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Thomas Campion English Prize

An Archway in Peterhouse CollegePeterhouse is setting some more interesting questions for Year 12  students to discuss for its Thomas Campion English Prize.

Students are asked to write an essay on one of nine given questions, focussing on one or two literary texts that they haven't studied at school before.

Here are just a few of the questions:

“The novel, which is a work of art, exists, not by its resemblances to life, which are forced and material, as a shoe must still consist of leather, but by its immeasurable difference from life, which is designed and significant, and is both the method and the meaning of the work”. (Robert Louis Stevenson).
Do you agree?

“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness”. (Beckett). Discuss.

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all”. (Wilde).
Do you agree?

'The poet's voice is not the voice of the person who happens to be the poet.' What is it then?

The full list of questions and details of the competition are available on the Peterhouse website in the Thomas Campion English Prize pdf, and please also read the details of eligibility of the Peterhouse essay prizes. The deadline is 14 March 2016. Best of luck to those who choose to explore these questions, whether just for curiosity or to enter the competition!

Date posted: 

Tuesday 2 February 2016

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How did you choose your subject or course?

Protractors

Credit: Dean Hochman

I wouldn't say that I really chose to study Maths at any point. It was simply my best subject and the one I most enjoyed all through school, so naturally if I was going to go to university, I would apply to do maths.
- Josh, Mathematics (more from Josh)

I was ready to commit to science after enjoying it at school but wasn't ready to commit completely to physics, making the Natural Sciences Tripos perfect for me with its breadth.
- Jonny, Natural Sciences (more from Jonny)

I have been interested in people and how they think and behave since I was a small child. I had always seen it as an innate interest, and it wasn’t until I was in sixth form that I began to consider studying social sciences at university. I had never studied Psychology or any similar discipline as an academic subject before, but I realised that a lot of what I was reading, the things I chose to watch on television, and lectures, museums and events I went to had this common theme.
- Lucy, Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (more from Lucy)

Signpost

Credit: Nick Page

Having decided that I wanted to take further the skills I enjoyed learning in the sciences and maths at school,I decided that Engineering was for me as it provides a more practical and real-world approach to learning than perhaps a ‘pure’ science would. [....] What attracted me to the Cambridge Engineering course was the relatively unique course structure, allowing me to study a wide range of engineering subjects in the first two years before choosing to specialise in the final two years.
- Mark, Engineering (more from Mark)

I didn’t always want to do medicine, like many people claim. [...] But I somehow started to look into [brain surgery] in Year 11. At first, I had no idea what was involved - I thought that I could take a course in neuroscience at university and then (with some training) be allowed to be a brain surgeon! But, the more I dug into the details, the more I realised that actually, things aren’t that simple. You need a medical degree, and have years of specialist training in hospitals afterwards before you can cut up someone’s skull and probe it with various instruments. And so that’s what inspired me to study medicine. Interestingly, I no longer want to be a brain surgeon as I’ve become interested in other areas of medicine, but brain surgery is important because it is what got me into medicine to begin with.
- Shedeh, Medicine (more from Shedeh)

The idea of being able to concentrate on my studies for three years like any other undergraduate immediately appealed. Firstly I would get to further my scientific curiosity before I became a “real” medic, which I hoped would teach me to think critically about every clinical procedure I would have to do, by evaluating its relevance and importance to the scientific community. Secondly, it could also lead to a much swifter entry into research, an alternative field I had been entertaining, if I decided that this was for me.
- Anne, Medicine (more from Anne)

Date posted: 

Friday 29 January 2016

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How did you choose your course?

Student reading in the Library

Reading in King's Library: what would you be studying?

In a panel session with undergraduates from Leeds and Sheffield universities, one of you asked about how they chose their course. This is a very good question to ask when you meet current students! Here are some responses from Cambridge undergraduates who enjoyed History at school....though you'll notice that not all of them chose the course called History!

