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


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: 6 April 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

Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Sustainable Resources)

Institute of Sustainable Resources and Energy Institute

Application deadline: 6 April 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

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

UCL Department of History

Application deadline: 6 April 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.

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. 

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.

Applications are now closed.