Ri Masterclasses

Discover Ri Masterclasses, our series of hands-on, interactive, extracurricular workshops for young people across the UK.

boy measures a distance on the globe
Image credit: Tim Mitchell

Our Ri Masterclasses, in mathematics or computer science, nurture students’ curiosity - inspiring them to continue their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) engagement into the future.

Throughout our Masterclasses, students meet new speakers and volunteers who give them insight into possible careers and help them realise that STEM subjects are for everyone, including them.

Each Masterclass workshop is led by one of our inspiring Masterclass Speakers, who come from a variety of STEM backgrounds.

What happens in an Ri Masterclass?

Our Ri Masterclass series run across the UK at both primary and secondary level, and we work with teams of dedicated volunteers and contributors who make Masterclasses happen in their area and across the UK.

Masterclasses are a series of workshops where students can explore mathematics and computer science outside the confines of the classroom, through hands-on extra-curricular workshops.

Each Masterclass series runs for six weeks, and students get to attend a Ri Masterclass series by being nominated by their teacher.

Discover the range of Ri Masterclasses we offer

Primary Mathematics Masterclasses

In our Masterclasses for primary school students, children enjoy activities, investigations and games that develop their mathematical reasoning.

Within each class, children will explore the subject individually and in small groups, with help always close at hand.

Primary Masterclasses are typically for 9–10 year-olds, and each session last about 1.5–2 hours. Many are run in schools, during school hours, with others run on Saturday mornings.

Schools with 16–18 year old students can run a Masterclass project, bringing the older students together with local primary school students in a Masterclass environment.

Secondary Mathematics Masterclasses

Our Mathematics Masterclasses for secondary school students are designed to encourage, inspire and engage young people in the art and practice of mathematics. Topics cover a huge range of mathematical ideas, including diverse applications such as art, cryptography, programming, modelling and knot theory.

Mathematics Masterclasses are typically for 13–14 year-olds, with workshops held during term time on Saturday mornings. Each session lasts about 2.5 hours and is led by a different speaker on their chosen topic.

Many of our Mathematics Masterclasses are run by universities, allowing school students to experience a higher education environment. Others are run in schools and various STEM organisations.

During each workshop, the students will explore the topic individually or in small groups, with support and guidance given by the speaker and helper.

Computer Science Masterclasses

Our Computer Science Masterclasses are designed to excite and engage young people in the creativity and practice of computer science, helping to highlight the links between this wide-reaching discipline and other subjects.

Topics cover diverse areas and applications of computer science, including logic, networking, data science, security, robotics, optimisation, human computer interaction, animation and games.

Computer Science Masterclasses are typically for 13-14 year-olds, with sessions held on Saturday mornings during term time. Each session lasts about 2.5 hours and is led by a different speaker on their chosen topic.

Many of our Computer Science Masterclasses are run by universities, allowing school students to experience a higher education environment. Others are run in schools and various STEM organisations.

During each workshop, the students will explore the topic individually or in small groups, with support and guidance given by the speaker and helpers.

The Ri Computer Science Masterclass Network launched in 2014, thanks to a £500,000 endowment and industry support from our partner Causeway Technologies Limited.

We would also like to thank Google for their generous support of this programme.

Ri Masterclass formats

Face-to-face Masterclasses

Students from different schools come together in a physical venue for a series of Ri Masterclass workshops, supported by supervisors and helpers.

Online Masterclasses

Online Masterclass workshops are run online using a video conferencing platform, with students accessing the sessions on their own individual devices. Speakers, supervisors and helpers are all online with the students.

Online Masterclasses are generally shorter than face-to-face ones.

Livestreamed into schools

Primary school students stay in their own school and take part in Masterclass workshops livestreamed into their school. The Masterclass Speaker leads the session remotely, and the student's own teacher facilitates the activities.

Off-the-shelf Masterclasses (free teaching resources)

Did you know that you can run Ri Masterclasses using our range of off-the-shelf Ri Masterclass resources

Find out more

Find out more about Ri Masterclasses and the different ways you can get involved by emailing our Masterclass team at masterclasses@ri.ac.uk.

Frequently asked questions

When do Ri Masterclasses take place?

Ri Masterclasses take place during term time. Each Masterclass series has six workshops that run throughout one or two terms.

Ri Masterclasses for secondary school students usually run for 2.5 hours on Saturday mornings.

Ri Masterclasses for primary school students normally run for 1.5-2 hours either on Saturdays or during/after school.

Online Masterclasses are typically shorter in duration.

How can I take part in an Ri Masterclass?

To attend a Masterclass a student must first be nominated by their teacher.

