Image of a university summer school

 by Naomi Smith
, posted On 29 Dec '16
 Journalism graduate and Higher Education Blogger

What is a university summer school? (Also known as a university residential)

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Some universities hold residential summer schools during the school holidays. They can take many forms but are usually designed to introduce prospective undergraduate students to university life.

For example, Kings College London offers a Pre-University Summer School programme for high school students in their final two years of study (years 12 and 13). This intensive two week programme gives you the opportunity to study a subject at undergraduate level and to prepare for university study.

The programme combines academic classes, excursions, university preparation advice and wider skills sessions, alongside a varied social programme.

Not all summer schools are as long, however; many only last for one or two days. Staffordshire University run a three-day, two-night residential course known as UniLife. The name makes it sound a bit like a weird festival but in reality, this is a short but action-packed summer school, designed to show you what student life is really all about.

Students stay in halls of residence on campus, take part in subject workshops, and get a chance to explore (and play with) the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

Other summer schools focus on the academic side of things, concentrating on just one subject. These are good if you’re looking to get ahead in your studies or are simply curious about a specific topic and want to learn more.

Some are short, three day affairs, such as those held by Liverpool John Moores University. These are aimed at year 12 and 13s, and are completely free. Covering subjects such as architecture, engineering, geography and even dance, they combine academic study during the day with a packed social calendar in the evenings.

Others, such as Cambridge University’s Interdisciplinary Summer Programme, are more intense and suited to current undergraduates or even graduates who are interested in exploring subjects beyond their current/existing degree.

Spread out over three, short ‘terms’ from July to August, they cover a wide range of subjects. This includes philosophy, economics, international politics and relations, literature, history, archaeology, art history and history of science.

Some summer schools cater to specific types of student. For example, UCL (University College London) and Exeter University both run an international summer school. UCL’s offering is part of their study abroad programme and runs during summer, divided into two blocks, each spanning three weeks.

A wide range of modules are on offer, taught by academics who are ‘at the cutting edge of research in their respective fields’. Accommodation is also offered, along with a varied programme of social events.

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