College News

Thursday 1 April 2021

Image for the news item 'Telling the Story: Reflections in Words and Music for Passiontide' on 1 Apr 2021

In normal times we have a service in the Chapel for Passiontide at the end of the Lent Term. There are many different ways of approaching Jesus’ crucifixion and the events that led up to it, but often the most powerful is simply to tell the story, the story that, in Christian belief, changes our human condition forever. 

Monday 1 March 2021

Image for the news item 'Appointment of the Master, Dame Fiona Reynolds, as new Chair of the Bennett Institute Management Board' on 1 Mar 2021

The Master, Dame Fiona Reynolds, has today been announced by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy as the new Chair of its Management Board.

Shehas served with the Board since November 2020, and brings expertise in public policy affecting land use, planning and place-making, conservation of nature and heritage, and the environment.  She succeeds Professor Anna Vignoles CBE FBA who took up the new position of Director to the Leverhulme Trust in January 2021.

Dame Fiona has been in post as Master at Emmanuel since 2012, and will complete her term in September 2021. She came to the College after a long career in the voluntary and public sectors, latterly as Director-General of the National Trust from 2001-2012.  She became Chair of the National Audit Office in January 2021.

The role of Chair is to provide leadership and direction to the Management Board.

Professor Michael Kenny, Inaugural Director, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy said:

“We are delighted that Dame Fiona will be leading the Management Board as its Chair, following on from Professor Vignoles’ excellent work over the last two and a half years.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Dame Fiona in her new role to ensure that the Bennett Institute fulfils its mission to rethink public policy in an era of turbulence and growing inequality, and develop successful and sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy said:

“I’m honoured to be taking the chair of the Management Board of this important Institute, which has the opportunity to play a vital role in shaping for the better the post-Brexit, post-Covid world.”

Thursday 11 February 2021

Image for the news item 'Doug Chalmers elected as the next Master of Emmanuel' on 11 Feb 2021

The Fellows of Emmanuel College, Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have elected Doug Chalmers, currently the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, to succeed the present Master, Fiona Reynolds.  Doug will take up the appointment on 1 October 2021.

In his role as Director of Operations for the Ministry of Defence, Doug provides advice to Ministers on the range of defence operations while integrating with partners across government, along with allies, to deliver the UK’s national security objectives. Most recently this has seen Doug orchestrate the defence response to the COVID pandemic in support of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Doug says: ‘It is a privilege and honour to be elected to lead Emmanuel College.  I have been struck by the College’s academic reputation coupled with your genuinely open, supportive and forward-looking approach. Helen and I are excited to be joining such a wonderful and vibrant community.

Having spent time advancing diversity, equality and inclusion in defence, I share Emmanuel’s values of tolerance, respect, sociability and inclusivity.  They provide very firm foundations for the future and I am committed to doing all that I can to build on Dame Fiona’s work and advance these values collaboratively with Fellows and students.’

In January 2021 Fiona Reynolds became the Chair of the National Audit Office (NAO) and will continue in this role when she leaves the Mastership in September. She says ‘Emmanuel is a wonderful College, and I have loved my 8 years here.  I’m delighted to welcome Doug to his new role.’

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Image for the news item 'Candlemas (YouTube Video Meditation)' on 2 Feb 2021

We live in dark and difficult times and so it is appropriate that in Candlemas, at the beginning of February, we find a Church festival that speaks to us of light in the midst of darkness.

The story of Candlemas, recounted towards the beginning of Luke’s gospel, takes place 40 days after Jesus’ birth. Following Jewish custom, Mary and Joseph take their baby to the Temple in Jerusalem, to present him to God and to make the prescribed offerings. There they are met by two old people Simeon and Anna, both of whom have been promised by God that they will see the Messiah before they die. Simeon takes the child in his arms and says:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace 

according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation;

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles 

and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

words that we sing or say at each service of Evensong. The idea of Christ as ‘a light for the nations’ gives rise to the custom of having a procession with candles to mark the feast, and gives it its name.

In this representation of the scene by Rembrandt he bathes the central group of figures in light so that they stand out against the dark background of the towering building and the surrounding onlookers. The old man Simeon looks up to heaven while Mary and Joseph are taken aback by the sudden attention. Simeon and Anna have waited patiently and now they see the light of salvation in an unexpected place. So Candlemas is a feast that helps us learn to see the light, even when all seems dark.

Simeon and Anna have done most of the things that they are going to do in their lives. Their physical strength is waning, their social position has been passed on to those with more energy. They are left waiting and watching, looking into the darkness. And because they cannot do very much, their waiting is focussed on what God is doing in this darkness and on trusting in his purposes. So the light that Anna and Simeon see is the light that you perceive by waiting patiently in the darkness.

It is not therefore the light of easy triumph or simplistically hoping that things will come out all right in the end. It is a light for revelation, Simeon says, the revelation of the deeper purposes of love. This is how love works. It gives itself even in the darkest places and times. That is the light we celebrate at Candlemas.

