What have we discovered in Gravitational Waves?

By Stephen Hughes

Earth

In 1915, ten years after the publication of the theory of special relativity, Albert Einstein published a new theoretical description of gravity, the theory of general relativity. Before general relativity, gravity was understood in terms of Newton’s law of gravitation, which gives excellent agreement between the predicted and observed positions for most of the planets in the Solar System. However, the predictions regarding the planet Mercury’s orbit around the Sun are slightly wrong. One of the first confirmations that general relativity was the correct description of gravity came from the theory accounting for this discrepancy. A theoretical model, such as general relativity, should lead to a better understanding of the phenomena it is trying to describe. There should also be predictions regarding the outcome of experiments when measurements are made. Ideally the predictions should not only explain what is already known but provide some insight into new effects. General relativity gives many predictions regarding previously unknown effects while accounting for everything that is already known from Newton’s work.

Physics Motion

In 1916 Einstein found his theory predicted the existence of gravitational waves. Many of the other predictions of general relativity have been confirmed experimentally in the early decades that followed. Einstein’s gravitational waves have eluded direct experimental confirmation for a century, leaving some uncertainty if they actually exist. During the past century many experiments have been designed to detect and study gravitational waves. The instruments used to detect gravitational waves need to be extremely sensitive to small disturbances in space-time. Gravity is the result of mass and energy curving space-time. Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, propagating at the speed of light. When propagating through a region of space-time, the gravitational waves change the curvature of space-time by a small amount in that region. This is what the experiments try to measure. Only large scale processes, such as the collision of two stars, are likely to produce significant gravitational waves to be detected based on present instrument sensitivity. Gravitational waves carry away some of the energy from the collision. Detecting and measuring the gravitational waves gives information about the colliding masses.

In September 2015 the gravitational wave detectors comprising LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), resumed after undergoing an upgrade designed to increase the sensitivity of the instruments. Shortly after this upgrade in February 2016 the paper ‘Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger’ was published in the journal Physical Review Letters. This work represents the collaborative effort of a large team of scientists, engineers and mathematicians from different countries, working together over many years. Their work documents the first direct confirmation of gravitational waves. While this is a triumphant confirmation of Einstein’s ideas about gravity it is also the beginning of a new era of astronomical observations. Traditionally objects in the Universe are observed by collecting visible light through the aperture of a telescope. Visible light represents only a small range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Observing the Universe using only visible light restricts the information that can be obtained. Extending the range to include other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum gives more information, leading to a better understanding. When viewing nebulae, the birth place of stars, while only detecting visible light, the features of these systems can be obscured by a large cloud of gas and dust surrounding the newly forming stars. However, observing the same systems with detectors sensitive to light from other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum reveals more structural detail. The gas and dust in this case are not preventing the light from leaving the system.

Space Small

Astronomers now have a new technique for observing objects and events in the Universe. These first gravitational waves measured by LIGO originated when two black holes merged together, the first time this type of event has ever been observed. There are presently several gravitational wave detectors being constructed and others planned for construction in the near future. Perhaps the most promising of these are DECIGO (DECI-hertz Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory), and eLISA (Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), which are anticipated to be launched in 2027 and 2038 respectively. These space based instruments will be more sensitive and capable of detecting gravitational waves from a greater range of astronomical events. Since gravitational waves also travel through space-time unaffected by other events, those produced in the early Universe are still propagating through space-time today. If measured these primordial gravitational waves could lead to a better understanding of the origin of the Universe.

To learn more about Einstein’s general relativity, space-time and gravitational waves why not enrol onto 101 Years of General Relativity with Stephen Hughes starting Monday 4th April 2016 you can enrol here

5th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Day conference:Persia and the Bible

5th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Day Conference

Theme: Persia and the Bible

Saturday 14th May 2016, 10am – 4.30pm

Persia and the Bible

For many centuries the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – has been subject to rigorous academic scrutiny. While some have defended the Bible by resorting to simplistic or wild, unustainable claims, others have dismissed it without reference to the cultures and literature that were contemporary with it. The tradition of the Archaeology department of the University of Liverpool over many decades, as exemplified by Dr. William Martin and Professors Kenneth Kitchen and Alan Millard, is upheld by this successful annual conference. The Bible is examined critically within its contemporary context, but theoretical and unprovable assumptions as to its origins are not given weight. This year sees the fifth such annual conference. Having considered Treaty, Law and Covenant, Egypt, the New Testament and Babylon over the past four years, this year we turn our attention to the Bible’s connections with ancient Persia.

