Sciences

Plenty of places still available for King's open afternoon next Tuesday

open day group

We still have plenty of places available for the King's open afternoon next Tuesday (20 September). This event is for students who will be applying to Cambridge this October.  Please see our open days page for further details and to book a place. This is an opportunity for you to get to know the college a little better. There will be a talk, subject sessions, the chance to chat to current King's students and a tour of the college.

Posted: 14 September 2016

Specimen papers for pre-interview admissions assessments

Note saying 'Register before you apply'

Your school will normally register you.

If you're applying to Cambridge this year then you may have a pre-interview admissions assessment at your school or test centre on 2 November - it depends what course you are applying for.

Information is available on the admissions assessment page, and specimen papers are available if you would like to practice.

Important: Don't forget to make sure that you're registered in time! The registration deadline is 1 October (at 17:00 UK time) if you're applying for Medicine or 15 October (at 18:00 UK time) if you're applying for another subject that requires a pre-interview assessment.

Posted: 14 September 2016

Pairing socks

Here is a problem from i-want-to-study-engineering.org, the website written by Cambridge University Engineering department that helps you to apply for Engineering courses at top universities.

Jane has 5 pairs of socks. The first pair of socks are both red. The second pair of socks are both blue. The third pair of socks are both green. The fourth pair of socks are both yellow. The fifth pair of socks are both white. One sock from each pair is placed in a bag on the left, and the rest are put in a bag on the right.

In each turn, Jane draws one sock at random from each bag and folds them together to form a pair. After five turns, she has formed 5 pairs of socks. Find the probability that no pair consists of socks of the same colour.

See the hints and choose your answer!

Posted: 10 September 2016

Year 11 Lesser Spotted Sciences Day

Oxford University is inviting Year 11 (final year of GCSE) students to a "Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day". The day draws together science subjects from Oxford's Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division and beyond, that aren't commonly taught in schools. It's a great opportunity to explore the range of science that you can study at university.

Forr full information and booking please see Oxford University website

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Posted: 5 September 2016

Isaac Physics

isaac physics

Isaac Physics provides resources to offer support and activities in physics problem-solving to students (and teachers) working from GCSE (Year 11), through sixth form (Years 12 & 13), and to university.
 

They also run free UK events for AS and A2 Physics and Maths education. Here is a list of currently scheduled forthcoming events - do click on the links below for details and booking.

Posted: 30 August 2016

Science and the Olympics

simone biles

Simone Biles competing in gymnastics. Credit: Agência Brasil Fotografias

As the Olympic Games in Rio continue, there are a whole host of articles coming up in the news and in journals discussing the events - and in particular, the science behind the games.

Here are just a few we've found:

Posted: 12 August 2016

Engineering Open Day Talks

engineering open day

A previous Engineering Open Day. Credit: Engineering at Cambridge

Thinking about Engineering, but didn't manage to make it to an Open Day? The Department of Engineering have uploaded videos of their open day talks online, as well as handouts of the slideshows.

You can find out about upcoming Engineering Open Days here or find out more about Engineering at King's on our subject page.

Posted: 18 July 2016

STEP Mathematics resources

Graph

Credit: Electric-Eye

Cambridge University has a free online STEP Mathematics course designed for students preparing to take STEP papers in the summer of 2017 (STEP exams are required if you are applying for Mathematics or Computer Science with Mathematics at King's).

The course has online modules for individual study, which are open to everyone.

The programme starts with three introductory modules for students to try in the summer holidays between Year 12 and 13, followed by 30 more modules released weekly from September.

More about STEP.

Posted: 1 July 2016

Selwyn College Summer School 2016

selwyn college

School students attending a science talk in Selwyn College

Selwyn College will be running a Summer School for year 12 students (or equivalent) for both the Arts/Humanities and Sciences from 8 – 12 August 2016.

Students stay in undergraduate accommodation for 4 nights and experience undergraduate life by attending lectures and practicals led by university academics, and also through social activities put on by the college. In previous years, the summer school has been solely for those interested in the sciences, however this year it will be expanding to cover both the arts and sciences. The event allows students to discover more about what it is like to study at University, particularly the University of Cambridge, and their course of interest, whilst experiencing student life. The Summer School is free of charge, including meals and accommodation. Travel grants are also available on a means tested basis.

The deadline for applications is 29 June 2016. Please see the full information for eligibility criteria.

Posted: 21 June 2016

University of York Subject Conferences

heslington hall university of yorkHeslington Hall, University of York

Credit: John Robinson

The University of York have several Subject Conferences scheduled for June and July this year. These events give Year 12 and mature students the chance to explore a particular subject in depth and have a taste of what university level study is like. The days include lectures, some practical workshops, a campus tour and the opportunity to talk to staff and current students.

13 June 2016 -  Philosophy - includes a keynote talk from leading academic Owen Hulatt, lectures from research academics in the Department of Philosophy, seminar sessions and an optional campus tour. Deadline for applications: Monday 6 June 2016

22 June 2016 - Psychology - an exciting look at the mind, brain, and behaviour. It includes taster lectures on current research, hands-on practicals and demonstrations, as well as the chance to speak with current students about their experience as undergraduates. Booking required, limited places.

6 July 2016 - Chemistry - includes a keynote lecture by a member of academic research staff from the Department of Chemistry, a tour of spectroscopic techniques, molecular modelling workshop, lab activities, advice on applications, and an optional campus tour. Deadline for applications: 27 June 2016

Posted: 13 May 2016

The Charles Darwin Papers

primate skeleton in the museum of zoologyThe University's Museum of Zoology holds some specimens from Darwin's famous voyage on the Beagle

Credit: Andrew Griffin

The Charles Darwin Papers in Cambridge University Library hold nearly the entire existing collection of Darwin’s working scientific papers. Among these documents are Charles Darwin’s Evolution Manuscripts, his papers on the transmutation of species. Using these notebooks, annotations, and portfolios, Darwin wrote the nine of his fifteen books that set down, enlarged and defended the theory of evolution by natural selection. You can find the papers online at the Darwin Manuscripts Project.

