UCL Public Policy


Catalyst Policy Summer Schools

The Policy Summer School Programme connected policy professionals with higher education students to develop skills an understanding of policy-making.

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22 March 2022


  • UCL
  • University of Manchester (UoM)
  • Northumbria University


HEFCE Catalyst award

Amount: £400,000

Date: 2019 - 2020


Undergraduate and taught master’s students have been largely left out of Knowledge Exchange (KE) initiatives. The Policy Summer School project, a collaboration between UCL, the University of Manchester (UoM), and Northumbria University, funded through a HEFCE Catalyst award, sought to address this.

Piloting a Policy Summer School programme that connected policy professionals with students, it used innovative teaching methods to develop an understanding of policymaking. It also aimed to enhance students’ employability and skills and evaluate the potential of this form of KE, both for students and for the policy organisations involved.

Outputs and Impacts

Year 1: UCL's Power to the Planet

  • UCL Public Policy partnered with the UCL Global Citizenship Programme to deliver a 9-day policy summer school with the theme of ‘global environmental justice’.
  • Over 100 students and 13 national policy organisations participated, including the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, Government Office for Science, Camden Council and the Institute for Government.
  • Eight students went on to complete a 12-week internship at a national policy organisation.
“I love the lectures the most because I knew nothing on policymaking before, but the high-profile current practitioners provided us with the best knowledge to empower us to be involved in this field.”
“The intern worked well within the council and provided much-needed capacity and intelligence to shape a new way forward. This is important on large policy challenges.”

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Year 2: Policy Boot Camp

UCL Public Policy and UoM joined up and delivered a joint online summer school. Using innovative teaching methods, students engaged with an expanded network of policy professionals. Students received informal mentoring through the course, which delivered over 50 hours of content over 5 weeks. An expanded internship programme included policy partners from Year 1 as well as new hosts:

  • Over 300 students in attendance
  • 45 policy organisations, including parliament, national, regional and local government, special advisers, advocacy groups, and everything in between, were involved in designing the curriculum and delivering sessions
  • 94% of students reported an increased understanding of the policy-making process, and 93% they would be more confident in applying for roles in public policy now.
  •  20 students undertook paid internships in local, regional and national government.
I enjoyed the opportunity for progression - going from learning about the fundamentals of making policy decisions and then having to put these into practice in actual circumstances. The massively diverse range of speakers was super important for me.
After completing the Boot Camp I definitely feel more confident in terms of communicating. The Boot Camp created a real open and comfortable space for discussion, it was a real learning environment, everyone I encountered wanted to learn more about policy and be involved in discussions.

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