Timetable 

10.00am(1 hour)     Dr. Paul Lawrence – The Medes and Persians in the Bible and beyond
  From being an inspiration for US mail, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the late Shah of Iran and modern Kurdish nationalism it can be argued that the Medes and the Persians still influence modern affairs. After looking at the history of both peoples in brief overview we shall consider their role in Bible history. What archaeological evidence is there to substantiate the Bible’s claims that Daniel, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah all prospered under Persian rulers?
11.00am(30 mins) Break (Refreshments in Foyer)
11.30am(1 hour) Prof. Christopher Tuplin (The University of Liverpool) – The Fall and Rise of the Jewish Temple at Elephantine.
  One day (or perhaps night) in July-August 410 BC the Jewish Temple on Elephantine Island, near the first cataract of the Nile, was ransacked and burned by a group of Egyptians led by a Persian officer. This lecture discusses the causes and consequences of  this violent event and puts them in the wider context of Persian attitudes to the non-Persian religions of their imperial subjects.
12.30pm(1 hour) Lunch (in Foyer) 
 
1.30pm(1 hour) Emeritus Professor Alan Millard (The University of Liverpool) – Aramaic – the Language of the Persian Empire 
  Under the Persian kings, Aramaic was used from Afghanistan to Egypt, from Turkey to Arabia. The lecture will begin with the earliest specimen of Aramaic, inscribed statue of a ruler in the 9th century B.C.,observe its spread under Assyrian and Babylonian kings until it became the international language of the Persian Empire. Most of the Aramaic documents were written perishable materials, but some survive in dry places, and with texts on stone and notes on potsherds they illustrate aspects of life in the empire and set the letters in Ezra 4-7 and other biblical texts in their contexts.
2.30pm(30 mins) Break (Refreshments in Foyer) 
3.00pm(1 hour) Dr. Selim Adalı (Social Sciences University of Ankara) – Persia in the Book of Ezekiel
  Ezekiel 38:5 refers to Persia alongside Cush and Put, as nations gathered around Gog and Magog. Such mention of Persia has aroused much discussion among scholars. This paper seeks to go through the reception of Persia in the Book of Ezekiel. The case is made that Persia was a recognized region and kingdom before its rise as an Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. To this end, Assyrian and biblical references to Persia are presented. This provides for the opportunity to discuss the origins of the Persian Kingdom and its transition into the Achaemenid Empire.
4.00pm(30 mins) Questions for the SpeakersIf you would like to book on this course – click here Persia and the Bible booking

Talents Tips – Create a SmartArt graphic

By Peter Talent

Peter will be leading Become a Proficient MS Office 2010 User from Tuesday 2 February – for more information click here http://goo.gl/w8L9kV

A SmartArt graphic is a visual representation of your information that you can quickly and easily create, choosing from among many different layouts, to effectively communicate your message or ideas. You can create SmartArt graphics in

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You can create a SmartArt graphic in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word. Although you cannot create in most other Office 2010 programs, (e.g. Access, Project) you can copy and paste SmartArt graphics as images into those programs.

Some layouts for SmartArt graphics contain a fixed number of shapes. For example, the Opposing Arrows layout in the Relationship type is designed to show two opposing ideas or concepts. Only two shapes can correspond to text, and the layout cannot be changed to display more ideas or concepts.

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Create a SmartArt graphic and add text to it

On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click SmartArt.

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An example of the Illustration group on the Insert tab, in PowerPoint 2010

  1. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, click the type and layout that you want.
  2. Enter your text by doing one of the following:

v Click [Text] in the Text pane, and then type your text.

v Copy text from another location or program, click [Text] in the Text pane, and then paste your text.

Notes

  • If the Text pane is not visible, click the control.
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  • To add text in an arbitrary position close to or on top of your SmartArt graphic, on the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Text Box to insert a text box. If you want only the text in your text box to appear, right-click your text box, click Format Shape or Format Text Box, and then set the text box to have no background colour and no border.
  • Click in a box in the SmartArt graphic, and then type your text. For best results, use this option after you add all of the boxes that you want.