The Darwin Correspondence Project also holds online resources for students, including a Darwin Timeline showing the key moments in Darwin's life and what was happening in Britain at the time, plus a series of audio clips and videos on Darwin's work. For example, the Face of Emotion series discusses Darwin’s work on expression in the context of current research in artificial intelligence, autism, and neuroscience. You can even try Darwin's Emotion Experiment for yourself here.

Posted: 12 May 2016

Inside Dyson's new engineering centre at Cambridge University

The Dyson Centre for Engineering Design opens today at Cambridge University, a new building that has been constructed with a £8m grant from the Dyson Foundation. The Centre will provide the space for 1,200 engineers to build prototypes, test, and collaborate on projects. The Centre provides:

  • Modern rapid prototyping hardware such as 3D printers, and materials for rapid 3D printing and 2D cutting
  • A range of hands‐on and interactive aids demonstrating new engineering concepts
  • Interactive apparatus to familiarise and offer experiences of engineering concepts giving students knowledge and confidence to invent and innovate their own designs and creations
  • Machine tools including lathes and milling machines
  • More equipment to come

The undergraduate space is already a hive of activity, with students creating models on the new 3D printers, using the new laser cutters, and even making their own parts in the machine tooling area. You can read more about the Centre in this article or find out about studying Engineering at King's.

Posted: 9 May 2016

Subject tasters at Cambridge including an overnight stay

Trinity College

The Wren Library at Trinity College

Are you in Year 12? Do you want to attend subject taster events but struggle because you live some way from Cambridge? Some Cambridge Colleges offer taster events including an overnight stay, which will be very helpful if you want to find out more about what studying your chosen course will be like. There is no obligation to apply to the College organising the event (though you are welcome to if you want to).

All of the following residentials are free of charge, including accommodation and all meals. Do read the full information and check for eligibility criteria before making an application:

At Corpus Christi College:

At Trinity College:

Booking for all events below closes on 23 May. It's an extended deadline - please ignore the part on the page where it says that booking has closed. You'll see the extended deadline on the application form.

Posted: 5 May 2016

Physics events

Isaac logo

The Isaac Physics website has lots of resources, and is advertising a number of student workshops and events:

You will need to click on the links above for full details.

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Posted: 4 May 2016

What is it like to be a King's mathematician?

Corridor party

A corridor party in the Keynes accommodation

We hope that you are enjoying the new accounts in the King's Student Perspectives series. We now have a new one for Maths as well - Ellen has very kindly shared her experiences as a second year Maths student at King's.

Ellen's account includes (amongst other things):

If you are interested in applying for maths and you want to find out more about STEP papers after reading this account, do have a look at our Maths page, and in particular the resources section, which has some useful links for STEP Exams.

Posted: 29 April 2016

What is it really like to study Engineering?

Fraser

Many thanks, Fraser!

We're pleased to introduce the latest King's Student Perspectives piece, which is written by Fraser, a first year studying Engineering:

King's Student Perspectives: Engineering

Fraser's account gives a detailed insight into his experiences on the Engineering course, as well as College life in general and his thoughts about the application process. It includes topics such as:
 

For more student perspectives written by students studying a range of subjects, see the King's Student Perspectives page.

Posted: 25 April 2016

Saturday 30 April - Still plenty of places available on our Maths Event!

Pure mathematics lecture at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Image credit: Ed Brambley

Are you thinking of studying Mathematics at Cambridge? Join us for the King's Mathematics Open Morning, followed by the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon on Saturday 30 April.

Prospective mathematicians arrive at 10.00 / 10.15 am and spend the morning at King's. You will have a talk and Q&A with an academic in Mathematics, a chance to meet current King's undergraduates studying Maths, and a tour of the College, as well as brunch in the College Hall.

In the afternoon we take you over to the New Museums Site where you can attend the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon (a series of taster lectures and information about STEP).  The afternoon programme and further information is available on the Mathematics Faculty website. The event ends at 16.40.

Please sign up for the day's events using the online booking form.

Posted: 20 April 2016

Advice from the Computer Science Faculty

William Gates Building

The William Gates Faculty Building on the West Cambridge Site.

Are you interested in Computer Science? Here is the Faculty advice (from the FAQ's) about developing your interests for this subject:

At the admissions stage we look for two major things: academic ability and passion for the subject. Whilst the course itself does not have any pre-requisites other than mathematics, it is difficult to discern a passion for the subject if a candidate has never tried any form of Computer Science. Therefore, from an admissions perspective, it would be wise to do something that shows your independent interest in the area. Examples of this include reading around the subject, learning a programming language, contributing to open-source projects, releasing a phone app, or building hardware (robots etc). Any one of these, when done well, would be sufficient to demonstrate your passion.

If you choose to learn a new language, it may be a good idea to learn one that is not explicitly taught in the Tripos. Doing so obviously helps to avoid repetition, but also gives you a wider perspective on languages that can be useful later in the degree and in employment. A popular choice is python, for which there are many tutorials available.

We recommend getting hold of a Raspberry Pi and following one of the many hardware and software tutorials for it on the web. An additional advantage of this route is that you will gain familiarity with the UNIX command line: a very valuable skill to have in the Tripos!

Find out more on the King's Computer Science page including what we are looking for in applicants.

Posted: 3 April 2016

11 April - Physics talk in Oxford

Are you interested in Physics? Do you live near Oxford?

  • Talk: Investigating the origins of magnetic fields using the largest laser on Earth
  • Speaker: Dr Jena Meinecke
  • Date: 11 Apr 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
  • Venue: Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
  • Audience: General public (Age 14+)
  • Further information and booking: Oxford University Physics Department website

Posted: 1 April 2016

Maths Open Morning at King's - Saturday 30 April

Pure mathematics lecture at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Image credit: Ed Brambley

Are you thinking of studying Mathematics at Cambridge? Join us for the King's Mathematics Open Morning, followed by the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon on Saturday 30 April.

Prospective mathematicians arrive at 10.00 / 10.15 am and spend the morning at King's. You will have a talk and Q&A with an academic in Mathematics, a chance to meet current King's undergraduates studying Maths, and a tour of the College, as well as brunch in the College Hall.

