Community profile

James Ladyman

Professor
Department of Philosophy

After starting a degree in Pure Mathematics, I took an optional unit of Philosophy in my first term, which led me to change my degree to include a subsidiary in Philosophy. When I finished my Masters in the History of Philosophy of Science and Mathematics, I realised I wasn’t done with research and applied to do a PhD. I started tutorial teaching in the first year, which I enjoyed and this led me to continue teaching and apply here to the University of Bristol.

“When you teach, you re-engage with the subject yourself. If you’re interested in the subject then you enjoy it through seeing the students grapple with it. I teach a lot of difficult technical subjects, such as the philosophy of physics and I enjoy seeing the journey the students take in coming to understand these issues and how rewarding this process is for them.

“Recently I have presented at conferences in York, Toronto, Oxford and Sydney. My research is on the relationship between science and metaphysics and a particular version of quantum mechanics and its implications for the foundations of physics and our understanding of time. I work quite closely with the Physics Department and I’ve been getting tutorials on quantum mechanics from Professor Sandu Popescu, who is a really eminent world-leading physicist. My research inspires and informs my teaching; from setting current reading for students to the way philosophy actively happens within lecturing.

“I like the fact that we have a lot of joint honours students at Bristol and also the four year MSci degrees in Mathematics Philosophy and Physics Philosophy, which allow for really advanced work in the final year. It’s also great to be able to teach at an advanced level, and the students here are very good.”