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Royal Institution Masterclass: Computer Science
Royal Institution Masterclasses

For Year 9 (13–14 year olds) and for Year 10 (14-15 year olds) students interested in Computer Science, from state-funded schools in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire.


The Royal Institution Masterclasses are a series of hands-on and interactive extracurricular activities that are designed to encourage, inspire, and engage young people in the creativity and practice of computer science, helping to highlight the links between this wide-reaching discipline and other subjects. Each session is led by enthusiastic speakers from industry, academia, and education. They offer students in-depth investigations of topics areas outside of the school curriculum, combining theory with interactive exploration. We aim to help students explore the world of Computer Science and hope to inspire them to continue their engagement with the subject.

The series of six Saturday morning workshops will each last around two and a half hours, and will be led by different speakers on various computer science topics. Topics we have run previously include:


The Oxford RI Masterclasses in Computer Science are supported by Morgan Stanley and University of Oxford's Department of Computer Science to bring you a series of lectures to cover the theory and practical elements of computer science, plus practical sessions to implement the theory covered in lectures.


The purpose of the masterclasses is to build a network of engaged and inspirational young people who are likely to consider Computer Science at a higher level at the University of Oxford, or another higher education institution.

The Ri Masterclass series is usually aimed at Year 9 but due to Covid-19 we were unable to operate during 2020. Therefore for 2021 we will be recruiting two new cohorts: one each in Year 9 and Year 10. Each cohort will contain no more than 24 students.

Attendees are required to attend all six classes in a series. Once the first year of the programme is completed, funding permitting, we very much hope students will continue to participate in a more advanced series the following year (2022), and for the incoming Year 9 cohort the year after (2023). Sessions for Year 9s and 10s normally run over six Saturday mornings in June/July whilst Year 11 sessions move earlier in the academic year to avoid exam clashes and are usually held over three full-day Saturdays in February/March.

The attendees are invited from state-funded schools in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire. Eligible schools are invited to nominate up to maximum of two attendees from Year 9 and two attendees from Year 10. If the nominating school accepts female pupils in Year 9, then at least one nominee for each cohort should self-identify as female.

Nomination criteria

Eligible schools may nominate up to two students for the Year 9 and/or the Year 10 cohorts according to the following criteria:

When and Where

For 2021 the programme will run digitally and students must have access to a computer/laptop/tablet and the internet. The programme will run from: 9:30am to 12:00pm on each of the following dates: 5 June, 12 June, 19 June, 26 June, 3 July, 10 July 2021.

We hope to return to in-person events in 2022, subject to funding, but are keeping this under review.

In order to attend the programme you must have been nominated by your teacher, accepted onto the programme, and confirmed your attendance prior to joining the programme. Please see ‘how do I apply’ below. You must have been nominated by your teacher and confirmed your attendance prior to visiting.

What previous participants have said:

'I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge and I love computer science even more'

'It is so much more useful than I ever imagined, and can be applied to all sorts of subjects and topics'

'I didn't know that computer science can be implemented in other subjects like biology'

'I now have more of a passion for computing as I thought it slightly boring. I've also learnt things that will hopefully help me in school'

My highlight was 'Either meeting all these awesome people or getting my mind blown by quantum computing'

'This has widened my knowledge of the different aspects of computer science and some of the newest developing technologies.'


How much does it cost to attend?

This programme is free. For 2021 the programme will be held online. When we do return to in-person sessions, attendees will also need to organize their own transport to Oxford. See 'When the sessions move back to being held in-person, where will they be held?' section of the FAQ below.

How do I apply?

Applications will open in February 2021. Teachers in eligible schools are asked to nominate up to a maximum of two students from Year 9 and two students from Year 10. (It's fine to only nominate students from one year group.) Teachers, to receive information on how to nominate students from your school, please contact us via using a school email address and we will send you further details. Nominated students (with the help of their parents/guardians) will also be asked to fill out a short online application form in order to complete the application process.

The nomination deadline is: 5pm on Friday 19 March 2021.

We will notify students of the outcome of their applications by the end of March 2021.

How will the Ri Masterclass candidates be selected?

We aim for at least 50% of the cohort of students to self-identify as female. Candidates from schools who've not engaged with Computer Science outreach events in recent years will also be prioritised. We will also use ACORN and POLAR data - based on students' home postcodes - to prioritise students:

Do attendees need to have studied computer science or ICT to attend?

No, we do not expect any prior knowledge in the field of computer science. We do however, we require students to have a strong mathematics background in Year 9/10 in order to be selected. We also ask for enthusiasm to learn, and an interest in either Maths or Computer Science.

Can students who are home educated attend?

We welcome home educated students to many of our events, however they are not eligible to apply for this Masterclasses series. It is only open to students from state-funded schools in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire.

What will I need for the digital sessions?

Because the sessions will be held online, all students who take part will need access to a computer, laptop, or tablet and a stable internet connection. We expect to use Microsoft Teams for the sessions. A pen and paper might also be useful. A big smile and lots of enthusiasm will help!

When the sessions move back to being held in-person, where will they be held?

Once we are able to return to in-person sessions, attendees will also need to organize their own transport to Oxford. The in-person events will normally run at: Department of Computer Science, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QD (please note that the building will be accessed for these events via Keble Road). We may on occasion use another university building just a short walk away from Keble Road.

Who are the organisers?

The series of RI Masterclasses in Computer Science, to be held at Oxford University, is an initiative supported by Morgan Stanley, and run by The Royal Institution.

The Royal Institution’s (Ri) purpose is to harness science for the maximum benefit of society, encouraging people to think more deeply about the wonders and applications of science through education and heritage activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. These include the world-famous Christmas Lectures; public talks from the world's greatest thinkers in its historic lecture theatre; a national programme of Masterclasses for young people in mathematics, engineering and computer science; hands-on science workshops in its L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre; animations and films from its award-winning Ri Channel and the preservation of its scientific legacy through the Faraday Museum and archival collections.

The Department of Computer Science at Oxford University is home to a range of graduate and undergraduate degree courses, and internationally significant programmes of computer science research. As part of its outreach programme the Department of Computer Science at Oxford is dedicated to engaging with as many young people as possible who have an interest in computer science and its far-reaching applications.

Do I need to come really smartly dressed?

It's entirely up to you. The most important thing is that you're comfortable.

I've got a question — who do I talk to?

Please contact us at

Please note that the organisers reserve the right to change the programme without notification or to make alterations to the advertised details for the day at short notice.