Downing Outreach Blog

Outreach Opportunities 2019

We’re signposting any opportunities we find for students to learn more about higher education, applying to Oxford and Cambridge, or attend residentials, summer schools, masterclasses and more!

Got an event you would like to advertise? Email

We also regularly advertise opportunities and events on our twitter page, @DiscoverDowning

A comprehensive list of events is available at

Last updated: 15/01/19

Sutton Trust Summer Schools

The Sutton Trust Summer schools are a series of residential subject courses at 13 leading UK Universities, including 24 different subjects at the University of Cambridge. They are free of charge and open to students who

  • Are studying in Year 12
  • Attend, and have always attended, a state funded school in the UK

Priority is given to students who meet a range of widening participation criteria, including students on free school meals or who have been in care.

Applications are open now and more information is available at 

Newnham College Essay Prizes

The 2018/19 Newnham College Essay Prizes are now open! 

All female students currently in Year 12 at a UK school may enter the prizes, which are offered in Biological Sciences, EngineeringHistoryModern and Medieval LanguagesMusicPhilosophy, and Physical Sciences, as well as our annual ‘Woolf Essay Prize’ with questions inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

This year, we are pleased to introduce two new essay prizes in Computer Science and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

Each of the Newnham Essay Prizes has a first prize of £400, a second prize of £200 and a third prize of £100. There will be a prize-giving at Newnham College in June 2018.

Questions, submission guidelines and further information can be found at

Fitzwilliam College Essay Competitions

Entries for our essay competitions in the 2018/19 academic year are now open!

We are running four essay competitions this year: Ancient World/Classics, Archaeology, Architecture, and Land Economy. We encourage entries from all students in their penultimate year of education (Year 12 or equivalent).

Questions, deadlines and submissions guidelines can be found  

Peterhose Essay Prizes

The 2019 competition is now open! The Peterhouse Essay Competitions are a great opportunity for Year 12 students to start exploring their subject and getting a taste of university-level research. The deadline to submit your essay is 16:00 GMT on Monday 25th March 2019. Each competition has a prize pool of £750.

Submissions are now open for the

  • The Vellacott History Prize
  • Kelvin Science Prize
  • Thomas Campion English Prize

Questions, deadlines and submissions guidelines can be found 

Year 12 Climate Change Curation Project

Selwyn College, University of Cambridge

Dates: 19th – 24th August 2019

Year Groups: 12 or equivalent at a UK School

Become part of a world-class museum team and research institute for a week to devise and curate an exhibition on climate change that will go on public display at The Polar Museum (University of Cambridge) in Autumn 2019. Throughout the week, you will be experiencing life as an undergraduate, eating, living and socialising at your base in Selwyn College, and will gain valuable insight into how you can best prepare for university applications.

Over five days you will be exploring cutting edge polar research with some of the world’s leading experts, and work as part of an experienced museum team to plan an exhibition from start to finish.

Weblink to advert:

Weblink to application form:

The CanBridge Residential 2019 – Deadline February 22nd

Peterhouse College- University of Cambridge

3rd-5th April 2019

The CanBridge Residential is open to applicants in Year 12 in England or Wales, Year 13 in Northern Ireland or S5 in Scotland, who attend a state-funded school or college (non-fee paying) in the UK, and who are predicted to achieve three As at A Level (or equivalent).

Students must meet these criteria and also live in a neighbourhood that is part of OAC super-group 7 or 8. To check your eligibility, enter your postcode here. If your postcode is in blue or yellow, you’re eligible for the Peterhouse CanBridge Residential!

For more information and a link to the application form visit 

Subject Masterclasses

University of Cambridge

Subject Masterclasses are subject-specific events that offer academically able students in Year 12 (or equivalent) the chance to experience typical undergraduate teaching at the University of Cambridge, and to get a flavour of what it’s like to be a student here.

The Masterclasses cover a range of subjects and provide students with an opportunity to explore topics of interest beyond what’s covered within the school curriculum.

Each Masterclass includes:

  • two taster lectures delivered by leading academic staff from the University
  • the opportunity to discuss and ask questions
  • an introduction to the Cambridge admissions process
  • the opportunity to hear about life as a Cambridge student from current undergraduates

How do I book?

Booking is essential and is open to individuals at a cost of £20 (to cover event costs). Funded places are available for anyone eligible for Free School Meals and for children in care. If you’re eligible and would like to apply for a funded place, please submit your details on the funded place section of our website.

For booking information and a list of subjects and dates visit: 

Work Experience at the Gurdon Institute 

The Gurdon Institute is a world-leading centre for research into the biology of development and how normal growth and maintenance can go wrong in diseases such as cancer. Many of our scientists have made pioneering contributions to the fields of basic cell biology, cellular reprogramming, epigenetics, and DNA repair.

Our Work Experience Programme for summer 2019 will be part of the University of Cambridge’s Widening Participation programme.

