Do you live too far away to visit Cambridge?
Different people need different facilities. This is one of the treadmills in the King's Vaults gym.
It is not unusual to make a successful application without ever having set foot in Cambridge. Don't worry if it is not practical for you to visit as there is no requirement to do so.
Since we welcome applicants who live a long way from Cambridge, we do our best to ensure that all the infomation that you need to make a strong application is on our website (see the relevant subject page and how to apply in particular), as well as virtual tours and the life and facilities sections so that you can get a sense of King's as a place:
We also have a dedicated page for if you don't feel very well supported for your application, and the student perspectives are particularly useful (if you read five or six of these, you'll have a very good sense of what studying at King's is like).
The University has made some films which you may also find useful:
Would you like to visit Cambridge during the summer?
Prospective students are always welcome to visit
Remember that you are welcome to visit any time, even if there's not an official open day on.
- If you would like to look around a college, it is best to introduce yourself at the porters' lodge (the reception). Porters are normally happy for prospective students to walk around the public areas and will give you any maps / information available. There's also a map of Cambridge, which shows where the colleges are. You'll see that the middle of Cambridge is quite small, so you will be able to walk between most colleges easily.
- If you would like to visit King's, do introduce yourself at the porters' lodge when you arrive. The college will be open to prospective students and we have a self-guided tour that you can use.
- You may find the Following in the Footsteps audio tour useful for visiting other parts of the University. Cambridge University is made up of colleges, faculties (where you go for lectures), libraries (over 100 of them!) and offices dotted around the city, and following this tour will give you a good sense of how it all works.
- There are also some great museums and teaching collections which you might like to explore, most of which are free to visit. Or you might like to check the 'what's on' list for the day you are visiting - there are often talks and exhibitions on, as well as the Shakespeare Festival.
Robinson college is setting some interesting questions for Year 12 students to discuss (with reference to any academic discipline or area of interest) for its annual Essay Prize:
- 'Science has made us Gods even before we are worthy of being men.'
- 'Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.'
- 'The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.'
- 'Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagingation.'
- 'It's in literature that true life can be found. It's under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth.'
If you would like to write an essay for this competition, the deadline is 1 August 2015. Do read the full information on Robinson College's website.
Architecture Student Work Exhibition in London (7-9 July)
A previous ArcSoc exhibition
The University of Cambridge Architecture Society (ArcSoc) annual Summer Show is a presentation of student work in London, with material on display from the initial explorations of first year to the final schemes of third and fifth years.
If you're interested in studying Architecture, do keep an eye on the Summer Show page for further detail of what is happening on 7 - 9 July. During the exhibition there will be an afternoon of free public lectures from contemporary practitioners and university academics, as well as a day for prospective students. The location is G1 F Block, Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL.
Photos from past shows are also available, and Ines discusses the Summer Show and other ArcSoc activities in her King's Student Perspective.
We're sometimes asked for advice about what prospective students should read.
If you are looking for reading suggestions (particularly as you approach the summer, when you may have a bit more time), you may find the reading lists for all subjects in the offer-holders' section useful. Depending on your subject, you will find useful book sugestions or problem-solving websites and other advice. These 'lists' can be particularly useful if you don't know where to start, or if you'll be studying a subject at Cambridge that you don't already study at school, such as Human, Social and Political Sciences, Law, Philosophy, Engineering, Linguistics, Medicine or Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.
- Be yourself and follow your interests
None of the Cambridge courses have books that you have to read before you apply, so if you've already found some material that you're finding interesting and engaging, and is developing your academic interests, don't stop!
- Make a few brief notes
Making a list of the points that interest you, or any thoughts on the arguments you encounter, is a good thing to do as you read if you can (even if you keep them very brief). This will help you to remember the most important points, and also to notice where your interests lie.
- Explain to somebody else
Are you taking it in? A good way to ensure that you've understood something is to try to explain it to somebody else. Do you have any friends or relatives who might be interested in what you're reading? If you can explain the main points in an idea to somebody who does not know about the subject, that is normally a good sign that you've got it clear in your own head!
Try to avoid:
- Being daunted
The lists we provide are meant to be helpful for those looking for suggestions. We're not trying to overwhelm you. Just like the kinds of suggestions you get from supervisors and lecturers when you're studying at Cambridge, some of the subject lists are quite long so that you can pick and choose according to your interests. Don't be put off by this!
- The tick-box approach
The important point about your reading is not which books you've read but what you get out of them. So our advice is: don't rush to read as many books as possible in order to tick them off a reading list. It is much more important that you take time to enjoy the material and think about it. Remember that the best things to mention on the personal statement or your UCAS application form are the things that genuinely interest you.
Introduction to Archives
Rupert Brooke in uniform, at Blandford, Dorset. 1914. Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. RCB/Ph/262
Why not access and use primary sources to explore and develop your academic interests this Summer?
King's College Archive Centre has developed an Introduction to Archives, using the papers of King's student and First World War poet Rupert Brooke as a case study.
The website is divided into two parts:
- Introduction to archives: What archives are, the key principles of archival research and how to access primary sources (sections 1-6).
- Rupert Brooke case study: How these ideas apply to the papers of Rupert Brooke, through interpretation activities focussing on different aspects of his life and a few of his most famous poems (sections 7-10).
Once you've worked through the online resources, you'll be ready to visit an archive near you to do some research of your own.
Eva Berendes, 'Untitled (Osaka)', part of a Bold Tendencies exhibition at the Peckham multi-storey car park. Image credit: Loz Pycock
Multi-Story is a project that brings classical music to unexpected places, run by (former King's student!) composer Kate Whitley and conductor Christopher Stark.
