Three students who participated in the History: Race and Protest UNIQ Summer School, June 2017, report back on their experiences.
In many ways the week that I spent at UNIQ was crucial in helping me to decide that I definitely want to go to university and also cemented my desire to study history. The academic side of UNIQ was fascinating as it challenged me to look at parts of the Civil Rights movement in an entirely different perspective. This has inspired me to continue research in the future as well as giving me analytical skills I can use to succeed in my A levels and beyond. The variety of ways in which we were taught - lectures, seminars, and tutorials - gave me a really useful insight into university teaching. As well as this, both the extra-curricular activities and the time spent with the student ambassadors allowed me to gain a holistic understanding of university life, as well as enabling me to meet people who had similar interests to me with whom I’ve made great friends. Overall, UNIQ was a brilliant experience, and one that I would highly recommend to everyone.
I applied to the UNIQ summer school after my head of year told me about the course. She directed me toward the Oxford UNIQ website and I started to explore the many course options available to applicants. As a History student I found the idea of studying the history of civil rights very intriguing. I wrote a short personal statement explaining why I wanted to attend the summer school, filled out the online forms and waited to find out whether I would be able to attend.
When I found out that I had been accepted to the course I was both surprised and thrilled. The letters and emails I received from the UNIQ team were friendly and easy to understand. The information I received about the summer school was very clear and left me feeling calm and confident about the week. Receiving pre-reading for the course was very helpful as it allowed me to explore the topic we would be studying and get a feel for the language we would be using and the issues we would discuss.
The lectures and discussions we had on this course introduced me to a new way of looking at history. I particularly enjoyed learning about the history of the British civil rights movement; an area of history which I never heard of, let alone learnt about. I learnt about the Bristol bus boycott of 1963 and discussed with other students the parallels between this stand for civil rights and the ‘freedom rides’ held in cities all across America. During our independent study time at the end of each day I was able to read about what we had discussed and dig deeper into sources to discover first person accounts and personal stories. For me this brought the learning to life as I read about the struggle for equal rights the black community of the world had to fight for.
The academic sessions were a mix of lectures, discussions, question and answer sessions, documentaries and independent study. Being taught a variety in of ways meant that it was easy to stay engaged with the content of the sessions. I found it very useful to experience university style lectures where I was taking notes and listening to the lecturer. It was also very great to have the opportunity to ask questions and contribute ideas.
As a part of the course we were asked to answer a question and hand in an essay. We were supported in the research and writing process by the course leaders and our ambassadors were also on hand to answer any questions. I wrote the essay in my free time in the evenings after having dinner with other people in my college and participating in social activities. The week was challenging and interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent at Oxford. An amazing experience which has given me the confidence to apply to study History at Oxford and other respected universities.
Going on the UNIQ summer school was a brilliant experience. Every day I would have lectures or group discussions with people interested in the same subject as me and eager to learn. Lunchtime meant being allowed to explore the city with my friends and buy food with the vouchers we were given- I barely spent any of my own money during the whole week! In the evenings, we had a choice of activities, all of which I enjoyed, especially the social evening on the last night, complete with a disco and games room. The Oxford students running the course were all friendly and helpful. My group leader, upon hearing I had questions about English at the university, a subject which she didn't do, called a friend who did to provide the answers, while my site manager directed me to an English student so we could have a conversation about it. The same student later kindly emailed me a reading list. Before coming on the course, I was slightly worried that the other people there might be intimidating, which wasn't the case. Although everyone there was bright, they were incredibly supportive. I particularly enjoyed how asking questions was encouraged. I would definitely recommend the course to anyone considering Oxford, or just wanting to learn more about their favourite subject. I learnt so much in just a week!