The Physical Sciences Colloquia are intended for a broad audience – from undergraduate students to retired professors. The topics encompass the interests of all research groups in the School: from Applied Optics, through Astrophysics, Planetary Science and Forensic Imaging to Functional Materials Physics and Chemistry.
The colloquia are held on Wednesdays at 2 pm in the Ingram Lecture Theatre (ILT) unless otherwise specified. The programme is constantly updated. Click on the speaker’s name and the talk’s title for biographical information/contact details and an abstract, respectively.
Everybody welcome!

Present Term

All our colloquia for this term will be on our Events Calendar which we regularly update when we have a confirmed speaker so make sure to check back regularly! You can also have a look at speakers for our present term by clicking on their entry below:

26 February 2020 – Elizabeth Blackburn,
Title:”Where does high temperature superconductivity in the cuprates come from?”

Abstract: TBC

12 February 2020 – Sally Jordan, Head of School of Physical Sciences and Professor of Physics Education, The Open University
Title:”Demographic gaps in physics retention and attainment: Myth and reality”

Abstract: Demographic gaps in retention and attainment mean that certain groups of students, e.g. those of particular gender, socio-economic group or ethnicity or with a disability, are considerably less likely to continue in their study of physics. This contributes to the “leaky pipeline” whereby the percentage of students and workers in particular demographic groups declines further and further. Various factors have been hypothesised as contributing to these discrepancies in attainment and the talk will start by outlining these factors, including the possibility that other “hidden variables” might be at play, the impact of a lack of self-confidence and an absence of appropriate role models, and the possibility that something in our teaching or assessment might favour particular demographic groups.

The talk will then focus on research at the Open University into variation between demographic groups (in particular gender) in engagement with different types of assessed tasks and features within the tasks (Dawkins et al., 2017; Hedgeland et al, 2018) as well as describing some recent findings into variation in decision-making behaviours.



Dawkins, H., Hedgeland, H. & Jordan, S. (2017). The impact of scaffolding and question structure on the gender gap. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 13, 020117.

Hedgeland, H., Dawkins, H. & Jordan, S. (2018). Investigating male bias in multiple choice questions: Contrasting formative and summative settings. European Journal of Physics, 39(5), 055704.


Past speakers are on the next page.