STEP Summer School

This year's She Talks Science STEP Summer School will take place from Monday 5th August until Thursday 8th August 2024. Applications are now closed.

The school is supported by the Isaac Newton Trust. Official information for the college's She Talks Science programme, which includes this summer school, is available here.


When will I find out if I have a place? 

If you applied, you should have received an update on the status of your application. Be sure to check your spam folder and be sure to use the email address you used at the time of application. If you cannot find an update on the status of your application, email the college ( and we will clarify the status of your application.

I'm on the reserve list - what does this mean?

 We run a shortlist of twenty students who came very close to being made an offer. In the event that a student offered a place on the summer school rejects their place or drops out, we will offer the place to the first student on the reserve list, and work our way down. Students will either be made an offer as soon as a place becomes available, or rejected on Monday 15th July. Last year ten students on the reserve list were eventually offered a place, but due to constraints on space and the unpredictable nature of the process we cannot make any guarantees.

My application was unsuccessful. Is this a sign that I should not apply for mathematics at top level universities?

No. For the 2023-24 school, we received over 200 applications, of which over 100 made the initial shortlist of strong applications. We received far more high quality applications than we had places and indeed there are far fewer places on this summer school than there are places taken up by women and non-binary people on top mathematics courses in each year group. We try to make the fairest offer decisions we can based on a limited amount of data, but we fully acknowledge that we may fail to recognise some exceptional students of mathematics. Due to constraints on space, we had to reject a number of applications that looked like they would translate to strong applications to top mathematics courses.

I particularly want to stress that universities struggle to distinguish between applicants this strong and, as they are better resourced for undergraduate admissions than we are for admissions to a four-day summer school, many top institutions are able to get more information allowing them to compare candidates by interviewing them and / or asking for a MAT or TMUA score before making an offer decision. Whilst we have made the fairest offers we can with the data available, we only have predicted A Level grades and a teacher reference to refer to. 

How much does it cost?

The summer school is completely free, with meals and accommodation provided free of charge.

Is there any travel support available?

There is some financial support to pay for travel to and from the school available. Students who are offered a place and who meet any of the following criteria will certainly be granted travel support:

We may also be able to offer travel support to students who do not meet the above criteria, and if this is a factor in your decision to apply or accept an offer of a place, please email as we are likely to be able to help.

I can't attend one of the days - can I still come?

We ask that students only take up a place if they can commit to the full programme.

What actually happens during the summer school?

A sample timetable is below. Please note this is provisional and subject to change.

Most of the summer school time is spent with the students doing maths problems. The core sessions of the summer school are:

Additionally we have:

How big are the class sizes?

In the workshops, groups contain around 10 students. In the supervisions, one or two students are taught together by one of the tutors. The writing seminars, enrichment talks and plenary are given in seminar style to all of the summer school students together (about 50), and the combinatorics and mechanics sessions are given to groups of 25.

How are applications assessed?

We judge applications on academic merit in mathematics. Places are limited, so unfortunately we cannot accept all applicants. In the case two students have indistinguishable academic profiles and there is not space to admit both of them, we will prioritise students from underrepresented groups.

I have been offered a place but I live a long way away - is it possible to stay at the college the night before?

We have previously offered accommodation free of charge to students who need to arrive the day before the summer school. In the case more students want to stay the night before than there are available rooms, students with a longer journey will be prioritised. You should email to discuss this.

How do I get to the college?

The college's information on travel can be found here. Students travelling by train from the north are advised that the East Midlands Railway train from Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich (which some students may use and change at Ely for Cambridge) has a habit of being cancelled with no notice mid-journey at Nottingham, especially on the return journey. It is advisable to build in extra travel time to account for this. Trains changing at Peterborough, Leicester, or Stevenage tend to be somewhat more reliable (but there is still substantial risk of delay). Be sure to claim delay repay if you are affected.

What do I need to bring for the sessions?

You will be expected to supply something for you to write with, and something for you to write on.

Do you accept applications from privately educated students? Are these applications held to a higher standard?

We do consider applications from privately educated students and assess them against our academic criteria. As with applications from state schools, we will not give an application extra credit on the basis that student has the opportunity to participate in extra maths as part of their school's provision, but if the student performs to an exceptional standard in the context of the opportunities available to them, or extends their study independently, we will look on this favourably. About 8% of the students offered a place on the last summer school were privately educated.

How does the application process work?

Students submit an online application, and then we contact the teacher listed as reference for further information. 

Who can apply?

Applications are welcomed from women and non-binary students who meet all of the following criteria: