Oxbridge Question


Do you believe that statues can move and
how might you justify such a belief?

The infamous Oxbridge Interview, famous for its obscure and often surreal questions that have terrorised students down the years, is the focus of this session. The questions are designed to see if you can think on your feet. Julie Arliss will expose this Oxbridge entry question to rigorous exploration covering epistemology, the difference between knowledge and belief, (including Plato's tripartite theory of knowledge), and what is meant by 'truth'. A wide range of examples will be drawn upon, from the 'angels' in Dr Who to the famous Pietà by Michelangelo, to illustrate the breadth of response a candidate might make.

Robot Fantasy, Android dreams and the Emotion Chip


‘Do robots dream electric sheep?’ Science Fiction is rapidly becoming Science Fact as computer technology and artificial intelligence progress at a lightning rate. This lecture will examine current developments in artificial intelligence, and examine the implications for philosophies of self, conceptions of human beings and trans-humanism. Professor Greggs will use film and a multi-media presentation to examine the age old question of whether a robot can be human.

Chaos and the Origins of the Universe


Questions about the origins of the universe have been of seminal importance to scientists for generations. There are many competing theories about how the universe first began and this session will examine the key ideas which lie behind a number of the most significant of them. The Big Bang theory is still the most widely held but if the universe, and with it space and time, came into the existence at the singularity with matter exploding outward with tremendous force and speed to eventually form stars, galaxies and, in some cases planets, then what explanation can be given for the singularity?

A number of persuasive scientific alternatives will be explored and the issue of whether an explanation is required for the whole spatio-temporal reality will be evaluated. Is it possible that some intelligence lies behind the universe or is it more likely that it emerged by chance? Are such questions worth asking and are they relevant to the modern world?

The Future Aint What it Used to Be


Why aren't astrologers rich? The science, or pseudoscience, of foretelling the future has itself changed dramatically over the centuries, and modern Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory now tell us that very basic systems cannot be predicted, even in principle. Dr Mark Lewney presents a history of The Future beginning with the Music of the Spheres, exploring fundamental unpredictability and looking ahead to how science

The Big Debate


'This house believes that personal preference
is all that matters in morality’

This wide ranging debate will help students to engage with the various challenges which can be made to moral relativism and subjectivism. A wide range of examples will be used, including sexual preferences.

Academy Conferences

julieArliss2These events are a unique opportunity for students to meet and listen to top academics speak. We offer a balanced academic programme aimed at stimulating thought beyond the constraints of the curriculum. The focus is upon topics which can be approached from many different disciplines in order that students begin to see connections between different areas of study and the bigger picture. The content is fast paced and differentiated to meet the needs of highly able learners with a focus on important and enduring concepts. There is no duplication of traditional school topics. These study days provide an exclusive opportunity for the top 5% academic to actively engage with abstract and complex ideas and their practical application. All sessions are designed to stimulate student interest with follow up material loaded onto the Academy website.




JULIE ARLISSJulie lectures at Kings College and works in close association with a number of Universities including Oxford, Aberdeen and Exeter. Internationally she works with students in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and is the joint author of a number of books and academic articles. She is regularly invited to be the keynote speaker at events and recently gave the Hobhouse Lecture. She is a former principal examiner in Cambridge combining a strong commitment to young people with academic rigour.


DR MARK LEWNEYDr Mark Lewney, the Rock Doctor, is a professional physicist who teaches string theory using a rock guitar. He has appeared on Radio 4’s Material World, on BBC's Newsnight and on BBC’s Xchange! as well as on the Money Programme. He lectures around the UK, being introduced as a cross between Einstein and Jimi Hendrix. Mark has conducted a tour for the Institute of Physics, featured in the Guardian and Physics World and also performed at the Tokyo International Science Festival. "A gust of fresh air" Times Higher Education Supplement.


TOM GREGGSAfter being awarded a starred Double First Class Honours Degree from Oxford Tom completed his Phd at Cambridge. He has taught at Manchester Grammar school but is now Professor at Aberdeen University where he remains committed to making his work accessible to young people. He has a weekly slot on radio 4 and holds various political offices at local regional and national levels with a general focus on education policy. He is widely regarded as a ‘rising star’. He remains the youngest professor in the country and is in great demand as a lecturer.