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Discover Computer Science! A Computer Science/Christ Church Outreach Initiative
Discover Computer Science - A Computer Science/Christ Church Outreach Initiative

For Year 11 (15–16 year olds, Scottish S5 or NI Y12) students of black and mixed heritage who identify as female, from state-funded schools in the UK.

Applications are now open

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Discover Computer Science is a sustained engagement programme of four online sessions, beginning in January 2024 and ending in March 2024 with an in-person graduation day at Christ Church, Oxford.

The online sessions, led by members of the Department of Computer Science and Christ Church, will offer students in-depth investigations of topic 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 sessions will introduce students to Oxford teaching methods and will involve small-group work. The small group nature of the online sessions means you will be expected to actively participate in the session: you will need to have access to a tablet or computer and both a microphone, and speakers/headphones. You will also need to be make sure that, at the time of the online sessions, you are in location that’s condusive to you participating.

The final day of the programme will be an in-person graduation day held in Oxford. Successful students will be invited to bring a parent/carer to accompany them on the day. Sessions designed to support students in their progression to university – for example, in supporting A Level choice – will also form part of the programme alongside the academic elements. There will also be a Q&A talk with Computer Science alumnae during the programme and a chance to meet current students.


We wish to encourage better representation of black and female students in Computer Science and joint schools at the University of Oxford, and other higher education institutions.

To take part in this programme students need to meet all of the criteria below:

Attendees will be required to attend all classes in the series and to complete the extra learning activities between the sessions.

UK State schools are invited to nominate up to four students per school. If several pupils match the criteria above, then it is up to the school representative to add any additional criteria to identify their top four candidates to attend the masterclasses.

When and Where

For 2024 the majority of the programme will run digitally, after school, and students must have access to a computer, laptop or tablet and the internet, plus a microphone and speakers/headphones.

The programme will run as follows:

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


How much does it cost to attend?

This programme is free. For 2024, most of the programme will be held online, though attendees will need to organize their own transport – for themselves and their parent/carer - to Oxford for the final, in-person session. See 'When the sessions move to being held in-person, where will they be held?' section of the FAQ below. We are hoping to make a small number of travel grants available to those who would otherwise be unable to attend.

How do I apply?

This programme is open for applications. Teachers in eligible schools are asked to nominate up to four students, according to the nomination criteria above.

Teachers, please contact us via using a school email address to receive nominating information.We will then provide teachers with a digital letter to pass on to your chosen students, which contains a link to the combined student application/parent consent form. Nominated students (with the help of their parents/guardians) will need to fill out this short online form in order to complete the application process. The nomination deadline is: 5pm on Wednesday 22nd November 2023.

In order to be considered the student application/parent consent form needs to have been submitted by this date. We cannot consider applications without this. We will notify students of the outcome of their applications by 1 December 2023.

Teachers: there is no form for you to fill in! You don’t even need to email us the names of your chosen students.

How will candidates be selected?

The full cohort of selected students will be of black and mixed heritage, identify as female and come from state-funded schools in the UK. Priority will also be given to students who are, or who have been, in local authority care; who are, or who have been, young carers; who have been in receipt of free school meals; who are first generation i.e. their parents haven’t been to university; who are from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds or under-represented groups (measured by ACORN and POLAR data as described below):

We will prioritise students who have indicated they are able to attend all sessions in the programme.

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. However, we do require students to have a strong mathematics background in Year 10/11 in order to be selected, as detailed in ‘Nomination Criteria’ above.

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 series. It is only open to students from state-funded schools in the UK.

What will I need for the digital sessions?

Because the majority of sessions will be held online, all students who take part will need access to a computer, laptop, or tablet and a stable internet connection, plus a microphone and speakers/headphones. We expect to use Microsoft Teams for the sessions.

Where will the on site event be held

The on site event will be held at the Department of Computer Science (Parks Road, OX1 3QD) and Christ Church (St Aldates OX1 1DP) . Attendees will also need to organize their own transport to Oxford for this event. Further details of the event will be provided to successful applicants. However, we expect the day to run approximately 10:00am to 3:30pm. You will need to bring a parent/carer who will attend the event with you. Lunch will be provided for your party. If the cost of travel is likely to prevent a student taking part, please let us know in the relevant section on the application form. We expect to be able to make a small number of travel grants available in this situation.

Do I need to come smartly dressed?

It is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that you are comfortable and there is no dress code for either the online events or the in person graduation day.

I am worried about what will happen in a small group online sessions. Is it OK if I keep my camera turned off and not say anything?

For this particular programme we are really looking for students who want to actively take part in the sessions. And that means cameras turned on and a willingness to speak. We want the groups to be supporting and friendly; you do not need to know all the answers. But we are looking for a willingness to learn and take part. If you would prefer the kind of programme that is less two-way interactive, we offer some other opportunities here

I am the parent who will come to the on site event, if my young person is successful in joining the programme. Will you make me do lots of computer science and maths on the day?

Not much! When your young person is taking part in the harder academic sessions you will be invited to join a session designed for parents and carers.

Who are the organisers?

The Discover Computer Science! programme, to be held at Oxford University, is an initiative from the Department of Computer Science and Christ Church, University of Oxford. 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. Christ Church is one of Oxford’s colleges, offering places for most undergraduate Oxford courses, including Computer Science, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Computer Science and Philosophy. We have a vibrant and diverse community and are committed to attracting students who have academic ability and potential, regardless of their background.

I have 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.