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Contact

Contact

If you have any questions about this programme please contact the Summer Challenge team.

Other Opportunities

E: wp.taster@ucl.ac.uk
T: 020 7679 0653 (9:30am-4:30pm Mon-Fri)

There are a number of other activities available at UCL. Please see our activities pages for a full breakdown, or explore those listed below.

Year 12 Summer Schools
Year 12 Taster Courses


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Year 12 Summer Challenge

What is Summer Challenge?

Summer Challenge is a programme of subject-specific courses for Year 12 students attending state schools in or near London, who are academically high achieving and whose parents have not been to university.

There are a number of courses on offer in a diverse range of STEM and humanities subjects, all taught by UCL academics and PhD students. During the course of the programme, students must complete a piece of work which is graded by their tutor. Summer Challenge encourages critical thinking and debate and gives students valuable practice in crafting academic essays, which can be used during A-Level and university study.

Courses run over five weeks at UCL's campus in Bloomsbury, London during June and July, from 5-7pm on Tuesday evenings. (except where stated below).

At the end of Summer Challenge, students have two weeks to submit an assessed piece of work (usually a 1500 word essay, but this might differ for subjects like Maths) which is marked by your tutor and returned to you with feedback.

Summer Challenge 2018

Dates and times for Summer Challenge 2018 are below. Students will be expected to arrive and register no later than 15 minutes before the start time, to ensure they get to seminars on time.

Date  Time Content/Activity 
12 June 2018  16:30 - 19:00  Welcome and first academic session
19 June 2018  17:00 - 19:00  Academic session
26 June 2018  17:00 - 19:00  Academic session
3 July 2018  17:00 - 19:00  Academic session 
10 July 2018  17:00 - 20:00 Academic session and graduation 
31 July 2018   Final submission date for marked assessments 

Follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and Snapchat  (@DiscoverUCL) for updates and information.

Summer Challenge courses are offered by a number of departments across UCL. In 2018 we will have courses available in arts, humanities, social sciences, science and engineering subjects. 

Cultural London: Diversity in the City (Anthropology)

UCL Department of Anthropology

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

London is a mosaic of different cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religions. A ‘world city’ that feeds off its unique differences. How can we understand this diversity? How do we study the multiple voices and histories that continuously make and remake London and other everyday lives? How can we develop fresh ideas and cutting-edge analyses of the complexity of human life through the study of London?

This course delves into London’s radical diversity to make you think critically about key contemporary aspects of culture and human life via the unique methods and theories of anthropology. Anthropology is the comparative study of the ways in which people live in different social and cultural settings across the globe. It aims to broaden our understanding of what it is to be human: what unites us as human beings, as well as what makes us so diverse.

Drawing on case studies ranging from different uses of language and slang, Facebook and ‘apps’, to food and identity, this course will make you think twice about the meaning of various aspects of our lives that we so often take for granted. Discover London through anthropology, and embark on a cultural rollercoaster to learn to think differently about human life! 

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences
  • History
  • Biology
  • Language and Culture

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying History, Sociology, Psychology, History, Anthropology, Biology, Politics

Engineering Solutions from Nature (Chemical Engineering)

UCL Department of Chemical Engineering

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

Nature evolves by adaptation. By admiring, studying and understanding nature, engineers can find solutions to address. For example, the environmental problems that our ever-changing world presents. Chemical, Biochemical and Mechanical Engineering are all evolving disciplines that allow us to learn from nature tricks that we can use to change the world, for the better! Using some of these tricks and working in small groups you'll design reliable processes for obtaining energy via environmentally friendly methods.

If your design is feasible, reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly, you could change the world. Our sessions range from introductory lectures to laboratory visits, where your pool of knowledge will be drawn together in a final discussion and debate session. Learn how drawing inspiration from nature can tackle problems that our society faces. We will also run workshops on presentation and report skills.

The course is taught by PhD students from UCL’s Chemical Engineering Department and includes visits to the UCL Institute of Making, the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering, and the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing.

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Physics

Your A level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Geography and Geology.

Adventures in Topology (Maths)

UCL Department of Mathematics

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

In this Summer Challenge, you'll explore the intriguing world of mathematical shapes, known as Topology. You'll see how 3D shapes can have only one side and what interesting things you can find when you cut these shapes up.You'll investigate questions such as:

- Do angles always add up to 180˚?
- How can we do geometry on a sphere?

