IARU Global Summer Programme

2015 course information will go online on December 12 2014

Here is last Summer's information:

6 July – 2 August 2014

The GSP programme offers a unique opportunity for participants to draw upon a rich reserve of knowledge, to attend lectures across a broad range of subjects, and to draw together ideas in a series of focused discussions. Intensive 'supervisions' offer the chance to experience Cambridge teaching at its best. Participants will benefit immensely from the exchange of ideas both with lecturers and with other students from around the globe.

Delivery method, course and contact hours

The four-week programme for up to 25 participants includes the following:

  • Eight seminar meetings of the GSP group, focusing on major issues and challenges for the twenty-first century. Proposed topics could include: government, global economy, nationalism, security, climate change, sustainability, universities for the twenty-first century, medical advances.
  • Four papers to be written on subjects informed by plenary lecture attendance (primarily, but not exclusively, History, Literature and International Relations).
  • Four weekly Cambridge-style supervision sessions (one hour) for individuals or pairs of students, during which their papers are reviewed and discussed.
  • Two or three daily plenary lecturesfrom across the International Summer School programme:
    • Interdisciplinary: Achievement
    • Literature: Crime and Punishment
    • Science: Knowledge and Need
    • History: International Relations
    • Ancient Empires: Power and Persuasion
  • Research time in the University Library (a Copyright Library) and access to other faculty libraries.
  • Weekly feedback sessions with the Course Director.

Plenary lectures from eminent speakers

Plenary lectures are given by eminent scholars from a wide spectrum of specialist fields, and include question and answer sessions. Lecture topics range from the latest interpretation of historical events and works of literature, to cutting-edge scientific discoveries and visions of the future. For these lectures, GSP students will join participants in the International Summer Schools, affording the group a truly global experience.

Applicants will be sent final details of speakers (and can access the programme lists as they develop on the web), and precise timings so that options can be selected in advance; applicants will be asked to indicate their preferred subject area(s).

Tapping in to the full range of subjects on offer will allow GSP students with widely differing fields of interest to benefit from the experience, tailoring - as far as possible - a programme to their own personal areas of interest. Participants will be encouraged to make connections between writings, events, discoveries and disciplines in order to understand how each has influenced the shaping of our world until now, and to establish a base on which predictions for our future world can be made.

Selected candidates will be required to submit details of their interests for the supervision field of study, so that supervisors can be selected and allocated before the start of the programme. Supervisions will normally be conducted by experienced University/College lecturers who are also contributors to the International Summer Schools.

GSP students will be welcome to join the evening lecture and social programme, and to participate in the optional weekend excursions, giving them a chance to meet with representatives of some 50 other nationalities. Other activities will be arranged just for the GSP group.

Academic papers

Weekly papers and the associated supervisions ensure academic rigour. This programme format - a combination of self-directed research, lectures, discussions and supervisions - also largely mirrors the experience of regular Cambridge undergraduates who, in many subjects, are not required to attend set 'classes' and can elect to hear particular lectures on topics within and beyond their immediate field of study. The four weeks of study will be very intensive.

Four papers (normally 2,000-3,000 words each) will be graded on a percentage scale and awarded a Cambridge class mark. Students and institutions will be provided with a suggested letter-grade translation scale. Precise grades are not given out during the supervisions. Grades can be adjusted marginally on the basis of performance in supervisions. The final grade awarded is an average of the three highest-scoring papers.

Assessment and credit

Assessment will be based on contributions to supervisions and on written papers. Oral feedback on papers will form part of the supervision, but students will also receive narrative reports on submitted papers. Please note: the Cambridge system does not include 'credit'. IARU participants who wish to receive credit from their home institution will need to arrange this themselves, typically by submitting to their home institution, after completion of the programme, the percentage marks for their written papers as well as their study timetable (some 50 contact hours of lectures, 8 hours of supervision and 12 hours of discussion, and therefore a total of some 70 contact hours over the four weeks, excluding additional research and self-directed study time).

The amount of credit awarded by your home institution may vary.  Based on the previous experience of colleges and universities that have dealt with University of Cambridge International Summer Schools students, and using a typical ratio of contact hours to semester credit hours, we make the following suggestion for the award of credit:

A student who completes a two-week special-subject Summer School with a minimum of 48 contact hours and who writes two 2000-3000 word essays would probably be awarded four (4) undergraduate semester credit hours by their home institution.

As the IARU GSP Cambridge programme (four weeks) offers 70+ contact hours and requires four essays and four supervisions, credit awarded should be adjusted accordingly.

Target audience and pre-requisites

Candidates need to provide proof of excellent proficiency in written and spoken English (see our language requirements), and be of high academic standing in own university. Two academic references should be sent in support of their application, by students who are selected for the programme.

Students should be open to learning in disciplines beyond their immediate field of study, and be extremely fluent in English: discussion of topics and clear expression of ideas will be essential parts of the programme. An ‘indications summary’ giving further details of their field of interest in relation to the programme will be requested from selected candidates. There may be some preparatory reading required in advance of the programme, as preparation for the first week’s supervisions and discussion sessions.  

Students should normally be in the penultimate year of their undergraduate course; occasionally first year graduates will be considered.

The programme is four weeks in length, starting with arrival on Sunday 6 July and ending with departure on Saturday 2 August. It is open to undergraduates at IARU institutions.

Accommodation and fees

Accommodation is provided in Gonville and Caius College, in the centre of Cambridge.
The fee is: £3,410, to include all teaching, evaluation and marking, plus accommodation on a half-board basis (bed, breakfast and evening meal).

GSP 2014 applications for the programme open on 16 December 2013.  Forms will be available on the IARU website.

Further information about the 2014 programme is now available.

How to apply

For further details and to download an application form for the 2014 programme, please visit the IARU website.

For more information about other Summer School programmes visit: