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UK universities offering free online lectures

28 Jan, 2021
UK universities offering free online lectures

With many of the UK’s top universities running their public lecture series online in 2021, Kings students have a unique opportunity to attend virtual talks, seminars and events hosted by some of the leading academics in the world — all from the comfort of your sofa!

Attending online talks will give you a useful insight into how university-style lectures are run, as well as being a great way to demonstrate your interest in and commitment to your subject, and of course, a talking point for your personal statement.

With the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine making quick progress in the UK, we expect most universities to switch back to face-to-face teaching and events for the next academic year. Make the most of the current situation by attending as much as possible and expanding your knowledge and horizons.

Below are a selection of top universities who are currently running public online lectures:

University of Oxford

As may be expected from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the University of Oxford has a dynamic programme of virtual lectures and events taking place in 2021. Lectures are hosted by university staff, leading academics and well-known guests from the worlds of politics, arts and other areas of public life.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with an average of 2 – 4 online lectures taking place every day Monday – Friday.

Some exciting upcoming lectures and events include ‘Ken Loach in Conversation’, in which the award-winning British filmmaker will discuss career, and ‘Space Travel Across the Decades and Beyond’ which will be attended by Chief Scientist at NASA, Dr Jim Green.

Key themes: Sciences, Humanities, Economics, Engineering, Psychology, Politics, Arts

Access the lectures: https://www.ox.ac.uk/events-list

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

LSE are currently running an extensive programme of public online lectures and events with different options available almost every day during the week. Lectures cover a huge variety of topics and themes and are presented by both university faculty, as well as external speakers and guests from prestigious Institutions around the world.

From 1 – 6 March, LSE are hosting a week of virtual events as part of the LSE festival on the theme of ‘Shaping the post-COVID world’. All festival events are open to everyone and available via Zoom.

Key themes: Politics, Economics, International Relations, Philosophy

Access the lectures: https://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/Search-Events

University of York

The University of York has a diverse programme of public lectures running throughout the year with around 1 – 3 different options to choose from each week. Talks cover a range of subject areas, reflecting the wide choice of degree subjects available at the university. Example upcoming lectures include:

  • “Creating a Sustainable ‘Factory of the Future’”
  • “How can students deal with study stress in the COVID-19 era?”
  • “The Double X Economy”

If you can’t attend the events as they’re happening live, lectures are also recorded and added to the university’s open lectures YouTube playlist.

Key themes: Politics, Sociology, History, Arts and Culture, Business, Economics

Access the lectures: https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/public-lectures/

University College London (UCL)

UCL host a year-round programme of talks, seminars, workshops, lectures, performances and exhibitions that are open to everyone. Currently, all events are taking place virtually and can be accessed from wherever you are in the world. The useful ‘UCL Minds’ calendar page allows you to filter easily by date, subject and event type to find the options that most interest you.

Example upcoming lectures include:

  • “Do contemporary societies need universities?”
  • “Parliament Buildings: The architecture of power, accountability and democracy in Europe”
  • “Earthquake Risk Assessment: Current Challenges & Future Trends”

Key themes: Political Science, Education, Law, Cultural Studies, Engineering, Architecture

Access the lectures: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/events/

University of Bristol

Public events at the University of Bristol are open to both members of the university community and the general public. A wide variety of subject matter is covered with presenters from many different university faculties or societies, as well as external speakers. Focus areas for events in coming months are topical subjects such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and sustainability, education and race.

‘Tickets’ to virtual events can be booked in advance using Eventbrite and are completely free of charge for the vast majority of sessions.

Key themes: Climate Science, Politics, Education, Literature

Access the lectures: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/events/

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh offers a range of both free short courses and free online public lectures. Upcoming lectures in Spring 2021 will focus on Art, Design, History, Science and Literature and explore research currently being conducted by the university.

Example upcoming lectures include:

  • The Book as an Art Form
  • Palaeontology: The Greatest Show on Earth


As well as the live lecture series, there are additional online resources available to access any time and will appeal to students with an interest in creative subjects such as art, photography and music.

Key themes: Art, Design, History, Science, Literature

Access the lectures: https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/short-courses/events/free-online-projects-sessions-and-events

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