Study Physics & Chemistry with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 13-15

Physics and Chemistry are also available as separate classes for students aged 16-18.

Class Summary

Scientists love to ask questions: How does this work? Why is it here? What happens if I…? Our Physics and Chemistry course aims to harness students’ curiosity, as well as develop their scientific imagination and reasoning, experimentation, and perseverance. As their confidence grows, so too will their understanding of core physical and chemical concepts, building on and often going beyond what they will have studied at school. New, more advanced concepts will be introduced that students might not otherwise have encountered, spurring them on to pursue Physics and Chemistry at a higher level – fostering enthusiasm for the subjects is a key aim of this course.  Class discussions, presentations, role plays and written work all contribute to establish an understanding of key principles, and encourage students to think broadly around the topic in order to apply transferable skills to the rest of their studies.

In Physics, students look at the principles governing forces and how they interact with matter. This will encompass mechanics and the laws of motion, types of energy, and the key differences between waves and matter – using light and sound as examples. Practical elements include learning how to plot a graph correctly, using gradient and area.

In Chemistry, students look at atomic structure and the concept of moles. The course also covers solutions and molar calculations and explores the properties of acids and bases. Students will learn about the various types of chemical bond and look closely at chemical reactions and equations, as well as some simple kinetics and the collision theory of reactions.

In Week 2, there will be ample opportunity for students to pursue their own topic of interest, and to request specific topics for their final class.   Throughout, the two subjects will be closely aligned, with emphasis on how physics and chemistry interact and how topics studied in one subject can readily be applied to the other. The course establishes important exam and presentation techniques of the kind that will be expected in universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, thereby giving budding scientists a head start in their future studies. Successful scientists need curiosity, observation skills, imagination, reasoning, experimentation, enthusiasm and perseverance: this course aims to foster and encourage all of these vital traits and leave students feeling passionate about the sciences and eager to learn more.


Students are expected to demonstrate a keen interest in the sciences. A background in basic scientific concepts will be expected, for example the definition of atomic number, atomic mass, conversion of energy into motion and a working understanding of waves. It is additionally necessary to be able to distinguish between what a force is and what effect it has on an object. Some knowledge of intra-molecular bonding would be ideal. An existing understanding of basic concepts will permit students to gain much from the course in terms of scientific content and study technique.