Posted: 18 January, 2021

LEAP Lecture Series – Spring 2021

Athena, General, News, Sixth Form

Our LEAP Lecture series is a series of talks delivered by staff to Year 12 students.

The 40 minute lectures cover many disciplines (typically particular areas of academic interest or staff expertise) and are designed to whet students’ appetites for university courses and prepare them for lecture style learning.

Launched in 2018, the LEAP Lectures have become a popular and valued part of sixth form life with student feedback emphasising how much they enjoy hearing about, and are inspired by, the academic interests of their teachers.

Working 9 – 5: Is this still the way to make a living?  

Mrs Patience

Flexible working, or lack of it, has huge impacts on an individual’s work life balance as well as on societal issues such as the gender pay gap on family roles and childcare arrangements. But there are also links to productivity and wellbeing. My focus is on flexible working in the education sector – what the benefits and barriers are and how we can change the landscape for the better.  


Climate Change

Mr O’Brien

We will look at the science of climate change (there will be graphs!) and why there is so much controversy over the issue, including a dissection of the main sceptics’ arguments. 


The Last Emperor of Mexico

Dr Shawcross

In the 1860s, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, intent upon curbing the rise of US power, persuaded a young Austrian aristocrat, Ferdinand Maximilian, and his wife, Carlota, a Belgian princess, to leave Europe and become Emperor and Empress of Mexico. They arrived in a Mexico ruled by terror, where revolutionary fervor was barely suppressed by French troops. When the United States, now clear of its own Civil War, aided the rebels in pushing back Maximilian’s imperial soldiers, the French army withdrew, abandoning the empire with disastrous consequences for the young couple. 

The story of how a Habsburg archduke and a Belgian princess – two of the most famous aristocrats in all of Europe – came to rule Mexico is a strange one. It is not, however, merely the story of who would govern the Americas, but how they would be governed. Napoleon III embarked on one of the most shocking examples of regime change in the nineteenth century, replacing the US-backed Mexican republic of Benito Juárez with a European monarchy under Maximilian. In the 1860s, a monumental struggle for the future of the Americas played out, pitting emperors against presidents, monarchies against republics and Europe against the United States.


Training Artificial Intelligence to Recognise Higgs Bosons

Dr Rolfe

What do protein structures, forgotten 19th century composers, discriminatory credit card companies and – ahem – grooming products have in common with the Higgs boson? Dr Nicolas Rolfe explores how artificial intelligence is pervading every aspect of our lives. 


Mount Everest

Mr Coulson

The world’s highest mountain has fascinated explorers, daredevils, scientists and monks for thousands of years. I want to take you on a journey up and around this mountain looking at its history, its significance to Nepalese and Tibetan cultures, its appeal to explorers and its dangers and fierce reputation. Come along!  

How is World War II Memorialised?

Mr Coulson

World War Two is a conflict whose legacy still hangs over cultures, politicians and entire nations. I want to show you how different countries remember WW2 through statues and monuments. We will look at how Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, USA, Israel, Japan, China and South Korea remember the conflict in very different ways.


Women of Surrealism (relevant to Literature, Art History, Art, Feminism, Politics)

Dr Mellor 

The Surrealist movement, founded in Paris in 1924, was a multi-disciplinary movement uniting writers and artists interested in psychology and revolutionary politics. Although male dominated initially, it soon attracted immensely talented and charismatic women who made a huge contribution. 



Punk, Feminism, and Protest

Dr Mellor

Often misconstrued as obnoxious macho posturing, UK & US punk in the 70s & 80s was the first genre to welcome a huge number of politically engaged young women as songwriters and musicians who shaped feminist discourse and popularized it in ways academics couldn’t. Riot Grrrl in the early 90s grew out of this, and many grass-roots activists learned from the various scenes. 


Not your hive, not your honey

Mrs Tyler

Why I’m an animal advocate and you should be too.  

Overcoming speciesism: Rethinking our Relationship with Non-human Animals 


We Found God in a Popeless Place

Mr Pattie

Meet Martin Luther: he’s got 95 theses but the pope ain’t one. In this LEAP lecture we will undertake a counter-factual experiment. What if Martin Luther hadn’t got caught in a Thunder Storm in the year 1505? In the lecture I contest that this is the most important year in Early Modern world history which will change the face of the world as we know it forever. A romp through the causes and consequences of the German Reformation. 


Searching for Caravaggio

Miss Dobell

A look at the turbulent life and times of Baroque painter Caravaggio – a man who depicted sacred figures in a radical new way and ended up on the run for murder..! 


Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen

Miss Buecher

This lecture will explore the relationship between fashion, literature and social and political events in the time of Jane Austen. 


Women – should we be on the front line? 

Miss Katze

For the entire history of the British military, women have not been allowed to be on the frontline, until now. The excuses used (at times) quite feeble and very outdated, yet the discussion continues to be at the forefront of the media. Many military personnel still believe strongly that women aren’t capable of frontline role. We will be looking into the reasoning behind views from both sides and I will be able to discuss my thoughts from experiences as well as explore if equality within a war zone is truly possible.  


Pregnancy, birth & early motherhood – a patient’s perspective

Mrs Barden

Maternity and post-natal care is certainly my specialist subject at the moment! I hope to present my own perspective on the amazing care from the NHS as well as going into some of the things that I wish I had known more about before deciding we were ready for a baby.  


A World with Artificial Intelligence and Humans

Mr McKenzie

This lecture will explore how AI technology has evolved over the last decade, how AI is used to help people become more efficient with day to day activities and also the psychological aspects of (HCI) Human Computer Interaction.  

'I haven’t studied history since late 2018, but I found myself excited and enjoying your lecture because of how fun you made it out to be, purely because you clearly enjoyed it so much yourself. Thank you for doing that lecture today, I’ve been talking to my parents about it too!'

Helia A (Year 12 student studying Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics A Levels)
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