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Leeds Futures: STEM

Leeds Futures: STEM is a national outreach programme designed for individual learners in Year 12 / Year 1. It provides students with the opportunity to learn more about a subject area they are interested in pursuing at university, whilst developing their study skills and careers awareness. 

Students enrolling on the programme will attend a variety of STEM-related activities alongside receiving advice and guidance on practical matters such as UCAS applications, accommodation choices and student finance.

Sessions will run online after school/ college with at least one opportunity to visit our campus for a taster day. 

What is included in the Leeds Futures: STEM programme?

Leeds Futures: STEM will cover a range of subject areas, giving you insight from across STEM. As well as the subject taster sessions you will have access to personal statement and application support, and opportunities to meet current students studying STEM courses, both online and face to face.

Learn how scientists work together to unpick complex problems. Understand how collaboration across STEM subjects leads to creative solutions, in areas such as disease diagnosis, and the development and delivery of treatment.

The Futures programme will run from Spring in Year 12 to Autumn in Year 13.

In 2024, each online academic subject session will be split in two. Participants will have the choice of which session to attend.

Year 12

Spring Term

Thursday 22 February, 5:00 - 6:15pm: Launch Session - programme overview, introduction to STEM at Leeds, student experience and Q&A.

Thursday 29th February, 5:00 - 6:00pm:

Session 1a - Exploring Primate Health and Conservation

Infectious diseases are one of the biggest concerns in wildlife conservation. This includes the health of primates, such as great apes and monkeys. Climate change is likely to have an impact on how diseases spread through animal populations. In this session, you will be able to explore models of primate behaviour in order to understand how disease spreads. Importantly, we will look at how rainfall might change the way the primates behave and spread the disease.

Session 1b - Positive Zero Carbon Future for 2025

In this workshop, students will work together to create their own positive zero carbon future, looking at energy, food, water, housing, transport, waste, and how we could organise our economy to avoid the current inequalities that make it difficult to take action. We will go on the basis that all our problems are solvable through a combination of engineering, technology and behaviour change - no matter how challenging - thus the workshop will be focused on positive action. 

Monday 11th March, 5:00 - 6:00pm:

Session 2a - Discovery in the Biomedical Sciences 

In this workshop, you will be taken through an interactive case study about a patient and see how Biomedical Science underpins each stage of their journey. How is a diagnosis made? How do we discover the mechanisms underlying a disease? Can any of those mechanisms be targeted by medicines? 

Session 2b - Human-on-a-chip

Engineers and scientists at the University of Leeds use microtechnologies and manufacturing facilities to build novel, miniaturized, models of human physiology. This medical engineering session explores the benefits of a human-on-a-chip, how these are designed plus why pharmaceutical companies, scientists and clinicians need a human-on-a-chip.

Thursday 21st March, 5:00 - 6:00pm:

Session 3a - Designing the Chemical Solution

From agriculture to medicine, energy to sustainability, it is clear that chemistry is essential for tackling the major global challenges facing the world. But how does an individual chemist contribute? And what is the importance of creativity and design in finding chemical solutions? Join Dr Jenny Eyley as she explores how one class of porous materials captured the imagination of the chemistry world, being used to clean up the atmosphere, promote greener fuels, generate clean drinking water, prevent food waste and much more. 

Session 3b - Geosciences: The Hidden Industry

Geophysicists and Geologists use the fundamental principles of geology and physics to investigate the structure and behaviour of our planet, from the really big, to the really small. Much of the work of the geoscientist is unseen as they work in almost all sectors of society. This includes tackling problems such as the evaluation and mitigation of natural hazards, finding and evaluating natural resources like critical minerals, metals, and energy sources, or simply locating lost school time capsules, as well as everything in-between. Geophysicists and geologists work in a wide variety of employment sectors, tackling major global challenges (e.g. How can we address the climate crisis?), addressing practical concerns (e.g. Is this land safe for construction?), monitoring known hazards (e.g. Is this volcanic activity cause for alarm based on gas emissions, magma chemistry, and deformation measurements?), and unravelling the history of the Earth and other planets through geological fieldwork, and analysis of geophysical data sets.

