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The Sutton Trust Summer Schools are free subject-specific residential courses for Year 12 (or equivalent) students studying at state-maintained schools in the UK. The five-day summer schools in July and August allow students to explore their interest in one of 26 subject courses and gain an insight into what it is like to live and study as a first-year undergraduate student at Cambridge. The programme includes lectures, seminars, discussion groups, practical work and social activities, as well as the opportunity to meet current staff and students and to live in a Cambridge College.

Summer school courses

Cambridge will be hosting summer schools in 26 subjects, with places for around 550 participants.

Click on the course name below for a description of what's involved in each summer school.

13-17 July 2015

20-24 July 2015

17-21 August 2015

24-28 August 2015

Summer school outlines

Biological Sciences 

This ground-breaking Summer School will give aspiring Biologists the opportunity to test their investigative skills through cutting-edge forensic, zoological, psychological, genetic and computing activities. To solve a devious crime, students must develop their skills in team-building, presentation, critical evaluation, and synthesis (with the help of lecturers and student mentors).

English Literature

The Summer School in English Literature will focus on four different periods of Anglophone literature, from the Medieval times to the 1950s.

We will look at a range of texts from a number of different genres, including a poem, play, novel and short story. Participants will be asked to read these texts before the course.

The Summer School will include lectures on these works, and then small discussion groups ('supervisions') in which students can develop their own ideas.

Accompanying all this will be a series of workshops and a library induction, so that participants can really experience life as it is lived by Cambridge undergraduates.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE 

  • Taking English Literature OR English Language and Literature to at least AS/2 level


The one-week Summer School at the Faculty of Law consists not only of seminars and tutorials, but also a varied programme of social activities, to give participants an accurate idea of life as an undergraduate at the Faculty.

The week culminates in a mock trial featuring the 'death' of a student at the Cambridge Faculty of Law, with students playing all the major roles, including solicitors, barristers, and even defendant!

More information and images of previous summer schools can be seen at the Faculty of Law website.

Sociology with Social Anthropology

This course is an introduction to two areas of the social sciences, Sociology and Social Anthropology, which form part of the Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) course at the University of Cambridge. The course will serve as an overview of the key topics of sociological research today. It introduces and compares a number of sociological theories about the transition towards modern society, drawing on comparisons of past and present cultures and societies to examine the principles of social life and development. Subsequently, it tackles a number of contemporary topics, ranging from the media to social inequality, gender to kinship and the family.

Archaeology and Biological Anthropology

The Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology studies humanity from two interlinked perspectives:

Archaeology is the study of past human societies through their material remains and environment. It deals with the millennia during which humans developed their patterns of behaviour. It aims to reconstruct the nature and development of particular societies and explain the variations that occur among past societies.

Biological Anthropology examines human diversity in terms of biological and evolutionary principles and methods. It explores the place of humans in nature, the pattern of our evolution, the genetics of humans and their significance, and how individuals and populations interact with their environment today. The subject studies behaviour, ecology, genetics and fossils to understand humanity.

We will be based in the museum for the summer school where all participants will have the opportunity to handle, study and research human artefacts across the millennia from our earliest ancestors to the present day. Students will explore objects by understanding their find spot (or context), using the archival and library resources of the museum.


The Engineering Summer School will give you an authentic taste of what it is like studying Engineering at Cambridge. The Summer School contains all the elements that our undergraduate course does: lectures, laboratory experiments, supervisions and project work. You will get the chance to learn more about Engineering and about Cambridge, to study some Maths and Physics that will benefit your Year 13 studies and to make new friends.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE (priority given to those taking)

  • Maths and Physics at A-level
  • OR the Advanced Diploma in Engineering including the Mathematics for Engineering ASL unit
  • OR Maths at A-level AND A Level 3 vocational qualification in an Engineering discipline


The Music department's undergraduate course is designed to introduce you not just to a wide range of music, but to a wide variety of ways of thinking about music and we try to adopt the same approach to our summer school course.

Analysis, history, harmony and counterpoint, and practical musicianship have previously been included in the summer schools, along with specialised classes looking at the blues, jazz, film music, gamelan, composition and the psychology of music.

Through a mixture of lectures, supervisions and practical workshops, students will experience a taster of the variety of topics on offer through University music study.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Music at A-level
  • OR taking Music Theory Grade 7


The aim of this summer school is to give you a flavour of what it is like to study Physics at university.

There is a five-lecture course entitled 'Mechanics and Special Relativity' which is a shortened version of a very similar set of lectures given to our first-year students; this is accompanied by a set of examples for you to work through during the course.

There are also three other lectures of more general interest on 'Spin and Angular Momentum', 'Particle Physics, CERN and the Large Hadron Collider' and 'The Big Bang and the Cosmic Microwave Background'.