The Multi-Story Summer Programme 2015 takes place in a disused multi-stor(e)y car park in Peckham. On 1 and 2 July, the Multi-Story Orchestra will be joined by more than 200 local children to perform I am I say, a new commission by Kate and British Egyptian poet Sabrina Mahfouz.
See the full Multi-Story line-up this Summer, part of a wider programme of visual art, architecture, music, theatre, film, and literature produced by Bold Tendencies at the same venue.
History of Art with the Tate
Tate galleries host the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day, along with international modern and contemporary art.
If you'd like an introduction to the History of Art, or an opportunity to explore and develop your existing interests in the field, try their free online courses.
If you have the opportunity, visit the Tate:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art offer similar free online resources.
City Health Check: How design can save lives and money
How can the design of a city impact on public health?
1. Write a few ideas of your own down first of all!
2. Compare your ideas with what the researchers found when they investigated this question in nine cities in England. What link did they find between city design and health in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield?
The information is in the City Health Check RIBA article (the report itself is available to download at the end).
3. What about other cities? If you live near a different city or know one well, what would you say about it's design and the health of the people who live there? What changes would you make, if any?
York Festival of Ideas 2015
The York Festival of Ideas will take place this year from Tuesday 9 until Sunday 21 June, with more than 100 free events. Do have a look at what is on:
June Events in Cambridge (early booking recommended!)
As well as the Cambridge Open Days across all subjects and colleges on Thurs 2 July and Fri 3 July, a number of Year 12(*) subject events in June are open for booking at the moment.
Although we know that most of you are really busy with exam work at the moment, do be aware that some of these events allocate places on a first come, first served basis, so do try to get your booking in as soon as possible if you are interested.
* 'Year 12' is the quick way to explain, but these events are for all students who plan to apply in October 2015.
Louise Bourgeois: French-American artist, sculptor and printmaker
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a French-American artist and widely known as one of the most influential artists of modern and contemporary art.
You might enjoy exploring some of the themes in Bourgeois's work on the extensive Louise Bourgeois pages from New York's Museum of Modern Art. This resource includes information about Bourgeois's techniques, and the presentation of her work in books and series.
If you would like to experience some Louise Bourgeois work close up, you may be interested in the exhibition featuring her Autobiographical Series (1994) and 11 Drypoints (1999) at Northumbria University Gallery, which is on until 22 May. You'll find the Gallery on Sandyford Road, Newcastle (NE1 8ST). See the Northumbria University website for details.
The same exhibition will be available at later dates in Hebden Bridge, Galway, Lisburn, Petroc, Leeds, Grimsby, Birmingham, Inverness and Dumfries - see the Hayward touring exhibition website.
University of Hull's OpenCampus Programme
It's a new term at the University of Hull's OpenCampus programme:
- There is a new series of Tea-Time Talks, focusing on health and wellbeing, held on Tuesday evenings from 6.15pm to 7.45pm. The series will kick off with a talk by Professor Andrew L. Clark, Chair of Clinical Cardiology at Hull York Medical School, on 'The world's number one killer: "can you save yourselves?"' on Tuesday 5 May.
- The Culture Café will be celebrating postgraduate and postdoctoral research emerging from the Department of English on Wednesdays from 2pm to 4.30pm. In the first session, Emma Butcher will explore the Brontës' childhood writings on Wednesday 6 May.
Places are limited, so booking is essential. You can register online, or call Nicola Sharp or Jackie McAndrew on 01482 466321 / 466585.
ELECTION - The Cambridge Politics Podcast
Spot the First Minister?! Nicola Sturgeon campaigning in Edinburgh on 3 April 2015. Image credit: hockadilly
Can democracy adapt to our strained political system? Who (if anyone) will ‘win’ in 2015? What can the lessons of the past teach us about the future?
David Runciman, Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies here in Cambridge, puts these questions and more to philosophers, historians, scientists, and political thinkers in a weekly podcast in the run-up to the general election.
In recent weeks, he's talked to:
The ELECTION team publish a new episode every Wednesday.
Introduction to Archives Workshop for Sixth Formers at King's
Kennesaw State University Archives. Image credit: Anne G
- Are you currently taking AS / A Level History or English Literature?
- Are you interested in finding out about and using archives in your work?
If so, King's College Archive Centre invites you to an Introduction to Archives Workshop on Friday 10 April, using the papers of Rupert Brooke.
Peter Monteith, an archivist at King's College, will explore approaches to using archives for research with you. You will then gain experience of archives, through an exploration of the life, poetry, and myth surrounding King's student and First World War poet Rupert Brooke.
The workshop will equip you to use the King's College Archive Centre yourself, either during an optional reading room session on the morning of Saturday 11 April (numbers limited) or at another time during the Centre's normal opening hours.
See the programme for the workshop and email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
NB. Are you at a state school in one of the areas listed below? If so, please do request accommodation through the Year 12 Link Area Accommodation Scheme at King's for this or any other event advertised on the Cambridge page!
Theology and Religious Studies Open Day in Cambridge
The Faculty of Divinity is holding an Open Day for those interested studying Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge on 20 April. You can find out more and book a place on the Faculty website.
You can find out more about studying Theology and Religious Studies at King's on our website. If you do visit Cambridge for the Open Day, you are very welcome to visit King's whilst you're here.
NB. Are you at a state school in one of the areas listed below? If so, please do request accommodation through the Year 12 Link Area Accommodation Scheme at King's for this or any other event advertised on the Cambridge page!
Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Architecture
Scottish Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of the leading figures of late 19th and early 20th Century architecture. The majority of his buildings are located in Glasgow (Scotland) and the surrounding area.
Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum, þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
(Arguably translated into modern English as "Listen! We have heard of the might of the Kings.")
Are you interested in early languages? Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. More than 3,000 lines long, Beowulf relates the exploits of its eponymous hero, and his successive battles with monsters.
