Attending summer school can be a life-changing experience for students. They get to meet and befriend peers from around the world, experience the life of a student at some of the best universities, and learn from experts in a subject they feel passionate about.

Most summer courses take place outside of the school year during the summer break. This is because many of them are designed for teenage students who are about to make the transition from school to university. However, there are plenty of summer school classes that are open to learners of all ages and life stages.

So exactly how hard are summer schools? Is a summer school class as difficult as a university class? And are there benefits to summer schools that make them worth attending rather than getting a regular summer job?

In this article, we are going to take a look at these questions and suggest some of the best summer courses currently available in the UK.

Is summer school hard?

The content and subject matter that is studied at a summer school can be challenging as students are often taught by university academics who are preparing them for higher education. However, summer school courses are generally tailored to the students’ age group or learning level, which means you can find courses that should be perfect for you and your interests.

Summer school’s will often have exams and tests at the end of the study period that leads to certification. Whilst it is important to take these seriously as some certificates are recognised in certain industries, a poor performance will not hinder your chance of going to university.

So let’s jump in and take a look at some of the best summer school courses and some of the meatiest subjects you can study this summer.

What courses can you take at a summer school?

When it comes to what summer school courses are available, the list is almost endless. People choose to study at summer school’s for different reasons, so here we will take a look at just a few specific subjects and explain why a summer school course in this subject area is a good idea.


Engineering is famously one of the most employable degrees you can study at university. Engineers must have deft practical skills, sharp mathematical knowledge, and be able to write long essays!

It is, therefore, no surprise that Engineering degrees are widely regarded to be amongst the hardest to study at university. So before embarking on such a journey, it may be wise to attend a summer school at which you can get a taste of exactly what it’s like to study Engineering at undergraduate level.

Oxford Royale runs several two-week courses that focus on engineering at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Yale. The course is residential so includes food and board as well as weekend excursions to famous sights in the university cities. Oxford Royale’s courses offer young students the opportunity to be taught at the best universities in the world by leading academics in the field.


Medicine is another infamously difficult subject to study at university level. There is also the added detail that Medicine degrees last five years, which is two years longer than most others.

Many young people dream of one day being a doctor. But because of how demanding the courses are and how long they last, it is important that prospective medical students have an idea of what medical school is like before they make the commitment.

The Medical Schools Council runs a number of courses across the UK for teenage students to try out studying Medicine at some of the best educational institutions in the country. They have summer courses up and down the country but also offer some online for those who are unable to travel outside of their hometown.


Computer programming, or coding, is one of the most valuable skills anyone can have in the modern world. It is a well-known fact that coders are always in demand and are paid handsomely for their skills.

Learning to code is like learning a language. Full immersion is the best way to do it, so by attending a summer school students can jump in and learn as much as possible in a relatively short amount of time. After completing a coding summer school or boot camp, students should feel comfortable and confident to continue to learn from the foundation they have learnt from the course.

Founders and Coders run free coding boot camps that last 16 weeks. Students then pay for the course by teaching the next cohort the skills they themselves acquired only a few weeks earlier. Places are limited so it is important to show in your application that you have learnt some of the coding basics on your own.


Learning languages can feel impossible if you have only ever really known one. But as many multi-lingual people will tell you, it isn’t as hard as it may first seem.

Studying languages at a summer school can be a great way to immerse yourself in both the language and the culture of a country. Being surrounded by native speakers whilst attending formal lessons is undoubtedly the fastest and easiest way to pick up any language.

University College London (UCL) offers a summer course for students looking to learn English. The courses are three weeks and have a residential option in which students live in the UCL halls. Students go on cultural trips around the country and finish off with a certificate from one of the best universities in the UK.

Creative writing

Creative writing is a discipline that many people find hard and frustrating as they feel they simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to it. It is also a subject that has only recently been widely added to university course lists and so many students are unsure if they want to study it at a higher education level.

Attending a creative writing summer school is the perfect way to explore your creativity in a relaxed and guided environment, or to get a sense as to whether the formal study of writing creatively is for you.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has one of the best Creative Writing departments in the country and has world-famous writers running courses in everything from Crime Fiction to Playwriting. MMU offers summer school courses in creative writing that give students a feel for what it is like to study at the university level with some of the contemporary greats in their chosen discipline.

Do summer schools grade your work?

Some summer schools have compulsory exams at the end of the course that leads to certification, course credits, or a recognized diploma. In these instances, it is likely that the work of the students will be graded.

Other summer schools may have exams that simply state pass or fail, or they may offer certification upon completion and attendance of the course but with no exam at the end. For example, a coding summer school might give you a certificate that can then be used to show employers that you have got the coding skills taught on the course, but they won’t necessarily give you a grade.

Some summer schools, particularly medicine summer schools, will offer a guaranteed interview for the undergraduate Medical course at the university if a student completes the program. Most of these courses have homework during the period of study, but no final exam in which the student is graded.

If your summer school does grade your work as well as offer certification, you can use the grades for university applications to help give you an edge over other applicants.

Do summer schools help you to get into university?

Attending a summer school won’t guarantee acceptance into a university. But it can help. There are degrees such as languages that require students to be at a certain level of proficiency before beginning their studies and summer classes can be a great place to achieve this.

Attending a summer school in the city of the university you wish to attend or in the subject you wish to study does show commitment and dedication to your field or to the university in question. Admissions tutors are likely to look kindly upon such dedication and include it in their consideration of a student’s application.