You will carry out two practicals similar to those undertaken by our first-year undergraduates, one investigating the motion of a ball rolling down an inclined plane and the other looking at the diffraction patterns of a single slit produced by a laser.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Maths AND Physics at A-level

Theology and Religious Studies, with Philosophy

Theology, Religious Studies and Philosophy are combining to give a summer school that will bring together very different perspectives on human thought and life. How should we think? Is it reasonable to be religious? How should we study Scriptures today? What constitutes a convincing argument in Philosophy, in Theology or in Religious Studies.

Through lectures and discussions we shall begin to look at these issues, in some of their ancient and modern forms. By the end of the summer school you will have a sense of the questions the different faculties ask, and the tools and disciplines that they use in trying to answer them. Expect it to be fun, illuminating and hard work.

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

The Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC) studies the history, languages, literatures and cultures of the different peoples of Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia during the middle ages.

The ASNC Summer School therefore provides the opportunity for students to explore a number of different subject areas: history, languages, literature, and palaeography (the study of manuscripts).

Students will be able to choose from a selection of seminars, lectures and classes, depending on their individual interests. Participants will also have the chance to see some Anglo-Saxon and Celtic manuscripts at first hand. No previous knowledge of the subjects studied is expected or required.


The Chemistry Summer School is aimed at giving you a flavour of what it will be like to study Chemistry at university level, while at the same time covering some topics which we hope will give you a deeper understanding of what you are studying presently.

There will be a chance to do some university-level practical work as well as looking around the research laboratories and hearing about what is going on in them. We hope that after the course you will go away enthused about Chemistry and with some extra useful knowledge under your belt.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Chemistry at A-level
  • Priority given to those ALSO taking Maths to at least AS/2 level

Computer Sciences

In the Computer Laboratory we study and develop the science and technology that makes modern computing possible. There is a vast range of topics within computer science, and rapid progress occurring in almost all of them.

In the Computing Summer School, we will focus on computer programming. The fundamentals of computer science will be explained with reference to a custom-designed programming language for teaching. Students will participate in a sequence of explanatory sessions and practical sessions. All participants will be writing programs by the end of the course, but no prior knowledge of programming is required.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Maths at A-level


The Economics Summer School is designed to develop your understanding of economics and give you an insight into topical issues that influence our everyday lives and the current political climate. During the week, you'll gain an understanding of the nature of social institutions and economic systems, such as firms and markets, and analyse how individuals and institutions interact to generate outcomes for society as a whole. Through a range of lectures, classes and group work, you will use a range of interdisciplinary techniques, combining history, sociology, mathematics, statistics and philosophy.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Maths at A-level


Education is critical to our future both as individuals and as a society. The ideals and aims of Education and the manner in which it is delivered, both within the UK and nationally, are issues which inspire a great deal of passion and debate. Education at Cambridge is a broad social science course which engages with this international discourse and is ideal for students interested in working in international organisations, policy and creative practice as well as teaching.

Participants will study Education as a social science that combines Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and History, and will look at education, justice and human rights within a global context. Students will also be able to grapple with some of the challenging issues that arise in Education through small group supervisions.


The History Summer School will include lectures and seminars by lecturers at the University of Cambridge designed to broaden your knowledge of history and give a flavour of what studying History at university is like.

Previous Summer Schools have included sessions on the English Reformation of the sixteenth century, the relationship between Britain and Europe in the 19th century, and on the cold war.

Previous Summer Schools have also included a visit to the Churchill Archives Centre, which houses the papers of a number of former British prime ministers and others, as well as at least one of Mrs Thatcher's handbags!

The summer school will finish with a session on applying to Cambridge to study history, in which we will look at what makes a good application and at how the admissions process works in Cambridge.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking History at A-level


The Mathematics course will give you an introduction to life as a university mathematics student. You will actively work on a number of areas of mathematics in lectures, workshops and supervisions. You will experience approaches to mathematics that you might not have met previously, meet current Cambridge students and make friends with the other students on the course. We hope that the course will open your eyes to what studying mathematics at university is like, and that it will inspire you to take your Mathematics further.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Maths and Further Maths (in Year 12 or 13) at AS Level


What is it like being a medical student? What is different about the Cambridge course? What might I gain by studying the Cambridge way? The aim of this summer school is to try to answer these questions.

On this course you will get a chance to experience many of the types of learning available to students training to be doctors. There will be mini-courses giving an overview of some aspects of the basic sciences, with lectures, lab practicals, supervisions and project work. In addition there will be some contact with the clinicians who teach on our clinical courses at Addenbrooke's Hospital, where the major clinical teaching is based.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Chemistry AND 2 subjects in either Maths, Physics or Biology or Human Biology at AS Level.

