Posted: 17 December, 2021

LEAP Lecture Series – Spring 2022

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.

Mass Extinction Events

Mr M O’Brien

A look at the mass extinction events that have occurred in Earth’s history and the effects they had on the evolution of different species, including humans – we then look at what is happening now as a result of human activity.


The Gender Pay Gap

Mrs L Patience 

In 2021, female workers are paid on average 11.9% less than male workers. Why do women still earn less than men and what can we do about it?


Introduction to phonetics and speech science

Mr T O’Connell

Spoken communication is the bedrock of civilisation, yet it depends on a fantastically intricate dance between the lungs, larynx, tongue and lips. We look at the anatomy of speech and the acoustic properties of the sounds of some major world languages.


The Last Emperor of Mexico

Dr Shawcross

The bizarre and little known story of how a hubristic Archduke became the puppet Emperor of Mexico – with tragic results and pivotal historical consequences for Europe and America.


Training Artificial Intelligence to Observe the Higgs Boson

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 the applications, advantages, and pitfalls of artificial intelligence.


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. 


Tuning Systems Throughout the World

Mr R Patterson

Are music notes the same throughout the world with eight note scales and twelve different chromatic pitches? Most definitely not! Want to know why a 5th is perfect but a 6th can be major or minor? Find out more about the fascinatingly varied way that notes are ‘tuned’ (or not) in cultures past and present.


Game Theory

Mr M Finnemore 

A brief look at the history and practice of Mathematics newest (and maybe most useful) field. Including how it can be applied to various activities from Politics to chicken runs (James Dean, not the film).


Dada and Surrealism

Miss E Swingler

Learn about the influential Art movements Dada and Surrealism. Explore the techniques and creative games the artists used to make surreal poetry and artworks.

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. 


Gospel Truth? The whacky world of the Apocryphal Gospels

Miss S Tyler 

Most people know that the gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are found in the New Testament, but many other gospels were written to make the story of Jesus appealing, and the writers weren’t short on imagination! A walking, talking cross? The childhood Jesus making birds out of clay which flew away? These and many other stories offer an eccentric but important insight into the concerns of the earliest Christians.


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 Age of Jane Austen

Miss Buechler

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



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

Ms E 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.  


How AI is changing our world

Mr T Mackenzie

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!'

Year 12 student studying Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics A Levels
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