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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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Our three annual lectures, cover the themes of Europe, Britain and International Relations


The Alcuin Lecture

We are honoured to welcome Perry Anderson as the speaker for our 2023 Alcuin Lecture. This year's lecture is scheduled for 22 November 2023.  The subject of the lecture is:

The European War in the East

'For the third time in just over a century,  war is raging in the Ukraine, but for the first time in the series every major European state agrees which power is responsible for it, save one, held the perpetrator by a consensus of the continent. In this conflict, far from of being detached from Europe by its exit from the Union, Britain has taken the lead in a common dispatch of arms and assistance to the victim of what all those coming to its aid condemn as unprovoked aggression.  How far is this view of the war likely to be upheld in the court of history?'

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Named after Alcuin of York, a teacher, theologian, and poet who advised 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.

Watch past lectures here.


The Antcliffe Lecture

For our 2023 Antcliffe Lecture, we welcomed The Rt. Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, former Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary-General of NATO, who took a look at the impact of the war in Ukraine and its possible legacies for European cooperation and defence in his lecture titled, 'Has Putin woken Europe up at last?'. 


New in 2015, the Antcliffe Lecture was established following a donation in the name of John Antcliffe, who studied History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, before going on to become a respected public relations professional. The Antcliffe Lecture is organised by the Churchill Archives Centre in conjunction with the Department of Politics and International Studies.

The lecture series will focus on British Politics. You can read more about John Antcliffe here

Watch past lectures here.


The Hinsley Lecture

A video and further information on the 2022 Hinsley Lecture with Professor Ashoka Mody can be found here.

This annual lecture takes place in memory of Sir Francis Harry Hinsley (1918–1998), the Founding Director of the Centre of International Studies (1975–1987) which is now part of the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). He was a student and later Master of St John’s College (1979–1989) and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (1981–1983). 

Harry Hinsley worked as a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and was a leading figure in the history of international relations. St John's College hosts the Hinsley Memorial Lecture on an international relations topic usually in Michaelmas Term each year.

List of past lectures here.


All lectures are open to members of the public. 


Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash