UCL Alumni


UCL alumni Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas triumph at the 96th Academy Awards with Oppenheimer

13 March 2024

Nominated in 13 categories, the film swept the board at the 2024 ceremony taking home seven coveted Oscars. 

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas visiting UCL Film Society

UCL alumni Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas have received a litany of prizes for their film at the latest Academy Awards, including Best Director for Christopher and the top honour of Best Picture. Across categories, the film picked up seven awards, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. 

Oppenheimer, which tells the story of theoretical physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer, known as "the father of the atomic bomb", has been unstoppable on the awards circuit. Its Oscars success comes off the back of equally impressive sweeps at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. At the latter ceremony, Emma reflected on her time at UCL when collecting the trophy for Best Film: 

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Past and present

Christopher and Emma are 1993 UCL graduates, in English Literature and History, respectively. As a student, Christopher spent his extracurricular time as president of the UCL Film Society working in UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre making short films and eventually his first feature length film. He met Emma on his first day in Ramsay Halls at UCL. Emma, who was also active with the UCL Film Society, later became his wife and film-producing partner, and together they run their film production company Syncopy. 

The distinguished pair have a lasting connection with UCL: both have been awarded honorary fellowships, Christopher received the prestigious title in 2006 and Emma in 2013.  In 2017, Christopher was awarded an honorary doctorate. Honorary doctorates are conferred to a select few; among those who have received the honour are broadcaster and writer Melvyn Bragg, artist and sculptor Anthony Gormley, astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Burnell, author Ian McEwan, architect Lord Foster and novelist and biographer Peter Ackroyd to name but a few. 

Forging ahead

Christopher is passionate about his time at UCL and credits his studies for instilling within him “an attitude of not accepting things as they are, not accepting the status quo, but looking to improve things,” an approach that has remained.  Additionally, Christopher has revisited UCL on many occasions using various locations around campus in many of his feature films including Inception and the Dark Knight series. 

Angharad Milenkovic, Vice-President (Advancement), congratulated the UCL alumni, saying “We are immensely proud of Christopher and Emma’s accomplishments and absolutely thrilled with their Oscars success. Their achievements exemplify the exceptional talent of UCL alumni.” 

Further information

Image: Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas visiting the UCL Film Society in 2017.