• What will I learn?
  • Who will I be taught by?
  • Who is this course for?
  • What can I do after?
  • As a species, the human race has developed vast civilisations, colonising the entire planet. What is it about the human race that sets it apart from the rest of the animal kingdom? Are we driven by the same evolutionary imperatives as other species? These questions and more are addressed in our course.

    Last year, our course put the human species in perspective and investigated the origin of Homo sapiens and how we compare to other species on the planet. Human behaviour was investigated from a number of different perspectives, including genetics, social norms and the impact of the environment, with special attention given to the field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology. As a part of the course, students had the opportunity to dissect chick embryos in one of the University of Oxford labs.

  • All our tutors are current Oxford and/or Cambridge PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. You will have the opportunity to learn about their original research and our tutors will take you beyond your school curriculum to investigate their subject at  a higher level - this is great preparation for university/college study!

    Antonio, who has been tutoring with us since 2015, is completing his PhD in Cardiovascular Sciences at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics in Oxford. His research focuses on embryology and Evolutionary Developmental Biology.

  • This course is ideal for students interested in studying Biology, Biochemistry or Medicine at university, or who simply want to explore science beyond the standard school curriculum. To support our students who aspire to the medical profession, we also run a Life as a Junior Doctor seminar series. These sessions give students the opportunity to explore the joys (and challenges!) of a career in medicine.

    You may also be interested in our Molecular Medicine or Psychology courses.

  • Our students go on to studying a wide range of subjects at undergraduate level, including Biology, Medicine and related courses, at universities across the UK, as well as those abroad, including in the US.

  • What are the requirements for applying to this course?

    As an academic summer school, we invite all students to complete a short application form and short interview with one of our staff before booking. We recommend students have a foundation in studying the biological sciences, and some chemistry is useful, but any specialised reading will be provided for you.

    English Language requirements: all students need to be able to engage with the course material, which normally means a level of English equivalent to an IELTS score of 5.5 and above, or B2 in the Common European Framework. Don't worry if you don't have a formal qualification - when you chat to one of the team they'll be able to assess your level and answer any questions you may have.

    Not sure about which course is the best for you? Our friendly team is here to help – contact us and we will help you choose the subject that is best suited to your needs.

Studying Human & Animal Biology at OISS


Students doing Human and Animal Biology at OISS benefit from a combination of small group and one-to-one tutorials, assessed work and individual research. Below is an example of a typical day at the Summer School, to give you an idea of the challenging variety that we offer our students.


 0800   Wake up and go down to breakfast with my friends from my staircase. Have some toast and cereal to start the day, and grab a piece of fruit for a snack later.
 0900   Go to my small group tutorial with our tutor Laura. Laura is currently completing a Doctorate in Biochemistry at Oxford, and did her undergraduate degree in Human Genetics, which sounds really interesting. She’s been introducing the biological background on the debates about human evolution to us - including the genetics of Neanderthals and the emergence of civilisation.
 1100   We head back to the accommodation to drop off our bags before we head into town for lunch and some free time. Today we’ve decided to explore Jericho and we take a picnic to Port Meadow. We walk around, admiring the lake (and cows!) before strolling back to the accommodation.
 1300   Now it’s time for Independent Research. Laura’s asked us to do some reading and research into evolutionary trade-offs before our next tutorial, which I do in the common room with the rest of our group.
 1500   One of the Activity Coordinators, Ella, goes to Oxford and has agreed to take us on a tour of the Oxford colleges. It’s really great to learn about the city from someone who lives there.
 1600   For our activity this afternoon we can pick one of a few of Oxford’s famous museums to wander around. I love art and artefacts, so I choose the Ashmolean Museum. I run straight up to the older galleries, where I spend the rest of the afternoon looking at amazing objects - jewellery, pottery and even cutlery!
 1800   Back to the dining room for dinner and a chance to catch up with everyone.
 1900   The famous OISS Alternative Olympics! Lots of falling over and fun (and everyone being ridiculously competitive)!
 2200   Hop in the shower to rinse off and chill with my friends before bed.
 2300   Everyone’s gone and I finally get to bed - ready for another packed day tomorrow!