Case study – Large Academic Conference

posted on Monday 18 December


The European Coral Reef Symposium organised and hosted by the RCUK Committee, in association with the Zoological Society of London, the International Society for Reef and Oxford University.


Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 December 2017


A large three day conference for over 500 guests at the Examination Schools

Objectives and aims

The purpose of the conference was to bring together reef scientists, conservationists and enthusiasts to discuss and collaborate on issues relating to reef research and conservation. This was the first time the committee had hosted the event in Oxford and they required a large flexible venue located centrally in Oxford. They wanted to host a main plenary, have multiple break-out spaces for workshops and display a large number of poster boards giving delegates the ability to share their research and learn from one another.

The organising team also wanted to make sure the conference was as sustainable as possible by minimising the impact it had on the environment.

Additional catering and social space created using a marquee in the Quad

Main plenary session taking place in the South Writing School


As one of the largest conference venues in Oxford, we can host up to 440 delegates in our South Writing Schools room. To accommodate this larger plenary session, we created an audio and video link between the South Schools and adjacent East Writing School which gave us seating capacity for 600 guests.

To create extra catering space for the client we hired in a marquee providing a relaxed and informal space for delegates to eat and chat. With our series of interconnecting break-out rooms, we were able to display a large number of poster boards across three of these rooms avoiding bottle necks and ensuring a good flow of delegates throughout the session.

Focusing on the their environmental aims, as venue standard procedure we do not send any waste to landfill; it is all recycled or sent to generate electricity, which greatly helped towards the conference’s aims. We also reported back on the energy consumption during the event for the organising team to analyse and offset. Looking at the catering we worked with our in-house team to make sure no plastic bottles were used and our chefs produced a delicious, fully vegetarian menu for the delegates. Meat eaters were definitely satisfied!

Catering area in the North Writing School with bikes used to generate electricity and “off-set” the carbon footprint of the conference

Poster board set up in Room 7

Session ready to start in the East Writing School for up to 160 people or as an overflow for South School

Social Space in 2nd Square for networking and coffee

Do you have a large event coming up and need a venue? Then give us a call on 01865 276905 to talk through your requirements.

Need some help with sourcing a venue and putting together your event? Read our recent blog post – Planning a Large Conference in Oxford