You can study Beowulf, among other Old English texts, as part of our Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic degree course, which centres on early and Medieval languges and history.
Bookings are now open for the Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic Year 12 masterclass on 21 March. The next Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic departmental Open Day will take place on 24 June 2015.
Year 12 Subject Days at St. John's College, Cambridge
Archaeology Study Day: 23 March 2015
What is it like to study Archaeology at university? What does it mean to be an Archaeologist in the modern world? Come along to St John’s College, Cambridge on the 23rd of March to find out! The day is run by a friendly mixture of Cambridge archaeologists and current students who will provide sample lectures, seminars and workshops designed to provide a real insight into life studying Archaeology at University. The day is free to attend and there is limited overnight accommodation available for those travelling from further away. For further information and the booking form, please see the St. John's College website.
Biological Sciences Study Days: 25 and 27 March 2015
St John’s College will be hosting two Biological Sciences Subject Days. These days are aimed at Year 12 students taking at least two sciences at A Level (including Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics) who are interested in studying Biology and related fields at university. The day will include an exciting mix of lectures, supervision style workshops and information about making a competitive application. The day will also include a buffet lunch and a tour of the college. The event is free of charge and there is limited overnight accommodation for those that require it. For booking and further information please see the St. John's College website.
Exhibitions at the Kirkleatham Museum, East Cleveland
Entrance to the Kirkleatham Museum. Credit: David (cropped)
If you are interested in old Anglo-Saxon history, you might enjoy visiting the Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar & Cleveland, which is home to some important exhibitions:
- The Saxon Princess
This popular exhibition is based on a six-year archeological project in East Cleveland, in which archaeologist Dr Steve Sherlock and local volunteers made some spectacular finds - a royal burial site and precious metal jewellery from an un-named Anglo-Saxon princess, dating back to the seventh century. See this short film of Steve Sherlock speaking about the area.
- Street House before the Saxons
Linked to the Saxon Princess material, this second exhibition is based on Dr Steve Sherlock's other excavations between 1979 and 2004. Through photographs, films and archaeological objects, you can find out more about a Neolithic cairn from around 3,000 BC, Bronze Age burial sites and the remains of a timber house and timber circles that date from around 2,000 BC, as well as a Roman villa (AD 370) and Anglo-Saxon village.
More infomation about visiting the museum is available on the Redcar & Cleveland website.
If you enjoy this material, it would be worth having a look at the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC) course at Cambridge (there's a film about it on the course films page).
Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference in Newcastle
Student conferences are a good opportunity to find out more from subject specialists, students and admissions staff
On 18 March 2015 there will be a free Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference in Newcastle (very close to the train station) for students in Year 12.
The conference covers courses available at Oxford and Cambridge (sessions led by subject specialists), Oxford and Cambridge Explained talks, and plenty of opportunities to chat with current students at both universities and find out what studying at Oxford and Cambridge is really like. You will need a teacher to book a ticket for you if you would like to attend - do read the information on the Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference website and ask a teacher to book your place.
Places are also available at similar conferences in Lisburn, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Surrey.
tracking our migratory birds to Africa and back
More Year 12 Saturday Masterclasses open for booking!
Booking has opened for more Saturday Masterclasses in Cambridge for Year 12 students. These events provide you with an opportunity to explore topics of interest beyond what is covered within your school syllabus, and offer the chance to experience typical undergraduate teaching at Cambridge.
- Modern and Medieval Languages
- Philosophy and Theology
- Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic
- Politics and International Relations
- Genetics and Biochemistry
For details and booking, please see the Cambridge admissions website.
Sixth Form Philosophy Conference: 19 March
The University of Cambridge Faculty of Philosophy is holding a free one-day conference for Year 12 students.
The conference is open to those currently studying philosophy, or to those who are thinking of studying it at university. The day will consist of three lectures given by leading academic staff from the Faculty. The aim is to enrich and extend, rather than simply duplicate, the coverage of topics typically studied in school. There will also be a discussion session over buffet lunch for any teachers accompanying their students.
Places are limited, and are restricted to four students per school. Applications are now open, and must be made online by a member of school staff on behalf of their students. Applications close on 27 February ; schools will be notified of the outcome by 5 March 2015.
Saturday Masterclasses with places still available
There are still places available at the following Year 12 Saturday Masterclasses in Cambridge:
Saturday 7 February:
Saturday 14 February:
Saturday 21 February:
Ful details and booking are available on the Cambridge Admissions website.
Year 11 and Year 12 Subject Taster events at Newcastle University
Booking is open for Newcastle University's Discover More events on Wednesday 11 March and Wednesday 25 March 2015.
If you are in Year 11 or Year 12, these events give you an opportunity to find out more about what studying your subject at university level is like, as well as gaining insights into future career possibilities.
Please see the information on Newcastle University website (which includes a link to the application form). If you would like to request a place, you must submit your application by Friday 13 February 2015.
Year 12 Taster Day (relevant to Classics, History, and History of Art)
Emmanuel College is offering an opportunity for Year 12 (or equivalent) students to visit Cambridge and find out more about studying Classics, History and History of Art at a Taster day on Tuesday 17 February:
- 09:45 - Arrival and welcome to Emmanuel College
(Dr Chris Whitton, Director of Studies for Classics, Emmanuel College)
- 10:15 - Talk: Studying Classics at University
(Dr Nigel Spivey, Lecturer in Classical Art and Archaeology)
- 11:15 - Lecture: Homer and the Origins of Greek Art
- 12:15 - Lunch with undergraduates
- 13:00 - Guided walk through Cambridge to the Faculty of Classics
- 13:30 - Guided visit to the Museum of Classical Archaeology
(Jennie Thornber: Education Co-ordinator)
- 15:00 - Final question and answer session
- 15:30 - Depart
If you would like to come to this event, do email Lizzie from Emmanuel College at email@example.com with your name, the name of your school, and your contact email address.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2015: Keeping the Memory Alive
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, which remembers the victims of genocide across time and countries. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps. 2015 is especially significant, since it is the 70th anniversary since the liberation of Auschwitz and the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebenica, Bosnia. This year's theme, Keeping the Memory Alive, asks us to reflect on the relationship between history and memory: how does one alter the other? What does it mean to memorialise the past and how shall we do it?
