Challenge yourself

The Scott Polar Research Institute and Selwyn College Cambridge are excited to announce a unique opportunity for Year 12 Students to curate an exhibition about climate change as part of a project that will run from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th August 2019.

What is the project?

Become part of a world-class museum team and research institute for a week to devise and curate an exhibition on climate change that will go on public display at The Polar Museum (University of Cambridge) in Autumn 2019. Throughout the week, you will be experiencing life as an undergraduate, eating, living and socialising at your base in Selwyn College, and will gain valuable insight into how you can best prepare for university applications.

Over five days you will be exploring cutting edge polar research with some of the world’s leading experts, and work as part of an experienced museum team to plan an exhibition from start to finish.

A typical day will include:

  • After breakfast in college hall and short walk through the centre of Cambridge to the Scott Polar Research Institute, you will enjoy exclusive behind the scenes access to the wealth of the latest as-yet unseen collections in the museum store.
  • Hear from key experts with lots of experience of working in the Arctic and Antarctic about life in the field, and why their findings are important for the whole world.
  • A working lunch with polar researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge will give you the opportunity to ask your burning questions and get one-to-one advice.
  • Work with the museum team to select the objects and images that best tell the climate stories that are important to you. Develop your communication and writing skills as you figure out the best ways to share your ideas.
  • Round the day off with climate related activities, whether playing our escape room game or networking over dinner in Selwyn College’s magnificent dining hall.

This fantastic project will be extremely intensive, so we are looking for students who are hardworking and up for a challenge!

Are you…

  1. a team player
  2. a critical and creative thinker
  3. a clear communicator
  4. able to work well under pressure
  5. interested in how climate change is affecting people and places
  6. keen to share your ideas

If this describes you, then we want to hear from you!

When and where is it happening?

The project will take place between Monday 19th and Saturday 24th August 2019. Exact timings will be confirmed to successful applicants closer to this date.

Your time will be shared between:

Why get involved?

Your exhibition will go on public display at The Polar Museum from late 2019 into 2020, the Scott Polar Research Institute’s centenary year. All participants will have their name credited and will receive an invitation to the launch event in December 2019.

In addition to sharing your passion for climate change and meeting with world experts, you will have the exciting opportunity to develop impressive transferable skills and experiences: perfect for your CV or personal statement.

You will also gain valuable insight into what it’s like to study at Cambridge by being immersed in life at Selwyn College.

Does it cost anything to be involved?

The project itself is free for all participants, with all accommodation and meals during the event being covered by the Scott Polar Research Institute and Selwyn College Cambridge.

Participants will be expected to arrange their own travel to and from Cambridge, but we can offer some bursaries towards travel expenses if necessary for those who are currently eligible for Free School Meals, and/or are/have been in local authority care. This will be discussed with successful applicants.

How do I get involved?

There are only twelve places available for this project. 

Applications are now closed. We are currently reviewing all of the applications we received and will be in touch with our decision as soon as possible.

As part of the application, you will be asked to write two short supporting paragraphs, of up to 200 words each, answering these questions:

  1. What skills could you bring to the project?
  2. What would you gain from being involved in the project?

You may wish to prepare your answers in a word processor in advance of completing your application as the form must be completed by the applicant in one sitting.

We will also ask for the contact details of your parent/carer, an emergency contact and one of your school teachers. Your parent/carer and emergency contact details will only be used to obtain permissions and information we require to run the residential, and in case of an emergency. Your teacher details will only be used to ask for a reference in some (but not all) cases, and to help us organise an interview with you if your application is successful (see below). Before you fill in your application, you should check that your contacts are happy for you to provide their details to us.

Please be aware that the application form asks you for some sensitive personal information. You are not required to provide this to us, but, if you do, you will consenting us to use it for the following purposes: research projects and equalities monitoring (which may include national research projects); managing any arrangements or adjustments that may be needed to help you participate fully in the event; assessing eligibility for this event.

We encourage you to submit your application well in advance of the deadline of 12-noon on Friday 26th April 2019.

If you experience any problems with the online form, please contact Dr Matt Wise at

Am I eligible?

We expect the event to be highly competitive. We are looking for people who:

  • Are currently in Year 12 (or equivalent e.g. S5) and studying at a United Kingdom school.
  • Achieved at least 7s or As in at least 5 subjects at GCSE-level (or equivalent e.g. National 5).
  • Be predicted at least AAA at A-level (or equivalent)
  • Are considering applying to the University of Cambridge or other top universities (e.g. Oxford and other Russell Group universities).
  • Are interested in sharing and interpreting climate research.

Beyond the above criteria, priority will also be given to students who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have no parental history of attending higher education.
  • Live in neighbourhoods with low overall progression rates to higher education.
  • Have lived, or are currently living, in local authority care.
  • Have been eligible for free school meals within the past five years.
  • Are from a group or community currently under-represented at Cambridge.
  • Have caring responsibilities for a family member.
  • Have a disability

What happens next?

Successful applicants will be invited to take part in a short Skype or telephone Interview on one of 29, 30 or 31 May 2019. Final selections will be made using the information you have shared in the application form and interview. The selection panel will prioritise those we believe would stand to gain the most from the experience, have the necessary skills to complete the project, and have a realistic chance of attending a highly selective university in the future.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the project, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Matt Wise (Schools Liaison Officer, Selwyn College):

Naomi Chapman (Education and Outreach Team, The Polar Museum):