This mind-bending adventure will culminate in classifying all surfaces! Students will also investigate ideas of orientation, how you can add two shapes together, and even extend thinking beyond the fourth dimension!

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Maths
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Engineering
  • Statistics

You must have an A or above in Maths and Further Maths. Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details. 

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, and Physics.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Sustainable Resources)

Institute of Sustainable Resources and Energy Institute

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

Climate change is one of the great challenges of our century. We need to substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but also achieve an equitable global distribution of energy and resources. For developed, industrialised countries like the UK, this means a total transformation of the way we consume energy and resources. In the developing world, many people still need access to basic energy and resource needs, to improve their health, education, and well-being.

Is a sustainable and low-carbon world possible? And what will it look like?

In this course we'll explore these questions, and what they mean both for a developed country like the UK, and for countries in the developing world.

These questions require researchers to think about technologies and environmental systems, as well as about human societies, aspirations, policies, and politics. 

In this course, you'll have a direct experience of being a UCL researcher. You'll be guided through the process of writing an academic essay, and you will have the opportunity to practice the skills you will need to make a strong university application, as well as to succeed and thrive when you get there. 

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Economics
  • Law
  • History
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • English

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Psychology, Geography, Law, Politics, English, Geology

Health and Society: An introduction to Population Health (Population Health)

UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

We all know that our health can be affected by the food we eat, exercise we take and whether we smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol - but what about the effects of the social, geographical and institutional environments where we live, work and go to school?

In Sierra Leone, the average life expectancy for women is 51 years, whereas, in Japan, women can, on average, expect to live to 87. Even within the UK, men in the wealthiest areas can expect to live nearly nine years longer than those in the poorest areas. Population health considers the health of groups of individuals and epidemiology considers how health is distributed amongst the population and what causes good or poor health.

In the Health and Society Summer Challenge, you'll learn about the history of population health and epidemiology and study how living in an unequal society, where the gap between rich and poor is large, can impact on people’s health. Focusing on issues including obesity and mental health, you'll learn about what contributes to these issues, how we measure these contributory factors, and how we can address these at a population level.

As part of this interactive course, you will also get the chance to take part in an experiment and be taken on a tour of the UCL campus.

Entry requirements and notes

This course is appropriate for people considering applying to Population Health, but might also interest people wanting to study: 

  • Arts and Sciences
  • Applied Medical Sciences
  • Biological Sciences 
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Geography
  • Human Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Biology, Economics, Geography, History, Human Biology, Sociology, Statistics.

Science, Exploration, and Empire c. 1700-1900 (History)

UCL Department of History

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

What are the relationships between modern science, exploration, and empire?

We’ll attempt to answer this question through class discussion, museum visits and looking at objects such as paintings, photographs, plants, and texts. You'll discover how using these sources enhances our study of racial, political, economic, and cultural change.

The ‘distance’ between Europe and the rest of the world began to shrink during the eighteenth century. Global travel, trade and empires depended on, and reinforced, the pursuit of ‘scientific’ knowledge production.

We'll examine how people engaged with the massive influx of objects and information arriving from other empires, and how these engagements changed over time. Throughout the course, we’ll address the entangled themes of knowledge production, power and identity.

There will also be sessions about structuring an academic essay and guidance on university applications. At the end of this course, you will have built new skills and confidence to engage with different sources, critical thinking, debate and analysis. 

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • History
  • History, Politics and Economics
  • History with a European Language
  • History and Jewish Studies
  • Ancient History
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying History, Philosophy and Ethics, Law, Government and Politics, Sociology, English.

From Liberty to Anarchy: Attitudes to Democracy in the United States, 1776-1861 (History)

UCL History Department

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

If there is one concept that unites America’s deeply divided political culture, it's democracy. From the conservative Tea Party to Black Lives Matter, Americans of all kinds see their political objectives in terms of promoting and expanding “democracy”. But this was not always the case.

The founders of the American nation were deeply suspicious about the idea of self-government. Some even called for a President for life, who would replicate the role of the British monarch. Others worried about the spectre of disorder, anarchy and the “tyranny of the majority”. Furthermore, Americans have never agreed on exactly what democracy entails. In the nineteenth century, there was a fierce debate not only over who was to be included in the political community but also over the relative power of the states versus the federal government.