In the afternoon we take you over to the New Museums Site where you can attend the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon (a series of taster lectures and information about STEP).  The afternoon programme and further information is available on the Mathematics Faculty website. The event ends at 16.40.

Please sign up for the day's events using the online booking form.

Posted: 1 April 2016

Medicine Masterclass at St Catharine's College

st catharine's collegeInside St Catharine's College

St Catharine's College is holding a Masterclass on 28 June 2016 for students interested in studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge. The day will give students the chance to hear talks from the Medicine Fellows of the college, current pre-clinical and clinical students of the college and also experience a sample lecture. In addition, students will receive a tour of St Catharine's and the nearby lecture sites, and a lunch in the college hall.

The day is open to high achieving students in the lower 6th (year 12). Students should be studying at least three of the four core science subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Maths). To apply, please ask your teacher to submit a nomination form.Though it will be early in their studies, teachers should be confident that the students can meet the University's entry requirement of A*A*A in these subjects. Students should also have strong GCSE grades.

The deadine for nominations Friday 22nd April, students invited to attend the Masterclass will hear by the middle of May.

Posted: 19 March 2016

Year 12 Mathematical problem-solving day (female only)

Lecture

Are you:

  • female
  • at a non-selective state-maintained school, sixth-form college or academy in the UK
  • studying A level Maths (and Further Maths if offered by your school), IB Higher level Maths, or equivalent
  • considering applying to study Mathematics or a very closely-related subject at university?

Then do have a look at this mathematics problem-solving day on Monday 18 April

This full-day event is designed to be a stimulating introduction to advanced mathematical problem-solving, and will help students to develop their mathematical thinking and confidence in tackling challenging problems. The day will include morning and afternoon interactive problem-solving workshops, as well as talks giving an accessible insight into some of the areas of maths you may encounter at university.

NB. a limited number of travel grants available, particularly for schools/colleges which are a considerable distance from Cambridge.

Posted: 9 March 2016

Quadratics

I want to study Engineering homepage

Ary you interested in studing Engineering? As you know, you will need excellent maths and physics skills.

i-want-to-study-engineering.org is a website resource to help you to develop your abilities and compete for Engineering courses at top universities. It includes an A level problem index. Here is an example of a problem from the C1 section. See how you get on:

Sketch the curve y = 2x2x − 6, giving the coordinates of all points of intersection with the axes.

Hints, relevant hints and vidoeos (e.g. on how to factorise a quadratic) and a multiple choice answer are available.

Further information is available in the King's advice on maths and physics for Engineering.

Posted: 2 March 2016

The Maths of 29 February

Calendar showing 29 February

Credit: Gramicidin (cropped)

Monday is the 29 February. You can read about the maths of this date in the following article from Plus Magazine:

The Maths of February 29

If you live in London, you may also be interested in this free talk at the Museum of London:

Calendar Curiosities for 29 February

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Posted: 26 February 2016

A round up of forthcoming Year 12 events in Cambridge!

Linguistics talk

There are lots of events in Cambridge and new ones are being advertised regularly. Here is a quick round up of key dates. Click on each link to see info and to book a place:

If you would like to look around King's whilst you are in Cambridge for one of these events, remember that the public areas of College are always open to prospective students. If you introduce yourself at the porters' lodge, the porters will give you a copy on the self-guided tour for prospective students, which will show you what you are looking at, and please feel free to email us after your visit with any questions.

We welcome requests from students at state schools in the areas (except Cambridge) listed below to stay overnight the night before events if accommodation is not provided. If this is relevant to you, please read the full information about the Link Area Accommodation Scheme and how to book an overnight room at King's.

Posted: 25 February 2016

Newnham College Subject Taster Days

Inside Newnham CollegeNewnham is one of Cambridge's women's colleges, along with Murray Edwards and Lucy Cavendish (for women aged 21 and over).

Newnham College Subject Taster Days are opportunities for young women in Year 12 to visit the college for a day, to participate in a range of academic sessions introducing them to university study, and to hear all about the admissions process to the University of Cambridge. Students also have the opportunity to meet and talk to current undergraduates in their chosen subject. There is no payment for the day and lunch will be provided free of charge, however students should arrange their own transport to and from the event.

  •    Biological Sciences - 8 March
  •    English - 23 March
  •    STEM Subjects - 7 April
  •    Archaeology - 8 April
  •    Classics - 11 April
  •    History - 14 April

The deadline to submit an application form is noon on Wednesday 24 February.

Posted: 18 February 2016

Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein’s prediction

An international team of scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

The gravitational waves were detected on 14 September 2015 by both LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detectors in Louisiana and Washington State in the US. They originated from two black holes, each around 30 times the mass of the Sun and located more than 1.3 billion light years from Earth, coalescing to form a single, even more massive black hole.

You can read the full article here.

These findings will be discussed at next month's Cambridge Science Festival during the open afternoon at the Institute of Astronomy.

Posted: 12 February 2016

Cambridge Science Festival - Bookings Open

Bookings for this year's Cambridge Science Festival, which will run from Monday 7 March to Sunday 20 March, are now open. The programme includes both talks and activities, and the opportunity to visit some of the University's facilties. You can search events on the Festival website, or see below for events that may be of interest to prospective students in:

 

Posted: 11 February 2016

7 Things you need to know about prime numbers (filmed lecture)

Number 11

Credit: Maret Hosemann (cropped)

Prime numbers are fundamentally important in mathematics. In this Year 12 talk by Dr Vicky Neale (Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford), discover some of the beautiful properties of prime numbers, and learn about some of the unsolved problems that mathematicians are working on today.

For more maths talks and other online resources, see the Millenium Maths Project website.

