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Durham University

Department of Chemistry

Levelling Up: Aspire Higher

What is Levelling Up: Aspire Higher?

Levelling Up: Aspire Higher is a two year academic and pastoral support programme, targeted at Year 12 students who are aiming to pursue the study of Chemistry, Maths or Physics at University. We are excited to be able to offer our student participants the opportunity to take part in a variety of online subject specific tutorials, mentoring, guest lectures and activities designed to prepare them for University study to help make sure they are ready to apply for and succeed in Higher Education.

Participants will experience what it is like to be a part of Durham University, with regular contact with tutors, mentors (Chemistry and Physics) and academics from across the Science Faculty. Levelling Up: Aspire Higher will be a fun, encouraging and intellectually stimulating introduction to Durham University and studying at University.


This is a joint programme with The London Mathematical Society (LMS) and The Institute of Physics (IoP). They are also running Maths and Physics programmes in other universities. Please visit their websites for more details

How does the Chemistry Programme work?

There are three main aspects of the programme:

  • Academic tuition and support to stretch and challenge you in your chosen subject
  • Mentoring and support to develop the skills required to successfully apply for and succeed in Higher Education
  • Becoming a part of the academic community at Durham University so you know what to expect when you begin post-A-level study

Academic tuition and support

You will receive high quality materials and structured study programme in three-week cycles.Each cycle will include an introductory session, structured self-study and a one-hour tutorial.

The programme runs across Year 12 and Year 13 with a different topic discussed every cycle, designed to align with your A-level course.

You will also learn about real-life applications of the science and links to research.

Mentoring and support

You will receive small group mentor sessions, these provide opportunities to discuss University life, University applications and provide a consistent supportive environment where you can address any concerns about your studies.

There will also be the opportunity for an onsite/virtual visit (Covid-19 dependent), to include a tour of Durham University’s Chemistry department.

Online guest lectures, given by renowned academics, in a range of STEM subjects will provide information of many different aspects and applications of a wide range of STEM careers.

Becoming a part of the academic community

You will have the opportunity to get to know and work with members of the Durham University community including your tutors, mentors and guest lecturers.

Levelling Up: Aspire Higher Chemistry Programme

Upon successful placement on the programme, you will be allocated:

  • A tutorial group (approximately five students per group);
  • A Programme Tutor;
  • A Programme Support Mentor.

Following an online introductory session in February 2021, you will complete work on different subject specific topics in three-week cycles.

In a three-week cycle, it is expected that you will spend approximately:

  • One and a half hours in the first week to engage with the self-study materials to prepare for your tutorial;
  • Attend a one hour online tutorial in the second week;
  • A further half hour in the third week of the cycle to complete the follow-up diagnostic questions.

Combined with the mentor session, it is desirable that you commit an average of one and a half hours per week to the programme.

The format of a typical three-week cycle is shown below.

The basic timeline for the programme, will be in three-week cycles, from February 2021 to June 2022, focussed around school term times.

Levelling Up: Aspire Higher Maths Programme

Please click here to view the Maths programme page.

Levelling Up: Aspire Higher Physics Programme

Please click here to view the Physics programme page.

Important information

Programme Evaluation

As this is the first year of the programme, the project will undergo a full evaluation by evaluators at Durham University. Details of the evaluation process can be found here. Please note that you are not obliged to be part of the evaluation.

Supported Progression

You may be interested in applying for the Supported Progression programme. Please click on the link below to view their website: Supported Progression - Durham University

Who can take part?

Please see the essential criteria here. Please note, to participate in the programme, you must be studying the following A-level (or equivalent) subjects:

Chemistry - Chemistry and Maths

Maths - Maths and Further Maths AS* (*please click here for information to apply to study Maths at Durham)

Physics - Physics and Maths

Key dates for the programmes

  • Application process opens at the end of December
  • Application process closes Sunday 31st January 2021
  • Levelling Up: Aspire Higher Chemistry programme launch - Wednesday 17th February 2021
  • Levelling Up: Aspire Higher Maths and Physics launch dates to be confirmed

What you need to do next

The key steps you need to take now to move forward are:

  • Take a look at our brochure and poster below
  • Get in touch, by email, if you have any questions
  • Complete the application form below

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Please note, you will receive a guaranteed offer to study Chemistry Maths or Physics at Durham University (conditions apply), subject to meeting the degree requirements, if you have fully engaged with the relevant Levelling Up: Aspire Higher programme.

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