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust defines genocide and documents and commemorates the following cases:
Young Hartlepudlians will be Keeping the Memory Alive with a memorial at Avenue Ballroom in Lauder Street from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Tuesday 27 January. The event is free and open to all, but booking is required, so please contact Beth Storey on 01429 523900.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust's Youth Champion Programme allows you to further research and reflect on the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and supports you in organising an event of your own.
The Anne Frank Trust UK remembers the Holocaust, and challenges prejudice and reduces hatred today, by drawing on Anne Frank's life and diary. You can visit the Trust's History for Today exhibition in York Minster from 26 January to 1 February.
BBC Taking Liberties Season
The Houses of Parliament, Westminster. Image credit: Treye Rice
2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The BBC is leading commemorations with its Taking Liberties season of programmes on Britain's democracy: past, present, and future.
Ask yourself: are the democratic freedoms manifest in the Magna Carta or the de Montfort Parliament real or imagined, either then or now?
Year 12 Studying Music Taster Days
The Faculty of Music here in Cambridge is running Studying Music Taster Days for Year 12s on Monday 2 March and Friday 13 March. You will experience the teaching and facilities on offer at the Faculty, whilst meeting fellow Music students from across the UK. The day will include a sample lecture, a tour of a college, a practical session and a Q&A session with current undergraduates.
Whether or not you decide to study Music at Cambridge, there is a very active and diverse Music scene across the University and its colleges, with opportunities for every interest and standard!
Year 12 Residential visits at Robinson and Trinity Hall Colleges
All students at Cambridge are both part of the University and part of one of the Colleges. You can read about this collegiate system on the university website, and each College also has its own website, like King's.
Would you like to find out more about living and studying in a Cambridge College? There are places available on Year 12 (or equivalent) residential visits at Robinson College and at Trinity Hall College. Visiting any College will give you a good sense of what being part of a collegiate university is like and what is most important to you when you later choose a College. It will also help you to develop your course interests and find out more about how you will be taught at Cambridge.
Classics & Ancient History Essay Competition
St John's College, Oxford is running an essay competition for UK students in Year 12 (or equivalent) who are interested in Classics & Ancient History.
The essay titles include:
- Is it possible to write ancient Greek or Roman history without cities at its centre?
- Who and /or what are missing from our archaeological record of the ancient world? Consider what types of objects survive and who they represent.
If you are interested in thinking about these kinds of questions or researching and writing an essay for the competition, do go to the St John's College Oxford website, where you will find a full list of titles and the submission details for the competition. The deadline for submissions is 4 pm on Thursday 26th February 2015.
Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools
Booking is open for the Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools in Cambridge! These are very popular subject-specific residentials in July and August for students in Year 12 (or equivalent) at state-maintained schools in the UK. The programme includes lectures, seminars, discussion groups, practical work and social activities, as well as the opportunity to meet current staff and students and to live in a Cambridge College. The residentials are free of charge.
For full information and booking, please go to the Cambridge Admissions website.
The Sutton Trust Summer Schools provide a very useful insight into what it is like to study at Cambridge so do apply for a place if you are interested. Equally, please be aware that we receive far more applications than we have places available. It is important to read the detailed criteria for selection.
The application deadline is 9 March 2015. Good luck!
Year 12 Subject Masterclasses in Cambridge
Subject-specific sample lectures are available. Credit: Horia Varlan
Booking is open for some subject masterclasses organised by the central Cambridge Admissions Office. These masterclasses take place on Saturdays in February and are for students in Year 12 (the penultimate year of school).
The subjects are:
- Genetics and Biochemistry
- Modern and Medieval Languages
- Philosophy and Theology
...and if the course you want to study is not in that list, don't worry because further masterclasses will be announced later this year.
For more detail, please read the information about Subject Masterclasses on the Cambridge Admissions website. If you would like to book a place, he link is available in the table on that page.
History Virtual Classroom
What role can a historical novel play in the study of History?
Credit: Martha Garvey
If you enjoy studying History and want to know more about what it is like at university level, make sure that you have a look at the History Faculty's virtual classroom:
The French Revolution: Tearing up History
The death of Marat. Credit: paukrus (cropped)
There's an interesting documentary on BBC iplayer, which explores the history of the French Revoution through the story of its art.
The programme is presented by Dr Richard Clay, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Birmingham.
Excellence Hub for Yorkshire and Humberside
University taster events show you what studying a subject in depth at university-level would be like. Credit: John Robinson
The Excellence Hub for Yorkshire and Humberside is an exciting collaboration between the universities of Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York to provide enrichment events through the year for students who have been identified as high achieving by their schools or colleges.
Look at the list of upcoming Subject Taster Events.
The events are open to students across the UK. You can apply to attend the events as an individual, or one of your teachers can apply for a group from your school to attend. Priority for places is given to students who meet one of the criteria below, then the remaining places are given to students who do not meet the criteria. Some events are for Year 12 students, others are for younger students.
- eligible to receive free school meals.
- no history of higher education (studying at university level) in your immediate family (including any siblings).
- living in local authority care.
Do keep an eye on this project. Further events will be advertised on the Excellence Hub website in due course.
