In Our Spare Time podcast

In Our Spare Time

Oxford University

A 45-minute podcast in which a panel of Oxford students and young researchers join hosts Jan-Willem Prügel, Aled Walker and Alice Harberd to discuss their academic and intellectual passions. Each episode will have a different theme, ranging from Marxism to Medieval Song, Cicero to Sondheim -- a tribute to the astonishing diversity of thought which takes place in Oxford.

15 Episoden

  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    The Problem of Evil


    Oxford students discuss the problem posed by the existence of evil in the world to the Christian and Hindu gods.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    Nuclear Fusion


    Aled Walker, Justin Ball, Valerian Chen, Jason Parisi discuss nuclear fusion as part of the In Our Spare Time series.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

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  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    Language, Mobility and Belonging


    A new episode of of in our spare time, this time looking at the social aspects of language.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast



    Oxford graduate students discuss Criminology, and the societal affects of real-life crime documentaries. In the final months of 2014, the most downloaded podcast on iTunes wasn't on politics or on current affairs, it was no grand historical narrative, and it certainly wasn't a comedy. The podcast was called 'Serial', by now downloaded over 80 million times, and it told, over the course of twelve long episodes, in intimate detail, the investigations of reporter Sarah Koenig into the murder of a single teenage girl, in Baltimore, 15 years previously. Whodunnits have been a feature of popular fiction for over 150 years: extremely popular fiction indeed, with Agatha Christie battling only William Shakespeare as the most popular author of fiction of all time. Yet, such detailed serialisations of real-life murder cases are a much newer phenomenon, and, from a certain perspective at least, a rather morbid one. Why do we as human beings seem to find these distressing stories so fascinating? Could podcasts such as Serial warp our perceptions of the realities of criminal justice? What responsibilities should such documentary makers have when presenting these cases.? And is even the very act -- the act of making the lives of such vulnerable people prime-time entertainment -- can that ever be ethically justified? The success of programmes such as Serial, and also Netflix's endlessly controversial 'Making a Murdurer', poses many questions to the professional scholar of the public's relationship with the criminal justice system -- the criminologist.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    Évariste Galois


    Oxford graduate students discuss the life and work of 19th century French mathematical prodigy Évariste Galois To appear on a commemorative stamp is surely the greatest stamp of fame. Évariste Galois -- 'Révolutionnaire et Géomètre', as the French stamp says -- was one of the most unusual and enigmatic mathematicians in history. He died when he was just 20 years old, in dramatic circumstances, but during his brief span he created mathematics which, in the decades after his death, would go on to revolutionise all aspects of the discipline.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast



    Host Alice Harberd discusses Clytemnestra, a fascinating character from Greek Tragedy, with Emily Clifford and Lily Aaronovitch.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    Science and Politics


    Oxford DPhil students discuss the relationship between scientific advice and government policy The relationship between scientists and politicians has never been an easy one. These days scientists advice our government on anything from run-of-the-mill policy decisions, to cyber-warfare, to natural disasters, to taxation, and on the future of our energy needs; but, with only 10% of MPs having a scientific background, is this advice always understood, and even when it is, do politicians always adhere to it? Host: Aled Walker (3rd year DPhil, Magdalen College, Mathematics) Guests: Kathyrn Boast (4th year DPhil, St. Peter's College, Physics), Rob Shalloo (3rd year DPhil, Lincoln College, Physics)
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    The American election of 1896


    Host Aled Walker is joined by DPhil students Nonie Kubie and Daniel Rowe to discuss the American presidential election of 1896, a fascinating and pivotal moment in American history. "Having behind us the commercial interests and the labouring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them: 'You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.' " The year is 1896, and at the Democratic National Convention William Jennings Bryan has just concluded what is now considered to be one of the most powerful political addresses in American history. His subject now seems almost comically dry, a championing of bimetallism -- an underpinning of currency based on both gold and silver -- over the gold-standard policy of the sitting Democratic president Grover Cleveland; yet, from this single issue stemmed a wider social message, a message of support for the rural poor. "I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy out farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country." At only 36 years of age, almost on the force of his fervent rhetoric alone, Bryan became the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. In the election campaign which followed, against Republican William McKinley, one may glimpse the state of the American nation, and its great social and economic divisions, as it turns to enter the twentieth century.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast

    Shakespeare and Music


    Alice Harberd, Michael Dobson, Fleur Smith, Adriana Stoiber, and Simon Smith discuss Shakespeare and Music.
  • In Our Spare Time podcast



    Host Aled Walker and guests Cameron J. Quinn and Xavier Cohen discuss the life, the work, and the legacy of Karl Marx. Many famous men and women have found their final rest in Highgate cemetery: Michael Faraday rubs shoulders with George Eliot, Christina Rossetti with Anna Mahler. Yet of all those who lie interred in this forty acre plot, Karl Marx -- and his imposing tomb -- surely casts the greatest shadow. He is one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the modern age. Upon his gravestone, the following phrase is etched: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." But what did Marx actually write? What were his influences? And have world events since his death serve to strengthen or to undermine his theory of history? Host: Aled Walker (2nd year DPhil, Mathematics, Magdalen College) Guests: Cameron J. Quinn (1st year DPhil, French, Merton College), Xavier Cohen (3rd year undergraduate, PPE, Balliol College)

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