Imperial College London

7 facts on Imperial’s inaugural lectures


Professor Toby Wiseman at his inaugural lecture

Professor Toby Wiseman at his inaugural lecture

From engineering sand to quantum theory, Imperial Inaugurals showcase the College’s new professors to staff, students and the public.

Imperial Inaugurals celebrate newly appointed Imperial professors across all four faculties.

The event provides an opportunity for the academic to share their achievements in research, innovation, engagement and teaching activities before an audience of members of the College and the public.

Here we take a look behind the scenes to shine a spotlight on these staples of the College calendar

How many inaugural lectures take place every year?

This depends on how many people have been promoted to Professors – but on average, there are around 20 lectures a year.

Where do the lectures take place?

The lectures take place across Imperial campuses, although the majority are at South Kensington. The first inaugural lecture at Imperial’s White City campus will take place later this year, delivered by Professor Oscar Ces from the Department of Chemistry.

When was the first ever inaugural lecture at imperial?

The first inaugural lecture at the College took place on 22nd March 1955 by Professor A.R. Ubbelohde of Chemical Engineering, entitled: Thermodynamics in the World Today

Who attends the inaugural lectures?

The audience is a mixture of students, staff and members of the public. 

What happens if I cannot attend?

The lectures are all free and open to the public, and for those who cannot attend, they are livestreamed and available on the College’s YouTube channel.

What’s the most viewed Recorded inaugural lecture?

The most viewed inaugural lecture to date was Professor Terry Rudolph’s lecture Quantum Theory: It’s Unreal, with over 1.5 million views.

How many people attend in person every year?

In the past academic year there were around 6250 attendees – making Imperial Inaugurals the College’s most popular lecture series.

The lectures cover everything from the science of fire and engineering sand, to modern perspectives on space and time, and children’s health and gene therapy.

We spoke to Professor Guillermo Rein about his experiences giving an inaugural lecture

Professor Rein from the Department of Mechanical Engineering gave his inaugural lecture last year, which featured a live demonstration of a fire tornado.

Why do you think inaugural lectures are important?

Inaugural lectures are important because they are both a celebration and an opportunity. They are a great celebration of one’s scientific career with a much wider, comprehensive and calm view than any other talk given before. They are also a unique opportunity to reach out to colleagues, students and citizens; to finally tell them your broad vision and why you were doing all this science.

What did you enjoy most about giving inaugural lecture?

It was the best lecture of my career and difficult to beat, really. The audience was happy and engaged. I managed to communicate to them, in some detail, my vision of fire science and why it matters to everyone. I had not previously had the opportunity to communicate this to such a broad, relaxed and happy audience.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your inaugural lecture?

Ever since I learnt about the UK tradition of inaugural lectures, I fell in love with the idea. I had been looking forward to mine for many years!

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The series was recently re-branded and launched with a new look in September 2018.  

Upcoming inaugural lectures:

  • Professor Bernadette Byrne

    Professor Bernadette Byrne

  • Professor Oscar Ces

    Professor Oscar Ces


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3970

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