An Example of SmartArt

Law acts through the ages

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Reframing Realism

By Dr Judith Walsh

Don McCullin  Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin 1961

Don McCullin Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin 1961

I decided to title my course ‘Reframing Realism’ in an effort to position realist art as interesting and radical as abstract art.

My PhD focused on British realist painting of the post-war period but I also looked at how painters in Europe and America used figuration and realism to explore the new social and political conditions in which they were working. I am very interested in how contemporary artists respond to the particular societies in which they live and how they communicate those responses to us as viewers.

Some of my research looked at the fascinating history of realism in the visual arts and I will share some of that research in our discussions at Tate. But we need to start by working out what we mean when we talk about realist art. Are we actually talking about figurative art? Does it have to represent something we know in the ‘real’ world?

I also want us to think about the different categories of realism such as Social Realism and Socialist Realism and think about the ways in which these art movements have an impact on the art produced today. Basing this courHere – enrol onlinese at Tate Liverpool presents us with some exciting learning experiences as we will be utilising the Constellation displays, looking at the art and discussing our responses to it on the gallery. Tate describes the Constellation displays on its website: ‘At the heart of each constellation is a ‘trigger’ artwork, chosen for its profound and revolutionary effect on modern and contemporary art. Surrounding the trigger works are artworks that relate to it and to each other, across time and location.  Visitors to constellations can enjoy an imaginative display of art works by Henri Matisse, Barbara Hepworth, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Rachel Whiteread, Glenn Ligon and many, many more.

Reframing Realism will take place at Tate Liverpool on Saturday 7 November. Tate are providing a dedicated learning space, coffee and as much time as we want on the galleries to explore these wonderful artworks. This is a day course for anyone interested in thinking about art-no experience needed.

If you would like to reserve your place on this course you can do by clicking here – enrol online

2015 John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture – ‘A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return?’

Ghada Karmi

‘A Palestinian Memoir:

Where next for the right of return?’

Thursday 22 October, 6pm

The Quaker Centre, 22 School Lane, (near the Blue Coat Chambers), Liverpool

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This year the John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture will be delivered by Ghada Karmi. One of the most passionate and articulate advocates of the cause of the Palestinian people, Ghada is the author of the best-selling In Search of Fatima (Verso 2002). She has also recently published A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return? (2015).

In her writings she has described the harrowing experience that she and her family went through during the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) of 1948 when many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the terrorism of the emerging Israeli state. The great majority were displaced to refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; those who are still alive remaining there with their descendants to this day. Currently around five million UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees live in camps after an expulsion lasting nearly 70 years.

Ghada and her family came eventually to London. Her father had worked for the BBC in Palestine and was able to take up a post with its Arabic service. However, the Karmi family always lived with a sense of displacement and longing for their original home and culture. In 2005, after many years of political activism campaigning for the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland, Ghada took up an opportunity in 2005 to work as a media consultant with the Palestinian Authority. In her most recent book she tells of the frustrations of that experience, working with an organisation that whilst mimicking the manner and organisational style of a ‘state’ is actually powerless to achieve justice for Palestinians, dominated always by the political and military power of Israel.

However, she also insists that just as her own generation looks now to the young educated Palestinians who today staff the various UN funded projects and campaign offices of the Palestinian Authority, so too do they need to know the story of the 1948 generation in order to make sense of their struggle today.

For more information go to: www.liv.ac.uk/cll/johnhamiltonlectures

To book go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/john-hamilton-lecture-a-palestinian-memoir-where-next-for-the-right-of-return-tickets-18069417113

Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

By Dr Shirley Jones

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Twenty years ago, Kate Atkinson’s first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was published. Its heroine, Ruby Lennox, tells the story of her life from before conception to adulthood with ‘footnotes’ relating to her ancestors, such as her great grandmother who in a moment of despair leaves 6 children to run off with a ‘magician’ or angelic Uncle Albert, who ‘collected good days the way other people collected coins or postcards.’. Cataclysmic historical events such as the two world wars affect Ruby’s family dramatically whilst lesser landmarks, such as the 1953 Coronation and the 1966 World Cup final provide wonderful comic set pieces. At the heart of the novel is a mystery, for the seemingly omniscient Ruby, does not in fact know all.

