Student pipetting at a lab bench overseen by a smiling researcher in the background

Aspiring Scientists Training Programme

Not just an ordinary work experience! The ASTP is designed to give A-level biology students a chance to experience what a career as a biologist entails, from bespoke workshops with experts in the sector, to networking opportunities with scientists and the chance to explore life at a world-renowned research university.

Three students and a researcher sit around a bench in the institute garden, chatting and laughing,

Online applications for ASTP 2023 are now closed!

If you have submitted an application for ASTP this year, you will hear back from the project team by 5th May.


New for 2023

The ASTP has expanded!

Due to the success of previous programmes run at the Gurdon Institute, this year we have tripled the number of students who will join us in Cambridge this July, as well as including four other Cambridge University research institutes in the programme.

Gurdon Institute

Sainsbury Laboratory

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

Mitochondrial Biology Unit

Institute of Metabolic Science

An ASTP student working in the lab
Student pipetting at a lab bench overseen by a smiling researcher in the background


This programme is for students in state (non-fee paying) schools, ages 16+ who are currently pursuing A-level/IB/Higher level (or equivalent) qualifications in biology and maths who are interested in higher education or a career in science.

Please see the Guidance Document for full eligibility information.

Due to limited availability, please note that spaces will be competitive and completing an application form does not guarantee placement.


For one week, students will:

  • spend afternoons in a lab each day, learning and practising research techniques
  • attend four bespoke, interactive workshops with experts
  • research a scientific topic or technique and create and deliver a presentation to peers and researchers
  • meet and network with PhD students and other scientists to talk to them about their jobs and get advice about careers and educational opportunities
  • explore Cambridge University, with the opportunity to ask questions and get advice from staff and students
Dark microscopy room with student holding phone to the microscope lens to capture image. There is a computer screen showing confocal image in the background.

Thank you to our funders and collaborators

ASTP will be expanded in 2023 due to generous funding from the Isaac Newton Trust Widening Participation and Induction Fund.

This funding has allowed the Gurdon Institute to collaborate with St Catharine’s College¬†(programme lead), Pembroke College, the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, MRC-Mitochondrial Biology Unit and Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science.


ASTP logo showing the programme title with a magnifying glass showing cell organelles in teal inside
Students sat at a bench for lunch with scientists

…it’s really fun, and is one of the few opportunities before university where you will get to live in your own, in a different city, and experience this with other people your age!

2019 ASTP Student
Five students smiling and showing thumbs up in front of large scientific artwork at the institute

Having experienced what the daily work of a researcher is like has made me feel more confident in choosing this as a potential career path in the future. Moreover, being exposed to the various lab techniques has made me appreciate and enjoy what I learn in Biology even more.

2019 ASTP Student
Students looking at the Pembroke College building

…it gave me a good insight into what life in this industry may look like and has given me the confidence to do a degree that is heavily lab based.

2019 ASTP Student
Vials of fluorescent liquids in microscopy workshop

…it benefited me as it showed me how interesting a career in research is. It also helped me in my personal statement as I could link the work experience to the degree I wanted to do.

2019 ASTP Student
Students in a conference room listening to a researcher present in front of a large projector

It has helped me in personal development, scientific skills, gaining an understanding of the career and enhanced my university application.

2018 ASTP Student
Student preparing a sample under a microscope

[The programme] assured me I wanted to study Biology and gave me an insight into the career. Also strengthened my application, as I could show I have relevant skills.

2018 ASTP Student

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, please contact and a member of the project team will get back to you.

Student at a large table looking through a detached microscope lens