Posted: 3 February 2016

Veterinary Medicine Open Day

The Department of Veterinary Medicine, perhaps surprisingly, has a long tradition of studying infectious diseases. Their work is wide-reaching, and combines leading experts in veterinary and biological sciences, public health and social sciences, ecology and wildlife health. - To find out more you can book a place on their open day (Bookings will open at 10.30am on Monday 8 February)

For more science events, do browse the Cambridge Science Festival programme. Booking opens at 10:30am on 8 February

Posted: 29 January 2016

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)

Posted: 29 January 2016

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.

Posted: 27 January 2016

Computer Science at Cambridge Science Festival

Do browse the festival programme now. Booking opens at 10:30am on 8 February

The programme has just been published for this year's Cambridge Science Festival, which will run from Monday 7 March to Sunday 20 March. Events which may be of interest to prospective Computer Science students include both talks and activities, and the opportunity to visit some of the University's facilties. Here are some examples:

Mon 7 - Happier and healthier - smartphones (15+, booking)
Tues 8 & Wed 9 - Historical letterpress printing (15+, booking)
Wed 9 - The intersection of society and technology (15+, booking)
Thurs 10 - Turing's imitation game (15+, booking)
Sat 12 - Be a Computer (12+, booking)
Sat 12 - Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine (12+, booking)
Sat 12 - Big data: the missing link (15+, booking)
Mon 14 - Data: how can cities become smarter? (15+, booking)
Mon 14 - Back to the future: computing history (12+, booking)

Bookings for the Cambridge Science Festival open on 8 February at 10:30am. Please see the Cambridge Science Festival website.

Posted: 25 January 2016

Physics at Cambridge Science Festival

Posted: 22 January 2016

Chemistry at Cambridge Science Festival

Test tubes

Do browse the festival programme now. Booking opens at 10:30am on 8 February

The programme has just been published for this year's Cambridge Science Festival, which will run from Monday 7 March to Sunday 20 March. Events which may be of interest to prospective Chemistry students include both talks and activities, and the opportunity to visit some of the University's facilties. Here are some examples:

Mon 6 - Choral Evensong (all ages, booking)
Tue 8 - FameLab Cambridge final (15+, booking)
Tue 8 - Solar energy: past, present and future (15+, booking)
Tue 8 - SciBar Cambridge (15+, booking)
Wed 9 - Look what chemistry has done for me (15+, booking)
Thurs 10 - Climate science (15+, booking)
Thurs 10 - A sustainable future: finding your way (15+, booking)
Thurs 10 - How proteins fold, my research career. (15+, booking)
Sat 12 - Structural data and molecular design (all ages, booking)
Thurs 17 - Plants to drugs (12+, booking)

Bookings for the Cambridge Science Festival open on 8 February at 10:30am. Please see the Cambridge Science Festival website.

Posted: 22 January 2016

Biology and Medicine at the Cambridge Science Festival

Science Festival pin badges

Do browse the festival programme now. Booking opens at 10:30am on 8 February

The programme has just been published for this year's Cambridge Science Festival, which will run from Monday 7 March to Sunday 20 March. Events which may be of interest to prospective students for Biology and Medicine include both talks and activities, and the opportunity to visit some of the University's facilties. Here are some examples:

Mon 7, Tue 8, Mon 14, Wed 16 -  Parasite (15+, booking)
Mon 7 - What Darwin did next (12+, booking)
Mon 7 - Artificial intelligence vs. the human brain (15+, booking)
Tues 8 - Organ transplantation: dilemmas (15+, booking)
Wed 9 - Pregnancy as a compromise (15+, booking)
Thus 10 - What population genetics can teach us (15+, booking)
Fri 11 - The brain: how we really make decisions (15+, booking)
Sat 12 - Structural data and molecular design (all ages, drop in)
Sat 12 - What can a tiny nervous system do? (15+, booking)
Sat 12 - Your primate relatives (8+, booking)
Sat 12 & Sun 13 - Biology challenges (all ages, drop in)
Sat 12 & Sun 13 - Cells in the know (all ages, drop in)
Sun 20 - Computing in molecular and cell biology (12+ booking)
Sun 20 - A real operating room (8+, booking)
Sun 20 - Using the immune system to fight cancer (12+, booking)
Sun 20 - Making new medicines for old diseases (12+, booking)
Sun 20 - Surgical simulation techniques (12+, booking)
Sun 20 - Brain injury and new technology (15+, booking)
Sun 20 - Pregnancy, diabetes and research (15+, booking)

Bookings for the Cambridge Science Festival open on 8 February at 10:30am. Please see the Cambridge Science Festival website.

Posted: 21 January 2016

Durham: Find out about research in Antarctica

Durham

Keep an eye out for interesting local exhibitions and events!

There are a number of exhibitions and events at Palace Green Library, Durham University on the Polar Regions, focusing particularly on the discovery, exploration and ongoing work taking place in Antarctica.

You will find full details of the following events on the Palace Green Library website.

  • Exhibition: Antarctica: Exporers, Heroes, Scientists
  • Exhibition: With Scott to the Pole
  • Exhibition: Antarctic Witness
  • Exhibition: Antarctic Science Today
Antarctic peninsula

The Northern Antarctic Peninsula. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

As well as visiting the exhibitions, do take the opportunity to talk to scientists from Durham University's Department of Geography about research in Antarctica  and ask any questions that you have about what current research is happening and why this is important for our understanding of climate change - they will be available every Saturday at the 'Ask a Scientist' events (next event: Saturday 23 January 12 noon until 3pm).

There is also a talk on Antarctic Exploration on Wednesday 27 January 2016, using the Royal Geographical Society archives. NB. If you would like to find out about using archives in academic research, you may find the King's Introduction to Archives useful to look at in advance of this talk.

Posted: 21 January 2016

Year 12 Summer Schools

Bodley's Court lawn

Applications are open for the Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools in Cambridge! These are very popular subject-specific residentials in July and August for eligible 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.

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 curious to find out about studying at Cambridge and don't have much information about this already. Equally, please be aware that we receive far more applications than we have places available. It is important to read:

For full information and booking, please go to the Cambridge Admissions website. The application deadline is 11 March 2016. Good luck!

In more general terms, you may also find the King's page about applying with limited support or advice helpful.