Family, identity and heritage are consistent themes in Atkinson’s work as is history and the passing of time. Atkinson’s 2004 novel, Case Histories, opens with 3 unexplained crimes from the past which the novel’s hero, Jackson Brodie, is called upon to unravel. As we follow his progress we come to understand that his own personal history is shaped by devastating loss. In the Jackson Brodie series (four novels to date), Atkinson’s plotting is complex and compelling. At the same time these novels are rich tales of contemporary life with all of its comic absurdity, violence, and love.

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Atkinson’s recent 2013 Costa Novel Award winner, Life after Life represents the pinnacle of her achievement so far, narrating the multiple possibilities of one woman’s life. Over and over again we are told the tale of Ursula Todd, and her many deaths and extraordinary lives. Astonishingly, this narrative experimentation does not lessen the reader’s emotional involvement with the character but enchants and ensnares.

The most wonderful thing about Atkinson’s writing is that whatever form it takes, family saga, short story, crime novel, experimental fiction, her work is always absolutely readable.

Reading list: 

Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1995

Kate Atkinson, Not the End of the World, 2002

Kate Atkinson, Case Histories, 2004

Kate Atkinson, Life after Life, 2013

Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, 2015

Shirley will be teaching Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson at the Central Library from Thursday 15 October, 2-4.30pm for 8 meetings. If you would like to book on that course you can enrol online here Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

 

shirley-jones@ndo.co.uk

Archaeology in the North West of England

By Jonathan Trigg

Despite the demise of television shows such as Time Team, archaeology with Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool remains as popular as ever, and we continue to offer some fascinating archaeological courses looking at our region and the wider area. What is it about archaeology that makes it so appealing in the North West? Personally, I think it is the result of the variety of archaeology in the region, and the diversity of ways that you can get involved in one way or another.

Perhaps it is the diversity that is so attractive. The landscape of the region is varied, and so is the archaeology. From nationally significant sites of the Mesolithic Period to monuments of the Industrial Revolution, we have it all here in the North West. Examples of the earliest hunter-gatherers can be found in Lunt Meadows; some of the first farmers buried their dead in a tomb made from the stones in Calderstones Park. Stone axes were quarried from and made in massive axe factories in Penmaenmawr, North Wales and the Langdale in the Lake District. For those of you interested in forts and castles, there are the Iron Age hillforts of the marches and the medieval castles of Edwardian North Wales. For the Romans, Chester is a short trip away, and for more recent archaeology, Liverpool is built on Georgian industrial wealth and let us not forget our historic port!

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Want to see some archaeology in the flesh? There are some great museums that you can go to locally, and better still are free entry. The Museum of Liverpool and World Museum both have excellent collections and are both well worth a visit. Further afield, why not try the Manchester Museum, or in your interest is Roman why not take in the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, not forgetting to visit the site of the amphitheatre en route? The University’s own collections are available too – the Victoria Gallery and Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology is open on Wednesdays.

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Keeping up with the latest research is easy too. The University hosts regular lectures on a wide variety of topics, and we are lucky to have a large number of societies who are very active. The Council for British Archaeology has a North West Group and there is also the Merseyside Archaeology Society and Middleton Archaeological Group. All of these groups also organise regular lectures and have regular conferences on local topics, as do the Liverpool Museum. And for the children and grandchildren don’t forget that there is the Young Archaeologists Club.

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One final note; surely one of the greatest pleasures in archaeology is the practical side of the subject. We are fortunate in Continuing Education to be able to have been involved in a number of projects across the region and to have had our students take part in them. There are numerous opportunities for participation in community archaeology projects throughout the region. For example, Bidston Community Archaeology currently have projects on Bidston Hill and Great Budworth in Cheshire. Liverpool Museums are also particularly active here, and have recently run projects in Sefton, Leasowe, Rainford and Childwall to name but a few.

Want to be involved? Why not have a browse of our current Archaeology programme here  Archaeology programme 2015/16

An Introduction to Oceanography

With Hannah Whitby

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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.

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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

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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