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Why you should consider a university summer school programme

Summer school is a great way for both high school and undergraduate students to gain experience studying in a new country, explore a new subject or develop their confidence

    Nina-Anne Lawrence's avatar

    Nina-Anne Lawrence

    Professor, head of department and director - Warwick Foundation Studies, University of Warwick
    April 5 2024
    Students studying


    Considering a study abroad experience? Every year many students choose to travel to another country to experience the culture and language, learn in a different environment and make international friends. This can seem like a big step. So maybe a good place to start is with a summer school experience.  

    What should you think about and why would you book onto a summer school programme?

    What is a summer school?

    Most summer schools are short courses – typically two to three weeks – and delivered on the university campus. This is a bite-size period that provides an immersive experience. Some programmes offer the option to take two blocks one after the other so you can build this up to four- to six-week programmes. 

    Some summer school programmes are open to current undergraduates looking to pursue further study but many programmes are open to high school students looking to experience studying abroad before they make the big move.  

    For example, the University of Warwick offers two different options depending on where you are in your educational journey: a pre-university summer school for those still in high school – a taster of the university experience, and a summer school for students already on a degree, who want to explore a different subject or a taster for a postgraduate course.


    Summer schools typically offer the opportunity to experience new subjects you may want to study at postgraduate level or enable you to add a different subject to complement your degree. Some courses may require prior knowledge, and some will have no requirements for prior learning.

    “I took the Common Law Contracts, Arbitration and Advocacy course at the University of Warwick. Velimir Zivkovic, the convener of the course, provided students with a thought-provoking curriculum, which strengthened my desire to do a deep dive into arbitration in the LLM course. Velimir is also the director of LLM courses, and it was a pleasure to be able to attend his international arbitration seminar after enrolment,” says Yuya Sasahara, an LLM international commercial law student.

    Academic quality

    You have the opportunity to study with academics who may be renowned in their field at world-leading institutions, perhaps being taught by lecturers from the prospective department you’d like to join.

    “I took the course Data Science: Foundations of Data Analytics. The lecturer, Florin Ciucu, was brilliant. He was an intelligent and humorous teacher who made the boring data science stuff fun and attractive,” says Chris Ding, an MSc marketing and strategy student. 

    Credit transfer

    Many universities around the world will accept the credits that you earn from a summer school. For example, on the Warwick summer school, a  three-week course typically equates to 15 CATS/7.5 ECTS/3 US credits. 

    Global experience and confidence

    You’ll find students from all over the world on these programmes. On the Warwick summer school we’ve had students from 62 countries over the past four years. 

    Chris says that the Warwick Summer School made him “more extroverted and confident to speak to everyone. In the past, I was not confident about my spoken English. After chatting to a lot with amazing people from all over the world, not only could I speak more fluent English, but I also found that language will never be a barrier as long as I communicate sincerely with others.” 

    Professional development

    Summer schools also offer the opportunity to develop yourself professionally. At Warwick, we welcome applications from those who have graduated and are now working. Companies will sometimes fund these courses as staff development opportunities. It’s also great for current degree students to network with those who have already progressed to the workplace. 

    Beyond study

    Many summer schools include a social programme with trips to local attractions, sports activities, food and fun. This is when friendships can be formed outside the classroom. 

    There are many long-lasting benefits to a summer school experience. Yuya and Chris have remained friends during their postgraduate studies at Warwick and many others have remained friends across the globe. 

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