Through the examination of primary sources, this course will help you trace what democracy has meant to different people at different times in different parts of the United States. Sessions will consist of short research tasks and activities to further your sourcing and teamwork skills. You will increase your knowledge and understanding of 19th century America, and expand what you know about the historical craft itself.

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Social Sciences
  • History
  • Political Science
  • English
  • History and Politics of the Americas

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying English, History, Philosophy, Economics, Politics, English, Law

Navigating a New Sea: The Challenges of Arctic Shipping

UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering

Application deadline: 31 March 2017

As Arctic sea ice retreats, the nature of the Arctic is changing rapidly, and these physical changes also bring enormous societal challenges.   In the past, the Arctic has been mostly seen as inaccessible, dangerous and isolated from the rest of the planet.  But the increase in ice-free ocean means that the Arctic will soon be a quicker and cheaper way for ships to navigate between Russia and Canada, and between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (a long-sought route known as the North West Passage).

This course will examine the challenges and opportunities relating to Arctic shipping, with the aim of identifying priorities for the shipping industry and the governments that regulate that industry. This is a broad topic area, and the course will provide an introduction to many of the major issues in this area:  the physical oceanography of the Arctic, the ships designed to navigate in this environment, the possible problems that those ships can cause, and the way that regulations influence the consequences for the environment.

These are pressing global issues, and we expect those of you who participate on this course to use a combination of research, independent thinking and creativity to explore the growth of interest in the Arctic.  

Dates: Wednesdays
June: 21, 28
July: 5, 12, 19

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography
  • Earth Sciences

Your A level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Geography, Geology, Physics and Mathematics.

An Introduction to Criminal Law (Laws)

UCL Faculty of Laws

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

This Summer Challenge will give you an insight into what it’s like to study Law, and will increase your awareness of important legal issues. You will be introduced to criminal law and key concepts used to determine liability for criminal offences in the UK. We will question whether people should be held responsible for their actions under criminal law, and the relevance of mental states, such as intention and recklessness, for criminal liability.

We will also specifically focus on property offences and offences against the person, and learn about the law in these areas. Then you will apply your knowledge to hypothetical situations to decide whether an offence has been committed.

The final sessions will introduce more philosophical issues surrounding criminal law, with a particular focus on why certain acts are criminalised and the purpose of punishment. 

Entry requirements and notes

This course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Social Sciences 
  • Law
  • Politics
  • History

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Law, History, Politics

Doctors' Dilemmas (Medicine)

UCL Medical School

Application deadline: 19 March 2018

Imagine: A critically ill 14-year-old girl refuses to have a life-saving operation, or a woman with a painful, disabling and debilitating chronic condition asks the doctor to help end her life. What should the doctor do? What are the underlying ethical challenges? These are examples of ethical dilemmas that doctors can face. They often seek the help of their colleagues and other doctors, as well as lawyers, ethicists, and scholars. Perhaps, one day, you might be one of these people.

We'll introduce you to a range of relevant ethical challenges and controversies in the medical world and provide you with the opportunity to engage with important ethical issues such as organ donation, treating children and young people and euthanasia. Drawing on real-life cases reported in the media, this course will help develop your critical thinking skills and ability to reflect on personal and professional values through discussion and debate. The course will also help prepare you for application to higher education by developing your essay writing skills and interview technique.  

Entry requirements and notes

Imagine: A critically ill 14-year-old girl refuses to have a life-saving operation, or a woman with a painful, disabling and debilitating chronic condition asks the doctor to help end her life. What should the doctor do? What are the underlying ethical challenges? These are examples of ethical dilemmas that doctors can face. They often seek the help of their colleagues and other doctors, as well as lawyers, ethicists, and scholars. Perhaps, one day, you might be one of these people.We'll introduce you to a range of relevant ethical challenges and controversies in the medical world and provide you with the opportunity to engage with important ethical issues such as organ donation, treating children and young people and euthanasia. Drawing on real-life cases reported in the media, this course will help develop your critical thinking skills and ability to reflect on personal and professional values through discussion and debate. The course will also help prepare you for application to higher education by developing your essay writing skills and interview technique.   Entry requirements and notesThis course would suit students interested in any of these UCL degree programmes:

  • Medicine
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science and Society
  • Applied Medical Science
  • Anthropology

Your A-level or IB subjects and predicted grades must match the entry requirements for one or more of the UCL degree courses above; refer to the online prospectus for details.

