All talks and courses are intended to be accessible to absolute beginners. Day schools can be adapted to evening courses.

Please phone or email for further details.

For talks and courses already scheduled for 2019 please see the events page.


The following talks are available for booking in 2019:

From Seed to Fork: The Story of how Plants Evolved and Humans Adapted Them   This is a talk in two halves. It first explores the extraordinary 450 million-year evolution of plants and the inventive ways they solved the many problems arising from the move on to dry land – gravity, nutrition, desiccation and the particularly intractable and surprising issue of reproduction.

The focus then shifts to how humans have adapted this bountiful heritage. We explore why, where and how agriculture was invented, and why this step has been described as “the worst mistake in history“.

The talk should provide a fascinating new perspective on the plants that grow in your garden.

A Brief History of Everything: From the Big Bang to the Present Day in Six Surprising Steps To get a sense of perspective, it helps to reflect on the story of the universe. To understand ourselves, it helps to understand our origins. This talk takes us from the Big Bang, through the development of the first stars, to the creation of life on earth and the very recent story of human development.

The Big Bang: How Did We Ever Come to Believe in Such a Crazy Idea? During the last century cosmologists came to the seemingly bizarre conclusion that the Universe began in a ‘Big Bang’ 13.8 billion years ago.  This talk explores the fascinating series of experiments and discoveries which drove them to this odd idea.


The following courses are available for booking in 2019:

The Human Story: From Subsistence Tribes to Global Village If you've ever wished you had a better grasp of the broad sweep and patterns of human history, then this is the course for you. We'll be covering the whole span of history while asking, and trying to answer, some big questions.

Why, for example, did our ancestors survive when our cousins, the Neanderthals, became extinct? Why were plants domesticated in some places but not others?  Why did many places in different parts of the world experience very similar processes of urbanisation, centralisation of power and empire building? And why, in the nineteenth century, did Britain become the dominant global power rather than, say, China.

We'll conclude by exploring some of the big themes of the twentieth century, how they are affecting the present and how they might play out in the future.


From Seed to Fork: The Story of how Plants Evolved and Humans Adapted Them   This is a day school in two halves. In the morning we explore the extraordinary 450 million-year evolution of plants and the inventive ways they solved the many problems arising from the move on to dry land – gravity, nutrition, desiccation and the particularly intractable and surprising issue of reproduction.

In the afternoon the focus shifts to how humans have adapted this bountiful heritage. We discover why, where and how agriculture was invented, and why this step has been described as “the worst mistake in history “. We continue with an overview of the key discoveries and different approaches to food growing in places as diverse as China, the Americas, the Islamic World and Britain. We culminate with the revolutionary changes of the Twentieth Century and the challenges and possibilities of the future.


A Brief History of Almost Everything Ever wondered how it all got started? This course covers it all: from the Big Bang, through the first stars, to life on Earth and our own evolution. Get ready for an exhilarating journey.


An Introduction to Cosmology During the last century cosmologists came to the seemingly bizarre conclusion that the Universe began in a ‘Big Bang’ 13.8 billion years ago.  We’ll begin by discovering what drove them to this odd idea, and how it built upon the 500 years of experiment and discovery sparked into life by thinkers such as Copernicus and Galileo.

After lunch we’ll explore the modern understanding of the Cosmic story - how primordial hydrogen has been transformed into stars, galaxies, elements and ultimately complex beings such as ourselves, capable of reflecting on the whole process.

We conclude by addressing the current mysteries of dark energy and dark matter.