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History of Art with the Tate

Gallery at Tate St. IvesA gallery at Tate St Ives. Image credit: Herry Lawford

Tate galleries host the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day, along with international modern and contemporary art.

If you'd like an introduction to the History of Art, or an opportunity to explore and develop your existing interests in the field, try their free online courses.

If you have the opportunity, visit the Tate:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art offer similar free online resources.

Date posted: 

Friday 29 May 2015

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City Health Check: How design can save lives and money

Manchester at night

Manchester at night.
Credit: Richard Heyes

How can the design of a city impact on public health?

1. Write a few ideas of your own down first of all!

2. Compare your ideas with what the researchers found when they investigated this question in nine cities in England. What link did they find between city design and health in  Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield?

The ornamental Lake at Alexandra Park, Manchester

Manchester's Alexandra Park had a regeneration project. Credit: Alex Pepperhill (cropped)

The information is in the City Health Check RIBA article (the report itself is available to download at the end).

3. What about other cities? If you live near a different city or know one well, what would you say about it's design and the health of the people who live there? What changes would you make, if any?

Date posted: 

Tuesday 26 May 2015

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Problem-solving: Moon orbit around the earth

Do you want to be really good at problem-solving? The key is to get plenty of practice.

Here is one of the problems from i-want-to-study-engineering.org, a practice website designed for students who plan to apply for Engineering at top universities:

Assuming that:

  • the average distance between the earth and the moon is 3.8 x 108 m,
  • on average, it takes the moon 29 days to go round the earth,
  • the approximate value of the universal gravitational constant
    G= 6.7 x 10-11m3kg-1s-2.

estimate the mass of the earth.

Is the answer:

  • approximately 5 x 1023kg?
  • approximately 6 x 1024kg?
  • approximately 7 x 1025kg?
  • approximately 42kg?
  • None of the above?

For hints, topic information and answers, see the problem page itself, or for more problems (there are more than 200 available), see the problem index.

Further information:

Date posted: 

Tuesday 26 May 2015

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Spotlight on HSPS: Archaeology

Archaeological excavation at Hierapolis, TurkeyArchaeological excavation at Hierapolis, Turkey. Image Credit: Chris Parfitt

Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge offers a unique range of related disciplines, which can be studied in many combinations, or with a concentration on a single discipline: you can work on Politics and International Relations, Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Archaeology and / or Sociology. Many (or all) of these subjects will be new to you, so how do you know what's involved?

As the course website explains, Archaeology is the study of the human past. Archaeologists investigate the origins of our species, document the diversity of ancient cultures, and explore the emergence of the first cities and empires. Archaeologists study material remains (from stone tools to monuments) and settlements (from villages to cities) to answer questions including: How did tool use affect evolution of the modern human brain? What can the earliest art tell us about interaction and cognition of early humans? How did daily life change with domestication of plants and animals? What are the sources of social inequality? When - and why - did leadership emerge? How did early empires encompass such vast territories, and why were their rulers so powerful?

Specialist courses in Ayssyriology (the study of Mesopotamia) and Egpytology are also available as part of the HSPS degree.

Find out more:

Date posted: 

Friday 22 May 2015

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New Stone Circle Discovered on Dartmoor

The newly discovered stone circle dates from the same Neolithic Age as Stonehenge, and may be even older. Image credit: Howard Ignatius

The discovery of the first stone circle on Dartmoor in more than a century has been confirmed. A preliminary excavation by volunteers from the Dartmoor Preservation Association has revealed a ring of 30 stones, each 1.5 metres tall, with a diameter of 34 metres, near Sittaford Tor. The stones are believed to complete a chain of eight stone circles that forms a ten-mile crescent across the northeast of the moor. The stones have lain undisturbed since they fell about 4,000 years ago during the Neolithic period. This will give archaeologists the first chance to excavate a stone circle on Dartmoor since the Victorian era, using the newest techniques and technology. The newly recorded 'Sittaford Circle' has already been added to this Guide to Dartmoor Stone Circles.

If you live in or near Devon...

