International Summer Schools

About the Summer Schools

We have just completed our 91st year of Summer Schools, which were a tremendous success.
By the early 1900s, overseas students were already participating in ‘Summer Meetings’ in Cambridge, arranged by the fore-runner of the University’s Institute of Continuing Education. The first dedicated ‘Vacation course for foreign students’ was held in 1923.

90th 2013 v1

Then and now

122 students from 19 countries came in 1923, to study language, literature, institutions and music, living in Selwyn College and Newnham College. 90 years later, we still book accommodation in these Colleges. By 1967, lectures were held on the Sidgwick Site: 45 years later, we are still there, though teaching now also takes place in Mill Lane.

The programmes were finally renamed ‘the University of Cambridge International Summer Schools’ in 1983. The curriculum and student numbers have grown rapidly in the past 30 years. We continue to add new programmes and subjects in response to interest and demand.

Enduring appeal

Our longevity against the background of an ever-changing world (wars, crises and rapid technological growth) stems from expert and committed teachers, enthusiastic students, fascinating courses, and – in this digital, high-speed age – the chance to spend an intensive, focused period of time in small group, face-to-face learning.

Time immersed in a Summer School is a ‘rare privilege’ that is still open to everyone meeting the entrance criteria. James Stuart, who in 1873 helped to extend Cambridge learning beyond the University to people of all backgrounds, would see how – 140 years on – his vision still informs our work: the Summer Schools attract people aged 19-90 from some 60 countries.

90th anniversary year

Our 90th Anniversary International Summer Schools had a tremendous line-up of academics to deliver over 150 courses and some 145 plenary lectures. As always, we were very keen that participants enjoyed the social side of the programmes, too: ceilidhs (folk dances), excursions and parties helped to foster the friendships that are such an important feature of our programmes.

You can still read about the memories of past and returning lecturers and students on our 90th anniversary pages. Remember, if you attended in 2013, but have not sent us recollections about your time with us, you can still do so. We will create extra pages in our virtual visitors' book, so that you can be a part of our year of celebrations!

Something for everyone!

The individual programme pages show the range of courses on offer. Page 5 of the 2014 International Summer Schools brochure shows the programme calendar and page 7 gives a helpful chart about making your programme and course choices.

You can also combine your Summer School with a weekend course at Madingley Hall.