University of Birmingham Staff Papers: Papers of Sir Michael Warwick Thompson

Scope and Content

Section A, Research, 1954-1986: Notebooks, research papers and reports. The notebooks, 1957-1986, consist of rough notes on research carried out at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell and at the University of Sussex. There are also three notebooks of experimental results kept while at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, Ontario in 1968. The research papers, 1954-1985 were categorised by Thompson as either theoretical or experimental. There are also research papers which were not placed by Thompson in either category. The reports, 1957-1969, are United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Reports (classified and unclassified) and relate to work carried out at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell.

Section B, Publications and Lectures, 1949-2002: Draft publications, lecture material and Thompson's collection of off-prints of his own scientific papers. The bulk of the publications material relate to his book Defects and radiation Damage in Metals , (Cambridge University Press, 1969). There are two lectures in this section: "Violence and Disorder in the Solid State", which was presented as the Ninth John Waddell Lecture at The Royal Military College of Canada, Port Frederick, Kingston, Canada in May 1985; and "Energy in the Landscape" which was a discourse for the Royal Institution on 18 May 1990. Lists of publications and reports and a mailing list can be found together with off-prints of Thompson' scientific papers.

Section C, University of Sussex, 1973-1980: Material relating to teaching and and administration. Thompson was leader of the site development project team set up to carry out investigations and planning work for the establishment of a development plan for the University site, 1970s-1980s. A report from 1973 about this work is included here. There are also lecture notes, correspondence relating to arrangements for seminars, lectures and guest lectures held within the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 1974-1980.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Warwick Thompson, (b. June 1931) was educated at Rydal School and the University of Liverpool where he was awarded a first class honours degree in physics in 1953 and was also Oliver Lodge Prize-winner. In the same year he became a research scientist at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Berkshire, remaining there until 1965, conducting research into atomic collision phenomena in solids. In 1963 Thompson was awarded a D.Sc in physics from the University of Liverpool and also in that year was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

From 1965-1980 Thompson worked at the University of Sussex, Brighton. He was Professor of Experimental Physics from 1965-1980 (Visiting Professor of Experimental Physics 1980-1986) and he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor 1973-1977 (acting Vice-Chancellor in 1976). In 1980 Thompson was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, Norwich. In 1987 he moved to the University of Birmingham as Vice-Chancellor and Principal, retiring in 1996. In 1992-93, Thompson chaired a Research Review for the Department of Health on the future of eight London hospitals known as Special Health Authorities. The report was published by HMSO and a copy is included in the archive. In 1997-98, Thompson chaired a Review for the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils on the future of an intense source known as ISIS and a copy of the report is also included in the archive. From 1979, Thompson was a non-executive director of a building society that became the bank Alliance and Leicester plc and was Deputy Chairman from 1997 until his retirement in 2001. Thompson was knighted in 1991.

Reference: Adrian Nardone and Timothy E. Powell, Catalogue of the Papers and Correspondence of Sir Michael Warwick Thompson ( National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, 1997. ).

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History ( The University of University of Birmingham Press. 2000 ).


Section A, Research; Section B, Publications and Lecture; Section C, University of Sussex.

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Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in July 1997.



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Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


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Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the archives of the University of Birmingham and archives of other former staff, officials and students.

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