6th February 2019


Purpose of event:

The Smallpeice Trust and Royal Holloway University work together to inspire and support young students’ ambition in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). They regularly run courses for students aged between 12 and 17 on a variety of STEM subjects.

In July 2018, Royal Holloway hosted a three-day Astrophysics residential course run jointly by Royal Holloway’s Physics Department, the conference office and The Smallpeice Trust.

The course took place in the state-of-the-art Moore Building, with accommodation in Royal Holloway’s premium en-suite bedrooms in Wedderburn Hall. Two car parks on the Royal Holloway campus were allocated for parents to drop off students on the first morning of the course, both of which were a short walk from the Moore Building. A lockable room was made available for luggage in the Moore Building and an access key card was given to the main organiser from The Smallpeice Trust.

Royal Holloway Physics provided the academic content for the course with world-class researchers delivering talks and workshops and student ambassadors discussing their experiences studying physics at a top 25 UK University. The organisation was supported by a team of Royal Holloway staff present throughout the course, including a Conference Assistant, Conference Account Executive, Catering Shift Leader and several members of the catering team, as well as the Outreach Officer from Royal Holloway’s Physics Department.

As the course was aimed at students under 18 years of age, it was important that their accommodation was allocated in one self-contained block within the hall of residence, consisting of flats with 8 en-suite bedrooms in each. This ensured that the students were not sharing flats with other conference guests. Master keys were given to The Smallpeice Trust Chaperons in case of lockouts or any potential emergencies.

The food offering included a three-course self-service dinner in the Dining Hall and a barbecue in the Crosslands Suite. Royal Holloway chefs were careful to ensure that the menus were adapted to suit teenage tastes and also catered for any food allergies students might have had.

A total of 60 Year 11 students attended the Astrophysics Course and the conference and social programme included:

Talks and workshops led by Royal Holloway’s academic staff. Topics included: the mysteries of the cosmos, current updates in gravitational waves astronomy, the hunt for dark matter and more. Students also had the chance to discuss what it’s like to study physics at university with current students; A day trip to The Royal Observatory in Greenwich; A course related quiz night and film night; Student presentations to parents and an Awards Ceremony in Royal Holloway’s Picture Gallery. The students enjoyed the course – 82% of them said it had increased their interest in physics, 98% of them said they would recommend the course to a friend and 100% rated their accommodation and lecture facilities as either “good” or “excellent”. Here are some of their comments, as well as comments from The Smallpeice Trust:

“The lectures were really useful and interesting and the course was very hands-on, which was good”.

“Talks with professors were extremely good. Best part.”

“The liaison we experienced from Royal Holloway in advance of the event was highly attentive, efficient and professional. Our Conference Assistant was similarly attentive and professional during the event.

To find out more about Physics events at Royal Holloway, please visit

Royal Holloway



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