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University College

Durham Castle Lecture Series

The Durham Castle Lecture Series is devoted to bringing high-profile speakers to Durham who can contribute to academic and public discussion on issues of significance. Each of the specially invited presenters has made an outstanding contribution over a sustained period of time.

The lectures take place in the stunning setting of Durham Castle's Great Hall. With a maximum capacity of 250, the Great Hall provides a unique, historic location.

All of the lectures in the series are free and open to all. Some events requre a free ticket, please see the individual lecture listings for information.

Doors open from 7.30pm.
Lectures begin at 8pm, with questions for the speaker at 9pm.

The Durham Castle Lecture series has been made possible thanks to a generous gift from Santander Universities.

Upcoming Lectures

8 March - Professor Carlos Frenk

Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University

Everything from Nothing, or how our universe was made

Cosmology confronts some of the most fundamental questions in the whole of science. How and when did our universe begin? What is it made of? How did galaxies and other structures form? There has been enormous progress in the past few decades towards answering these questions. For example, recent observations have established that our universe contains an unexpected mix of components: ordinary atoms, exotic dark matter and a new form of energy called dark energy. Gigantic surveys of galaxies reveal how the universe is structured. Large supercomputer simulations can recreate the evolution of the universe in astonishing detail and provide the means to relate processes occuring near the beginning with observations of the universe today. A coherent picture of cosmic evolution, going back to a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, is beginning to emerge. However, fundamental issues, like the identity of the dark matter and the nature of the dark energy, remain unresolved.

More information


26 April - Professor Michael Walzer

Professor Emeritus, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton University

Global Government and the Politics of Pretending

In this lecture, I will try to answer two questions. First, what sort of global order should we be working for? I mean to give an unconventional answer to that question, which I won't anticipate here. Second, what are the currently existing agencies of global governance and how well are they working? Not very well, I will argue, and then suggest some paths toward improvement.

More information

Unfortunately, due to unforseen circumstances, Professor Walzer has had to cancel his visit to Durham, and consequently the lecture. He hopes to reschedule for the 2017/18 academic year.


10 May - Professor Stefan Collini

Emeritus Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature, University of Cambridge

Mind your language: the vocabulary of higher education today

The far-reaching changes in the character of Britain’s universities in recent decades have been accompanied by - in part legitimated by, perhaps even facilitated by - a striking transformation in the everyday vocabulary of academic life. This lecture does not aim to make fun of various neologisms or to lament the infelicities of official documents (well, maybe a little). Instead, it asks what these linguistic shifts tell us about the real nature of the ‘reforms’ of higher education and how they relate to more fundamental shifts in society and social attitudes. The aims and objectives of the lecture do not include quantifiable deliverables; customers are recommended to bring their own supplies of salt.

More information


Watch the Durham Castle Lecture Series: Video Archive

Cutting Edge at Castle

Durham Castle Museum website