          As a tiny baby Jesus takes our weakness so that we can embrace the strength that is the divine love.

Monday 14 December 2020

Image for the news item 'John 'Shôn' Ffowcs-Williams, 1935-2020' on 14 Dec 2020

The Master and Fellows are deeply saddened that our former Master and Professorial Fellow, John 'Shôn' Ffowcs-Williams, died on Saturday in his beloved North Wales. He was 85.

Shôn was Master of Emmanuel from 1996-2002, having being admitted as a Professorial Fellow in 1973. 

He came to Cambridge in 1972 with his wife, Anne, and family, from his position as the Rolls Royce Chair in theoretical acoustics at Imperial College, London.  In Cambridge he was the first holder of the Rank Chair of engineering, established in 1972 in the field of Acoustics.  His speciality was noise and vibration caused by unsteady flow.  His work helped make anti-sound useful for noise control and for stabilising unstable aeromechanical systems. He was prominent in the Concorde programme, for directing the research to control its take-off noise.

Shôn was always a lively presence in college and a had a fund of stories about college life.  After completing his term as Master, Shôn and Anne retired to Eglwysbach in North Wales, where visitors would be regaled with his memories and required to answer questions of an astonishing detail about all aspects of college life from research to the wine cellar, staff to the investment portfolio – and in particular who (if anyone) was playing bowls in the Fellows’ Garden.  His portrait (by Louise Riley-Smith), which hangs in the Hall Gallery captures beautifully his many interests, lively personality and wicked sense of humour.

There will be a private family funeral, and we hope, in due course, that a memorial service in the College Chapel will be possible.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Image for the news item 'The King and his Kingdom: college carols' on 8 Dec 2020

We were unable to hold our annual London carol service for the college community at the Temple Church due to COVID-19. However, the Dean and Choir were able to record the carols in the College Chapel over the first week of December, and many of our college membership contributed readings to the service. Download a pdf of the order of service here.

Friday 27 November 2020

Image for the news item 'New publication by Dr Moretti' on 27 Nov 2020

Dr Laura Moretti's new book Pleasure in Profit. Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan (Columbia University Press) is now out. 

As the title suggests, this is intended to be the first comprehensive study of the birth of Japanese commercial publishing, with a focus on the vibrant world of vernacular popular literature. 

Prof Peter Burke describes the book as follows on the back cover copy: “In this exemplary study, Moretti challenges the conventional wisdom in her choice of texts (outside the literary canon), in her treatment of genres (as ‘porous’), and in her approach (comparative). Her book should appeal to students of comparative literature as well as to specialists on Japan.”

The book is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book from the website of Columbia University Press: It is also available on Amazon (UKUS) and

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Image for the news item 'Requiem for Allsoulstide' on 3 Nov 2020

Each year at the beginning of November, near to All Souls’ Day, we have a Requiem service in the College Chapel.  This year the Choir will be singing Mozart’s Requiem and we will be remembering, among others, all those members of the College about whom we know, who have died in the preceding 12 months.   As it is not possible to welcome those who are not resident members of the College community in person, we will be making  the service available virtually.

In view of the recently announced restrictions, the service has been recorded before the lockdown came into force on Thursday 5th November and has been made available on You Tube. We are sorry that this will take a few days.

You can find the video on the Chapel's page on the Emma website.

A pdf of the order of service can be downloaded here.

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Image for the news item 'Assistant Chaplain Ordained' on 30 Sep 2020

David Bagnall, the College's Assistant Chaplain, was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Ely in a socially distanced service on Sunday 27 September. David, who is doing research for a PhD on the Church in Rwanda with Professor David Maxwell, will also be attached to Great St Mary’s, the University Church. In this photograph he is seen with members of his family and the Bishop in Ely Cathedral. 

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Image for the news item 'Undergraduate Admissions 2020' on 19 Aug 2020

Everyone at Emmanuel congratulates our offer-holders on their results, which have nearly all been confirmed.

As everyone will know, there is no need now for anyone to appeal: if students’ Centre Assessed Grades meet our offer conditions, including STEP if applicable, then those students will have their places to study at Emmanuel confirmed as quickly as we can manage. There are some issues to be ironed out across the University that relate to subjects which are numbers managed, but we expect everyone who has met our specific offer conditions to be able to take up places for October 2020.

We realise that students have been caught up in a very stressful situation absolutely not of their own making. At Emmanuel we have tried to work closely with schools and students, and we acted promptly on 13 August to let most students know that we were able to confirm their places even though they had missed their offers on the awarded grades. We always take into account students' personal and contextual circumstances, information from the schools who know them best, and the details of our written assessments and interviews, and obviously this was more important this year than ever.

