November 2015

Balliol student wins neurology prize


Congratulations to medical undergraduate Alice Buchan (2010) on winning the Sir Roger Bannister Neurology Prize. Alice was selected for a viva on the basis of her fifth-year neuroscience exam marks; and, having answered questions about neuroscience from first principles - in her case autonomic dysfunction - and about medicine, research and how medical science is done, she beat the other candidates to become the overall winner. The Sir Roger Bannister Prize in Clinical Neurology is awarded annually by the University for the best overall performance in the Year Five Neurology Rotation.

Undergraduate shares stammering experiences


Ben Cooke (2013), a third-year English undergraduate, has written an article about stammering for International Stammering Awareness Day, published in the Guardian. As well as offering advice to those unaffected, Ben writes about the effect his stammer has had on his love for language. 'Many stammerers are not entirely ungrateful for their impediment, myself included... I imagine that for the non-stammerer, language must be a little like air, a medium so compliant that most of the time you forget you’re moving within it. But for the stammerer, speaking is like moving through water – you are constantly aware of language because it constantly resists you. Having always to navigate around difficult sounds gives you a sense of how many routes a sentence can choose on its way to a full stop.'

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics


‘You wait a decade for a prize and then two come along at once,’ says David Wark (Special Supernumerary Fellow and Professor of Experimental Particle Physics). He and Professor Nick Jelley (1965) are part of the Oxford research team which last month celebrated its contribution to the Nobel Prize for Physics, and now the team has had its work recognised with a share of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which is awarded for ‘outstanding contributions in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics, and Mathematics’. The prize recognised the Oxford team for its roles in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and T2K experiments. The SNO project was involved in the ground-breaking discovery of neutrino oscillation. Read more.

Industrious but Eccentric: Swinburne at Balliol


Our recent exhibition, ‘Industrious but Eccentric: Swinburne at Balliol’, showcased items from the College’s special collections to explore the lifelong influence on Algernon Charles Swinburne (1856) of his time at Balliol. Swinburne was infamous for his shockingly republican and sexual poetry, and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. A guide is now available for those who were unable to attend the exhibition. This professionally designed guide contains images from the Golden Cockerel and Kelmscott Presses, a Japanese folding book by Tuska, and a cartoon of Swinburne and Jowett by Max Beerbohm, along with the famous portrait of Swinburne by William Bell Scott and extracts from archives, manuscripts and printed books from Balliol’s collections. The guides cost £4.50, plus P&P - please email the Librarian if you would like to purchase one. Guides from the College's recent Graham Greene exhibition are also available to purchase.


Unlocking Archives seminar: Censorship at the BBC in 1931


The next 'Unlocking Archives' seminar will be held at Balliol's Special Collections Centre at St Cross on Friday 4 December from 1-2pm. The seminar will discuss ‘Harold Nicolson, John Reith, and censorship at the BBC in 1931’. Charlie Dawkins (pictured), a DPhil student at Merton College, will examine the literary radio talks which were part of BBC Director-General John Reith’s attempt to educate the nation, as well as the BBC's seeming censorship of Harold Nicolson's attempt to talk about James Joyce’s banned novel Ulysses. Behind this very public controversy, Nicolson’s diaries and the BBC’s internal records document an intriguing debate: how did John Reith’s cultural programme develop at the microphone, and just what could one say on the radio in 1931? 

Ofsted rates Balliol Day Nursery as outstanding


Following their recent inspection, Ofsted has rated Balliol Day Nursery as being outstanding in every area for the third time in a row. The inspection report said: ‘The quality of teaching is inspirational... children are highly motivated and very keen to learn.' Unlike most nurseries, the Balliol Day Nursery does not have separate rooms for different age groups; instead the children benefit from being with children of all different ages. The Nursery has built an excellent reputation based on its family atmosphere, dedicated staff, fun activities, and happy children. Thanks to a generous grant from the Balliol Society, the Nursery will soon be building a new sandpit, adding to the wonderful garden facilities the children currently enjoy.

Oxford Poverty Action Trust card features Balliol


We are delighted that Balliol appears on Oxford Poverty Action Trust’s 2015 Christmas card in a watercolour by John Somerscales. The watercolour is entitled Sun and Snow, Broad Street. The cards are available for sale at the Lodge and can also be obtained at the Hayfield Deli on Hayfield Road, the Crisis Cafe on George Street, at the Oxford Town Hall or by e-mailing OxPAT. All proceeds from the cards will be used to help homeless or vulnerably housed people in Oxford.




If you would like us to mention in this section any significant work published this year or last, please contact Ginny Matthews.


  • Pathfinders Anniversary Dinner - 27 November. By invitation to former Coolidge and William Westerman Pathfinders
  • Balliol at the Varsity Matches - 10 December
  • Intercollegiate Golf Tournament - 15 April 2016 at Frilford Heath Golf Club. Those interested should email Chris Jelley (1962)
  • Greville Smith Society Lunch - 12 March 2016
  • Gaudy for the years 2000 - 2002 - 19 March 2016. Book online


  • Drinks Reception at The Royal Society of Edinburgh - 22 January 2016. Invitations and further details will be sent soon. Our warmest thanks to Kenneth Greig (1978) for making this event possible.
  • Gaudy for the years 1978 – 1980 - 25 June 2016
  • Holywell Manor Festival - 23 April 2016. See more information
  • Master's Seminar in Rome, 'Britain and Ireland in Europe' - 17 May 2016. More details will be available soon.


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