UK Senior Programme

United Kingdom

Gifted & Talented Study Day

Think Like An Oxford Scholar

Think Like An Oxford Scholar

What to Expect on the Day

This is a day for bright ambitious students who are interested in ideas. The best way to stretch clever youngsters is to give them a solid platform from which key questions and big ideas can be explored. Students will spend the day with like-minded youngsters all keen to reach the ceiling of their ability and share ideas. Experienced gifted educator, Julie Arliss and lecturers from Oxford University, Aberdeen University and London University will stretch and challenge your students. This is a unique, not to be missed, opportunity for your students.

Why Attend?

  • Oxbridge Masterclass
  • Promote equity and excellence for diverse learners
  • Target the development of capabilities in GT students
  • Add depth, complexity and richness
  • Challenge GT students with abstract ideas
  • Engage the thinker within
  • Share ideas with like-minded people
  • Meet world-class thinkers

Join us on Snapchat – aconferences – for your daily philosophical thought of the day, plus access to free resources.

Online Course Content

Tell us about a Cactus

Oxbridge Interview Question: Here’s a Cactus. Tell us About it. Julie Arliss

At Oxford University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, admission interview questions are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential  –  which means seeing if a candidate can think laterally, and apply their thinking to new ideas, and different contexts. Interviews are not about reciting what you already know, rather, they give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential.  There is no ‘right’ answer to many of the questions: the focus is on how well you can think. This session will provide students with essential Oxbridge standard thinking tools, and ideas for developing high-level lateral thinking skills.  This thorny question will be examined as a test case.

Climate Crisis

A Slow Strange Death – The Failure of Environmental Economics

Peter Baron (Alumni of University of Oxford)

Without a basic understanding of Economics it is impossible to understand how the current environmental crisis happened, or how to resolve it. In a lively interactive session, students will be introduced via various engaging case studies, to the core concepts of neo-classical Economics, such as marginal gains, incentives, externalities, the invisible hand, black box thinking and division of labour. This session will argue that the philosophical foundations of this view are bankrupt and that it has failed to embrace the issues of future generations (climate change), minority groups (poorer countries) and meaningful measure of welfare (happiness). It will be argued that we need to become a different sort of economic animal if we are to rescue the environment. A polymathic insight into the philosophy of economics.

Aristotle and his big idea

Aristotle 384-322 BCE and his Big Idea

Julie Arliss

In Nicomachean Ethics (Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια) Aristotle applied himself to the question of how best to cultivate the young people of Athens, so that they would grow up to be HAPPY. The work is named after and addressed to his son, Nicomachus, and many regard it as the first ever ‘self-help’ book for teenagers! This session will examine the big idea that he develops in relation to, ‘What is normal for humans?’ and explain how this idea is core to most modern-day well-being programmes in schools. The human function, reason-infused virtue, final cause, eudaimonia and habituation will all be explained and students will be encouraged to think for themselves and evaluate claims about the modern day relevance of ancient wisdom.

Big Data and Social Media

Social Physics

Julie Arliss

The engine that drives social physics is big data: the newly ubiquitous digital data now available about all aspects of human life. What are the connections between human behaviour and the digital bread crumbs we all leave behind us as we move through the world. Who we really are is most accurately pictured by big data which captures where we actually spend our time and which things we buy. The process of looking at this data is called ‘reality mining’. The work of Social Physicist, Alex Pentland, living laboratories, socioscopes and modern-day tribes will be explained and examined in this interactive session.

me too movement

The BIG Debate

This house believes that ‘enthusiastic consent’ is not enough.

Julie Arliss & Peter Baron

In the wake of the #MeToo Movement ‘enthusiastic consent’ has been recommended as the gold standard for respectful engagement in relationships. However, while it has been recommended that it should be taught to young people, it has often struggled to make it into Law. So, what is ‘enthusiastic consent’ and is it possible to prove absence of consent to a legal standard? Students are invited to participate in what promises to be a lively debate, and to share their own ideas about this and the much wider issues it raises. A highly relevant, timely topic which our more able students will find challenging and engaging.

Contributors to the UK 2020 Programme

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

Recently awarded a Farmington Fellowshipby Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly accomplished teacher and author. She is a well-known international educator of gifted students with a gift for making the complex simple, and the simple complex. She is committed to the provision of world-class extension activities for these students, to extend their reach well beyond the curriculum to new areas of knowledge. She is on the examining team for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Conferences.

