This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. By using our website you consent to our use of cookies.    Find out more   I Agree


Science Summer School

Science summer school students holding certificates
What is it?

A FREE week long course run at Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park designed to give students real world experience in the fields of research and conservation within the setting of our Zoos.

This is a great opportunity for young scientists to get together, explore the science behind zoos, meet some unusual challenges and have fun as well as work hard.

The science summer school courses are run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's Discovery and Learning Department and are aimed at young people aged 16 - 18 years old (S5 - S6).

Students spend the week finding out about how zoos work behind the scenes, covering scientific areas such as animal behaviour, welfare, genetic management, ecology and conservation. They will gain skills in designing and conducting scientific research, analysis and presentation using an animal group in the zoo.

In addition to this the course allows students to develop useful transferable skills including independent and team-based working skills; problem solving; time management; public speaking and 'Powerpoint' design skills. There is also a significant use of IT as part of the course.

The course is organised by RZSS' Education staff but there will also be input from RZSS research staff, keepers and vets. However, it must be stressed that the students WILL NOT be working with the animals and there will be little physical contact with them. The week contains a heavy work load concentrating on non-invasive animal research/science, so we are keen to attract the most committed students.

The students would be expected to bring their own packed lunches each day but drinks and a biscuit will be provided at breaks. On the last day it will be possible for teachers and family to come along and listen to what the students have done during the week at our Science Summer School Friday Presentations.

Students using a trail camera

When and where is it?

The course runs from Monday to Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm and is a 1-week commitment during the school holidays, so it is essential we only have students that can make the whole week.

At the Highland Wildlife Park:

Weeks commencing 8 and 15 July 2024

At Edinburgh Zoo:

Weeks commencing 29 July and 5 August 2024


How to apply

To apply please complete the Online Application Form before the stated application deadline. We ask that all students applications are accompanied by a recommendation from a teacher (or other responsible adult who knows the student well). Teachers looking to submit their recommendations should complete the following Teacher Recommendation Form.

The programme is free to all participants attending these weeks. Please note: this course is for young people aged 16-18 (e.g. pupils who are just finishing S4 – S6 in Scotland – although applicants from across the globe are regularly accepted every year). We cannot provide accommodation and students will NOT be working directly with animals.

Deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 5 February 2024. All applicants should hear if their application has been successful or not by the end of May. This will allow you as much time as possible to arrange accommodation for yourselves if it is required.

Please do not apply if you have attended the Science Summer School before in previous years, and note that there is a late cancellation fee of £50 for dropouts within 4 weeks of the course start date.

Science summer school activities

Can't make it? Try our online Zoo Studies course

If you love the idea of this course but are unable to physically attend due to logistical issues, perhaps you would be interested in Zoo Studies (16-18): a week-long online course broadcast from Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park. Like the free Science Summer School, this course is designed for learners over the age of 16 and covers elements of behavioural research, conservation, animal welfare and zoo design.

Unlike the free Science Summer School, the Zoo Studies course can be completed flexibly from the comfort of your own home. In addition, students who successfully complete all assessment on the Zoo Studies course will be able to gain a Zoo Environment Behavioural Research Award (ZEBRA Award) courtesy of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Because of the very different styles of learning that take place, and the ability to gain additional accreditation through Zoo Studies, students may even see the benefit of attending both programmes.

Find out more about Zoo Studies here.

Check out our FAQs

 Science summer school students at the new giraffe enclosure