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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Named after Alcuin of York, a teacher, theologian, and poet who advised the Emperor Charlemagne, this annual lecture hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations is given on a topic concerning the UK and Europe.

The series was established with a generous gift from Lord Brittan, former Vice-President of the European Commission, who himself gave the first lecture in 1999. Since then many UK European Commissioners have contributed to the series, which has also included Lord Hannay, the former UK Permanent Representative to the EU, Carl Bildt of Sweden, and Shirley Williams.


2020/2021 Speaker

Professor Lucio Baccaro of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Professor Lucio Baccaro will look at three ongoing research projects. The first has to do with Italy's economic stagnation of the past twenty-five years (Baccaro and D'Antoni 2020). The second project asks why despite the economic failure, there is still support for the euro in Italy (Baccaro, Bremer and Neimanns 2021a). The third project asks what are the consequences for the eurozone if a systemically important country like Italy threatens to exit (Baccaro, Bremer, and Neimanns 2021b). 

The eurozone stands or falls with Italy. The economic consequences of Covid-19 threaten to worsen its economic crisis, pushing it closer to exit. But they also create opportunities for fundamental reform of the euro. However, such reform will have to be much more radical than what has been achieved so far. The Recovery and Resilience Facility alone is unlikely to stabilize the eurozone.

The Alcuin Lecture 2021 - YouTube


2018/2019 Speaker

Friday 25 January 2019, 5pm – Professor Erik Jones

Economic Adjustment and Political Transformation in Europe and the United States”

Erik Jones is Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy and Director of European and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  He is also Senior Research Associate at the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale in Milan.


2017/18 Speaker

Tuesday 8 May 2018, 5pm – Professor Anand Menon

"Brexit: What happened and where do we go from here?"

Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, Kings College London and Director of UK in a Changing Europe ( 


2016 Speaker

Thursday 20th October 2016 – Greg Hands, MP. 

"Global Britain? The future of British trade after Brexit".

Greg Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham and Minister of State in the Department of International Trade gave the 2016 Alcuin Lecture at Queens' College. 


2015 Speaker

Friday 5th June 2015 - Neal Ascherson, Scottish historian and journalist.

'Our infinite Scotland small?' Choosing worlds to join.

On the historical connections between Scotland and Europe, how they can be exploited in the present context, and the importance of re-establishing an active and distinct  'European identity' for Scotland in the next few years. 

There were problems with the microphone on the night, so we apologise for the audio quality on the recording. 

You can read the text of Neal's lecture here


Former Speakers

2004 - Rt. Hon Chris Patten, "The existential question - Will Britain ever 'actually' join the EU?"

2008 - Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, "Europe's openness and the politics of globalisation"

2011 - José Manuel Barroso, The President of the European Commission, ‘Europe in the 21st Century: non progredi est regredi’

2013 - Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens and President of ELIAMEP, ‘Is there a future for the European Union – and with Britain in it?’

2014 - Dr Enrico Letta, Former Italian Prime Minister 2013-14, "The UK in or out of the EU: An Italian/European point of view."