Posted: 18 January 2016

Oxford and Cambridge Year 12 Student Conferences around the UK

Students in a College

Student conferences are a good opportunity to find out more from subject specialists, students and admissions staff

Bookings are open for the 2016 Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, which will take place in Swansea, Birmingham, Merseyside, Newcastle, Lisburn, Edinburgh and Surrey during March.

The conference covers courses available at Oxford and Cambridge (sessions led by subject specialists), Applying to Oxford and Cambridge (including student life) talks, and plenty of opportunities to chat with current students and admissions staff 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 (see the links to the different events on the right-hand side of the webpage linked above).

tracking our migratory birds to Africa and back

Posted: 5 January 2016

Subject Masterclasses

students outside the faculty of classics Students outside the Faculty of Classics

Subject Masterclasses provide academically-able Year 12 students with the opportunity to explore subjects they are interested in studying at university and may not have previously experienced. Each event includes two lectures, an introduction to the admissions process, and the chance to hear about student life from current undergraduates.

A range of subjects are offered each year, currently bookings are open for February 2016 Masterclasses in:

 

  • Archaeology: Saturday 06 February 2016
  • Genetics and Biochemistry : Saturday 06 February 2016
  • Physics: Saturday 06 February 2016
  • Theology and Philosophy: Saturday 06 February 2016
  • Architecture: Saturday 27 February 2016
  • Classics: Saturday 27 February 2016
  • English: Saturday 27 February 2016

Please be aware there are only a limited number of spaces available so we advise students to book their places quickly. Masterclasses are continually added throughout the year so please register your interest for future events on the Masterclass website.

Posted: 3 January 2016

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.

Posted: 18 November 2015

Physics lectures

Planets

Image credit: Sweetie187

Forthcoming lectures for sixth form (Year 12 and 13) at the Cambridge Physics Centre:
 

  • Thursday 3rd December 2015:
    Fruitful flavour at the Large Hadron Collider (Prof Valerie Gibson)
     
  • Thursday 14th January 2016:
    Engineering Information (Dr Jossy Sayir)
     
  • Thursday 4th February  2016:
    The history, nuclear physics and radiobiology of polonium-210 (Prof Paddy Regan)
     
  • Tuesday 15th March  2016:
    Dark Matter (Dr Carolin Crawford)

Please see the full information, including how to get to the lectures.

Posted: 15 November 2015

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.

Posted: 26 October 2015

York - Exploring Light

Light bulbs

Credit: Faith Goble

How is light used in scientific research today?

On Saturday 31 October,  the University of York, The Institute of Physics, York Hackspace, Illuminating York and York Explore  are presenting a day of hands-on, fun activities and talks from artists and physicists focusing on light.

Posted: 20 October 2015

MedLife - Medicine at Cambridge

On 12 December 2015, Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine will be holding an event called ‘MedLife’ for lower sixth (Year 12) students interested in applying for Medicine at Cambridge.

The day will provide participants with a taster of life as a medical student, through lectures and practical sessions and will also give them the opportunity to ask students and course organisers any questions they have. The event will be concluded by an admissions talk.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 11 November, 5pm. For any questions please email the Cambridge Clinical School.

Posted: 6 October 2015

Subject Masterclasses - Year 12 Students

Inside a college library

Subject Masterclasses provide academically-able Year 12 students with the opportunity to explore subjects they are interested in studying at university and may not have previously experienced. Each event includes two lectures, an introduction to the admissions process, and the chance to hear about student life from current undergraduates.

Booking is now open for November 2015 Masterclasses in:

  • Engineering - 14 November 2015
  • Physics - 14 November 2015
  • History - 14 November 2015
  • Medicine - 21 November 2015
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Studies - 21 November 2015
  • Genetics and Biochemistry - 21 November 2015

Please be aware there are only a limited number of spaces available so students are advised to book their places quickly.

Masterclasses are continually added throughout the year and you can register you interest for future events here.

Posted: 30 September 2015

The Science of Life 2016

image of brain Credit: Allan Ajifo

The Science of Life is a competition inviting 16-19 year olds to design and complete their own physiology research project, with the help of an academic mentor, and present their findings to scientists at The Physiological Society. With the Olympics in 2016, they're particularly interested in projects on improving sports performance, although projects on any physiological topic are welcome.

Prizes
• Gold prize will be a Train Like a Champion Day at an English Institute of Sport centre, during which the winners will find out what makes a champion athlete and meet the people who support athletes, including physiologists, doctors and psychologists.
• Silver and Bronze prizes include a free visit to the Royal Veterinary College and £200 Amazon gift vouchers for the students.
• The winning schools will also receive some great prizes.

Students intending to take part in the competition must first register their project by 16 November 2015.

Posted: 30 September 2015

Space Biology

Space

What has research in space done for life on Earth? Credit: Sweetie187

If you are interested in Biology and Medicine, take a moment to think about Space Biology. It may well be something that you've not thought about before, but do you think that Space can and should be studied from a biological persepctive? How and why? What sorts of things might you study if you were looking at Space in this way?

Big Picture is a free Wellcome Trust magazine for sixth form students interested in Biology and Medicine - do have a look at this issue on Space Biology:

For more issues and resources, or to subscribe to Big Picture, see www.bigpictureeducation.com

Posted: 17 September 2015

Good books for computer scientists

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

If you are interested in studying Computer Science at university, it is good to build up a broad background understanding of issues in computer science. There's nothing specific that you have to read (a range of useful books are available so do browse your local library), but if you're looking for a suggestion, this is an excellent collection of accessible and relevant articles:

  • A Kee Dewdney, The (new) Turing Omnibus (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

You can have a quick look inside the book on the Amazon website if that helps, and some useful exercises are included at the end of chapters. Do try them!

As soon as you start reading about the Cambridge Computer Science course, you will notice that mathematics is a required subject to be studying at school (and Further Maths is recommended if you have the opportunity to take it). Fluency in maths is essential for computer scientists, not only for formal proofs, but also because maths is the language used to describe almost every aspect of the subject. A second good book is therefore:

Posted: 11 September 2015

NRICH Mathematics

Aloe

Credit: Kai Schreiber

Whether you are starting A Levels, Highers, the International Baccalaureate, Pre-U or another higher maths qualification, it might take a while to find your feet. NRICH Mathematics can help! Do look at the finding your feet resources and also explore the website to get a sense of what is there.

