Work experience

Unfortunately, we will not be running a research summer school in 2021, owing to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, as we are unable to offer enough online research projects of a high enough quality to make the programme viable. We are very sorry for any disappointment this may cause. We are currently looking into what we might be able to offer in place of a summer school that translates better into an online format. However, you may be interested in the work experience opportunities this year being offered by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory – more details are available here.

If you wish to join our mailing list to be notified about other physics-related events, news and online activities, please fill in this short form.

The below information is not applicable in 2021.

The Department of Physics at the University of Oxford usually provides a limited number of work experience placements for students in Year 12.

Oxford Physics Year 12 Summer School (in place of work experience)

Every year we run a week of online placements in the summer, towards the end of July. Some of these placements cover physics research, while others may cover some of the other teams that make the Physics Department work, including outreach, enterprise, communications and Human Resources.

During the week students work on a project and also take part in a central programme of activities such as departmental tours, career talks and sample lectures. Students present their work to their peers at the end of the week in a poster presentation. We have projects that cover a range of different interests and topics in physics.

Please note we do not arrange or cover the cost of transport or accommodation for the Oxford Physics Year 12 Summer School. You will need to make these arrangements yourself and for this reason most students live within commuting distance of Oxford. Although the programme will be online again this year, we will still prioritise applications from those local to Oxford, as the online programme is in place of an in-person programme.

Making an application

We often have considerable interest in this scheme and students will be selected based on the criteria below.

Selection criteria

Essential criteria (shortlisting): Evidence is provided that the candidates is:

  • In Year 12 and studying Physics and Maths at A-level, or equivalent
  • Age 16 years or above
  • Enthusiastic and passionate about Physics
  • Interested in gaining experience of work and university-level study in Physics
  • Able to attend the event for the full week
  • Able to arrange, and cover the cost of, their own travel during the week*
  • Able to work in the UK (you will be required to show your passport, and visa if relevant, before you start)

Desirable criteria: Priority will be given to candidates who give evidence of one or more of the following criteria:

  • Candidates look to benefit significantly from the experience i.e. they haven't completed a similar placement at another institution
  • Candidate's skills and enthusiasm align with specific projects
  • Candidates are, or have been, eligible for free school meals, pupil premium, Education Maintenance allowance and/or 16-19 bursary during their secondary education*
  • Candidates are the first in their family to go to university
  • Candidates are living in Oxfordshire
  • Candidates do not have access to other universities or experiences closer to their home region.

*No accommodation is provided with this placement. A small bursary (up to £40 for the week) is available for children on free school meals or equivalent to cover the cost of transport for in-person events.


If you have any questions about the Summer School, please email

Mailing list

If you wish to join our mailing list to be notified about the Year 12 Summer School as well as other physics-related events, news and online activities, please fill in this short form. We will send you the dates and information about how to apply when it becomes available.

Other placements

Students often contact individuals in the Department to request placements in their research field. It is likely that these requests will be directed to the central office and students will be asked to apply for the Oxford Physics Year 12 Summer School.

The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire also offers one or two week work experience placements in physics and other subject areas between April and August to over 100 students each year. More information available here.