Access and Widening Participation



Masterclasses are a range of online, subject-specific, hour-long sessions for students in Year 12 running weekly from 4-5pm from January 2023 - March 2023 and during the first week of July 2023.

About Masterclasses

Masterclasses are online, subject-specific hour-long sessions for students in Year 12 to get an opportunity to have a taste of university. The masterclasses are designed to introduce you to subjects that can be studied at university. The hour-long sessions will feature a lecture on a specific topic from UCL academics or students. This year, Masterclasses will be hosted online.

The sessions are interactive and we encourage you to engage with the presenters, there is an opportunity at the end to ask questions about the topic presented.

Taking part in Masterclasses can be a fantastic way to find out more about university subjects. You can find out more about the subjects covered, who is presenting the lecture, and the date the Masterclass is running in the Subjects section of this page. 

Apply now!


Please find below the subjects for the Masterclasses in 2023. 

January - Arts and Design


Topic: Robert Browning’s poem ‘Porphyria’s Lover’

Presenter: Prof Matthew Beaumont

Date: Tuesday 17 January 2023, 4 - 5pm

This session will focus on the nineteenth-century poet Robert Browning’s so-called dramatic monologue ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, one of two ‘Madhouse Cells’ published in his Dramatic Lyrics (1842). It will give a brief introduction first to Browning himself, then to the form of the dramatic monologue, before glancing at a possible source for the poem. Analysing the poem’s language closely, the discussion will pay particular attention to the dynamics between the speaker of the poem and its reader.

History of Art

Topic: Introduction to History of Art 

Presenter: Cora Chalaby

Date: Tuesday 24 January 2023, 4 - 5pm

This Masterclass is designed to introduce art history and will cover a range of approaches to the field and topics that are encountered. This session will use the artist Alma Thomas as a case study.


Topic: Windows Into (+Out of) Architecture

Presenter: Elliot Nash

Date: Thursday 26 January 2023, 4 - 5pm

This Architecture Masterclass will introduce students to a range of approaches to looking and drawing, and will be delivered as a participatory drawing class.

The window is a fundamental element of architectural education and practice; architects have dealt with windows since the beginning of time. We will navigate the realm of the window through paintings / drawings / sketches / photographs / film / buildings / writings / other media in a series of slides before constructing our own windows from the real and the imagined.

Together, we will use what we have observed, and what we already know, to construct windows into and out of our own rooms / homes / lives in an on-screen collective drawing. Students will learn basic architectural drawing conventions, including drawing in elevation, using layers and working in a collaborative practice. 


Topic: Spanish Taster Session

Presenter: Dr Mazal Oaknin

Date: Tuesday 31 January 2023, 4 - 5pm

In this Masterclass, we will focus on finding a job in a Spanish-speaking country. You will learn how to write a good motivation letter and learn more about the language you need for a great work interview.

February - Sciences


Topic: Structure of the Human Body at a Cellular Level

Presenter: Prof Stephen Price

Date: Tuesday 07 February 2023, 4 - 5pm

This will be a masterclass in the basic underpinnings of the structure of the human body at a cellular level. We shall go through the different strategies that cells use to form tissues and organs.

Chemical Engineering

Topic: Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering: A NICE Approach to Sustainable Development

Presenter: Marc-Olivier Coppens

Date: Tuesday 14 February 2023, 4 - 5pm

This Masterclass will cover the systematic, Nature-Inspired Solution (NIS) methodology as a pathway to innovation. You will discover how we learn from trees, lungs, kidneys and dunes to transform chemical and energy processes, from fluid mixing to catalysts for efficient, cleaner manufacturing, hydrogen fuel cells, and durable membranes for water treatment and bio-separations. NICE is also an avenue to discover materials for biomedicine, the built environment, and even technology to preserve water for space missions.

Medicine & Medical Sciences (1)

Topic: What is Cancer?

Presenter: Callum Oddy

Date: Thursday 16 February 2023, 4 - 5pm

Cancer... Most of us have heard about it. Whether from friends and family, or in the news. But what it is? How can we treat it? And how is scientific research delivering hope in the battle against cancer? This interactive presentation, from a scientific cancer researcher, will delve into those topics and encourage you to think how a scientist does. The session will look at what a cancer is, what are the characteristics of cancer, how science has helped deliver treatments and why there is still an ongoing battle.


Topic: Detecting and Characterising Planets

Presenter: Luke Keyte

Date: Tuesday 21 February 2023, 4 - 5pm

This Masterclass will explore the techniques used to detect and characterise planets outside of our Solar System. We will also take a look at how NASA's new space mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, will revolutionise our understanding of these planets.

Natural Sciences

Topic: Designing Materials from the Ground Up

Presenter: Dr Ali Mozaffari

Date: Monday 6 March 2023, 4 - 5pm (previously scheduled for Tuesday 28 February 2023, 4 - 5pm)

Usually when we make materials we think about their everyday/macroscopic properties and figure out the optimal mix of these mixed together to make things harder, stronger, more durable, but more and we find that we need to think about making designer materials right from the atomic scale. In order to create these designer materials we need to understand how electrons and atoms behave at the quantum level. In this talk, we will discuss how the mixing together of mathematics, physics and chemistry are important in our understanding of real world materials and how the next generation of material sciences, trained on degrees like Natural Sciences, will be making the materials in quantum detectors, room temperature superconductors and inside fusion energy generators.

March - Sciences and Social Sciences


Topic: Economic Story of the World in the Last Four Decades

Presenter: Dr Ramin Nassehi

Date: Tuesday 07 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

In this Masterclass, you will look at interactive data to help answer the following questions:

Which technologies have made the most improvements in our standard of living in the last four decades? Who were the main winners and losers of automation and globalisation since 1980? What has happened to the income gap between rich and developing countries in the past 40 years? What has happened to the gap between rich and poor inside countries?


Topic: When to (dis)obey the law?

Presenter: Dr Mohsen al Attar

Date: Thursday 09 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

Law commands obedience. Yet, what—or who—are we submitting to?

To some, the law is both moral and desirable. We live in complex societies and, without law, would descend into chaos. Disobeying the law is thus dysfunctional, even depraved. Others are less trusting, They argue that the law restricts the freedoms of certain groups more so than others. Highlighting its control by special interests, they argue that the law is a valuable weapon in class warfare. In an unequal society, legal disobedience can sometimes be a form of resistance, even enlightenment.

The above conundrum will inform the Masterclass on the relationship between law and disobedience. I seek to achieve two aims: 1) to encourage you to think of the privileges and disadvantages that laws simultaneously constitute and 2) to stimulate reflections on legal education and its part in advancing the type of society we aim to build.


Topic: Historical Geographies of Sugar, Tobacco and Slavery

Presenter: Dr James Kneale

Date: Tuesday 14 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

This session will focus on historical geographies of sugar, tobacco and slavery with some interactive elements and discussion. We look at how this topic fits into the first year module 'Space and society' and why we teach about globalisation before the twentieth century.


Topic: The Predictive Brain

Presenter: James Kilner

Date: Thursday 23 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

When we are first asked to think about how the brain might be organised to process incoming sensory information from our eyes, ears and other sensory receptors, people often conceptualise a chain of serial computations that get more complex as more processing is performed on the sensory signals. However, it turns out that this model of perception and cognition is quite limited in what types of information can be obtained. In this talk I will propose that we have a ‘predictive brain’ and that what we perceive and infer about the world is actually based on a prediction of what we think the world is like.

Medicine and Medical Sciences (2)

Topic: Introduction to Medicine

Presenter: Dr Rima Chakrabarti and Dr Sarah Bennett

Date: Friday 24 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

In this masterclass, Dr Rima Chakrabarti will outline her training and career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Women’s health remains chronically underfunded and the findings from the national report remains largely unchanged and continues to identify poorer outcomes in pregnancy for those who are Black or Asian. The session will look at how we can influence this and improve women’s outcomes.

Dr Sarah Bennett will also look at what it is like to study Medicine at university – specifically at UCL.


Topic: What does it mean to be mentally healthy, resilient, and stress-free?

Presenter: Dr Steven Papachristou and Dr Liory Fern-Pollak

Date: Tuesday 28 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

Stress is something we all experience throughout our lives. When we do nothing to reduce stress and over a prolonged period of time, this increases our risk for mental health problems. Using Psychology, the scientific study of the mind and behaviour, you will learn about the relationship between stress and youth mental health. In our university-lecture style Masterclass, we will explore various ways to help you tolerate, or even master, stress-inducing situations. By the end, you will get a taste of how different branches of psychology - developmental, social, and biological - can inform each other to explain the relationship between stress and mental health.


Topic: What is a Pharmacist?

Presenter: Nadia Bukhari

Date: Thursday 30 March 2023, 4 - 5pm

In this session, you will get a taste of what being on the Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) course is like at UCL. Learn about drug combinations, take in the aspirin case study, and understand what's involved when you're a pharmacist.

July - UCL East

Information in Society

Topic: Measuring How Museums Use Social Media 

Presenter: Adam Crymble and Bingjun Liu

Date: Monday 03 July 2023, 4 - 5pm

This session will focus on the social media use of three major London art museums: the Tate, the National Gallery, and the V&A Museum. It will provide a brief introduction to the role of social media in cultural heritage, before demonstrating how we can analyse patterns in their posting behaviour to better understand how they use it to engage with their different audiences. Finally, there will be an opportunity to consider how this analysis can help these museums be more effective on social media.

Science and Engineering for Social Change

Topic: Solving the complex challenges puzzle: a multi-disciplinary perspective

Presenter: Irina Lazar and Elisa Randazzo

Date: Tuesday 4 July 2023, 4 - 5pm

We often hear that modern societies are currently facing complex global challenges, which trespass boarders and are not easy to solve or even tackle. But what are the most pressing problems? How do we identify them and whose job is it to try to solve them? Join us for a thought-provoking session where we will explore how science and engineering can help address these challenges when combined with the social sciences and public policy. We will bring in the Sustainable Development Goals framework of the United Nations and explore the topic from an interactive and multidisciplinary perspective. Tackling complex issues from multiple angles ensures that we can come up with technologically-sound sustainable solutions that are equitable and can be implemented on a large scale in society.

Heritage, Sustainability and Society

Topic: Museums and their colonial legacies

Presenter: Johanna Zetterström-Sharp

Date: Wednesday 5 July 2023, 4 - 5pm

In this taster lecture we will explore museums and their colonial legacies. We will think about why it is important to both acknowledge historical wrong doing on the one hand, and think about what can be done to begin to a better future on the other. Drawing on 10 years of experience working as a curator with the collections at the Horniman Museum in South London, Johanna will explore some of the practical steps the museums has taken to embed change, including community-led research and the recent repatriation to Nigeria of belongings looted by British colonial forces from Benin City in 1897. 



All eligible applicants who meet at least one of the shortlisting criteria specified in points 2 to 6 on the Who we work with webpage will be offered a place on this programme. 


Applications for our 2023 January - March Masterclasses have closed. 

Applications for our 2023 July Masterclasses are now open. The application deadline is Sunday 18 June. Please note that you can apply to more than one Masterclass.

Apply now!