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International Student Office


What are IARU courses?

The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), of which Cambridge is a member, has been collaborating on many levels for several years now. From 2008, these 11 institutions offered a Global Summer Programme (GSP). This has now been re-developed into IARU courses - which are open to Cambridge undergraduate and graduate students.  IARU partner institutions will be offering 26 GSP courses as part of the upcoming 2019 summer mobility programme.

How to apply to the Cambridge GSP

Whether you are a student from one of the partner institutions, or a Cambridge student, you may wish to apply for any of this University’s programmes.   (Full-time Cambridge students can talk to us about discounted tuition charges. ) For information on the Cambridge programmes, including how to apply, please visit the Institute of Continuing Education's International Summer Programmes pages.

How and when to apply to any of the GSP Programmes if you are a Cambridge student

Please visit the course website for each institution (see below) to receive details on the available courses in 2019 and then apply directly to that programme




UC Berkeley

UCB1: Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program

UCB2: Design & Innovation for Sustainable Cities (Disc)

- UC Berkeley Summer Seessions

University of Cambridge

- University of Cambridge International Summer Programmes

University of Cape Town

UCT1: Sustainable Water Management in Africa

UCT2: Afropolitanism, Social Justice and Social Entrepreneurship

University of Copenhagen

COP1: Cultural Rights: A Promising Global Discourse?

COP2: Interdisciplinary Aspects of Healthy Ageing

COP3: Privacy challenged in past, present and future: a multi-disciplinary approach

COP4: Field Course - Borderland: Critical Approaches to Field Research in the Global South

University of Oxford

OXF1: Oxford University English Literature Summer School

OXF2: Oxford University History, Politics & Society Summer School

OXF3: Oxford University Creative Writing Summer School

OXF4: Oxford University International Politics Summer School

Peking University, Beijing

PKU1: The Rise of China and Change in the World Politics

PKU2: China's Original International Strategy: the Belt and Road Initiatives

PKU3: The Global Images of China

PKU4: Introduction to Chinese Economy

National University of Singapore

NUS1: Southeast Asia in Context

NUS2: Asia Now! The Archaeology of the Future City

The University of Tokyo

UTokyo: Internationalization of Higher Education in Asia (IHEA)

UTokyo: Japan in Today's World (JTW)

UTokyo: Nanoscience (NANO)

UTokyo: Sustainable Urban Management (SUM)


- Yale Summer Session

Feedback from Cambridge students who have previously attended the IARU GSP:

Solomon English, Animals and the City course at the National University of Singapore in 2017.

Classes involved lectures and guest presentations followed by group discussions, making them both interesting and engaging. Field trips included outings to the world-renowned Singapore zoo as well as trips to conservation islands and marine labs. Individual work involved reflections essays on the trips and classes as well as a final presentation and academic essay. The pieces of work provided excellent an excellent opportunity to experience what academic writing and presenting is like. There was lots of freedom in terms of what topic you decided to research for the assessed material, making the course highly relevant to people studying a wide range of subjects at university.

Anna Strumpel, Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy, at Peking University, Beijing in 2017

Thanks a lot for enabling me to go to Beijing for a month, I am extremely grateful to have met so many lovely and interesting people from around the world while learning about the soon to be world's largest economy!! Also the meeting before going there was crucial to have a network of Cambridge friends even before going and definitely helped in the first days in China.

Timothy Onafuwa, Sustainable Urban Management, Tokyo University in 2017

I had a truly amazing experience in Tokyo. It was really the best of both worlds in that we were immersed in the authentic experience of studying at UTokyo with an engaging course whilst experiencing all that Tokyo has to offer in a broader sense. The best part for me was the people - I know I've made friends for life from across the globe and living and exploring Tokyo with them during our free time made the experience all the more gratifying.

Joshua Wong, Nanoscience, Tokyo University in 2017

My GSP was fantastic. It was very well planned.  The lectures were interesting and at the right depth. The only difficulty was getting around as there were three different campuses that we had to go to. 

Alessandro Rubin, Sustainable Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University in 2017

The course featured amazing guest lectures from relevant figures in Interpol, UNESCO, the Catholic University of Lima, etc. It gave us unique occasions to interact with experts in the field of heritage preservation. The course included several field trips to the main museums of New Haven (Yale Art Gallery, British Collection, Peabody Museum, Babylonian Collection), guided by curators and directors of the mentioned institutions. This was a great occasion to apply the notions gained throughout the course. We also visited the United Nations headquarters in New York, meeting UNESCO representatives and members of the Sanctions Committee. Such contacts made the course a unique experience.