Modern Languages, with Linguistics

The Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) provides students with the tools to develop linguistic competence and perfection in a comprehensive range of modern European languages. In parallel, students take cultural modules comprising literature (from the middle-ages to the modern day), history and visual art (from Europe, Latin America and Africa), and linguistics modules aimed at close study of the history, structures, sounds and regional variations of different languages.

The Summer School allows participants to get a taste of most of these areas, providing a unique opportunity to sample typical MML language classes (in at least one of the following languages: French, Spanish, German, with an additional 'ab initio' language class), to participate in seminar discussions on cinema, literature and linguistics, as well as to attend more specialist lectures on subjects as diverse as forensic linguistics, Soviet art, Italian cinema and the study of medieval texts.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking at least one foreign modern European language at A-level

Veterinary Medicine

What is it like being a vet student at Cambridge? The aim of this summer school is to try to answer this question.

On this course you will get a chance to experience many of the types of learning available to students training to be animal clinicians. The group will attend mini-courses giving an overview of the basic sciences, with lectures, project work and supervisions, as well as having the chance to try your hand at animal dissection. You will , also visit the Veterinary School to learn about clinical teaching.

Requirements in addition to 5 A/A*s at GCSE

  • Taking Chemistry AND 2 subjects in either Maths, Physics or Biology or/ Human Biology at AS Level

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Are you interested in the world's fastest growing economy? Have you ever wondered why politics and religion seem to be inseparable in the Middle East? Would you like to learn more about Japanese film and literature? Asian and Middle Eastern Studies explores these questions alongside the study of one of Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Persian.

The Summer School allows participants to get a taste of most of these areas, providing a unique opportunity to explore this diverse and versatile subject. Participants will take part in 'ab initio' language classes, attend lectures across a wide range of subjects and participate in seminar discussions.

This course assumes no prior knowledge of any of the languages and is designed to accommodate complete beginners.


Cambridge is an amazing place to study architecture; students live and study in the beautiful buildings, courts, interiors and gardens of Cambridge, including the work of great architects such as Sir Christopher Wren, Sir James Stirling and Ralph Erskine.

Architecture at Cambridge is an academic course, which emphasises the cultural as well as technological aspects of subject.

Students on the Architecture Summer School will experience different elements of the undergraduate course, including studying in studios to work on project design ideas.


The nature of power, the fear of death, the relations between states and individuals: Classics speaks to us of matters from which no-one can remain detached.

Classics at Cambridge looks at how classical culture, language and philosophy have affected the history of civilisation in the West right up to the present day.

The Classics Summer School assumes no prior knowledge of Latin, Greek or classical antiquity. During the week, you will learn Latin from scratch through intensive language classes and through exploring some original texts and artefacts. You will get the chance to work with staff and current students, providing a unique opportunity to sample language classes and seminars at Cambridge, at the same time as learning Latin within the context of Roman culture more broadly.

This is an 'Introduction to Latin' course, and therefore assumes no prior knowledge of a classical language.


The Geography Summer School covers topics across the spectrum of geography.

A field trip in human geography takes us on a tour through space and time, as we investigate the hotly contested development of Cambridge, past, present and future.

A supervision based around reading and information collected on the field trip follows on from this.

A lecture and lab class introduces techniques for the analysis of environments and includes an introduction to Geographic Information Systems software and a taster of what can be done with remotely sensed data.

History of Art

With an outstanding range of resources on the doorstep, this summer school will introduce you to the study of History of Art. Working alongside the Fitzwilliam Museum and many of Cambridge's art collections, you will explore through first-hand study art, architecture and books from the medieval to modern periods. The course aims to deepen your understanding of art and architecture, and to help you develop visual literacy and awareness, as well as a range of critical and analytical skills.

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Why do people behave as they do? What accounts for differences between them? What behavioural differences occur between small and large groups? What explains the differences and similarities between men and women in our society?

Psychology is very diverse and shares considerable overlap with disciplines such as anthropology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology and many others.

This summer school will introduce you to some of the varied aspects of the undergraduate course, including cognitive, social, developmental and biological psychology. You will be taught through specialist lectures, group discussion seminars and project work, with the opportunity to meet leading experts in their field. 

Politics and International Studies

This course is an introduction to two areas of the social sciences: Politics and International Studies, which form part of the Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) course at the University of Cambridge. The course will serve as an overview of the key topics of political research and thought. It engages with the nature of the political world within countries and between them. It asks questions about how and why national and international politics have developed as they have, and how people have imagined that they might be changed. It explores issues from human rights and democracy, to financial crisis and international conflict.

Summer Schools film

Contact Summer Schools

If you have any questions about the summer schools, your eligibility or the application process, please read through the Frequently Asked Questions or the Sutton Trust's application information. If your question is not answered here, please contact us.

Rachel Cox
Sutton Trust Summer School Coordinator
T 01223 764025