Access and Widening Participation


Year 12 Summer Challenge

Thank you to all the students that attended Summer Challenge 2019!

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.

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 work together to produce a presentation or 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

Summer Challenge 2020 will run over six weeks at UCL's campus in London, on a weekday evening. The dates, times and subjects for 2020 will be available soon so please keep checking back for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 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, 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.

But 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 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.