You might be interested in this course if you are currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology or Philosophy.


Applications for these activities will open on 19 January 2018. Please check our TwitterInstagramFacebook and Snapchat  (@DiscoverUCL) for updates.

It is important to read the course descriptions carefully to decide which ones are of interest to you, and please take into account the entry requirements along with the eligibility criteria.

Who can apply for Summer Challenge?
You have to be in Year 12 and from a UK state school to take part in Summer Challenge. Due to our funding, we unfortunately cannot make any exceptions for students who are at a private school on a scholarship. 

You'll need to meet the academic criteria for the course you're applying for (listed on each course page). We prioritise students who meet more of our eligibility criteria too.

Can I apply if I'm from outside London?
You'll need to travel to and from the campus each week to take part in the sessions, so most applicants are from London, Essex, Kent, or other areas where it is easy to commute into London. We have had participants from further afield, so if you know you can get into campus in good time for each session (and don't mind getting home late), you're welcome to make an application!

But what actually is Summer Challenge?
Summer Challenge is a five-week course which is designed to be like a mini-module at university. We hope it gets you used to participating in seminars, using critical thinking and analytical skills, engaging in debates and discussions, and sharing opinions in a group. You'll learn more about what it's like to study your chosen subject at university, and get to hear about your tutor's experiences through higher education. Most courses will require you to do a 1500 word essay at the end, which will build your skills in academic writing. These will be marked and given feedback from your tutor. There'll also be an online element to the course, which will have extra resources and support.

Can I do more than one Summer Challenge?
All Summer Challenges run at the same time, so you can only take part in one. There's nothing to stop you applying to our other activities though!

Can I bring a friend?
Only people who have applied through our system and have been offered a place can take part. Most students make friends with the people on their course pretty quickly!

Is Summer Challenge just like school?
It's designed to be a reflection of university, so there's a bit more free-thinking, discussion, and independent learning involved in your seminars. Some of the topics  covered might feature sensitive or controversial content, but we expect you to be respectful to your tutor, and others on the course when hearing opinions and discussions. In short, there are some similarities, but it is a bit different from a classroom environment. 

Can I write about Summer Challenge in my personal statement?
Absolutely! Your tutor can give you some general admissions and personal statement information too. We'll also have resources available online to support you through this.

Do I have to attend every session to graduate?
Yes. Obviously, if you're ill or there's an emergency we don't expect you to attend, but you will need to tell us in advance.

Do I have to do homework?
We know you're busy, and that you're already giving up a lot of free time to take part in Summer Challenge. We've encouraged tutors to not give homework, though sometimes there might be short bits of extra reading to do in your own time (probably not, though).

What are the welcome and graduation ceremonies?
On the first day, we ask you to arrive a little bit earlier so we can give you some information about how the programme works, what you can expect from us, and what we expect from you. Your parents will also be invited to take part in a parental Q&A session while you're in your class. On the final day, we'll have a short graduation ceremony, and you'll get a certificate for taking part. 

Does it cost anything?
No! Summer Challenge is completely free for you to attend. There's no catch, we just ask you to turn up to each session, show enthusiasm, ask questions, and enjoy yourself.

Can you help with my travel costs?
Yes! Ask us for an expense form on your first day and we can reimburse your costs. You'll need to submit it with your original travel receipts or a print out of your Oyster transactions online etc. It can take up to 4 weeks for expenses to be reimbursed, so please keep this in mind.

My question hasn't been answered here. What do I do?
Email wp.taster@ucl.ac.uk with your query, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. 

  • Please read our eligibility requirements before completing the form. Only students from state schools are eligible to make an application.
  • Read all the questions carefully before answering them, and do not rush the form. Incomplete forms or mistakes may mean we can't assess your application, or notify you of your place.
  • Pick one course you are most interested in. If you have an interest in (and would like to be considered for) another subject too, you'll have the opportunity to put that down as well.
  • Part of the application form will require you to enter some information about your parent or guardian. Please make sure they are around when you are completing the form to give you this information. 

IMPORTANT:
A teacher will be required to give an academic reference for your application. Please make sure you select a teacher who knows you, and your academic record. You must enter their email address correctly, or they will not be able to complete the reference form. Applications without a teacher reference will not be considered.

Apply now!