Preparing for interviews
We recommend that you explore topics that interest you further (there are a lot of ways to do this).
We interview most (but not all) students who apply for a place at Cambridge. The interviews are with subject specialists who ask you academic questions to explore your potential for the course you have applied for.
How do you prepare for a Cambridge interview? Here are some tips:
Long-term preparation (before you apply)
- If you enjoy learning, the good news is that you shouldn't need to change anything significant to prepare for interviews at Cambridge. The most important thing you can do is to develop your academic interests (which you're likely to find that you've already been doing!)
- Find a Cambridge course that genuinely interests you so that you have natural curiosity and enjoy developing your skills and finding out more.
- Look at the resources section on the relevant subject page for specific suggestions (e.g. Engineering), but also feel free to follow your own interests or use other resources and books that you find helpful.
- Understand that Cambridge interviewers will be interested in your academic interests and how you think and work, not only what you know. The interviews are academic interviews, designed to test this. This film shows what Cambridge interviews are about.
Short-term preparation (after you have applied)
- See this advice and our interview guidelines.
- Watch Film 1 and Film 2 to get a sense of what will happen if you are invited for interview.
- Carry on developing your academic interests. Use the resources section on the relevant subject page if you are looking for suggestions.
- Don't neglect your normal school work - if you are currently at school, we know how busy you are, and you can develop your interests within your school curriculum by putting your best into your homework assignments. Remember that most of your interview preparation has already been done at this stage.
- Don't worry excessively about the interview itself. Know that the interviews are not a test of how good you are at being interviewed (we're not looking for polish or perfection). They are about your subject(s), so the only way you can improve your chances is to carry on focusing on your academic work and interests.
- Try to trust your interviewers if you can! They are all teachers and they want you to achieve. They will know how to ask further questions to tease what they need out of you, and they know that interviewees are nervous so they are looking for raw ability and academic commitment, not perfection.
Cambridge Subject Films
Are you exploring the courses available at Cambridge? One way to get a quick overview is to look at some of the subject films.
The films are only short, but they explain the structure and opportunities in each course, show you some of the faculty facilities, and have current students giving their views and reasons for choosing each subject, tips for applying from the lecturers, and information about what students go on to do when they graduate.
You may also find the advice about choosing a subject useful, and there are lists of transferable skills for most courses (or options within courses). These lists set out the advantages that each subject gives you for your future career.
The most important question to ask yourself, is what would you enjoy studying in depth?
Cambridge Sculpture Trails
Double Helix sculpture in Clare College. Credit: Nige Brown
Did you know that Cambridge has lots of 20th and 21st century sculptures in and around the city? You will find both pieces by major international figures and work by up-and-coming sculptors.
Come and explore for yourself! There are three Sculpture trails that you can use, and if you follow the links and information on the website, you can find out more about the sculptors and their work.
Where is the Art in Science?
Do you have a love and flair for both the arts and the sciences? You're not alone!
The Royal Society of Chemistry's annual Bill Bryson Prize challenges students to think about science creatively. The 2014 competition asked 'where is the art in science?' Brynn Brunstromm found many connections in his winning video entry.
On Wednesday 5 November, the Departments of Chemistry and Fine Art at the University of Reading are running a workshop for Year 9 students to explore the intrinsic links between art and science. Teachers can contact the Chemistry Teachers' Centre to find out more.
History: more than just dates?
Tent City University at St. Paul's Cathedral during the Occupy London protest. Image credit: duncan c
- How did the tea bag become a symbol for a protest movement?
- How have protest movements, including the Occupy movement, used public spaces?
Cambridge History for Schools runs hands-on workshops for students in Key Stage 2 and 3 in the Cambridge area.
On the morning of Saturday 8 November at the Faculty of History, West Road, Cambridge:
- Key Stage 2 (ages 7 to 11): Will Riddington, 'More Than Just Dates: signs and symbols in history' - create a protest movement and symbols of your own
- Key Stage 3 (ages 11 to 14): Kristen Klebba, 'Public Parks and Their Politics' - design your own public space
or call 01223 335302 to book a place.
The Cambridge History for Schools programme continues into the New Year with more workshops scheduled for 28 February and 9 May. Please see the full programme for more information.
Our own Chapel at King's is a fascinating mix of religion, politics, history, art and architecture.
Have you ever thought about the relationship between religion and other subjects that you might study?
- History: Consider the impact of religious change on a society prior to 1900;
- Literature: Reflect on whether literary criticism requires a knowledge of sacred texts;
- Philosophy: Comment on the relationship between mortality and religion;
- Politics: Explore the idea of secularism and national politics;
- Science: Address the relationship between religion and a topic from the natural sciences;
- Sociology: Consider how an awareness of religion helps understandings of multiculturalism.
Cambridge Divinity Faculty encourages sixth formers to research and think about one of the topics above in a team of up to four 16-19 year olds. The challenge is to produce a film lasting no more than five minutes in response to your chosen topic. This should be academic in content, but the film could take any form: debates, documentaries or responses with artistic elements are all welcome.
If you are interested, do read the further details on the Divinity Faculty website. The deadline is Friday 14 November 2014.
Faith and religion at Cambridge Festival of Ideas
The Cambridge Festival of Ideas is a full programme of mostly free events encouraging you to explore the arts, humanities and social sciences, meet academics and students, and engage with the University.
If you are interested in faith and religion, you might enjoy some of the following events:
The X Factor: Multidisciplinary (and Interdisciplinary) Approaches to Classics
Image credit: Ingo Gildenhard
At the recent Classics Faculty Sixth Form Study Days, King's Classicist Ingo Gildenhard explained how multidisciplinary approaches to Classics underpins teaching and learning at Cambridge.