Posted: 10 September 2015

King's students write about a typical day

Student with an inflatable boat

Do you want to know what it's like to be a student at King's? King's College Student Union (KCSU) is keen to help you out - they are collecting short accounts written by current students of what it is like to study here. Do look at A Day In The Life Of.... and click on the subject you're most interested in, or start with Scott's general description of life as a fresher.

Did you find this useful? Then do also look a our King's Student Perspectives section for more student writing.

Posted: 25 August 2015

What next? A Year in Industry, perhaps?

Portrait of Rosie the Riveter, WW2 US female munitions worker, in codeWe can code it! Rosie the Riveter, in code. Image credit: Charis Tsevis

The Year in Industry (YINI) team helps post-A Level / Higher / Advanced Higher and undergraduate students to find work placements in the UK in all areas of engineering, science, IT, e-commerce, business, marketing, finance, logistics and more.

Posted: 19 August 2015

Inside the Ethics Committee

Rod of Asclepius, symbol of Medicine, emblazoned 'first do no harm'First do no harm? Daniel K. Sokol, a barrister and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law at King's College London, unpicks this aphorism in the BMJ. Image credit: Eden, Janine, and Jim

To study Medicine at Cambridge, you not only need to be a keen scientist, with a sound scientific understanding, but also have the potential to become a good doctor. The Clinical School believes that one of the key qualities of a Medical student is 'a sound appreciation of ethical, legal and community issues.'  BBC Radio 4's Inside the Ethics Committee gives you an insight into some of these issues.  In each programme, the presenter Joan Bakewell is joined by a panel of experts to wrestle with the ethics arising from a real-life medical case. In recent weeks, they've asked:

  • should a surgeon agree to a young woman's request to amputate her leg? (Thursday 16 July)
  • how far should a medical team go to prevent a young woman from ending her life? (Thursday 23 July)
  • is it ever ethical to withhold food and water in a child who is not dying? (Thursday 30 July)
  • should a medical team accept a teenager's choice to refuse chemo? (Thursday 6 August)

How would you wrestle with these dilemmas?

Posted: 6 August 2015

What maths and physics is needed for Engineering?

Protractors

We've tried to be as clear as possible about the material you need to be familiar with to make a strong application. Credit: Dean Hochman

To thrive on the Engineering or Chemical Engineering via Engineering course, it is essential to have a very strong foundation in Mathematics and Physics (both are required  school subjects).

We know that sometimes it can feel a bit difficult to know exactly what is needed and how to prepare as an applicant for a course that you start new at university. Depending on your school qualifications, you may also be concerned about differences in maths and physics syllabuses. We've provided some detailed advice at the link below - we hope that you will find it useful:

Posted: 21 July 2015

Do you live too far away to visit Cambridge?

The Vaults (King' s College Gym)

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:

Posted: 14 July 2015

Would you like to visit Cambridge during the summer?

King's

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.

Posted: 10 July 2015

Veterinary Medicine Open Day (Year 13)

Horse

Credit: Phil Roeder

Are you interested in studying Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge?

Sidney Sussex College is offering places on a very useful open day for Year 13 students on 5 September. A provisional programme is available, and please go to the Sidney Sussex College website to book a place if you want to.

The Veterinary Medicine course is available at all Colleges except Christ's, Corpus Christi, Homerton, Hughes Hall, King's, Peterhouse and Trinity. Information about Colleges.

Posted: 9 July 2015

Essay Competition

Robinson College

Robinson College

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:

  1. 'Science has made us Gods even before we are worthy of being men.'
  2. 'Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.'
  3. 'The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.'
  4. 'Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagingation.'
  5. '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.

Posted: 8 July 2015

What do Cambridge scientists read?

Middlemarch book cover

Credit: Chris Drumm

Do you enjoy literature and science? Are these interests compatible? Do you think that fictional works can be useful and interesting to scientists? Or is fiction too different to science?

As you think about these questions, here's a series of films in which Cambridge scientists talk about fictional texts that have inspired or helped them in various ways.

Novel Thoughts:

Article on the Novel Thoughts series.

Posted: 23 June 2015

Reading lists!

Books on a bookshelf

Doing some reading is a good way to develop your academic interests, but don't get overwhelmed! Credit: Les Chatfield

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.

Do:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.

Posted: 15 June 2015

Isaac Physics Partnership - resources and events

The Isaac Physics Partnership provides resources to offer support and activities in physics problem-solving to students (and teachers) working from GCSE (Year 11), through sixth form (Years 12 & 13), and to university.
 

The partnership also runs free UK events (funded by the Department for Education) for AS and A2 Physics and Maths education. Here is a list of forthcoming events - do click on the links below for details and booking.

Posted: 12 June 2015

Year 12 STEP Correspondence Course

A student solves a mathematics equation at the blackboardA student solves a mathematics equation at the Mfantsipim Boys School in Ghana. Image credit: World Bank Photo Collection

The University's STEP Correspondence Course is recruiting a new intake to start in September 2015.

You are eligible to apply if you are:

  • currently in year 12
  • attending a state-maintained school, college or academy in the UK
  • studying (this year or next year) Further Mathematics A-level, or something equivalent
  • intending to study Mathematics at a university that requires or recommends STEP

The deadline for applications is Friday 3 July 2015.

If selected, you will be expected to complete fortnightly assignments and will receive personalised feedback on each assignment.

Click here for more info and to sign up.

Posted: 11 June 2015

Mathematics for Biologists and Chemists

Test tubes in the laboratoryImage credit: Horia Varlan

Undergraduate Biologists and Chemists will find they need some mathematics in order to access and make the most of their science. Natural Scientists at Cambridge can choose between three first year Mathematics courses: Mathematics (usually taken by those specialising in Physical Sciences), Mathematical Biology (usually taken by those specialising in Biological Sciences), and Elementary Mathematics for Biologists (designed for Biological Scientists who did not take A Level Mathematics or equivalent).