The course offered truly valuable skills for those interested in working in the cultural-heritage field. Lectures were devoted to the preservation of artefacts in museums or restitution of objects between nations. For a student of art history like me this was the perfect chance to reinforce my otherwise very theoretical curriculum. 

Matthew Choy, attended the University of Copenhagen in 2016

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to participate in this course.  Ageing is a complicated phenomenon that impacts all aspects of our society.  At Copenhagen I was able to work with people from different backgrounds and disciplines, not only learning more about this important topic but also working together to propose ways by which we can promote healthy ageing via medical and social interventions. Moreover, I gained many skills that will be relevant in my future medical career and have made a strong network of friends.  The course is led by true giants in the field and will not disappoint.

I would advise all candidates with a month free in the summer to apply.  It is a fantastic way to cultivate oneself academically and culturally via experiencing life and studies in another country.  I would say that the top tip is to keep an open mind.  Be approachable and friendly; take advantage of what there is to offer

Ziqing Liew, attended the University of Tokyo in 2016

Joining the Sustainable Urban Management in UTokyo is definitely one of the best summer experience that I had! What I appreciated the most is the friendship that I fostered; I was not just able to hold prolonged and deep conversations with some of the best minds across the globe, but also to travel in Japan with these lovely people.


For those taking TOK programme, I would strongly recommend a hiking trip up Mount Fuji as it only allows amateurs hikers during summer. However, do not undermine the frozen gust of wind up at the top, hence bring some warm windproof jacket and good pairs of hiking shoes if you would like to get to the top safely for the sunrise!


Talia Shmool, attended ETH Zurich in 2016


I had a very good experience on the program. I had learnt a lot, and since it was a small group of students it provided an opportunity for forming close friendships. The course organizers were dedicated and welcoming, the accommodations were comfortable and the food was made based on local homemade Swiss recipes. In this particular program we had a combination of in-class lectures and field work. One of my favourite days was an expedition to the Alps, where we went hiking and learnt about the agriculture and climate in that environment. This experience benefited me in that it allowed me to travel and learn about a subject I am interested in, in an unconventional way. It was also a nice break from my field of focus. Several tips I have are: to be open minded about the experience and to be outgoing. You are placed in an environment where every other person is passionate and interested in the same subject, so there is always something to talk about. The main tip I have is to break out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to try new things, and build connections with the people around you.  All in all, it was a good learning experience and people were content. I have no hesitation in encouraging students to attend this course in the future


Junaid Hussain, attended the University of Tokyo in 2016


In summer 2016 I attended the IARU programme at the University of Tokyo. It was an amazing experience, bringing together students from all over the world to explore a fascinating new culture. As a language-lover, the introduction to Japanese was particularly rewarding, and studying Sustainable Urban Management alongside these experiences was also very interesting, as there was a relevant focus on the development and history of Tokyo as a city. With Tokyo as a backdrop to all of this, there were plenty of chances to put our (very new!) language skills to use, and to see for ourselves what we had learnt in the SUM classroom. The programme organisers were very welcoming, and despite being in a new and unfamiliar environment, everything from accommodation to study trips was well-organised and helped us to make the most of our time in Japan. One of the really great aspects of IARU summer schools is that each one forms part of an international network: we were studying alongside students from countries ranging from Denmark and the US to Australia and China. Together we quickly formed a close-knit group, exploring Japan together and forging friendships that have lasted well beyond the programme, including visits to each other's home countries and universities. I'd absolutely recommend applying for a place on a 2017 programme, whether in Tokyo or another place of personal interest to you - there's no limit on what you'll be able to get out of the course, and with ample free time included in the schedule, there's plenty of scope for the experience to be whatever you make of it!


Zhen Du, attended the University of Tokyo in 2016

IARU GSP provided me with a great opportunity to experience different cultures and communicate with peers from diverse backgrounds. I took a two-week course in the University of Tokyo (TOK4 nanoscience) - the course was well organised and structured and covered a wide range of topics from basic science to engineering. I was especially impressed by the cultural events where we learned about Japanese tea culture and the tours to the research & development centre of world-renowned companies such as Fujitsu. Tokyo is a fantastic place for food lovers and you will be amazed by the beautiful scene at Mount Fuji (hiking)!