The Classics Faculty is divided into caucuses, each of which brings a different approach to the study of Classics: Caucus A (Literature); Caucus B (Philosophy); Caucus C (History); Caucus D (Art and Archaeology) and Caucus E (Linguistics).
Dr. Gildenhard gave an example of how his colleagues in different caucuses each brought a different approach to the study of Ovid's Ars Amatoria [The Art of Love] in a recent lecture series:
- A: Poetics, or: The (S)expert at Work
- B: Sexual Ethics [gender relations, feminist readings]
- C: The Empire Strikes Back [Ovid and Augustus, the politics of the Ars, Ovid’s banishment to the Black Sea]
- D: Sex and the City [Ovid and the monuments, his rewriting of Rome’s urban topography]
- E: The Language of Love (and Sex) [how can we understand the different range of meanings of Latin words to English dictionary equivalents - does raptor mean ‘rapist’ or ‘seducer’? and how does it relate to rapina and rapio?]
The students and academics gain enormously from exploring these multidisciplinary perspectives. If and when they combine two or more approaches to address a particular topic, thereby transcending any one discipline, their work becomes interdisciplinary.
For this reason, King's Classicist John Henderson and his colleague Geoffrey Lloyd pioneered an X Caucus (Interdisciplinary) in the 1980s, to allow and encourage Cambridge students and academics to cross disciplines in their study of the Classics.
Multidisciplinarity is not restricted to Classics! You will be able to find multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) approaches to almost any topic. Have you got the X Factor? Think of a topic that has caught your attention in one of your A Level subjects and ask yourself what your knowledge and skills in your other A Level subjects can bring to it.
Freshers' reading groups
There's a great atmosphere in College as we help the new students to settle in.
Amongst the many activities that take place in Freshers' Week to settle new students into the College community, there are discussion groups in which tutors and students across all subjects meet to discuss a book that everybody has read in advance. This year's book is:
Monbiot is a journalist and activist who read Zoology at University. He presents his book as a polemic for "positive environmentalism". The book consists of a series of essays designed to promote the cultural and economic change that will be necessary to precede any ecological shift. On some level Feral is a radical book with a radical argument, however the question for the King's freshers is how substantial, how convincing is Monbiot's argument and his evidence, and how much of it is the ideological enchantment of a liberal public intellectual?
If you fancy reading this book for yourself, you may be interested to think about how Monbiot establishes the veracity of his claims. How scientific is his thesis of "rewilding"? Does the book survive the lengthy anecdotal descriptions of his natural encounters, enchanting though they are? And is it telling that Monbiot is male, enjoys risky outdoor activity and has his moment of epiphany when he slings a dead deer over his shoulders and carries it home? Do you think that he would have a different environmentalism if he weren't so enamored by the wild in him? Or should we be cautious about any dismissal of his honesty? He discusses the effects of logging and mining on Yanomami lands at some length (and spent a fair amount of his own time experiencing it) - it is fair to say that his "rewilding" is borne of some knowledge of different cultural ecologies? Finally, do you think that we should be encouraged by this book, or discouraged?
Year 12 Shadowing Scheme 2015
Find out for yourself what living and studying at Cambridge is really like
If you are in Year 12 at a UK school and nobody from your family has studied at university / not many from your school have got places at Oxford and Cambridge, you might like to find out more by applying for a place on the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.
If you get a place, you would be invited to spend a few days in Cambridge, living in one of the Colleges and "shadowing" a current student studying the subject that you are interested in, that is, going to lectures, supervisions, social activities etc with them. It's a really good way to get a taste of what studying here is really like so do read the details if you think that you might be eligible to apply.
It's Open Cambridge this weekend with talks, walks and themed tours, including:
Posted: 11 September 2014
Choosing school subjects
For Cambridge Economics, Maths is required and Further Maths is very helpful where available.
If you have just started Year 11 (15-16 year olds), you will soon need to start thinking about which subjects you will take next year.
If you would like to study at a selective university such as Cambridge or another university in the Russell Group, it is especially important to make sure that you choose subjects that will give you good preparation for courses that you may want to apply for. You may already have a favourite subject that you can research, but don't worry if you don't know yet - the advice about making well-informed choices will help to put you in the best position for when you choose a university course later on.
As well as the subjects you already do at school, it is worth remembering that there are a lot more courses available that you start new at university - the perfect course for you may be something you've not thought of yet!!
To help you with this process:
Posted: 10 September 2014
Beginning New Testament Greek
Theology and Religious Studies students at Cambridge study a scriptural language in first year, choosen from New Testament Greek, Hebrew, Qur'anic Arabic or Sanscrit. You don't need to have studied foreign languages before, and this is a great opportunity to learn one of the original languages in which the texts of a major world religion were written.
If you are interested in New Testament Greek, we hope that you will find the new website launched by Cambridge Divinity Faculty useful:
Open House London (Sat 20 & Sun 21 September)
On the weekend of 20 and 21 September, there's a chance to explore building design and architecture in London. This is Open House London, which encourages you to explore buildings and spaces, including ones that aren't normally open to the public.
As well as the podcasts, there is also a book. Credit: Mark Larson (cropped)
Philosophy Bites is a good source of short interview podcasts with professional philosophers on all kinds of topics.
Recent interviews include:
If there is a particular area that interests you, you may like to look at this list organised by theme.
The Baroque in Britain
Radio 4 iplayer has a useful series of 15 minute programmes on the Baroque in Britain presented by Tim Marlow:
- Klaus Carl and Victoria Charles, Baroque Art (New York: Parkstone Press International, 2014)
- Ernst Hans Gombrich, The Story of Art (several editions)
Are you struggling to access Radio 4 iplayer? Click on 'How to listen' in the menu on the left of this help section. If you are outside the UK, see the iplayer access information.