Teachers are invited to put forward a few students in the relevant year group to attend their local Masterclass series. We encourage teachers to nominate students who may not otherwise have similar opportunities.

If you’re a student interested in attending Masterclasses, ask your teachers to get in touch with the Ri Masterclass team.

How can teachers get students involved in Ri Masterclasses?

Teachers can get their students involved in Ri Masterclasses by nominating them to take part in a local face-to-face series or an online series.

They can also run their own Ri Masterclasses for school students in their community, or adopt our sixth-form-to-primary project where sixth-form students run Ri Masterclasses for primary school students.

Find out more about how to get your students involved in Masterclasses

Will all workshops in a series be of the same format?

Normally all workshops in a series are of the same format – either face-to-face, online or hybrid. It is possible for Masterclass Organisers to adopt mixed series, with some online workshops, and some in person. 

Can teachers get involved in Ri Masterclasses?

Yes, there are many ways teachers can get involved in Ri Masterclasses including: nominating students, helping out, leading a workshop in an existing series, or setting up a new Ri Masterclass series at their school.

Find out more about how teachers can get involved with Ri Masterclasses.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved in Ri Masterclasses including helping organise local series, becoming a Masterclass Speaker and helping out at workshops.  

We are always keen to work with new volunteers and contributors who wish to set up a new Ri Masterclass series, or get involved with existing activities.

Our Speaker Development Programme is designed to offer tailored, ongoing support for new Masterclass workshop leaders.

We also provide support and training for new organisers to help them get the most out of their Ri Masterclass experience and adopt best practices.

Supervisors provide vital safeguarding and pastoral care during Ri Masterclasses and helpers support students learning to ensure everyone gets the most out of Masterclasses. 

If you're interested in becoming a contributor, get in touch or attend one of our Masterclass taster events.

Do you run Engineering Masterclasses?

We still support a small number of our long-standing groups to run Engineering Masterclasses for secondary school students, but we are not planning any new ones.

We are currently piloting Engineering Masterclasses using our a sixth-form-to-primary model, but at this time we are unable to roll it out to more groups.

When did Ri Masterclasses start?

The Mathematics Masterclasses started from the interest sparked by Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman's CHRISTMAS LECTURES 'Mathematics into Pictures', televised in 1978. These lectures are now available to watch on our Explore Science pages.

In 1981, the first Masterclasses for secondary school students were set up, offering keen London children the opportunity to discover new mathematics in a fun, engaging, mathematically-rich session.

Mathematics Masterclasses for primary school students launched in 1998, with secondary school Engineering Masterclasses starting in 2010 and secondary school Computer Science Masterclasses in 2014.

Over 100,000 students have attended our Masterclasses since 1981.

Do we have to pay for Ri Masterclasses?

All our Ri Masterclasses are free for nominating schools and families of attending students.

Our Ri Masterclasses team is fully funded, and the programme benefits from the generosity of volunteers and other supporters when coordinating UK-wide Ri Masterclasses.

When we collaborate with groups in communities across the UK, some will have to fundraise to cover the basic costs of running Ri Masterclasses, but we ask all our groups to ensure they are free for nominating schools and for families of attending students.

How can I get my school involved in Ri Masterclasses?

We are always keen to work with more schools to nominate students or set up new activities.

Find out more about the ways in which teachers can get involved in Ri Masterclasses.

If you are a parent wanting your school to get involved in Masterclasses, send them to our Ri Masterclasses Information for Teachers page, or contact our Ri Masterclass team for more information.

Safeguarding and Ri Masterclasses

Safeguarding is extremely important to the Ri. We require everyone involved in running Ri activities to share our commitment to safeguarding children and adults at risk. Dependent on their role, we may request background checks for volunteers and other contributors.

For more information, please see our safeguarding policies and procedures, or get in touch with our Designated Safeguarding Officers at safeguarding@ri.ac.uk.

Ri Masterclass Supporters 

We would like to thank The Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust, Causeway Technologies, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, The Doris Pacey & Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundationsfor their incredible generosity and support of the Ri Masterclass programme. 

The following funders additionally kindly support Ri Masterclasses 

Mathematics Masterclasses further supporters: Ernest Cook Trust, Ernst & Young LLP. 

Engineering Masterclass further supporters: A G Manly Trust, National Centre for Nuclear Robotics, Reece Foundation, and DS Smith Plc. 

We would like to extend our thanks to those who provide invaluable in-kind support.

How to support the Ri Masterclass programme

If you would like to support the Ri Masterclass programme please contact the development team on development@ri.ac.uk . 

Find out more about Ri Masterclasses