10-Minute Talks podcast

The world’s leading professors explain the latest thinking in the humanities and social sciences in just 10 minutes. 

10-Minute Talks: Disastrous. Thoughts on a pandemic inspired by ancient astrology

Professor Jane Lightfoot FBA


COVID-19 public enquiry – a case of when, not if?

Professor Conor Gearty FBA asks whether there will be a public inquiry for the way in which the virus has played out in Britain and if so, what shape it will take.

COVID-19 and inequalities

Professor Fiona Williams FBA discusses the ways in which COVID-19 has amplified existing inequalities and created new insecurities.

Domestic and sexual violence during COVID-19

Professor Joanna Bourke FBA outlines how the pandemic has exacerbated, not created, the problem of domestic and sexual violence in our society.

Dark data

Professor David Hand FBA explores dark data in the context of COVID-19, the many ways in which we can be blind to missing data and how that can lead us to conclusions and actions that are mistaken, dangerous, or even disastrous.


What the defenders of the slave trade have to teach us

Professor Alec Ryrie FBA discusses the 18th-century writers who tried to mount a principled defence of the slave trade and how the arguments they used are uncomfortably reflected in the present.

Religion and the history of terrorism

Professor Richard English FBA asks four questions about religion and terrorism.

War, revolution and pandemic 1918-19

In this talk, Hew Strachan discusses the challenges the flu epidemic presents for the modern historian and provides some context for our own predicament today.

Westminster Abbey – A Church in History

The President of the British Academy, Professor Sir David Cannadine, discusses Westminster Abbey’s unique place in history and its meaning, significance and impact within society both in Britain and beyond.

America first and American fascism

Professor Sarah Churchwell offers a brief history of “America First” and answers the perennial question of American fascism: can it happen here?

Early Medieval Wales – a matter of identity

Professor Nancy Edwards FBA considers some remarkable archaeological monuments and how people lived in early medieval Wales.

The Hitler Conspiracies – The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination

Sir Richard Evans FBA explains how conspiracy theories, such as how Adolf Hitler supposedly didn’t die in 1945 but survived and lived into old age in Argentina, are constructed, amplified, and justified.

Charles Darwin and ideas of evolution

Professor Peter Bowler FBA discusses Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and how it suggests that there is no predetermined endpoint for humanity.

Climate and war

Professor David Livingstone FBA looks back in history, tracing links between earlier writings about climate and violence and contemporary thinking.

Saladin and the Crusades – medieval and modern perspectives

Professor Carole Hillenbrand FBA discusses the interest in discovering more about the phenomenon of the Crusades in the Middle Ages from Islamic perspectives.

Britain and Europe in a troubled world

Is Britain a part of Europe? To mark the publication of his book 'Britain and Europe in a Troubled World', Professor Vernon Bogdanor FBA untangles the history of Britain’s complex relationship with Europe.

The Spectre of War - International Communism and the Origins of World War II

Why was there no alliance to block Hitler from launching aggression in Europe? Professor Jonathan Haslam FBA argues that it was because Europe feared communism more than fascism.


How disabled people achieve good lives in three African countries

Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA discusses how people with a range of physical and sensory disabilities in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia have achieved educational, employment and family success.

Philosophy in prison

Professor M. M. McCabe FBA explain why, if a society is measured by how it treats its worst off, we have reason to think hard about how we manage the lives of those in prison. Philosophy – in particular, the collaborative doing of philosophy – has a role to play.


Professor Rajesh Chandy FBA discusses entrepreneurship and why it matters.

The crisis of the meritocracy – why Britain has needed more and more education

Professor Peter Mandler FBA talks about his new book "The Crisis of the Meritocracy" and Britain's transition to mass education from WWII onwards.

Why laughter matters

Cognitive neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott FBA introduces her pioneering research into laughter.

The function of cynicism at the present time

Professor Helen Small FBA considers the characteristic features of cynicism, its origins and development as a philosophical branch and what role it has played in public moralism, from the 19th century onward.

China’s 14th Five Year Plan – the bold and the beautiful

Professor Vivienne Shue FBA discusses the formulation, substance and political timing of the recently approved 14th Five Year Plan from the Chinese Communist Party.

Parenting for a digital future

Professor Sonia Livingstone FBA dispels some popular myths about screen time and offers evidence-based suggestions to help maximise digital opportunities for children and minimise the risks.

The nature of friendship

In this talk, Professor Robin Dunbar FBA discusses what friendship is and why it is important for our psychological and physical health.

More than one language – why bilingualism matters

Professor Antonella Sorace FBA outlines how there are still misconceptions about multilingualism and how this contributes to a lack of language skills in countries.

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