Science Summer Programme2016 Science SPL 200x155 72dpi

Term I: 9 – 22 July 2017
Term II: 23 July – 5 August 2017

We are now in the process of planning next summer’s programme. 2017 information will be available in November.The following Information relates to 2016 and will give you a general idea about what we offer.

Programme Directors: Dr Ed Turner, Dr Judith Croston,
Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright and Dr James Grime

We draw on the expertise of senior academics at Cambridge, to offer courses in a variety of scientific fields. This programme is suitable for undergraduates and graduates in sciences, as well as teachers and other professionals. The programme also welcomes those with a strong interest, but with little formal science training.

Academic programme

  • One special subject course per week
  • Plenary course P01:
    Life at the Limits
  • Practical sessions
  • Evening talks

Special subject courses

Each course meets five times. You may choose to follow a particular track by selecting courses in related subject fields, but an interdisciplinary approach is also encouraged.

Term I:

Week 1: 11.00am – 12.45pm

P02 - Conservation biology
P03 - An introduction to social psychology - This course is now full
P04 - Sustainable fluid dynamics
P05 - Manufacturing: making ideas work

Week 2: 11.00am – 12.45pm

P06 - Celestial physics: laws of nature on the grandest scale
P07 - Spectroscopy: light and matter
P08 - Autism: a modern epidemic? - This course is now full
P09 - How does your immune system work?

Term II:

Week 1: 11.00am – 12.45pm

P10 - Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases - This course is now full
P11 - Geological disasters: earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and megafloods - This course is no longer available
P12 - An introduction to animal behaviour
P13 - Curious physics: problem-solving with physics and maths

Week 2: 11.00am – 12.45pm

P14 - Codes, ciphers and secrets: an introduction to cryptography
P15 - The physics of optical illusions - This course is no longer available
P16 - Unveiling the universe   
P17 - Fossils, evolution and the history of life

Plenary lectures

All participants are registered for a course of plenary lectures entitled Life at the Limits. Lectures from specialists will cover such topics as: the physiology of exploration, evolution, life in extreme situations, extinctions, stem cell research, and many more. Invited speakers include:

Term I:

Professor Lloyd Peck: Life in extremes: adaptations of Antarctic marine mammals
Dr Michael Ramage: Super-tall timber: impossibly high wooden skyscrapers
Dr Andrew Murray: Life at the limits: the physiology of exploration
Dr Ed Turner: Top of the tree: the natural history of rainforest canopies
Bryan Lintott: Antarctica: living in a hostile environment
Dr Martin Welch: The miracle of life (and how to survive it…)
Professor Ashley Moffett: Pregnancy as an immunological compromise: the coexistence of mother and baby
Professor Mark Thomson: DUNE: the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

Term II:

Dr Andrew Murray: Man in the mountains: the human response to high altitude. I: Acclimatisation
Dr Andrew Murray: Man in the mountains: the human response to high altitude. II: Adaptation
Dr Nicola Humphry-Baker: Plastic doesn't conduct electricity, does it?
Professor Didier Queloz: Exoplanets and the quest of 'Universal life'
Dr Robin Catchpole: Asteroids, comets and impacts

Practical sessions

Practical sessions and visits take place on three afternoons each week:

Tuesday 5 July: A 3D search for life in space
Wednesday 6 July: Cambridge University Botanic Garden: ecological monitoring
Thursday 7 July: Department of Zoology: insect identification practical

Tuesday 12 July: Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences: What are fossils for?
Wednesday 13 July: Visit to The Polar Museum
Thursday 14 July: Visit to the Gurdon Institute

Tuesday 19 July: Department of Zoology: The diversification of life
Wednesday 20 July: Visit to the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
Thursday 21 July: Visit to the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Tuesday 26 July: Earthquakes practical
Wednesday 27 July: Visit to the Institute of Astronomy
Thursday 28 July: Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Mosses on a roll as climate change gathers pace

Evening science-related and general talks

These provide introductions to additional aspects of science and to subjects of general interest. Invited speakers include:

Term I:

Dr Lucilla Burn: Celebrating 200 years: the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1816-2016
Sir Tony Brenton: The idea of inevitability: did the Russian revolution have to happen?
Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: New light on Rome
Dr Fred Parker: When fair is foul: an introduction to Macbeth
Professor Chris Lintott: I want to believe: an astronomer's view of aliens
Professor Paul Cartledge: The roots of democracy
Dr Michelle Oyen: Biomimetic materials: re-thinking how we make stuff
Michael Wood: Travels on the Silk Road

Term II:

Dr Seán Lang: Understanding the British hero figure: from Boudica to Bond, and beyond
Dr James Grime:
The Enigma code-breaking machine
Dr John Lennard: Introduction to A Midsummer Night's Dream
Professor Mark Goldie: Lottery and democracy: choosing by lot - a scheme for real democracy
John Jackson: The impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on her neighbours

A typical day

On each weekday morning you attend a plenary lecture, followed by a class from your special subject course. Workshops take place on some afternoons. Subject specific and joint lectures are offered in the evenings.

College accommodation

Accommodation is available for participants who want to stay in a Cambridge College. Please see the accommodation options and accommodation fees available for this programme.

Non-residential attendance is also available if participants prefer to find their own lodgings.

Information for applicants

Programme calendar (pdf version, 32KB)
Who can apply
How to apply (pdf version, 90KB)
What happens next?
Tuition and accommodation fees (pdf versions, 46KB and 42KB)
Language requirements
Visa guidance
Booking terms and conditions


The quickest way to apply is by using our secure online booking system. You can also apply by downloading an application form (pdf) and sending it by post or fax.