An Introduction to Oceanography

With Hannah Whitby


The more we learn about oceanography, the more questions we have. I love oceanography because it is one of the only truly unknown frontiers we have left. There is still so much to learn and so much to explore. Science is continually advancing at a magnificent pace, but it is surprising how little we really know about what happens in our own oceans.

The life of an oceanographer is varied and often involves lots of travelling and field work. We are driven by a desire to discover and to understand. We collect information, perform experiments, analyse masses of data and model theoretical scenarios to work out anything and everything we can, such as: where do water masses sink? Why do icebergs travel at 90◦ to the wind? Why do some regions of the ocean have plenty of sunlight and nutrients, but hardly anything grows?

Oceanography brings together experts from all disciplines, from ecology and chemistry, to computing and engineering. Around 40% of the world’s population live within 100km of the sea; the oceans support 20% of our global protein source. We rely on the oceans heavily, from energy and fisheries to transport and ecotourism. Understanding more about tsunamis, tropical cyclones and oil spills will help to prevent, or recover, from major disasters more effectively. The oceans are a potentially infinite source of energy, food and wealth – but we must also learn how to manage them effectively, exploiting their riches sustainably.


Every bit of research helps us to piece together the bigger picture. To understand the biology, we need to understand the chemistry and the physics. Everything in the ocean is linked; temperature, oxygen, sediments, currents, life. How hot is the water from a hydrothermal vent? What causes coral reef bleaching? How long do turtles live? How old is Pacific bottom water? Many questions have been answered; others are the topics of current oceanographic research; many, many more remain to be asked.

This year I will teach a brand new course with Continuing Education that aims to describe our journey of ocean exploration, from the early days to current cutting-edge research. The course will discuss the life of an oceanographer, the main questions that have been asked over the years, and how we go about finding the answers.

Hannah will be teaching a brand new course this October Introduction to Oceanography for 5 weeks from Wednesday 7 October. If you would like to read more about this course please click here Introduction to Oceanography

The History of Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool

By Dr Anna Pilz


In May 2015, I was invited to give a talk as part of Continuing Education’s Lecture Series on the history of the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool. It was a great pleasure to return to my alma mater and meet some of my former colleagues and students. During my doctorate at Liverpool, I was fortunate to offer four courses on Irish literature and culture for their Continuing Education programme. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences during my degree. It offered me the opportunity to gain vital experiences in curriculum design and teaching. More importantly, however, I enjoyed the discussions I had with the students on Irish writers, historical events and representations of Irish culture. It was a particular pleasure to encounter a variety of class members who joined the courses for different reasons: either because of a personal interest due their own Irish heritage; in an effort to socialise with others who share similar interests; in order to test the ground of learning in a Higher Education environment for possible future enrolment on degree programmes; or simply in pursuit of knowledge and exchange of ideas. It was precisely this diversity in motivation as well as an eagerness to engage with new and often challenging concepts among the participants that made these classes such a joyful and rewarding experience. As so often, the best ideas and thoughts are stimulated through debate.

CE_176When I was approached to write a brief history of Continuing Education at Liverpool, I jumped at the chance to delve into the rich archive of the Centre for Lifelong Learning. It was an exciting opportunity to find out more about the developments of adult education, how it evolved and adapted to the changing social, economic, and political contexts from the late nineteenth century to the present in the city of Liverpool. I was struck in particular how the programme and the vision for adult education was driven by the people dedicated to offer a diverse syllabus and broadening the programme to cater toward an ever-increasing demand.

The challenges faced in the past were similar to today, relating to issues of finances, administrative structures, teaching materials, appropriate teaching spaces, recruitment and wider changes in the academy. The history of adult education at Liverpool indicates that such challenges can be overcome. Three things struck me in particular. Firstly, I found that throughout the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, CE was always at the forefront in responding to external changes. Secondly, since the 1960s, it engaged in developing a research-led vision for the Centre and its varying strands and duties by bringing in international scholars with a research interest in adult education, funding researchers based at Liverpool as well as sending out its staff to international conferences. Thirdly, it struck me how widening participation and community engagement was always a focus of adult education in Liverpool with collaborations between the Centre and local institutions, such as the Blue Coat, the Walker Art Gallery and the Philharmonic Hall. In this ambition, it seems to me that the Centre for Lifelong Learning is really at the heart of what one major concern within the academy: to reach out and transfer knowledge to the wider community.

