Imperial Life Sciences Scholars – a virtual taste of university life


Participants were asked what skills they developed over the course of the summer school.

From 2– 6 August, the Department of Life Sciences welcomed nearly 50 pupils to the first Imperial Life Sciences Scholars virtual summer school.

The summer school, for pupils going into their final year of school or college, aimed to give pupils from non-selective state schools across the UK the chance to see what life as an undergraduate in the Department is like and was specifically targeted at pupils from a widening participation background.

The summer school was run in collaboration with The Brilliant Club, a charity that seeks to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. The week-long summer school involved a series of small-group tutorials, run by DoLS PhD students and post-docs (Lily Peck, Eve Hopkins, Eloise Hunt, Dr Mark Hintze and Beth Reyniers (from CEP)) alongside non-academic sessions. Tutorials emulated a university module and were designed by tutors based on their own research: topics included the evolution of birds, the microbiome, developmental biology, food security and plant disease. Following the summer school, pupils will write an extended essay on the topic they were studying that will provide insight into university-style assessment and feedback.

In addition to the academic side of the programme, The Brilliant Club and DoLS members provided several sessions relating to various elements of university life including admissions (Professor Hugh Brady) and personal statement writing, an academic research talk (given by Dr Doryen Bubeck), a careers session (facilitated by Dr Steve Connolly) and a keynote at the end of the week delivered by Professor Anne Dell. One of the most important and valuable elements of the summer school was the virtual tour and student ambassador Q+A where pupils were able to get to know current undergraduates and find out more about university life.

The programme received very positive feedback from attendees.

“I’ve enjoyed learning in a friendly, supportive environment and I’ve realised that Imperial is the place I would like to study. It has an amazing faculty and facilities as well as a great location and it offers a course I’m really excited about!” (Summer school participant).

Thanks to all members of DoLS staff, students and PhD tutors who helped make the week a success, as well as to The Brilliant Club. We hope to welcome many of the summer school participants to the department in the future.

By Dr Catherine Mansfield, Strategic Teaching Fellow, Department of Life Sciences. 


Emily Govan

Emily Govan
Department of Life Sciences