Dr Chris Neill

Dr Chris O'Neill

Dr O’Neill is a fellow of Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford and is a polymathic thinker. He is a psychologist, registered psychotherapist and trained counsellor. He initiated the large-scale MYRIAD research project in Oxford University investigating resilience and well-being in young people. He has forty years’ experience of working with students and staff in schools and is an exceptional educator.

Dr Andrew Pinsent – Oxford

Dr Andrew Pinsent – Oxford

Dr Pinsent is an international speaker, in great demand across the globe. He is a polymath with doctorates in both physics and philosophy. There are few better placed to discuss matters of science and religion as a speaker and all over the world. Former particle physicist at CERN, being a named author on thirty-one papers of the DELPHI experiment. He is a member of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics. Dr Pinsent also has a second doctorate in philosophy and is currently the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, a Research Fellow of Harris-Manchester College and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University.

Mike Grenier

Mike Grenier

Alumni of St Peter’s College, Oxford, who works with highly able students at Eton College where his students rate him as ‘a legend’. He is a radical thinker who leads a number of initiatives all focused on finding the optimal challenge for each student: “Teachers need to find our precisely which bowl of porridge suits every student – not too hot too cold, too big or too small.” Widely published in the education world and passionate about a broader view of education which goes well beyond marching bright young students through examinations on the basis of their date of birth. He argues that this risks ‘dehumanising each and every one of them.’

Professor Charles Foster - Oxford

Professor Charles Foster - Oxford

Charles Foster is a writer, traveller, veterinarian and barrister. He is a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford. His books cover many fields. They include books on travel, evolutionary biology, natural history, anthropology, theology, archaeology, philosophy and law. Ultimately they are all attempts to answer the questions ‘Who or what are we?’, and ‘what on earth are we doing here? His latest book is ‘Being a Beast’, which is published in the UK by Profile Books and in the US by Metropolitan Books. He read veterinary medicine and law at Cambridge, and is a qualified veterinary surgeon. He holds a PhD in law/bioethics from the University of Cambridge. He teaches Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Oxford.

Dr James Orr

Dr James Orr - Cambridge

Dr James Orr left corporate law ten years ago to become a student again and has recently secured a lectureship at Cambridge University. Formerly McDonald Postdoctoral Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Orr holds a PhD and MPhil from St. John’s College, Cambridge, and a Double First in Literae Humaniores from Balliol College, Oxford. His publications and policy papers cover many fields including ‘The Discarded Mind’ ‘Created Equal’ and ‘Being and Eternity’. An impressive polymathic mind keen to inspire curious young minds in the search for knowledge.

Tour Venues

The Academy Conferences Masterclass for senior students will be delivered online.

Brochure Download

Download a pdf file of the brochure

Tuition fees: A fixed fee of £25. We have access to sponsorship for students wishing to attend but for whom the cost is a significant challenge for their families. Please contact us for further details. One free staff place with every 12 students booked.


From 9.30am. The program begins promptly at 10.00am and concludes at 3.15pm.

Note: times for London conference as follows – 10.00 arrival; 10.30 start; 3.45pm finish.


Registration can be at any time on or after the advertised release date. The individual course will contain an end date. Teachers or students may commence a course at any point between these two dates.

Please note our Terms and Conditions, which provide a sliding scale by which payment for bookings can be made in time in order to avoid additional charges.


Teachers or other representatives in schools normally complete the booking process. In some cases, students or their parents may book for online courses. Students will attend conferences with their school group accompanied by a supervising teacher. They will usually complete an online course under the supervision of a member of staff but there is the facility for individual students to enrol and complete online courses by themselves.

The person making the booking is invoiced for the number of students and staff attending.

For physical venues, please note that we cannot accept bookings for unaccompanied students to attend a conference, and all students attending are required have a supervising teacher, or parent, with them. This is a workplace health and safety issue, as we do not have the necessary staff to provide supervision of students at the conference, or during meal breaks. [If a school is not attending, and a student from that school wishes to attend independently, he/she can do so, but he/she must be accompanied by a supervising adult charged at the student rate and who makes the booking].

Events fill quickly but we appreciate that many schools need time to collect money from students so we will always try to accommodate any requests for provisional bookings as long as they can fall within our Terms & Conditions.

The minimum number of students that can be booked through this form is 10. For less than 10 students please contact the office directly.

To book with us fill in your full details below: