top of page


The John Locke Summer University was specially created to advance the academic and professional careers of high achievers. The programme is modelled on our famous academic summer school, but adapted to meet the demands of elite undergraduates.

28 JULY - 10 August, 2024


Read on to see how we are supercharging the careers of the world's best and brightest.

DSCN2360 (2018_05_26 13_17_39 UTC).jpg


We welcome applications from three groups of candidates:  


1. Undergraduates who are currently enrolled in a degree programme, or who hold an offer to begin an undergraduate degree in 2024, and will be at least eighteen years of age on September 1st this year;


2. Creatives (entrepreneurs, founders, authors, musicians, artists, etc) who will be at least eighteen years old on September 1st this year;


3. John Locke Institute alumni who will be at least seventeen years old on September 1st this year.



To be effective in an elite academic or professional career, you need to master the three arts of listening, reasoning, and presenting a clear and persuasive argument. 


Listening, in one sense, is easy. But it is something that very few people do well. This accounts for much of the dangerous polarisation and antipathy we are witnessing today in politics and international affairs. To listen well is to listen generously, which means listening attentively even to people with whom you disagree or whom you dislike; it means expecting to learn something from every conversation; it means actively hoping to meet better arguments or stronger evidence that will require you to change your mind. To have the best chance of holding accurate and true beliefs, you need to cultivate the intellectual humility to make it easy to discern and correct any misunderstanding you have. For most of us, this requires dismantling life-long habits of stubbornness. 


Our professors will assault your mind with a series of challenging claims in metaethics, epistemology, political theory, political economy, and public policy. Each of these claims will require you to work hard to process the arguments to support them. It is not for the faint-hearted, or the easily offended, but if it helps you to clear away obstacles to generous listening, and to cultivate an enduring habit of listening well, it will become a super power in your academic and professional career and in your life.   



Much of what passes for thinking is really sentiment or prejudice retrospectively dressed up to offer the appearance of justification. Real thinking requires a willingness to entertain thoughts and ideas that are unfashionable and even uncongenial, to transcend conventional wisdom and strive for truth.


The John Locke Summer University invites you to wrestle with big questions and debate controversial answers in order to exercise and refine your logical reasoning skills. We focus on contestable concepts in such areas as moral theory, epistemology, political philosophy, intellectual history, political economy, government policy or international relations. We will present analytical tools such as propositional logic, decision theory and methodological individualism, and help you to spot and avoid fallacies and cognitive biases.


We will give you a deeper appreciation of what you don’t know, and help you to test what you think you know in order to bring to light any unexamined assumptions. To strengthen and refine your thinking skills, we will help you cultivate the kind of intellectual humility that enables you to take seriously opinions that challenge your prior assumptions and conflict with your favourite conclusions.


Our broad interdisciplinary curriculum draws elements from philosophy, politics, economics, history, law and psychology and uses the material and methodology of each subject to illuminate the others. The combination of these disciplines is perfect for developing complementary thinking skills. The patient reflection required to grasp elusive philosophical concepts like the origin of justice, for instance, or to reason about the nature and implication of moral responsibility is quite different from, say, the analytical skills necessary to anticipate how a rational agent might respond to new knowledge or changing incentives. 

These subjects also offer valuable opportunities to engage with people whose intuitions or conclusions conflict with one's own, which forces our students to think and rethink their beliefs and the reasoning that undergirds them. 


If you learn to listen well and to reason well, it remains vital that you should learn how to be an effective communicator, which is why the ancient and much-neglected art of rhetoric figures so prominently in the Summer University curriculum.


Rhetoric is the use of language - written or spoken - to explain and to persuade. In the seven liberal arts of classical antiquity, rhetoric was the third of the three foundational subjects that together formed the trivium. Aristotle defined rhetoric as 'the power of perceiving in every thing that which is capable of producing persuasion.' All great careers - in statesmanship, the law, in commerce, in education - require, in a very high degree, the ability to explain and persuade.


The Tutorial


In order to expand and strengthen your speaking skills, we deliberately engineer circumstances in which our students will have to work hard to understand each other, and to make themselves understood. The central element of the Summer University is an Oxford-style tutorial, for which you will write an essay presenting an answer to a question in philosophy, politics, economics or history, and use evidence, illustration, and argumentation to explain your position and try to persuade the tutor to embrace your conclusions. In the tutorial itself you will meet a senior academic (typically with one other student) and try to defend your thesis under critical questioning.


Public Speaking Workshops


Every Summer University student will participate in a series of interactive workshops to help you write and deliver a speech to inform and persuade an audience. A selection of the best speakers will be invited to address a large audience at our senior summer school. The ability to influence people through speechmaking is critical to the success of many careers. If you can overcome your nerves, craft a clear message, and deliver it with warmth and style you will set yourself apart from ninety-nine percent of your competitors and build a formidable reputation as a person of influence.  

The Classical Art of Persuasion


To complete the speaking and writing module, there will be a seminar on the Classical Art of Persuasion, with readings from the great orator and advocate, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Anthony Everitt's biography of Cicero, Orwell's Politics and the English Language, and McCloskey's Economical Writing. 

