Study Human Biology with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 13-15

Also available for students aged 16-18.

Class Summary

This Human Biology course is designed for students who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of the science behind human physiology. It uses class discussion, debates, role plays, worksheets, quizzes and games to help students understand the basic scientific principles behind human biology and to get them thinking about some ideas and topics that they might not have encountered in the science teaching they have received at school.

The class aims to be an interactive and fun introduction to human sciences, and so students are expected to get involved in discussions and to participate fully in class activities. These will be varied in order to engage all types of learner and will include plentiful use of examples and props.

During the two-week course, students learn the basic principles of human biology, including cell biology, homeostasis and genetics; gain an insight into how a medical research study is designed and carried out; and develop a greater understanding of specific areas of human biology, including hormones and diabetes, infectious diseases, the cardiovascular system, cell growth and death, the immune system, DNA and genetic diseases. In this way, students get a solid overview of the subject of Human Biology that may help inform their decision if they are considering studying Biology, Medicine or Human Biology specifically at university.

Furthermore, students get the chance to learn about what is being done at the cutting edge of human biology, such as genetic engineering and cloning; controversial topics that students are encouraged to discuss and debate with their peers. Similarly, in the class on vaccination, students vote on a motion and then debate it with the class, both as a means of testing their knowledge of the subject in ensuring that they debate with the correct facts in hand, and as means of honing discussion skills and rhetorical and persuasive ability. Biology as it pertains to humans can often lead to divisive or controversial topics and it is important that students learn how to discuss these in a mature, respectful and constructive manner, both for the purposes of this course and for their future studies.


The course is assessed by means of a piece of written work and a role-play, thus allowing students to display their strengths regardless of whether those strengths lie more in written or spoken work. The written work will take the form of a practical report on an experiment performed in class and the role-play will be performed in pairs, where one student is a doctor and one student is a newly-diagnosed patient, in order to assess the students’ understanding of their work on diseases and their ability to convey their knowledge in spoken form.


All students will be expected to be sufficiently confident in English to discuss scientific ideas and participate fully in group discussions and debates.