Wednesday 15 November 2006, Firth Hall

Lord Justice Kay will be exploring the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the Judiciary in the contact of recent developments surrounding the anti-terrorism legislation and criminal sentencing.

The 5th Roberts Lecture

Personal Data and Public Health

by Dr Mark J Walport, Director, The Wellcome Trust

Thursday 19 October 2006, Firth Hall

Humans are genetically 99.9% identical one to another. Analysis of that 0.1% of genetic variation holds the key to understanding the role of genes in determining inherited differences in health and disease. However, genetic variation is only part of the picture. The risk of getting a particular disease usually involves a combination of environment, lifestyle and genes. It is now possible for large data sets of information gathered from individuals, populations and the environment to be merged. This presents some fascinating opportunities for research, including the possibility of undertaking public health research on an enormous scale. This research could be invaluable for improving health and for public policy development. Understandably, there are concerns about the protection of personal information and privacy. However the benefits to society of more effective use of personal information and related data could be tremendous. Getting this balance right will be challenging.

The 9th Annual Pérez Galdós Lecture

Galdós and Myth

by Professor Eamonn Rodgers

Tuesday 2 May 2006, Fulwood Room, University House

To speak of myth in connection with a writer mainly remembered for his detailed portrayal of contemporary social life may seem to require some justification. Galdós´s vision of human reality was, however, broad enough to encompass perennial themes, and in order to express these he drew on several sources of myth with
which he was familiar. In common with his contemporaries, he received a thorough grounding in the classics during his formative years. Though he parted company with his family´s Catholicism, he retained an interest in the Bible, and used Biblical archetypes which he assumed his readers would recognise. Furthermore, literary classics, especially Don Quijote, were quarried for new mythic paradigms. These elements were frequently combined to form a rich texture of allusion which enabled the world of his novels to be simultaneously highly specific and universal in scope.

The Stephenson Lecture

Crime and Punishment

by The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, Lord Bishop of Worcester and Bishop to HM Prisons.

Wednesday 22 February 2006

Bishop Peter Selby has been the Anglican Bishop of Worcester since 1997 and Bishop to HM Prisons since 2001. As a member of the House of Commons, he has made a number of contributions to debates on prisons and the penal system. Before his current appointment, he was the William Leech Professorial Fellow in Theology at the University of Durham. He is a former President of the Society for the Study of Theology.

The religious impulse can support a strong emphasis on punishment; yet it has also been behind much reforming energy to bring the modern penal system into existence. Peter Selby is both a Christian writer on themes to do with the economy and currently Bishop to HM Prisons; he will bring together these two areas of concern in an examination of punishment, restoration and forgiveness.

The 9th Centenary Lecture

The 53rd Hatfield Memorial Lecture

Big Science and Materials - Opportunities, Breakthroughs and the Future

by Professor John Wood, FREng, Chief Executive, Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils

Thursday 6 December 2005, Convocation Hall, The Octagon Centre, Western Bank

The UK government spends a significant proportion of its basic science funds on large scale facilities and international projects. While many of these facilities and programmes have been driven by fundamental science in the past, increasingly they are opening up new insights into and creating new demands on engineering and biological materials. An overview will be presented of the facilities and programmes that are led or supported by CCLCRC on behalf of the UK community, their current impact on materials' developments followed by some of the materials demands of future projects such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and gravity wave experiments in space. Finally there will be a glimpse into the future of what new neutron and photon sources are being developed and how they will open up new areas of materials research such as real time molecular imaging of biological interactions of materials.

The 8th Centenary Lecture

The 17th Sir Arthur Hall Memorial Lecture

The Great Ideas of Biology

by Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate and President of The Rockefeller University, New York

Thursday 3 November 2005, The Auditorium, Students' Union Building

Three of the ideas of biology are the gene theory, the theory of evolution by natural selection, and the proposal that the cell is the fundamental unit of all life. When considering the question of what is life these ideas come together, because the special way cells reproduce provides the conditions by which natural selection takes place allowing living organisms to evolve. A fourth idea is that the organisation of chemistry within the cell provides explanations for life's phenomena. A new idea is the nature of biological self organisation on which living cells and organisms process information and acquire specific forms.

The 7th Centenary Lecture

The Fourth Roberts Lecture

Mapping in the Information Age

by Dr Vanessa Lawrence, Director General and Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey.

Wednesday 19 October 2005, Firth Hall

Information in electronic form has existed for barely sixty years. Today, our economy, society and government all depend upon huge and ever-growing volumes of data. A key challenge is to filter, combine and integrate sources and types of data in order to enable good decision-making. Mapping has a crucial role in helping to join up information. A high proportion of data records have some reference to a place or geographic entity, such as a building or address. By creating a linkage to a common geographic framework, many otherwise disconnected types of information can be combined. Ordnance Survey is playing a leading role in developing an underpinning geographic framework for Great Britain. In her lecture, Vanessa Lawrence will demonstrate how the organisation has evolved over more than two centuries from military origins to the present day. It is investing heavily in new technology and partnerships in order to meet the increasing need of customers.

The Roberts Lecture was established by Professor Sir Gareth Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield from 1991 to 2000 and now President of Wolfson College, Oxford.

The 6th Centenary Lecture

The 16th Turner Memorial lecture

Cut and Engraved Glass in the Islamic World Between the Eighth and the 11th Centuries

by Dr David Whitehouse, Executive Director and Curator of Ancient and Islamic Glass, Corning Museum of Glass, New York.

Thursday 8 September 2005, Firth Hall

Glassmaking flourished in many parts of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. In the central Islamic lands (a region extending from Egypt to Iran) glass workers produced large quantities of cut and engraved glass in a variety of different styles. While much of what they made was of indifferent quality, the best of their products stand comparison with the finest cut glass of any period or place. The lecture surveys and illustrates the full range of cut and engraved glass made in the central Islamic lands between the eighth and the 11th centuries, and tackles the question of where and when the various styles were produced.

The 8th Annual Pérez Galdós Lecture

by Professor Francisco Caudet

Universidad Autonoma, Madrid

Wednesday 11 May 2005, The Fulwood Room, University House

The main purpose of this Annual Pérez Galdós Lecture was to vindicate the significance that Cervantes had on Pérez Galdós' gigantic effort to incorporate the 19th c. Spanish prose and, to a certain extent, the Spanish society of his times, into the Modern world. For those literary and national objectives, Pérez Galdós counted on Cervantes' craftsmanship consisting in his special blend of realism and its counterpart, idealism. In so doing, Pérez Galdós followed the paths of great European novelists as Balzac, Dickens, Flaubert, or Stendhal, who had also Cervantes as a master of their realist mode.