Cambridge College Open Days for Year 13
The Porters' Lodge, just inside the entrance of King's on King's Parade
If you are planning to apply to Cambridge this October and would like to attend a College Open Day, do see this page for the events available.
Here at King's, we welcome bookings for our open afternoon on Tuesday 16 September - see our open days page for details and the form.
If you are visiting other Colleges and would like to see King's on the same day, do introduce yourself at the porters' lodge and say that you will be applying to Cambridge. The porters will be happy to let you walk around the public areas, and you might find our self-guided tour useful so that you know what you are looking at. NB if there is a 'College Closed' sign at the front gate, please don't be put off as this just means that tourists cannot enter.
If you are visiting Cambridge on your own, you might also enjoy the Following in the Footsteps audio tour.
Siegfried Sassoon's war diaries published in the Cambridge Digital Library
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Credit: Pere Ubu
The Cambridge University Library holds the papers of its former student and First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Now, for the first time, Sassoon's journals are freely available online as part of the Cambridge Digital Library.
Amidst the daily minutiae of life in the trenches, Sassoon recorded:
- the first day of the Somme, 'a sunlit picture of Hell,' on July 1916
- the Battle of Arras, during which he was 'fully expecting to get killed,' but was instead shot in the shoulder by a sniper, causing a dramatic deterioration in his handwriting from 15 - 16 April 1917
- draft and fair copies of his 'Soldier's Declaration' against the conduct of the war, written and issued in June-July 1917
- an early version of his poem 'The Dug-Out,' with an additional, excised verse, written in July 1918 and published in Picture-Show (1919)
The Siegfried Sasoon diaries had previously been edited by Rupert Hart-Davies and published in the 1980s. So how does seeing the original manuscript versions change our perceptions of Sassoon's life and poetry? Does seeing the mud and candlewax on their pages add to a historian's understanding of Sassoon's experience in the trenches? How useful is either textual criticism (the effort to establish a text as nearly as possible to its original form) or genetic criticism (the effort to trace and understand the process of writing a text) to a literary scholar?
You can read Sassoon's poetry and browse related primary documents in the University of Oxford's First World War Poetry Digital Archive Sassoon Collection.
One of the things that interviewers look for is genuine interest. Image credit: THX0477
We interview most people who apply to Cambridge (more than 80%). It is in interviews that subject specialists are able to work with you directly, see how you think and work, and really explore your academic potential for the course that you've applied for.
We hope that you will find the following new Cambridge University film useful, and we particularly hope that it will put any summer work that you are doing to develop your interests into context!
Sutton Hoo and the British Museum
The Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum. Image credit: Rob Roy
If you would like to explore Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, you might enjoy visiting the sixth and early seventh century burial mounds and the Exhibition Hall at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, or the Sutton Hoo and Europe AD300 - 1100 collection at the British Museum in London.
Navigation at sea in the eighteenth century
Navigation at sea was a real problem in the eighteenth century. Although ships could work out their latitude from the position of the sun, it was difficult to know how far east or west they were. In 1714 a Longitude Act was passed, offering rewards of up to £20,000 for anyone who could solve the problem of finding longitude at sea.
The National Maritime Museum and Cambridge University have put the archives relating to this period of exploration and invention online - do watch the film and explore the website. If you live near enough to visit Greenwich, you may enjoy one of the Longitude Season events.
Edgar Jones Philosophy Essay Competition (Year 12)
If you have just finished Year 12 and are looking for some Philosophy questions to get your teeth into during the summer, you may be interested in the 2014 Edgar Jones Philosophy Essay Competition which is being held by St Peter's College, Oxford.
You are asked to choose one of the following two questions:
- Does the fact that our senses can deceive mean that we can have no perceptual knowledge?
- Could you be a bad person and yet do the right thing all the time?
The closing date for submissions is 12 September 2014, there's a word limit of 2000 words, and you will notice that the judges are looking for clarity of thought and expression and cogency in your arguments in particular. Do read the full details on the St Peter's College website before you start your research!
The Virtual Chopin
The Chopin statue in Deansgate, Manchester. Image credit: Mike Kniec (cropped)
Have you come across any music by Fryderyk Chopin that you can think of? He was a nineteenth century composer and is the subject of The Virtual Chopin presented by Professor John Rink from Cambridge University Faculty of Music.
Trinity College's Robson History Prize (Year 12)
What is to be gained by studying the histories of seas or oceans?
Image credit: AvidlyAbide
If you are interested in History (including historical aspects of a wide range of courses from Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic to Economics, Philosophy and Theology) why not think about some of the questions that Trinity College has set for their Robson History Prize? There's a wide choice of 59 titles, so you are bound to find a topic that you would enjoy studying.
Here are just a few of them:
- What was the role and influence of Queens in Anglo-Saxon England?
- Was the Hundred Years War really a single conflict?
- What were the causes of the European ‘witchcraze’ in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
- What sort of a revolution was the French revolution?
- How did the Atlantic slave trade affect state formation and economic growth in West Africa?
- Why was the Spanish civil war so bloody?
- ‘The Attlee government’s failure to create a socialist commonwealth was as much due to ideological shortcomings as economic constraints.’ Discuss.
- To what extent do market forces pose a threat to the accuracy of popular history?
- Is the goal of Aristotle’s Politics to arrive at a theory of the best state?
If you would like to work on an essay to enter in the competition, the deadline is 1 August and do make sure that you read the full details (including the full list of titles) on Trinity College's website before you start. If you don't have chance or don't want to do that, do have a look at the titles nonetheless as there's plenty of inspiration for research and thought.
Summer Reading (and Writing)
As you break up for the vacation, you may be resolving to read through the pile of books that has built up on your bedside table during a busy academic year. But how do you make your summer reading count? As the University of Cambridge advises its students:
Reading for a degree requires different reading skills to reading for pleasure. Developing understanding through reading needs to be an active process, whereby you engage with the text, question and develop your ideas in response to it.