... if you live further afield:

You can study Archaeology at Cambridge within our Human Social and Political Sciences degree course, whether you choose to focus on Archaeology from the beginning, or study it alongside related disciplines such as Social Anthropology and Biological Anthropology.

Date posted: 

Monday 11 May 2015

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Bite the Ballot? Voting Age and Youth Political Participation

Polling stationWould voting online increase youth participation? Image credit: Martin Bamford

Today is polling day in the United Kingdom General Election 2015.

The Electoral Commission will fill you in on who is eligible to vote. For those who are registered to vote, they advise on how to vote today.

How old should you be to vote? 18, as in UK General Elections, or 16, as in the Scottish Independence Referendum?

Younger people remain less likely to vote than older people.  Does it matter? How can youth political participation be boosted? Should we even try?

Date posted: 

Thursday 7 May 2015

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UK Supreme Court: see justice done

UK Supreme CourtUK Supreme Court. Image credit: IanVisits

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United Kingdom; it is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases and in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland for criminal cases:

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is housed in the same building and formed in part by the Supreme Court Justices.  It is the highest court of appeal for many current and former Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom’s overseas territories, crown dependencies, and military sovereign base areas:

The Supreme Court and the JCPC have been live streaming their hearings for some time. Today, they have launched an on-demand archive of past hearings, which is expected to hold as many as 150 courtroom hearings and 900 hours of recordings at any one time.

You can also:

Date posted: 

Tuesday 5 May 2015

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STEP Online Resources

Six pointed star

Six-pointed star. Credit: Ken

A pilot correspondence course started in January 2015 for Year 12 students who plan to take STEP Mathematics papers in Year 13.  It is intended for students who would not otherwise receive much help with STEP.

The assignments (and their 'postmortems') are being published online as the course progresses. Each assignment starts with some warm-up exercises. Then there is some preparatory work leading to a STEP question. Finally, there is an unrelated warm-down exercise.

If you will apply for Mathematics or Computer Science with Maths (STEP is only set for the 'with Maths' option), do have a look at the STEP Correspondence Resources website.

Further STEP resources including information about the popular NRICH STEP preparation course online are available in this previous post.

Date posted: 

Thursday 23 April 2015

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Spotlight on HSPS: Biological and Social Anthropology

Exhibit at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. Image credit: B

Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge offers a unique range of related disciplines, which can be studied in many combinations, or with a concentration on a single discipline: you can work on Politics and International Relations, Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Archaeology and / or Sociology. Many (or all) of these subjects will be new to you, so how do you know what's involved?

Biological Anthropology is a field which explores human biology and evolution. With an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture, it sits firmly between the social and biological sciences. Biological anthropologists study human origins and diversity in present and past populations in the context of their culture, behaviour, life-style, morphological and molecular variation. What aspects of our biology and behaviour are uniquely human and what do we share with other species? Why is there so little genetic variation among humans across the world? Are we still evolving and why has natural selection not eradicated disease? Can a statistical test save lives?

Social Anthropology addresses the really big question – what does it mean to be human? – by taking as its subject matter the full range of human social and cultural diversity: the amazingly varied ways that people live, think and relate to each other in every part of the world. What does this diversity tell us about the fundamental bases and possibilities of human social and political life? Can it help us to comprehend the sheer unpredictability of how contemporary global changes manifest themselves in people's lives across the world?

Find out more:

Date posted: 

Wednesday 22 April 2015

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Explore the History of Science

At Cambridge, you can study the History and Philosophy of Science as an optional paper in the second year of Natural Sciences, Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, or Human, Social and Political Sciences if you choose to. If you choose this option, you will benefit from the world-class collection of scientific instruments and models at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, one of the university's teaching collections.

Use the Whipple Explore website to delve into the collection:

If you have chance to visit Cambridge (perhaps in the summer?) and would like to see some of these items and much more in person, remember that admission to the Whipple Museum is free of charge. See the opening times and location (it's just a couple of minutes from King's!).

Date posted: 

Friday 17 April 2015

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