Science and Spirituality 2018-08-29T16:36:41+01:00
The Weekend University - Science & Spirituality

A full day of talks exploring the science and psychology of spirituality.

Have you ever felt you went beyond your ordinary self and felt connected to something bigger than you?

In a 2016 UK survey, over 84% of respondents (including atheists, agnostics, Christians, and Buddhists) said yes to this question.

So what’s going on?

In this series of talks, we’ll explore the science and psychology of spirituality. We’ll put spiritual ideas to the test of psychological research, and discuss whether science really can offer solutions to some of life’s greatest mysteries.

You’ll learn:

  • The surprising links between the ancient practices of Buddhism and Stoicism, and modern psychotherapy
  • The complex harmonies of science and spirituality; how they complement each other and relate to the key transitional challenges that define our era
  • The amazing science of out-of-body experiences; whether anything really does leave the body during OBEs, and the profound effects this has on our sense of ‘Self’.

This is an event for anyone who suspects, that in our rapid drive towards secularisation, we might be leaving something valuable behind.


The format will be similar to a TED event, but with in-depth lectures and focused on the science and psychology of spirituality.

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Session 1
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Session 2
  • 3:00pm – 3:15pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:15pm – 5:00pm: Session 3

Full Day Pass: £43.71

Student Pass: £22.51


Sun 30th September 2018
09:30 – 17:00 BST

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09/30/2018 09:30 AM
09/30/2018 5:00 PM
Birkbeck, University of London, London
The Weekend University – Science & Spirituality

Birkbeck, University of London,
Malet Street, Bloomsbury,
London, WC1E 7HX

Lectures & Speakers

Stoicism, Buddhism & Psychotherapy – Jules Evans

If you go to a therapist with an emotional disorder today, you’re likely to be offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and mindfulness-therapy, which were inspired by the ancient philosophies of Stoicism and Buddhism.

What ideas and practices have modern psychotherapy taken from these ancient philosophies, and what has been left behind? What can empirical science measure, and what important aspects of spirituality cannot be quantified and measured?

In this talk, Jules Evans will explore how scientific data can support us on our spiritual paths, but how we still ultimately need some faith and a willingness to abide in uncertainty.

Jules Evans - The Weekend University

Jules Evans is Policy Director at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London and a leading researcher into ecstatic experience. He also runs the world’s biggest philosophy club, the London Philosophy Club, which has over 6,000 members. Jules’ first book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations was published in 19 countries and was selected by Matthew Syed as a Times Book of the Year. He has written for The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Spectator and WIRED and is a BBC New Generation Thinker.

The Complex Harmonies of Science & Spirituality – Dr Oliver Robinson

Despite the dominance of science and technology as forces that shape our lives, and the decline in religious attendance and affiliation in many Western countries, spirituality is becoming increasingly popular. Why is it that “spirituality-beyond-religion” is thriving in our time of science?

This talk presents an answer; it argues that science and spirituality have both separated from institutionalised religion over the modern era, to become independent yet overlapping domains of enquiry. The relationship between science and spirituality can be conceived dialectically via seven polarities. To embrace these polarities, and thus to integrate science and spirituality, brings about a “complex harmony” of head and heart, that is the basis for wisdom.

Oliver Robinson - The Weekend University

Dr Oliver Robinson is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, and the course coordinator for Adult Development and Mental Health. His research focuses on how identity, wellbeing and mental health are affected by major life transitions, crises and ageing processes during adulthood. Dr Robinson’s work has gained attention from the New Scientist, The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, The Telegraph and The Times.

The Science of Out of Body Experiences – Susan Blackmore

In an out-of-body experience (OBE), people feel as though they have left their physical body and can see the world from outside it. What are these experiences, and are they spiritual? As a 19 year-old psychology student, Susan Blackmore had an extraordinarily powerful OBE that lasted for hours and culminated in a mystical experience of transformation and oneness.

Her determination to understand what had happened led Susan to becoming a parapsychologist – a profession she later gave up, zen training, and decades of research into the nature of mind and consciousness. In this talk, Susan will explore the surprising science of out-of-body experiences, whether anything really leaves the body during an OBE, and their profound effect on our sense of self.

Susan Blackmore - The Weekend University

Sue Blackmore is a psychologist, lecturer and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She is a TED lecturer, blogs for the Guardian, and often appears on radio and  television. The Meme Machine  (1999) has been translated into 16 other languages; more recent books include Conversations on Consciousness (2005), Zen and the Art of Consciousness (2011), Seeing Myself: The new science of out-of-body experiences (2017) and a textbook Consciousness: An Introduction (3rd Ed 2018).

What TWU attendees are saying:

  • 4 star review  Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.

    thumb Carolina Abicair

    5 star review  Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.

    thumb Melanie Skeet

    4 star review  Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.

    thumb Jan Erik Paulden
  • 5 star review  Another amazing day of learning! Thank you Niall.

    thumb Myriam Hierons

    5 star review  I just wanted to say what a fabulous day it was on Sunday. The presenters were all highly engaging and the material fascinating. I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend and look forward to any future similar events with 'zest'!

    thumb Caroline Glasner

    5 star review  I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a well organized event with fantastic informative talks by knowledgeable and charismatic speakers. Looking forward to future events.

    thumb Glendale Leon
  • 5 star review  Great event, 3 fantastic lectures presented

    thumb Greg Cornthwaite

    5 star review  I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.

    thumb Anthony Lee

    5 star review  Just to say that I was so impressed with the quality of the lectures today. It is rare to find that kind of substance, and I imagine you looked long and hard to choose. You are doing a great job. I will definitely come again and tell those I know who would be very interested.

    thumb Joan Hunt
  • 5 star review  I have attended lots of psychology workshops and would rate this organisation very highly. Interesting, engaging speakers and well run course at an affordable price. Well done Niall. You deserve to do very well

    thumb Joyce Kleinman

    5 star review  What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.

    thumb Anne Perry

    5 star review  Just attended Scientific Behaviour Change - Ancient Wisdom & Modern Psychology and had the most fantastic, enlightening and inspiring day. All three speakers were at a tremendously high level and (to echo the reviewer below) the variety of approaches and theories around a single topic gave great insight. I've already booked for next month.

    thumb Kate Le Versha
  • 5 star review  Today's event was so good, I immediately booked for next one in February!?

    thumb Maya Kosova

    5 star review  The day of Psychology was really insightful, it has inspired me to start researching into all spectrums of mental health & psychology. Something I particularly liked about the day, was the contrast and variety of theories and approaches by each of the three speakers

    thumb Naomi Si An

    5 star review  Interesting lectures on a variety of areas of Psychology and well organised.

    thumb Daniel Drake
  • 5 star review  A really good mix of topics. I was engaged all day and i'm looking forward to the next one!

    thumb Suz Williams
TWU 100% Money Back Guarantee

The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.


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