Listen to Hanna Weibye (one of the King's Fellows in History) making a similar point, when she recommends that you read as widely and as critically as possible.
The University of Southampton, the University of Manchester, and the Open University all offer useful advice on how to read in an engaged way.
One way to read effectively is to... write! Once you've read a text, why not write and share a review of it? The Wellcome Trust blog offers advice on how to write a news story from a scientific paper. The Guardian's Blogging Students advise on how to blog.
BBC Radio 3 resources
If you are interested in studying Music, we advise you to get to know as much music as possible, including musical repertoires other than those related to your principal instrument(s). Have you explored the BBC Radio 3 resources? These include:
Cambridge Architecture: exhibition of student work (11-16 July in London)
Preparation in Cambridge for a previous ArcSoc exhibition
ArcSoc, the Cambridge University Architecture Society, invites you to attend its summer show:
- Dates: Friday 11 to Wednesday 16 July 2014
- Location: Testbed 1, 33 Parkgate Road, London, SW11 4NP
- Opening times: 10am-6pm
- Website: ArcSoc
This annual exhibition is entirely planned, built and curated by students. It's a great opportunity to get an insight into the Architecture Department and the work of students from first year to fifth year.
Free public lectures and a day for prospective students are also planned - see the ArcSoc website.
Precision: the Measure of All Things
Big Ben: accurate to one second an hour, but today we can build clocks that loose one second in 138 million years. Credit: Taz Wake
There was an interesting TV documentary last night telling the history of the science of measurement.
Throughout our history, developments in our ability to measure the world around us have changed our lives. In the documentary, Prof. Marcus du Sautoy explores how seconds and metres came to be as two of the most fundamental units of measure, how distance and time are linked, and the quest for ever greater precision in science.
Catch it on BBC iplayer:
Further documentaries in the same series will be on in the next couple of weeks:
Architecture - Exploring spaces
What catches your eye? If you're thinking of studying Architecture at university, the summer is a great time to practice your drawing skills, to have a go at capturing your interests with a camera, and to think about the spaces and effects that you notice around you through explorative work in a range of media.
You can do this very well on your own, following your interests. You might like to read the information about portfolios if you would like some advice about work that you can later use in an application to Cambridge, and there are also some examples of application portfolios available - see Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2.
If you are looking for events to attend, as well as any websites about what is on in your local area, RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects) has a good What's On? page for events up and down the UK, or you can look up events all over the world on the e-architect website.
Last chance to book for Cambridge Law Open Day!
The Law Faculty reception area
If you'd like to book a place on a Cambridge Law Faculty Open morning or afternoon on Wednesday 2 July, do send your booking form as soon as possible. The deadline for the faculty to receive your form is Wednesday 25 June (you need to post or email the information).
The 2014 Cambridge Open Days Programme is published!
The large Cambridge Open Days are on Thurs 3 and Fri 4 July. This event is for students who are considering an application in September/October 2014.
Do explore the 2014 Cambridge Open Days programme for details of course presentations and sample lectures in your subject, College opening times and locations. If you are interested in visiting a particular College, their website will normally have more detail. At King's, we're open from 9 until 5.30pm as part of the Cambridge Open Days, and we invite you to join tours of the College, subject meetings (students only for those) and chat with current students and admissions staff. See the details for Thurs 3 July and for Fri 4 July.
Booking is required. Although there are no general places left for the Cambridge Open Days, there are still plenty of places available for students who book to attend a College Open Day (you will also be able to attend Cambridge Open Day events in the afternoon) or a North East Welcome Event (please email us for details if you're from the North East). Please see the information about how to attend the Cambridge Open Days now that registration has closed.
We hope to see you there! If you can't attend, don't worry though, as the information that you need to make a successful application is also available online, and you are welcome to email us with any questions.
Gender in Japanese Studies - Free book for your school library?
A book of undergraduate dissertations was published last year, exploring emerging and divergent gender issues in Japan. It is called Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy: Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge, and it offers some fascinating insights into modern Japanese culture and society, as well as a great way to get a flavour of the kinds of material that you could study if you choose Japanese in the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course (even if you've never studied Japanese before!). To find out more about the book, read the news article.
In order to introduce Japanese Studies, the department is offering a free copy to 50 school libraries. Why not ask your school librarian to click here for further information and the request form!
Free Taster Day in Latin and Classics - Saturday 21 June
If you're considering an application for Classics at Cambridge and you've never studied Latin at school or college, we invite you to book a place on a free taster day in Cambridge on Saturday 21 June. Fifty travel bursaries of up to £50.00 are available on a first come, first served basis.
Please see the Classics Faculty website and further information for details of the event and how to book your place.
Fantasy GCSE Set Texts
What set texts did you read for your GCSE English Literature?
In the Guardian this weekend, authors chose the set texts they would like GCSE students to read. Cambridge Classicist Mary Beard took the opportunity to 'bring in the classical world by the back door, via some great works of English literature.' She set William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (1599); Robert Graves, I Claudius (1934); Chrisopher Logue, War Music (1959 - 2011); and Carol Ann Duffy, The World's Wife (1999).
- Which texts would you set GCSE students?
- In making your choice, what is the most important consideration? Introducing students to classic works, or engaging their interests? Representing a range of literary genres and periods, or promoting particular approaches and topics? Capturing the national heritage, or celebrating cultural diversity?
Subject Conferences at the University of York
Booking is open for Year 12 subject conferences at the University of York, offering an insight into degree-level study in specific subjects.
- 27 June - Philosophy Conference
- 11 July - Chemistry Conference
See the York University website for details and booking.