Our Natural Scientists explain that 'knowledge of mathematics is essential for all scientists; it is the language with which we formulate theories and natural laws and express our ideas.' But what can you do to gain fluency in mathematics?  They advise you to 'practise thinking mathematically in non-routine contexts.'

Posted: 8 June 2015

Problem-solving: Moon orbit around the earth

Do you want to be really good at problem-solving? The key is to get plenty of practice.

Here is one of the problems from i-want-to-study-engineering.org, a practice website designed for students who plan to apply for Engineering at top universities:

Assuming that:

  • the average distance between the earth and the moon is 3.8 x 108 m,
  • on average, it takes the moon 29 days to go round the earth,
  • the approximate value of the universal gravitational constant
    G= 6.7 x 10-11m3kg-1s-2.

estimate the mass of the earth.

Is the answer:

  • approximately 5 x 1023kg?
  • approximately 6 x 1024kg?
  • approximately 7 x 1025kg?
  • approximately 42kg?
  • None of the above?

For hints, topic information and answers, see the problem page itself, or for more problems (there are more than 200 available), see the problem index.

Further information:

Posted: 26 May 2015

Biological Natural Sciences Subject Day: Thursday 16 July

Small cell carcinoma. Image credit: Yale Rosen

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and King's College are jointly hosting a Biological Natural Sciences Subject Day on Thursday 16 July. Come and meet the CIMR's researchers and students and see the inner workings of their specialist research facilities, including world-class super-resolution microscopy. Join us at King's for lunch and for admissions and research talks by our Directors of Studies in Biological Natural Sciences. This event is open to Year 12 (or Year 13) students at UK schools who are currently researching applications for Biological Natural Sciences at university. Please note that this is not a suitable event for students who wish to apply for and study Medicine at university. Please see the provisional programme and apply online by Friday 19 June.

Posted: 20 May 2015

York Festival of Ideas 2015

Posted: 18 May 2015

June Events in Cambridge (early booking recommended!)

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies stand at an open day

A College subject day will be useful even if you are unsure about College choice or have already chosen a different College.

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.

Posted: 12 May 2015

Summer Medicine Residential at King's: 23 - 24 June 2015

Skeleton, front court, King'sKing's skeleton

King's College Student Union invites prospective Medics at UK state schools and colleges to apply for our Summer Medicine Residential. If you're currently researching an application for Medicine at university, and would like to have a taste of what studying at Cambridge is like, this event could be for you! The participants will attend supervisions in Biochemistry, Physiology, and Anatomy, participate in admissions workshops, and visit the Gurdon Institute. The residential begins at 12 midday on Tuesday 23 June, ends at 3pm on Wednesday 24 June, and includes one night's accommodation and all meals free of charge. We ask students to arrange their travel to Cambridge and cover their own transport costs. Priority will be given to those students travelling from further afield.

Posted: 8 May 2015

Coding Summer School for Girls

Maths on a whiteboard
Are you female, aged 16-19, and interested in getting started with computer programming? If so, do apply for a place on the Cambridge Coding Academy Summer School for Girls, which will run from 10-14 August inclusive. The booking deadline is fast approaching so do apply today.

The summer school is supported by generous industry sponsorship, though do be aware that there remains a cost of £99. Subsidised accommodation is available in Queens' College and St John's College.

Please see the full information for details and to make an application.

Posted: 7 May 2015

Women, Count! (And other Mathematics Operations) - Year 10

St John's College

St John's College is one of the larger Colleges. What is a College?

St John's College is running a brand new event targeted at Year 10 girls who have the potential to get an A or A* in Mathematics GCSE.

Through a fascinating day of practical sessions, panel discussions and research talks from a wide range of Mathematical fields, this day will provide a real insight into the many realms in which Mathematics can be used, both at University and beyond.

Schools are invited to bring up to 5 students plus the required members of staff. Students can also make their own way to Cambridge.

The day will run from 9:45-16:00 and include a buffet lunch and tours of St John's College.

Full information and contact details are  available on the St John's College website.

Posted: 6 May 2015

STEP Online Resources

Six pointed star

Six-pointed star. Credit: Ken

A pilot correspondence course started in January 2015 for Year 12 students who plan to take STEP Mathematics papers in Year 13.  It is intended for students who would not otherwise receive much help with STEP.

The assignments (and their 'postmortems') are being published online as the course progresses. Each assignment starts with some warm-up exercises. Then there is some preparatory work leading to a STEP question. Finally, there is an unrelated warm-down exercise.

If you will apply for Mathematics or Computer Science with Maths (STEP is only set for the 'with Maths' option), do have a look at the STEP Correspondence Resources website.

Further STEP resources including information about the popular NRICH STEP preparation course online are available in this previous post.

Posted: 23 April 2015

University of Hull's OpenCampus Programme

Joseph Hillier, Moving Matters (2007), displayed outside the Logistics Institute, Hull University Business School. Image credit: Gnomonic.

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.

Posted: 21 April 2015

Explore the History of Science

At Cambridge, you can study the History and Philosophy of Science as an optional paper in the second year of Natural Sciences, Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, or Human, Social and Political Sciences if you choose to. If you choose this option, you will benefit from the world-class collection of scientific instruments and models at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, one of the university's teaching collections.

Use the Whipple Explore website to delve into the collection:

If you have chance to visit Cambridge (perhaps in the summer?) and would like to see some of these items and much more in person, remember that admission to the Whipple Museum is free of charge. See the opening times and location (it's just a couple of minutes from King's!).

Posted: 17 April 2015

Café Scientifique: science for the price of a coffee

A Cafe Scientifique meeting in Reading, debating 'food out of season: good or evil?' Image credit: Karen Blakeman

Café Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafés, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

Since 1998, cafés have covered almost every conceivable scientific topic: AIDS, the Big Bang, biodiversity, cancer, code-breaking, consciousness, Darwinism, ecology, evolution, extreme life, foetal experience, genetically modified organisms, global warming, infertility, nanotechnology, the Public Understanding of Science movement, sports science, superconductors and more.

