RBC stands for 'research-based curricula'. These are short tutorial courses designed based on real research in key subject areas, each written by a PhD researcher and expert in that topic. 

They are a chance for you to gain 'stretch' experience and build independent research and learning skills, which can be used to demonstrate your sincere subject interest and dedication -- something universities look for when you apply. This is similar to the work required for a university course or module, so this is a great activity to mention in your UCAS application as an example of your subject interest and being university-ready.

See an example coursebook here (history KS 4) and here (science KS 5).


The RBC course library linked below is an *open and free* series of courses designed for self-guided learning that students can take advantage of.

Each course book, with data resources and activities, can also provide a great series of ready-made mini-lessons and actvities for teachers to use in their remote learning. 

We hope teachers will feel free to use these packs where possible and share them with students and parents. 

Access the Course Books - Our RBC Library

These RBC libraries have over 45 modules that are organised into three subject groupings: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and STEM. We recommend that you browse through the library that best fits your subject interest, then choose an RBC tutorial pack you might like to complete.

Arts and Humanities Library

Social Sciences Library

STEM Library

What are they?

  • Independent learning courses, either teachers can assign or students can do on their own
  • Six 1-hour modules and a final assignment in each
  • Helps students build university skills and can be used as a critical subject experience to mention in a UCAS personal statement 
  • Builds skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, long-form writing and more.

Who are they for?

  • Key Stage 4 or 5 students depending on the pack. 
  • Teachers can take lesson and activity ideas from these, or suggest them as extracurricular assignments
  • Useful for specifically for Years 12 and 13 to gain the confidence, expertise and explicit subject experience universities will be looking for 
  • They are also great inspiration or precursor for any students completing an EPQ (extended-project qualification)

Please note that many of the tutorial packs cover more than one school subject, for example, geography and statistics together. This is called interdisciplinary study and it is very common at university. Indeed, being able to demonstrate that you have engaged with 'interdisciplinary' study is likely to strengthen your UCAS application.

Support for Teachers

Click here for an overview of RBCs

Your school is eligible for free access to the RBC coursebooks as part of partnerships with UK universities and local National Collaborative Outreach Programmes (NCOPs). Please click on the following links to see the tutorial packs:

University Of Reading

Cumbria - NCOP

East Midlands - NCOP

South Yorkshire - NCOP

Teachers at schools in Cumbria, the East Midlands and South Yorkshire may have opportunities for additional support, such as training and webinars.