Monday 25th March, 5:00 - 6:00pm:

Session 4a - The Science of Geometry and the Art of Optimisation 

Train timetables, investment portfolios, and hospital staff rosters: almost every workplace presents someone with a tough organisational challenge. Many of these are optimisation problems: from the trillions of possible timetables, we might want the one which minimises the total passenger waiting time. Remarkably, a large proportion of the world's optimisation problems are solved today by a single process: the simplex algorithm. In this talk we shall meet this famous algorithm, along with some of the fascinating geometrical conundrums it presents. 

Session 4b - Food Science and Nutrition - a well-rounded STEM subject

When walking around a supermarket have you ever wondered how the different food products have ended up on the shelf or what work is involved to provide such a wide range edible items? Behind each product lies a fascinating world of scientific exploration.

Food Science plays a crucial role in maintaining a wholesome food supply for our ever-growing population. In this talk we will investigate how food science applies to a wide range of STEM subject in order to design, develop and produce food products. We will look at potential careers and hear from one of our current student’s about their university experience.

Thursday 18th April 2024: On-Campus Taster Day, 9.30-15.30

More information will be provided during the online sessions and by e-mail.

Thursday 9th May

Session 5 - May - Filming Life at The Nanoscale 

In this session you will learn how we can use physics to better understand biology and disease. You will explore the development tools that initially helped launch the field of nanotechnology but that have now reached the capabilities to video nature's nanomachines such as DNA and proteins in action. Often when we have a problem with our DNA or proteins this can lead to a certain disease. Diseases can also be caused by pathogens such as viruses and bacteria which use their DNA and protein machinery to attack cells. You will discover how we can use physics to analyse videos of these molecules to one day improve treatments. 

Summer Term

The following sessions reflect the Leeds Futures - STEM 2023 programme to give an idea of structure. Sessions are subject to change.

Choosing a Course and University:

Explores the tools and methods available for prospective students to make informed decisions about their university and course options.

The session will include a Q&A.

Student Finance:

An introduction to student finance including fees, loans and scholarships. The session will also cover tips on how to budget and what costs to expect at university.

The session will include a Q&A.

Year 13

Autumn Term

The following sessions reflect the Leeds Futures - STEM 2023 programme to give an idea of structure. Sessions are subject to change.

Personal Statements and Admissions Online Session

This session aims to familiarise you with the UCAS application process from registration and completing the form, through to tracking applications, handling offers, confirmation and Clearing. Using real examples, we explore the dos and don’ts of writing a personal statement and discuss why the statement forms such a crucial part of the selection process. You’ll also find out more about our alternative admissions scheme, Access to Leeds. 

Study Skills Online Session

This workshop is designed to equip students with effective tools and techniques for revision and exam preparation. We explore time management, the different strategies that can be used for revision, methods to avoid/manage distractions and exam anxiety. Additionally, this workshop will help students by providing advice on where students can get support if they are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing at what can be a stressful time. 

Transition to University Online Session

We will explore the transition to university and the steps that you can take to prepare for undergraduate study and student life. We will highlight the opportunities available to first year university students and discuss possible challenges and solutions. 

December: STEM Futures Graduation

Eligibility Criteria

We are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity to students from all backgrounds, recognising that some groups are under-represented on university courses and in certain areas of STEM.

Students applying to Leeds Futures: STEM must meet the following criteria:

  • Year 12 / first year college student.
  • GCSE English Language at grade 4 and Mathematics at grade 6 or equivalent qualification
  • Studying at least two STEM A-Levels, including Biology, Chemistry or Maths
  • Able to commit to joining the online sessions on the programme.

If our Futures programme is over subscribed, priority will be given to students who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • your parents / carers did not go to university
  • you are eligible for free school meals or from a household with an annual income of £25,000 or below
  • you live in an area with low progression to higher education (use our online postcode checker)
  • you attend a school achieving below the national average at GCSE (Attainment 8 score)
  • you live or grew up in public care
  • your studies have been disrupted by circumstances in your personal, social or domestic life. (Except in extreme circumstances, disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic will not be considered)

Privacy Notice

You can find out more about how we use the data from your application in our privacy notice.

How to Apply

Applications for Leeds Futures - STEM 2024 are now closed. Please check back in November for information about the 2025 cohort.