At school, I always enjoyed and did well at essay subjects like History and English. I was just never that excited about maths or science lessons, and I never imagined studying those subjects for longer than I had to.[...] I went to lots of Open Days at various universities around the UK when I was in Year 12. It was the talks about studying History that I found really exciting and which made me want to learn more.[...] I thought that Cambridge was a beautiful place and also small enough that I wouldn’t get lost! When I came for a Cambridge Open Day, I went to a talk about studying History here. Several lecturers spoke to us about the course and the material we could study here, and I was surprised at the different kinds of things I could choose to study. Some areas didn’t interest me at all at first, but some lecturers were so enthusiastic about their specialist areas that I couldn’t help but be interested. Apart from anything else, the talk was really useful in terms of practical information, helping me to understand how the course would be structured, what kind of options were available, and even how to go about studying History at university level. I definitely recommend going to these sorts of talks on Open Days, because even simple information like how many lectures you’d expect to be given, and how you’ll be assessed, can help you decide whether it’s the right subject or university for you.
- Fiona, History (more from Fiona)

I discovered Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic (ASNC) while flicking through the Cambridge prospectus. It’s one of the University’s lesser-known degrees, so I hadn’t seen it online before. The wonderful images of artefacts and the obscure topics in the prospectus entry had me instantly hooked, and I immediately wanted to find out more about the course. I had originally intended to study History at Cambridge, and to specialise in this period, but as soon as I saw ASNC I knew straight away that it was for me! After some further research, it was the small size of the faculty and the total freedom that the course offers from the first year that drew me to it.
- Tom, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (more from Tom)

I chose to study History because it is a subject which I really enjoyed. I definitely think studying something at university that you enjoy is the best idea; you will be spending a lot of time on it!
- Marie, History (more from Marie)

The breadth of my degree is what first drew me to it; the opportunity to continue to explore history and literature and languages all together. Learning ancient languages has always felt a little bit magical for me, like you’re accessing some arcane wisdom, and breaking a code at the same time. Being able to study a culture in its entirety, to track its changes, to read its language, to explore its philosophy, just opens up a whole world of exploration of big ideas about human history and identity, whilst also allowing you to really get to grips with the nitty-gritty textual analysis and specific ideas.
- Qasim, Classics (more from Qasim)

In lower sixth I realised that the one thing that united my A level subjects was the theme of 'religion' and I realised that a Theology degree at Cambridge would enable me to pursue my interest in literature and History while focusing on a core interest of mine, namely religion.
- Eliot, Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (more from Eliot)

At college I took A-levels in History, English Literature and French. I originally thought that I wanted to study English at university, but as I went through my AS year I realised that History was really where my interest lay, and as I researched university courses I saw how appealing the breadth of material to study as part of a History degree was. Not only did I like the course at Cambridge, but I also knew that I would be being taught by the leading historians in the field.
- Sarah, History (more from Sarah)

Date posted: 

Thursday 28 January 2016

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Reith Lectures on Black Holes (Stephen Hawking)

Each year the BBC invites leading speakers in different fields to deliver the Reith lectures, which are broadcast on Radio 4. The subject of this year's Reith Lectures is Black Holes and the speaker is Stephen Hawking. If you have not already caught them, you might enjoy the following Radio 4 broadcasts:

..and if you'd like to test your knowledge, do have a look at this quiz on black holes.

Information about accessing BBC iplayer content outside the UK: See this information and see the podcast download page.

NB. This is an example of a resource that can be accessed from lots of different places. We tag such posts with 'all locations'. If you live some way from Cambridge, clicking on the all locations page can be useful so that you filter out events in Cambridge and events in specific areas of the UK.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 27 January 2016

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Adlestrop by Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Edward Thomas

Pile of books

What makes a good poem about a place in your opinion?

Can you describe the tone of this poem and which parts of it (words, garmmar, topic etc) play the most important role in creating this for you? Once you have gathered your own thoughts, you might enjoy this brief discussion from Matthew Hollis.

Can you find another poem that mentions a specific place?

Date posted: 

Thursday 21 January 2016

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Vellacott Essay Prize (Year 12)

Peterhouse is setting some interesting questions for Year 12  students to discuss (with reference to any academic discipline or area of interest) for its annual Vellacott Essay Prize.

