Academic programme

Our four-week programme immerses you in the cutting-edge research environment of Imperial College’s world-leading Faculty of Medicine. Guided by expert academic staff, you will consider past, present and future revolutions in biomedicine across a range of themes aligned with research strengths in the Faculty. You will also benefit from a laboratory-based research project and keynote lectures from academics who are leaders in their fields. For more information about the laboratory project, please see below. 

Key information

  • Programme title: Revolutions in Biomedicine
  • Dates: 3 July - 28 July 2017
  • Academic director: Professor Paul Matthews
  • Academic coordinator: Dr Jeffrey Vernon 
  • Teaching and learning contact hours: 80
  • Academic level: undergraduate
  • Credit: 7.5 ECTS (equivalent to 3-4 US)*
  • Four weeks of interactive keynotes and talks with leading researchers in the fields of metabolism, global health, genomics, big data, brain sciences, robotics and more!
  • Group work to extend and develop key concepts
  • Ten days of lab-based Mini Research Project in teams

*A student's home institution will determine how much credit is awarded

Indicative timetable 2017 


2017 Laboratory-based mini-research project

I fell in love with the lab facilities at Hammersmith campus as they were complete and modern."

2015 student

CD8+ cytoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are the backbone of our cellular adaptive immune response. Upon infection by pathogens they will proliferate, produce pro-inflammatory cytokines and develop the capacity to kill infected cells. This is not limited to pathogen-infected cells. CTL are also able to destory tumour cells. 

Following the clearance of an infection most of these CTL will die, leaving the host with an army of antigen-educated cytoxic cells which will be able to respond in a faster and better way to a second infection with the pathogen. These are called memory cells and are the cellular basis of vaccination. 

With other immune cells such as B cells which produce antibodies, memory cells are the target scientists are trying to stimulate with vaccines in order to provide us with potent and efficient immune protection. Interestingly, in as much as we know how to efficiently stimulate B cells with vaccines, the antibodies produced will only be efficient against extracellular pathogens and free viral particles, but less so against intracellular viral particles and bacteria. 

To efficiently fight these intracellular pathogens, we need to develop vaccines which trigger a powerful long lasting CTL memory. This is paramount if we want to treat all acute and chronic viral infections as well as many tumours. However, manipulating the CTL memory has been notoriously difficult, mainly because of systems developed by our own body to keep a tight control on these very powerful killers. We do know that the quality and quantity of the memory CTL population is controlled during the first encounter with a pathogen, and therefore need to completely understand how a CTL is first activated to be able to influence the CTL response.  

CTL activation requires three signals: TCR/MHC, co-stimulation and pro inflammatory cytokines. In this mini-research project, you will investigate the relative importance of these signals by measuring two CTL properties: proliferation (MTT assay) and production of cytokines (Elisa). 


Programme details

Is this the right summer programme for me?

The Revolutions in Biomedicine summer programme is intended for students from across the world who have started or have completed an undergraduate degree in a bioscience related field such as Medicine, Biology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and other areas of natural sciences which involve biology. If you have not yet selected a major for your degree you will be eligible to apply as long as you have completed and passed at least one biology module. If you are undertaking a biology module but have yet to complete it, we may be able to accept an academic reference instead. For more information on how to go about this, or if you have any other questions about the programme, please contact us.

Our programme encompasses a wide range of biomedicine subjects and is delivered at an undergraduate level. As the programme is designed to offer an introduction to these various areas, you will not be expected to have prior knowledge of them. Overall, our aim is to expand your academic horizons by offering you the opportunity to engage with topics that you may not have had the chance to encounter before. As these topics are tied to some of the Faculty of Medicine's leading research areas, our teaching staff are well equipped to introduce you to these areas in the context of their own work. For more detail, we suggest that you look through the programme details below.

Although our programme is designed for undergraduate students, we also welcome applications from postgraduate students and those who have recently completed their undergraduate degrees. While students with a more advanced academic background may find some of the programme material somewhat basic, the breadth of subjects that we address is such that you are likely to encounter areas which are entirely new to you. 

We welcome applicants from across the world and therefore have no access restrictions based on nationality.  

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications from students who are under 18 years old or have not started an undergraduate degree. However, if you are aged 15-17, you may like to consider the Imperial Global Summer School

Where will I study?

The majority of the academic programme will be taught on our South Kensington Campus, located in vibrant West London. The campus is based close to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and Hyde Park. South Kensington Campus is Imperial's main campus and includes a library, shops, places to eat, sports facilities and a student union bar. You can find further information on our South Kensington Campus page

The mini-research project will take place in our cutting-edge teaching laboratories on our Hammersmith Hospital campus, located in East Acton. You can find further information on our Hammersmith Hospital Campus page

 We will also run optional extracurricular activities that you may find relevant to your study interests at other London locations. We will provide information on how to reach these at the beginning of the programme. 

What are the learning outcomes?

From engaging with the summer school sessions students will be able to

  1. Identify past and current paradigm shifts, discoveries and advancements that constitute revolutions in biomedicine across areas of research focus in the Faculty of Medicine
  2. Summarise the historical context, key concepts and facts underpinning these, and demonstrate awareness of possible future revolutions arising from scientific advances across these fields
  3. Identify key elements of good laboratory experimental design, employ effective teamwork to generate a well-reasoned research plan, and work in groups to execute research plans in the laboratory
  4. Critically evaluate and interpret quantitative and qualitative experimental data of variable quality
  5. Plan and perform a clear and concise conference-style oral presentation using effective teamwork
  6. Demonstrate awareness of the importance of teamwork and the human qualities necessary to work in an international group

How will I be taught?

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical laboratory sessions. Additional optional learning activities will be available though our keynote lectures, which will be confirmed in due course. Learning content will be made available via Blackboard Learn, our Virtual Learning Environment platform.

For the taught themes the normal pattern of teaching will be lecture-based scene-setting (whole cohort) followed by interactive work in the afternoon (small groups) and rounded off with a reporting-back and debriefing session (whole cohort).  

The research project will comprise of lab work in small groups supported before and after by underpinning lectures and a series of highly interactive workshops on experimental design and data analysis & presentation. 

Keynote lectures by internationally-renowned research leaders include opportunities for questions and discussion, are opened up to the wider Faculty, and are followed by refreshments. 

The Beyond Bioscience: Life & Career Perspectives session takes the form of a Chaired panel discussion in which six or so panel members give short vignettes on the varying trajectories they have taken from a biomedical-related degree, followed by questions and further reflections from the audience, fielded by the panel.  

How will I be assessed?

Assessment for academic credit takes the form of a presentation and an exam. 

The written exam is not compulsory and students are permitted to opt out. However, only students who sit the written exam will have the opportunity to earn academic credit. Students who opt-out of the written exam will only be presented with a certificate of attendance (provided that they have attended over 80% of teaching sessions). 

Further details regarding the summer school assessment will be made available in due course.