We look forward to seeing the new cohort of students in a few weeks' time. Clearly, there will be a lot of challenges ahead, not least because we will have more students than anticipated, in a year when social distancing measures will have to be in place for much of the time, but that is clearly now our focus.

Once again, congratulations to all the students who have gained places in this extremely difficult year.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

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The government’s U-turn on A-level awards clearly makes previous College and University statements redundant. The implications of this abrupt change in policy are complex, and the University is seeking clarification from the government as a matter of urgency. We regret the continuing uncertainty, but the admissions team will contact affected offer-holders as soon as possible.

Monday 17 August 2020

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We appreciate that this year’s admissions process has been extremely difficult, above all for offer-holders who have been waiting for their A-level and other assessments. We congratulate those students who have had their offers of places at Emmanuel confirmed.

As with every admissions round, we look very carefully at applicants who have missed their offers, taking into account how narrowly they may have missed, their school predictions and academic record, school references and assessments, contextual data on background, personal circumstances, and performance in written assessments and at interview.

Our aim has been to be as fair and flexible as we can possibly be, whilst recognising that numbers are limited for specific subjects and for the University as a whole. We have confirmed places for many students who have missed their offers, and we have placed special emphasis on candidates likely to be disadvantaged by downgrading of predictions.

Any student whose appeal is successful will also of course have their offer of a place confirmed.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Image for the news item 'Planning approval for new Emmanuel court' on 6 Aug 2020

We're delighted that the plans for our new court at the south-east corner of the college, designed by Stanton Williams, have been approved by Cambridge City Council.

The design of the court will mean that we will be able to accommodate all our community of undergraduates on the main college site. The scheme will also provide social and communal spaces, including a central Social Hub, a new College Bar and a large events space. The development includes teaching rooms for supervisions and offices for Fellows, and will be based around landscaped courts.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

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Emmanuel’s Master, Dame Fiona Reynolds, will be stepping down from her post as Master at the end of next academic year, and we are delighted that she has been appointed to Chair the National Audit Office. The notice was announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday 1 July, and the college community, who so value her work for and with the college, would like to congratulate her on her new appointment.

Thursday 25 June 2020

Image for the news item 'Kindle reissue for Dr Harvey' on 25 Jun 2020

Dr John Harvey's prizewinning first novel The Plate Shop, about life in an engineering works, will be reissued on Kindle on 25 June; with a new foreword, and illustrations not reproduced before. Over the coming months John's first four novels will be reissued both in print and on Kindle, together with the paperback edition of PAX.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Image for the news item 'RSC Supramolecular Chemistry Award for Professor Hunter' on 24 Jun 2020

The college are delighted that our Herchel Smith Professor of Organic Chemistry, Professor Chris Hunter, has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry 2020 Supramolecular Chemistry Award for his pioneering work in the field.

Professor Hunter's research while at Emmanuel has been developing tools to predict the properties of molecular ensembles, based on the chemical structures of the components and their interactions. His award is honouring his recent establishment of key principles in supramolecular design, and quantitative descriptions of non-covalent interactions. His most recent research development has enabled the creation of duplex-forming sequence oligomers and catalytic assemblies.

Monday 8 June 2020

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In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, another critical issue is affecting us all: the dreadful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.   We align ourselves fully with the statement issued last week by the Vice-Chancellor, and want to take this opportunity to remind our whole community of the commitment we have long made that everyone should feel equal, welcomed and special in Emmanuel.  These are difficult times, and we re-assert our rejection of anything racist or discriminatory, and pledge to work towards a more equal society as an integral part of our purpose as a College.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Image for the news item 'Emmanuel & #makeitblue celebrate our key workers, carers and NHS staff' on 21 May 2020

The college was delighted to be part of the #makeitblue campaign on Thursday 21 May, to celebrate our key workers, carers and NHS staff and especially all our members of college who are involved and contributing so much.

Dame Fiona said: "Our college community has become stronger than ever, with our Student Union organising regular online yoga sessions, bake-off competitions, regular Zoom catch-ups with the Master, weekly film nights, and even pets dressed in Emmanuel jumpers! Students have praised our welfare officers for their efforts in fore-fronting mental health and wellbeing, and we’re delighted that all our members continue to be connected with us.”

We also want to thank the local independent event contractors who brought the installation together, including The Crane Event, Pink Lamp, jmps, Blue Shed & JezO's Events.

Thursday 30 April 2020

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The college are absolutely delighted that our Fellow Professor Steve Young and member Professor Vikram Deshpande (1994) have been elected to Fellowships at the Royal Society. The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK, dedicated to promoting excellence in science for the benefit of humanity.

Professor Young researches machine learning and AI, focussing on speech and language processing. His work contributed significantly to speech recognition and his research was pioneering in its use of statistical modelling in spoken dialogue management.

Professor Deshpande's work in solid mechanics has developed material design in both soft and active materials, designing micro-architectured materials, helping to determine the current parameters of his field.