Take a cold, hard look at yourself

James Franco is said to have only attended two out of 14 lectures

Professor 'fired for giving James Franco a D grade'

A university professor is claiming that he lost his job after he gave James Franco an embarrassing 'D' grade in a course he was teaching on account of the knock-'em-dead actor and perennial student showing up for only two out of the 14 lectures he was expected at.

Key says: 'My five-year plan is to to write a film, snare a wife and learn how to cook'

My Secret Life: Tim Key, poet and comedian, 35

My parents are... Carol and Bill. They are both retired. Carol is flourishing, Bill is on a sharp descent towards Meldrewdom. He recently had a letter published in the local paper where he vented his spleen about the wording on signs for cyclists. They continue to be supportive and are delighted when I do any comedy without swearing.

Guitarist Mick Taylor, 62, joined the Rolling Stones (second left) when he was 20

Diary: One consolation for imprisoned Saif – he's still a doctor

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the dictator's son, faces a bleak future in his Libyan prison, with little hope of a visit from any of the politicians or academics who courted him while his father was in power.

State of the nation: what the views of MBA directors and students can teach us

The MBA is without doubt the international postgraduate business programme. For just over a century it has been the passport to bigger, brighter and better-paid jobs for managers looking to boost their careers. In that time, the MBA sector has developed its own set of values and accepted truths. Salary hikes are the proof of a programme's success. In the US, an MBA should last 24 months as opposed to 12 months in Europe. A high international student intake is a must. But do such sweeping statements truly reflect the reality of the market?

The many varied paths to creating business leaders

A survey of programme bosses by The Independent and Audencia business school has shed new light on the qualification's identity
Jamal Naja, right, draws Robert Fisk's name in calligraphy, left

Robert Fisk: Will computers make extinct the last of Islam's proud and honourable calligraphers?

Dr Jamal Naja meets me in a coffee shop just down the road from his home in Alamuddin Street, a quiet almost mischievous face, greying hair, and he lays – with great care – a black packet on the table in front of him.

Album: CSS, La Liberacion (V2)

The world may not be crying out for a new album from the Sao Paulo quintet after 2008's lacklustre Donkey, on which Cansei de Ser Sexy (Sick of Being Sexy) sounded sick of being CSS.

David Leddy's Untitled Love Story, St George's West, Edinburgh

David Leddy is a Fringe institution, a writer and director who magics audiences to faraway places in his shows. Last year, he took them on a macabre midnight journey through an old Masonic lodge.

Postgrad Lives: ‘We try to work out how all our species evolved’

David Redding, 33, from Derbyshire, has recently finished a PhD in phylogenetics and conservation, at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. This followed a degree in biology at Imperial College, London, and an MSc in applied ecology and conservation at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Postgraduate queries: "Will studying be a lonely time? Is doing a PhD a logical step up?"

I am thinking about studying for a postgraduate research degree, but am worried that the experience might be a lonely one. What kind of opportunities do universities offer to combat this? Is the postgraduate community as strong as at undergraduate level?

The Neurotourist: Postcards from the Edge of Brain Science, By Lone Frank

Philosophy? Politics? It’s all in the mind

Charles Rosen, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Asked last week to describe Charles Rosen, the Southbank Centre’s head of contemporary culture replied: ‘A god.’ And it was in that spirit that people packed the Purcell Room for this grizzled New Yorker’s pre-concert lecture.

Research Matters: ‘Demand for researchers is higher than ever’

It’s an excellent thing that more and more students are graduating from UK higher education institutions. But how will this affect those exceptionally talented students who wish to continue their studies? Will it be harder for them to secure a good career having delayed entry into the job market? Will they be overqualified and underprepared?

Michael Bywater: A misbegotten idea that will prolong the reign of the old boys and elites

Nick Clegg sometimes just listens to music and cries, he told Jemima Khan in an interview this week. We all know the feeling.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all