Expanding my psychology knowledge outside of the classroom – A reflective blog from the Year 12 CLS Summer School

Students from schools across London engaged in the CLS Summer Course: “Harnessing the power of longitudinal research for policy impact” for 7 weeks in June and July.

Here, they reflect on their experience on the course, how it has expanded their knowledge and understanding in Psychology, and how it will help with their future endeavours and academic paths.


My motivation for applying to the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) summer course started with my decision to pick up psychology as one of my A-levels at the beginning of year 12. From then, my interest in Psychology has grown more and more with each lesson I have attended.  I started looking into psychology courses at universities, different work experience places, summer schools and any other programs that could help me expand and develop my knowledge in Psychology. And so, during my research I came across the CLS Y12 Summer Challenge, which explored topics in psychology such as cognition and mental health, through the lens of longitudinal research.

My dream to become an educational psychologist in the future was the main driving force in motivating me to apply. I read what the course would cover and what I would be doing during it, and I knew it would help expand my psychology knowledge beyond that covered in my A-levels. Therefore, after submitting my application I patiently waited for the email that would hopefully confirm my place.

By Geasmin


One of the main reasons I signed up for the summer course was because of my interest in the study of psychology, and my desire to better understand what studying this looks like at university. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to get a first-hand experience into how longitudinal studies are designed and used by academics. From studying psychology in my A-levels, I know designing and using different studies is a fundamental part of conducting psychology research, and I hoped by attending the CLS summer course that I would get a full insight and understanding about the important aspects of longitudinal studies for this.

Alongside the prospect of learning about longitudinal studies, I also thought the CLS summer school would be an exciting opportunity for me to learn about UCL, as it is one of the universities I am planning to apply to. I was really intrigued about the ways UCL teaches and the experiences it provides for students, and it was great to get an insight into what university life at UCL would be like.  I am extremely glad I got to attend the summer course and learn more about longitudinal studies and their relevance to psychology!

By M


Do you think the summer course has changed your mindset or made you think differently?

Working in teams and making group projects was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the summer course, where we shared and reflected upon different ideas covered in the course. I was part of the cognition group with Amirah, Priyanka and Lina. We split up the responsibilities and organised our time effectively, each focusing on one aspect of cognition, such as the associations with height, birthweight and family size.

Working on our infographics and listening to everyone’s presentation has made me more aware about different topics that can be addressed using longitudinal research, such as the effect of mental health, cognition and aspects of childhood on later development. For example, while working on my section of the cognition infographic, I learned that there is an association between birth weight and cognitive ability which has weakened overtime. Before attending the summer course, I would not have expected an association between birth weight and cognition as the two seem quite unrelated. The summer course has developed my ability to draw links between different factors and has allowed me to explore research beyond my psychology A Level.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the UCL summer course and involve myself in research which positively impacts the lives of thousands of people. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the summer course in offering such insightful information.

By Zia

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsdata@ucl.ac.uk