Access and Widening Participation


Year 12 Summer Challenge

Summer Challenge is a programme of subject-specific courses for Year 12 students attending state schools in or near London.

There are a number of courses offered in a diverse range of STEM and Humanities subjects. Each course is taught by UCL academics and PhD students. During Summer Challenge, students work together to produce a group presentation or a poster which they will present to the rest of the group. Summer Challenge encourages critical thinking and debate, and develops valuable skills for A level and university study.

Summer Challenge 2020

Applications are now open until Tuesday, 3rd March 2020. To register for this programme, please fill in our application form.

Summer Challenge 2020 will run every Tuesday evening for six weeks at UCL's campus in London.

Dates: Tuesdays, 2nd June, 9th June, 16th June, 23rd June, 30th June, 7th July.

Times: 17:00 -19:00*

*except 7th July, 17:00 - 20:00

AnthropologyChemical EngineeringEconomicsEnglish
GeographyHistoryImmunity and Transplantation**Maths
MedicineNatural SciencesPhilosophy, Politics and EconomicsPolitical Science
Science and Technology Studies   

** These sessions will be based at The Royal Free Hospital, London, NW3.

Application Information

  • Please read our eligibility requirements before completing the application form. Only students from UK 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 the course that interests you the most. 
  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for Summer Challenge?
You have to be in Year 12 and attend 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.

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 in the past, so if you know you can get to campus in good time for each session (and don't mind getting home late), you're welcome to make an application!

Can I apply as a mature student?
As our activities are for Year 12 students only, we are unable to include anyone who is not currently in Year 12. However, if you are interested in taking part in our shadowing scheme for mature students click here for more information.

What actually is Summer Challenge?
Summer Challenge is a six-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 hear about your tutor's experiences through higher education. You'll work towards a group poster presentation or short group presentation at the end of the Summer Challenge. Some subjects might also involve a piece of academic writing.

Can I do more than one Summer Challenge?
All Summer Challenges run at the same time, so you can only apply for, and take part in, one subject. 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 in Summer Challenge. 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 sessions. 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 taking part in discussions. In short, there are some similarities, but it is a bit different from a school 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. 

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

Do I have to do homework?
We know you're busy so we've encouraged tutors to not give homework. Sometimes though, there might be short bits of extra reading to do in your own time.

What are the welcome and final sessions like?
On the first day we give you some information about how the programme works, what you can expect from us, and what we expect from you. On the final day, we'll have a slightly longer final session, 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 a travel expense form on your first day and we can reimburse your costs. You will be able to claim all your travel at the end of Summer Challenge (after 7th July). You'll need to submit your claim form with all of your original travel receipts or a print out of your Oyster transactions online. Claims can not be made without original receipts or Oyster print outs. Please note, it can take up to four weeks for expenses to be reimbursed.

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.