Our aim is to enable students with an interest in pursuing a career or higher education in science to get first-hand knowledge of an academic research environment when they may not ordinarily have the opportunity to do so.


For one week, students will:

  • spend 3 hours in a lab each day, learning and practicing research techniques
  • attend four interactive workshops
  • research a scientific topic or technique and create and deliver a presentation to work experience colleagues
  • meet and network with PhD students and scientists to talk to them about their jobs and get advice about careers and educational opportunities


This programme is for students in state (non-fee paying) schools, ages 16+ who are currently pursuing A-level or IB qualifications in biology and who are interested in higher education or a career in science.

For more information and an application form please visit

Sidney Sussex Taster Days

Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

Each of the taster days runs from 10:00-16:00 and is free of charge, including lunch. Queries should be aimed at the Admissions Office at or call 01223 338872.

  • Physics and Engineering (Year 12) Saturday 23rd March 2019
  • Maths and Computer Science (Year 12) Saturday 30th March 2019
  • Geography, HSPS and Architecture (Year 12) Saturday 6th April 2019
  • Arts Subjects [Various] (Year 12) Saturday 13th April 2019

Booking forms and futher information is available at on the second tab ‘Taster Days’

Trinity Humanities Residential 2019

University of Cambridge – Trintiy College

This residential will cover a range of arts and humanities courses, including:

  • English
  • History
  • Geography
  • Languages
  • Human, Social and Political Sciences (politics and international relations, sociology, social anthropology)
  • Law
  • Philosophy and Theology

During this residential you will attend lectures and classes taught by Cambridge academics, getting a taste of the wide variety of subjects on offer at university, as well as opportunities to explore the city and to take part in a range of social activities. You will also get the chance to meet current fellows and undergraduates, and gain a fantastic insight into what it’s like to live and study at Trinity. There will also be sessions on choosing a course, applications and student life.

You must be:

  • Attending a UK state school
  • Aged 16 or over by the 9th April 2019

For more information and an application form visit 

Oxford and Cambridge Classics Open Day

Friday 15th March

University of Oxford

These open days are aimed at all students (UK and abroad) interested in pursuing a Classics degree. They offer the chance to find out more about Classical subjects in general, but also the specific degree programmes offered by Oxford and Cambridge in particular.

During the day we run a programme of events, including an introductory session in the Sheldonian Theatre, college and museum tours, taster lectures, stalls covering various courses and application questions, and a teacher’s forum. The aim of the day is to help young people make informed decisions about their university choices, encourage them to consider Classics as an exciting and worthwhile option, and to help them develop their interest and understanding of the ancient world.

Both individuals and school groups are welcome.

For more information and an event registration form, visit 

Year 11 Women in Science Residential 

Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Are you in year 11, attending a state school, and thinking about continuing with the sciences at University and beyond? If so, then this Easter residential might be for you!

Pembroke College is delighted to be hosting our popular three-day Women in Science residential again, in April 2019. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to stay in College, meet current students, be challenged in academic sessions covering a range of sciences, and find out more about Cambridge – both as a city, and a university. We hope that students who participate will get a real taste of university life, and a better understanding of what they can do now to prepare themselves for this step.


  • Tuesday 16th – Thursday 18th April, 2019


To apply, please complete our online application form by no later than 8am on Monday 25th February.

More information about eligibility is available

Women in Maths Residential 

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Christ’s and Trinity Colleges are pleased to announce the return of their annual Women in Maths residential. The dates for the 2019 residential are Thursday 21 March to Saturday 23 March 2019. 

Applications for the residential are now open.


This residential is open to any women and non-binary students in Year 12 at the time of the residential and attending a UK state school. You must be aged 16 or over by the first day of the residential, and you must be taking A-Level  Mathematics and A-Level Further Mathematics (or an equivalent qualification).

To apply please visit 

Studying Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

The British Museum, Saturday 2nd March

Egypt and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq; ancient Sumer, Assyria and Babylon) bequeathed to posterity some of the most fascinating remains from all of the ancient world.  Today it is possible to learn the languages, study the artefacts, and reconstruct the most varied aspects of these ancient civilisations in astonishing detail.

But since these subjects are not offered at A level, few sixth-formers are aware that they exist as University subjects; indeed, many A level students might never have had the opportunity to learn about these cultures.

The purpose of this one-day conference is to give sixth-formers an opportunity to explore what it is like to study Egypt and Mesopotamia at British Universities: to see what makes the subject area so intellectually and culturally exciting, learn about the various degree courses, and understand what admissions tutors are looking for.

Attendance is free and teachers are welcome to bring groups, or students can book individually.

Please visit for further information


Jess Lister

Former history student at Emmanuel College, and Downing College Schools Liaison Officer My role involves organising outreach work primarily in the South West, advising both students and teachers in all things related to Cambridge and Higher Education more generally