JLI_Summer_2017_098 (2018_05_26 13_17_39 UTC).jpg


Have you ever wondered about whether there was something important missing from the traditional school and university curriculum? 


To achieve the Good Life, or Eudæmonia (as Aristotle called it), there are some things you need to learn. We asked the professors at our Institute what the main differences are between undergraduates who love their time at university and those who are unhappy or unsuccessful. The Number One answer was whether a student takes a little care to cultivate habits that lead to excellent mental health. An important part of the Summer University curriculum is a science-based discussion of health and wellbeing, including 'positive psychology', how nutrition, alcohol, drugs, sleep and exercise affect our brains (and especially our memory and our mood), and how to make wise, informed choices. 


Stress, depression and anxiety are endemic in the academy today, ruining the experience of what should be a great adventure. We will guide a practical conversation about the tools to be happy and productive at university and in your career. We're confident that this will make an important difference to many areas of your life for years to come.



Handling conflict situations or negotiating with difficult people may turn out to be more useful to you than remembering the Pythagorean theorem. Being a great friend to someone suffering unfairness, or being a courageous ally to someone being cancelled might be more valuable that memorising the chronology of the Cold War.


We will help you learn how to become a person of your word, and how to build a reputation for trustworthiness and a strong social network of people who like and respect you. 


STUDY & Career hacks

We will teach you a few simple tricks to hack your workload, so you are achieving better results with less effort. We will show you how to be an entrepreneur in charge of your own education, career path and life. We will demystify things which every successful person ought to know, like what the BlockChain is, how to put A.I. to good use, and how quantum computing works and why it is about to change everything.


If your future self could send a message back in time, it would tell you not to get hung up on your first heartbreak (which you would ignore) and it would beg you to understand a few key principles of finance. At the Summer University we are conspiring with your future self to persuade you to make some choices that will transform your future.


Finally, we will give you some valuable practical advice about how to craft your CV, how to prepare for interviews - for university, for internships, and for your first job - and how to leverage a powerful professional network to create huge opportunities for your future.  


We use targeted scholarships, worth a total of $100,000, to bring together people with powerful intellects, open minds, and a passion for real change, and to make it possible for the very best applicants to join us irrespective of their financial circumstances. As a result, successful candidates will be part of an exciting community of talented and purposeful individuals, challenging and encouraging each other to understand the world and discover ways to make it better.


There are two scholarship funds:


1. "The Special Relationship"


This scholarship fund was created to build connections between people in elite institutions in Britain and America. Scholarships are awarded in roughly equal numbers to undergraduates at Oxford or Cambridge and undergraduates in the United States, studying at one of four leading colleges: Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.


2. John Locke Alumni & Ambassadors


Every summer school alumnus of the John Locke Institute and every finalist in the John Locke Institute Global Essay Prize, is eligible for a partial scholarship for the Summer University, so please mention your association with the Institute in your application. 


If you are a John Locke Ambassador you qualify for an even more generous scholarship. If you are one of our alumni, and would like to learn how to become an Ambassador, please email the Admissions Office (with the subject line: 'Ambassador'), at or simply mention this in your application when you apply now.  



Summer University students are invited to the home of His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, the magnificent Blenheim Palace, for a cricket match between the JLI Alumni Association cricket team, The Philosophers' XI, and the Blenheim Palace Cricket Club on the South Lawn of the Palace. During the game we will serve a picnic lunch.

Blenheim Palace was a gift from Queen Anne to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, as a reward for his military victory over the French and the Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession in the early Eighteenth Century. It was the place of Sir Winston Churchill’s birth, when his grandfather, the seventh Duke, lived there. He described it as ‘the finest view in England’, but he might have been a little biased.


  • Accommodation is in single rooms with shared bathroom facilities. Male and female students will stay in different buildings. Students will also be living with people of the same age. 

  • Meals are served in the college dining hall (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner), except when we provide a picnic lunch on the punting day and when we are hosted by an Oxford College. 

  • Free WiFi.

  • Personal laundry service once during your stay.

  • Access to campus sports facilities (swimming pool, athletics track and astro turf pitch).​





You should plan to arrive at the summer school on Sunday, 28 July. 


The check-in time is between 10 am and 11.30 am. We advise you to arrive early to give you enough time to check in, been shown to your room and receive your course timetable. A welcome talk is scheduled for 12 o'clock midday. Parents and guardians are welcome to attend.

If you would like to be met by a driver at the airport on the check in day, we are offering a shuttle service from Heathrow airport at an extra charge. If you plan to take the shuttle please book a flight that arrives no later than 8.30am.

It is your responsibility to determine whether you need a visa and, if so, what kind of visa you need and how you should apply for it. Every overseas student must have a valid passport to enter the United Kingdom. You can find all the information about UK visas here. For attending a short course in the UK, the Standard Visitor Visa is the one you would need. We can provide individual support on request for those who will need a visa.

We advise you to purchase travel insurance.


On the departure day, Saturday, 10 August, check out is by 9am. 

We will be running a shuttle to Heathrow airport at an extra cost. If you plan to take the shuttle please book a flight that departs no earlier than 12 midday.

Our staff will be available to help you on the departure day so you don't miss your flight! 


bottom of page