The Centre’s archive holds a wealth of material, including student enrolment lists, syllabi, correspondence and annual reports with particularly rich materials for the period of World War Two. These highlight the fast-pacing socio-economic and political changes Liverpool and Merseyside and their impact on adult education. Thanks to the dedication of the people to face these challenges head-on, the Centre for Lifelong Learning is thriving today enabling me to be part of and contribute to CE’s adult education programme which offered a unique experience to me as an Early Career Researcher. I can only hope that the archive will attract an enthusiastic student to embark on a full study of the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Liverpool. As one of the few Centres left dedicated to adult and further education, its archive merits such a study and will shed light on the importance of adult education.

For our current programme click here 2015/16 Programme
You can read a copy of Anna Pilz Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool here History of Continuing Education

BBC News: What’s the best way to fight memory loss?

Now science is proving what we have suspected all along, that drawing is not only enjoyable but good for you as well. A study sponsored by the BBC series Trust Me, I’m a Doctor concluded that in terms of improving memory, the adult participants who engaged in a life-drawing class had better outcomes than groups who only indulged in physical exercise or brain-exercising puzzles. The act of scrutinising an object and then putting pen to paper to re-create the object develops the psychomotor skills that kick start the brain no matter what age you are. In addition, the study group reported that the social aspect of drawing amongst a group was beneficial to their state of mind as well. At Continuing Education, we know how much our students have enjoyed recent drawing courses. This year we have two 8-week drawing courses, Adventures in Drawing, an afternoon course in the Autumn term and The Human Body in Art, an evening course in Spring. Our popular and very qualified drawing tutor will help you explore your creative drive and develop those crucial psychomotor skills, whether you are drawing an outdoor view of Liverpool or a life model in the classroom.

BBC – best way to fight memory loss

Anti-Art by Ed Bruce


It’s interesting, but is it art?’ A familiar question, often heard being asked loudly in art galleries. But who is in charge of deciding what is art and what is not? Is there a council, an academy? Do we ‘know’ the rules of art, and if something doesn’t fit the art category can we definitely say it isn’t art? Throughout the history of art there certainly were attempts to formalise art and write a set of rules, for example the Royal Academy under Joshua Reynolds. Academic painting dominated the 19th century, but when the rules of art were broken by artists whose work did not conform, the French Academy of Fine Arts held a Salon of the Rejected to show how correct the Academy was in not accepting these ‘inferior’ paintings. These ‘Impressionists’, as they became known, cared about art, not ‘Art’ and begun a revolution that is still felt today.

The Art Historian E.H. Gombrich wrote that ‘there really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists’. This acknowledges that artists always need a bit of breathing space in which to make work. To have a strict notion of Art stifles creativity. Consequently, artists have always sought to invent new ways to depict the world by breaking away from the hackneyed notions of ‘orthodox’ Art. There is always an impulse to break the accepted rules, to make anti-Art.


I will be teaching a five week course that will explore this urge as experienced by artists during the 20th century. The early part of the period is often seen as a golden age of experimentation: Dada, Surrealism, Primitivism and Art Brut all began as a challenge to the staid conventions of the time. At an aviation fair in Paris, artists Marcel Duchamp and Constantin Brancusi discussed ‘what art could be’ in the future.

Painting is finished. Who can do anything better than this propeller? Can you?” asked Duchamp. Could engineered objects be art if the artist declared they were? Brancusi later discovered that one of his sculptures (Bird in Space) had been declared ‘not art’ on its way through US customs and therefore subject to import duties as a machine-part. Duchamp imagined the scenario where one could display a machine-made object in an art gallery and in 1917 submitted a urinal entitled Fountain to an art exhibition in New York.

Dada, one of the most important art movements of the 20th Century, emerged during the chaos of the First World War. It employed shock tactics in its refusal to conform to the conventions of the Art establishment. After the Second World War, Jean Dubuffet turned to children’s drawings to inspire what he called his ‘raw art’. The anti-Art impulse continued throughout the Modern period, through Pop, Fluxus and Happenings, and is still with us today of course – in the works of Mike Kelly, Sarah Lucas, Martin Creed and many others who kick against art with a capital A.

Ed Bruce will be teaching Anti-Art a five week course beginning on the 5 of October, 6-8pm. If you would like to book on this course you can do so by clicking here Anti-Art