Third Biennial Symposia Iranica

Sponsored by the British Institute of Persian Studies, Pembroke College Cambridge, Iran Heritage Foundation, Soudavar Memorial Foundation, Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, the Ancient India and Iran Trust, and the Symposia Iranica Trust.

Third Biennial Symposia Iranica

Sponsored by the British Institute of Persian Studies, Pembroke College Cambridge, Iran Heritage Foundation, Soudavar Memorial Foundation, Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, the Ancient India and Iran Trust, and the Symposia Iranica Trust.


Third Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies
11–12 April 2017, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge: View from the Pitt Building

We take great pleasure in opening registration for Symposia Iranica’s Third Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies, hosted by the University of Cambridge at Pembroke College. Having received upwards of 400 proposals, our draft programme, which will be published in upcoming weeks, has over 150 speakers (subject to change); the Early Career Scholars Q&A; a specially curated exhibition of Persian manuscripts; an evening reception; and concludes with informal dinners in the grand surroundings of Gonville and Caius College and Pembroke College’s Grade I listed Halls.

For registration, we are using the University of Cambridge’s Online Store, for which you will need to create an account. You will also have the option to book a place at both dinners as well as accommodation in Pembroke College itself – for more details on each, scroll down.

For registration, kindly note the following:

  • Registration for the conference is £50. This covers both days and includes refreshments and lunch. We are grateful to our sponsors who again have enabled us to subsidise this by over two thirds of the full economic cost.
  • You may Register and book accommodation and dinners at the same time. If you wish to change your booking, please follow the instructions in your confirmation email.
  • Refunds are processed by the University of Cambridge; their cancellation policy can be found in their Terms and Conditions.

If you will be accompanied by a partner or friend, please contact us to arrange registration separately.


Foundress Court
Pembroke College, Cambridge

Foundress Court, Pembroke College, Cambridge: View from the Bowling Green

Rooms onsite in Pembroke College

Opened in 1997 in celebration of the College’s 650th Anniversary and named for the College’s patron, Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke (1303-1377), Foundress Court is nestled in the corner of Pembroke College’s grounds and looks out onto the Bowling Green and the Orchard. The sculpture in its foreground, Figure in Shelter (1983), completes a triangle of Henry Moore’s work located within easy walking distance of each other. The other two pieces are Hills Arches (1973) which can be found outside the Fitzwilliam Museum; and Falling Warrior (1956) in Clare College.

We have reserved 60 single study rooms in Foundress Court at a daily rate of £34.50. These have shared facilities (kitchen and bathrooms) and do not include breakfast, but linen and towels are provided and wi-fi included.

  • Breakfast can be purchased at the Buttery (cash till).
  • Check-in from 14.00 and check-out by 09.30.

Late arrivals should contact the Porter’s Lodge on 01223 338 100 if they do not expect to arrive between 14.00-21.00.


In addition to Trivago, Expedia, etc. accommodation around Cambridge can also be found on University Rooms, a booking service for rooms in University of Cambridge Colleges; AirBnB, which advertises rooms in private homes; and Visit Cambridge, which is Cambridge City Council’s service for booking accommodation in local guest houses.


Tuesday, 11 April, Gonville & Caius College
Wednesday, 12 April, Pembroke College

Gonville and Caius College's Gate of Honour from Senate House Passage

An informal three-course dinner in Gonville and Caius College's Grade I listed Hall

Caius is the fourth oldest College in the University of Cambridge. The College was first founded as Gonville Hall by Edmund Gonville, Rector of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk, in 1348, and refounded in 1557 by John Caius as Gonville and Caius College.

The College is now one of the largest and wealthiest Colleges in Cambridge. It has produced thirteen Nobel Prize winners (more than any Oxbridge College bar Trinity College, Cambridge), including Sir James Chadwick, discoverer of the neutron, Sir Howard Florey, co-discoverer of penicillin, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and the economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Formal three-course meal in the Grade I listed splendour of Pembroke College's Hall. Prizes and Honorary Mentions will be awarded. Dress - smart advised but not essential

Pembroke is the earliest Cambridge College to survive today on its original site with an unbroken constitution from its first foundation. The third oldest of the Cambridge colleges, Pembroke presents a tranquil environment with varied architectural styles framing beautiful gardens and open courts.

The College has a level of academic performance among the highest of all the Cambridge colleges; in 2013, 2014 and 2016 Pembroke was placed second in the Tompkins Table. is home to the first chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is one of the six Cambridge colleges to have educated a British prime minister, in Pembroke’s case William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), who is best known for leading Britain in the wars against France and Napoleon.

Opening Reception (Monday, 10 April)

Honouring Charles Melville's Contributions to Persian Studies
Hosted by Lord Smith of Finsbury, Master of Pembroke College

Founder's Building, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Celebrating Persian Studies at Cambridge and Honouring Charles Melville

Over an academic career spanning more than forty years, Charles Melville has devoted his life to studying the history and historiography of Iran and the Persianate World, and the illustration of Persian manuscripts.

Joining the University of Cambridge in 1984 as Assistant Lecturer after completing his PhD there in 1978, he was made a Fellow of Pembroke College in 1985 and awarded a personal chair as Professor of Persian History – only the second scholar to hold this position – in 2008. He was Head of Department from 2010-2013 and Chairman of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies from 2014-16. He retires in 2018.

Amongst many acts of service to the field internationally, the Shahnama Project is perhaps his greatest achievement. Now housed in Pembroke College’s Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies, this endeavour has assembled the largest corpus of illustrated manuscripts of Firdausi’s national epic, the ‘Book of Kings’, making 1,500 manuscripts and more than 12,000 images from collections across the world accessible online.

Tireless in his support of the field, he is a Trustee of the British Institute of Persian Studies, The Islamic Manuscript Association, Gibb Memorial Trust, and the Symposia Iranica Trust.