Students are asked to choose a topic that you have not previously studied at school from the 41 questions, which include a wide range of historical topics, also touching on a number of other subject areas, such as Classics, Theology, Art, Literature, Music, Politics, Architecture and Sociology. Here are some examples of the questions set:

  • Should Classical Sparta be described as a totalitarian state?
  • Was there a 'Third-Century Crisis' in the Roman Empire?
  • When did the Middle Ages begin and end?
  • What were the public functions of art in the Italian Renaissance?
  • Why was Machiavelli's book The Prince so controversial?
  • How and to what effect did the political ideology and practice of Islam change after 1750?
  • What music was popular in nineteenth-century Europe?
  • What did the revolutions of 1848 achieve?
  • To what extent did the First World War signal the rise of a new politcs accross the MIddle East?
  • Discuss the historical significance of one of the following places or buildings: Route 66; The IBM Watson Research Center; the MCG; Reading gaol; The "walkie-talkie".

The full list of questions and details of the competition are available on the Peterhouse website in the Vellacott Prize information pdf, and please also read the details of eligibility and the history of the Peterhouse essay prizes. The deadline is 14 March 2016.Good luck to those who choose to explore some of these topics, whether just for curiosity or to develop an essay and enter the competition!

Date posted: 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

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Competition: Communicating the Ancient World through film

Credit: Giovanni

The Faculty of Classics at Cambridge is well known for putting the Ancient World on screen. With Mary Beard, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, and others on the staff, Cambridge’s Classics academics are some of the most familiar faces on TV documentaries.

This new competition invites you to take part in this mission of communicating the Ancient World through film (YouTube, not BBC1 just yet!). We are looking for creative and interesting films which explore a classical object or topic in less than 4 minutes. There will be a prize fund of £500 for the best entries and the winning videos will be put on our unique website – The Greeks, The Romans & Us  – which features a range of videos of Cambridge’s well-known and up-and-coming Classicists.

How to take part

For full details, please see the Video Competition page on The Greeks, The Romans & Us website. The deadline for entries is 15 March 2016. Do send any questions about the competition to the Classics Faculty Schools Liaison Officer.

Good Luck and we look forward to watching your film!

Date posted: 

Sunday 3 January 2016

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Cambridge interviews

Supervision

Cambridge interviews are very similar to the supervisions that you have every week as a student here (see how you are taught).

If you apply to Cambridge, you send your UCAS application by the 15 October deadline (Cambridge and Oxford have an earlier deadline than for most UK universities), and most (though not all) applicants are invited for interviews, which take place in early December.

We don't suggest that you worry too much about the details of the application process when you're in Year 10, Year 11 or at this stage of Year 12, but it is useful to get a sense of what interviews are about (they are academic interviews). The important point to understand when looking at interviews, is that if you would like to study at Cambridge in the future, you may already be thinking about whether you can achieve the grades we require (see our entrance requirements), but it is equally important to enjoy your studies and explore and develop your academic interests

When you come for interview, we will be looking for intellectual ability, aptitude for the subject, curiosity and commitment. So the interviewers (specialists in the subejct you have applied for) ask a range of questions relating to the work or reading you have done, both at school and outside it. We we will encourage you to talk about your academic interests and ideas. We encourage you to watch this film about Cambridge interviews.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 18 November 2015

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Isaac Physics website

Many universities have admissions tests and interviews that involve solving problems.

In the area of physics and mathematics the Isaac Physics website provides an opportunity to practise the skills needed for such problems, and will be particularly helpful for students who are interested in studying Natural Sciences (Physical) or Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences. You may find the Core Maths for All Scientists section particularly useful.*

Of course , if you're invited for interviews at Cambridge, do remember that you may be asked questions on a wider range of science than is presented on the Isaac Physics website. The interview film on this page provides a good introduction to Cambridge interviews.

*in A level terms, this section focuses on the material from modules C1, C2 and M1.

Date posted: 

Monday 26 October 2015

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Nautilus – Science, connected

Spiral staircase from above Credit: Marc Cornelis

The online and print journal Nautilus is not just for scientists. In fact, there are articles and blog posts on everything from ‘The Cello Music of the Spheres’ to ‘Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language’.


“We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected.”


Here are just a few links to articles in different subjects:

You can find articles on many more subjects through the links on the right of this page.

Date posted: 

Friday 9 October 2015

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