The Perse School

The 42

Connecting pupils to experts, ideas, complex questions and inspiring experiences


We take full advantage of our Cambridge location to host lunchtime and evening talks by experts from the world of academia, the arts, business, charities and the public sector, and technology.

Named after Douglas Adams’s ultimate answer to the ultimate question in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the 42 Society is a programme of inspiring lectures designed to broaden student minds and interests, challenge views and introduce new ideas.

The 42 brings in a varied range of experts at the top of their field to share their work and experiences with pupils. There are up to 20 talks each year, sometimes more, on a varied range of subjects; subjects fall well outside the boundaries of the school curriculum, and frequently cross disciplinary boundaries.

The benefits to our students are enormous. Not only do the talks furnish them with valuable material for university applications and personal statements, they directly connect our pupils to world experts in their field, inspiring them to think beyond the boundaries of their classroom learning and encouraging their own independent research.

A 42 lecture can spark a train of thought which leads to lively discussion with peers and teachers, wider reading, work experience, real-world connections and events, and, sometimes, university and career decisions.

The 42 programme of external speakers rivals the programmes of the very best universities. Our plans to develop it include podcasted lectures and an even more diverse and high-profile range of talks.

Upcoming Lectures

Michaelmas 2018

Tim Harper (OP, 2006)
The Future of Elite Sport: Challenging the Radical Monopoly through Social Enterprise
9 October 2018, 13.15.

Lucy Chappell
From Bench to Bedside, Campus to Clinic: Tales of a Pregnancy Researcher
30 October 2018, 13.15.

Michelle Ellefson
Executive functions and their impact on adolescent thinking skills: a study involving Perse students
6 November 2018, 13.15.

Josh Gaw (OP, 2010)
Tackling national security through Government policy
13 November 2018, 13.15.

Mike Hulme
Can we see climate change?
20 November 2018, 13.15.

Lent 2019

Irina Astigeevich
Business: Title TBC
22 January 2019, 13.15.

Emma Meredith
Cosmetic Products: Amazing Science Applied Daily
29 January 2019, 13.15.

Sjors Scheres
Molecular Biology
5 February 2019, 13.15.

Andrew Grace
Imaging the heart beat in the 21st Century
5 March 2019, 13.15.

Barnaby Powell
The Meaning of China
19 March 2019, 13.15.

Summer 2019

Nick Bacon
Veterinary Surgery in the 21st Century: A New Frontier
7 May 2019, 13.15.

Geoffrey Smith
How can viruses be genetically modified to treat cancer?
14 May 2019, 13.15.

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