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General Information


A REAL Summer Abroad experience at the University of Cantabria

The University of Cantabria (UC) is a dynamic medium-sized University, in accordance with the city which hosts the Institution, Santander, in the northern Spanish coast. The University Research Institutes play a pivotal role in the UC scientific production and international prestige. The UC Vice-Rectorate for Internationalization is promoting the REAL (for Research, Explore, And Learn) Summer Programs, which are centered around the academic and research areas of Santander's most prestigious research institutes, to offer international undergraduate students the possibility of combining an exciting study abroad experience with hands-on research practice led by renowned research teams.

The offer combines a high-quality academic agenda in three different scientific areas (Engineering, Biotechnology, and Physics) with an optional program in Spanish Language and Culture, open to all programs, including Spanish Grammar and Conversation classes, as well as classes on Spanish History, Spanish Art, and Gastronomy. In addition, the programs include several touristic visits and offer a series of optional excursions, giving the students the opportunity to explore Spain´s fascinating northern coast.

The Programs are structured in two parts. In the first four weeks, students will attend the courses they have chosen. The second four weeks will be devoted to practical work embedded in research groups within the Research Institutes that foster each proposed program: the Environmental Hydraulics Institute (Instituto de Hidráulica Ambiental IH Cantabria) for the engineering program, the Institute for Biomedicine and Biotechnology (Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria, IBBTEC) for the biotechnology program and the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA) for the Physics program.

Teaching will be in English; no Spanish knowledge is required. The optional Spanish Program will be taught entirely in Spanish, but adapted to different levels, from absolute beginner to advanced.

Teaching methodology, far from conventional lectures, will be student-based, encouraging students to explore by themselves, interact with professors pose questions, and work in groups. Courses will include a variety of site visits and cultural activities.

Academic offer

Students will enroll in one of three offered Programs:

  • Challenges and Opportunities for Engineering in the Ocean (not in 2019)
  • Research in Biotechnology
  • Physics in the 21st Century (not in 2019)

Students from all Programs will have the option to enroll in an additional Program:

  • Spanish Language and Culture

Ocean Engineering
(not in 2019)

Research in Biotechnology

Physics in the 21st Century
(not in 2019)

Spanish Language and Culture

Each program includes several courses which will be taught during the morning sessions (Mon-Thur) of weeks 1 to 4 (3 hours per day).

The optional Program on Spanish Language and Culture will be taught in the afternoons (2-hour sessions), plus friday mornings and wednesday nights.

Friday afternoons will be free. There will be two Saturdays dedicated to extracurricular activities.

Program information

Teaching hours: The full-length 8-week Program includes 104 teaching hours during weeks 1 to 4 (52 hours of the chosen Program - ENG, BIO, or PHYS-, plus 52 hours of the optional Spanish program), plus 80 hours of research practicum during weeks 5 to 8. This is the equivalent to 16 ECTS: 10 ECTS for the first 4-week period (5 ECTS for each Program) and 6 ECTS for the 4-week research practicum.

Evaluation: Upon completion of the Program, the students will receive a Certificate of Completion stating their full name, Program(s) taken, the number of hours completed (teaching and practicum), and an evaluation ranging from A (excellent) to D (poor). The University reserves the right to deny the Certificate of Completion to students who do not attend all classes /practicum or do not show a minimum level of performance.

Group size: There will be a maximum of 16 students per Program. Selection, if required, will be based on the applicant's' Resume.

Program cost: The fee for the full-length 8-week program is $ 4,000 including Tuition fees, which includes the Tuition Fees, selected activities, and health insurance. Students may also enroll in the 4-week program only, without the research practicum. The cost of this program is $ 2,000. If students also enroll in the Spanish course, the fees will be an addittional $1,000, making a total of $ 3,000 for the 4-week and $ 5,000 for the 8-week program.

The Instructors

Most courses will be taught by several instructors. All of them have been approved by the University of Cantabria to teach in English. A brief background of those teaching the courses is included within the specific information of each program/course.

Research practices

During weeks 5 to 8, students will join a research team of the Institute leading the selected program. The research work will depend on the host group and the selected activity, ranging from molecular biology research projects to astronomic data analysis projects. A maximum of two students will be allocated to a single research team. The number of places and research teams will be offered to the students at the start of the program. Students will apply for their preferred options. If more than two students choose the same team, the research team leader will select two students based on their Resume and a personal interview.

Extracurricular activities

All programs will be complemented with a selection of activities aimed at giving the students the opportunity to explore Spain´s Northern coast, from the hundreds of fine sandy beaches and cliffs to the neighboring breathtaking landscapes of the Picos de Europa Mountains. In addition, proposed activities will include a visit to the renowned Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, only a one-hour drive from Santander, plus an selection of optional activities including weekend visits to other Spanish cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.


A limited number of students can be accommodated with Spanish host families upon request. The accommodation fee of approximately $40 per day includes full Room & Board and linen cleaning. Students will be accommodated in single rooms in families not hosting any other student in their house. This option of accommodation favors full immersion in Spanish way of life. Students taking also the Spanish optional Program will be given preference, should there be more demand than the number of available families.

The University of Cantabria will give counseling and assist students in choosing other forms of accommodation during their stay. These include:

  • Shared apartments: approximately $15/day in a 3-bedroom apartment. The company Emancipia offers different accommodation services for a fee. Application must be submitted online.
  • Tourist apartments: single or double rooms with hotel-like facilities, such as Estudios Aranzazu (approx. $50/day single, $32/day shared twin room) or Hotel Apartamentos Don Carlos.

Important note – students may find their accommodation on their own, but they are strongly encouraged to do so with due time. The city of Santander is a popular summer resort and most hotels and apartments will be fully booked during high season (starting in late June).



According to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign nationals wishing to stay in Spain to undertake or extend studies, conduct research or training, unpaid internship, participate in student exchanges or perform volunteer services must obtain the appropriate visa, including the initial authorization stay in Spain. However, nationals of certain countries (such as the United States of America and Canada) are exempt from obtaining a visa as long as the length of their stay in Spain does not exceed three months.


The European Regulation EC Nº 539/2001 of March 15th 2001 (and its update EC Nº 509/2014 of May 20th, 2014) includes a list of countries whose nationals are submitted to the visa obligation to enter the Schengen Area (i.e. Spain among other European countries). However, it is strongly recommended that students confirm at their nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin the general requirements to apply for a study visa.