Cafés Scientifique are also held in North America, South America, elsewhere in Europe, and Asia, Africa, and Australasia. From Bangkok, Thailand to Santa Fe, Argentina, you can find a forum to share your love of science and technology!

Posted: 15 April 2015

Mathematics Open Morning at King's: Saturday 25 April

Pure mathematics lecture at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Image credit: Ed Brambley

Are you thinking of studying Mathematics at Cambridge? Join us for the King's Mathematics Open Morning, followed by the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon on Saturday 25 April.

Prospective mathematicians arrive at 10.00 / 10.15 am and spend the morning at King's. You will have a talk and Q&A with an academic in Mathematics, a chance to meet current King's undergraduates studying Maths, and a tour of the College, as well as brunch in the College Hall.

In the afternoon we take you over to the Sidgwick Site where you can attend the Mathematics Faculty Open Afternoon (a series of taster lectures and information about STEP).  The afternoon programme and further information is available on the Mathematics Faculty website. The event ends at 16.40.

Please sign up for the day's events using the online booking form.

Posted: 13 April 2015

Cambridge Chemistry Challenge Online

Elements Top Trumps

Elements card game (designed for 7-14 yr olds). Credit: Duncan Hull

Are you a Year 12 (or equivalent) student interested in stretching your Chemistry skills? Then have a look at the monthly challenges in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge!

In addition, if you live in the UK and want to take the annual challenge paper (a 90 minute written paper which you take at your school or college  in June), there is information about this on the UK lower 6th (Year 12)  competition page.

Posted: 9 March 2015

Year 12 Subject Days at St. John's College, Cambridge

Bridge of Sighs, St. John's College, CambridgeBridge of Sighs (1831), St. John's College, Cambridge. Image credit: JH Images.co.uk

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.

Posted: 27 February 2015

British Science Week: 13 - 22 March

Plant Sciences exhbit at the Cambridge Science Festival 2014Plant Sciences exhibit at the Cambridge Science Fesitval 2014. Image credit: CambPlants

British Science Week is a ten-day programme of science, technology, engineering and maths events across the UK for people of all ages. You can find an event near you on the British Science Association website.

Take a look at the programme of events planned at your local university:

Posted: 25 February 2015

St. Catharine's Medicine Open Day

Catherine wheel, St. Catharine's College, CambridgeSt. Catharine's College, Cambridge. Image credit: John Jones

St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, is holding an open day on 30 June 2015 for high-achieving Year 12s interested in studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge. The day will give you a chance to hear talks from St. Catharine's Medicine Fellows, current pre-clinical and clinical students, and also experience a sample lecture. You will have time to look around St. Catharine's and the nearby lecture sites and have lunch in the college hall.

If you'd like to attend, please ask your teacher to nominate you (and up to three of your fellow students) using this form.

Posted: 24 February 2015

What is infinity?

Infinity sign

Credit: m.a.r.c. (cropped)

Have you ever wondered about infinity? What it is? If it really exists? If it's countable?

If so, you might be interested to read this article on infinity by Marianne Freiberger from Plus Magazine, and if you enjoy that, there's more material on the subject in this infinity package.

Posted: 19 February 2015

Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference in Newcastle

Students in a College

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

Posted: 15 February 2015

Antarctic glaciers

Antarctic peninsula

The Northern Antarctic Peninsula. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

AntarcticGlaciers.org is a very useful and interesting website on the the science of Antarctic glaciology written by Dr Bethan Davies from Royal Holloway, University of London. Here is the introduction:

Antarctic glaciers are beautiful and awe-inspiring. They affect us through their connections with the ocean and sea level, and environmental change is having rapid consequences in Antarctica. Antarctica is the world’s largest ice sheet, covering ~14,000,000 km2. Much of the ice sheet surface lies above 3000 m above sea level. This massive thickness of ice drowns whole mountain ranges, and numerous volcanoes exist underneath the icey exterior. It’s the world’s fifth largest continent, and it is, on average, the highest and coldest continent. Antarctica also provides a unique record of the Earth’s past climate, through the geomorphological record of glacier moraines, through ice cores, through deep sea sediment cores, and through past records of sea level rise.

If you would like to find out more about this fascinating topic, do explore the AntarcticGlaciers.org website, which includes information about different types of glacier, ice shelves, and ice streams as well as the section on glaciers and climate. There is a lot of material that you'll enjoy browsing, and if you are taking A level Geography, this section helps you to find the relevant material for different parts of your course. You can also ask questions here.

Posted: 12 February 2015

More Year 12 Saturday Masterclasses open for booking!

Lab work

What is studying your subejct at university level really like? Credit: Laurence Livermore

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
  • Education
  • Law
  • Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic
  • Engineering
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Genetics and Biochemistry
  • Physics

For details and booking, please see the Cambridge admissions website.

Posted: 11 February 2015

GeomLab resource for Computer Science

Credit: Hillary

If you are interested in studying Computer Science at university, do have a look at the University of Oxford's GeomLab resource.

Through guided activities, GeomLab will introduce you to some of the most important ideas in computer programming.

Posted: 11 February 2015

Year 10 Women in STEM Event: Friday 27 February

Lab coatsLab coats. Image credit: Upupa4me

King’s College Student Union invites Year 10 girls at UK state schools to attend a Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics workshop on Friday 27 February in Cambridge.

The programme has been put together by our female mathematicians, scientists, and engineers to inspire young women to continue their study of STEM subjects at A Level and beyond.

Our current students will lead small groups in hands-on sessions in Maths, Natural Sciences, and Engineering.  There will also be a panel of current students who will lead a Q&A on studying sciences and living at university.

The workshop will begin at 10am and finish by 3pm.  We ask schools to cover transport costs, but once your group arrives at King’s all parts of the visit (including a sandwich lunch) will be free of charge.

Teachers who would like to book places (up to a maximum of 30) for their Year 10 girls are asked to email Eleanor (Schools Liaison Officer) for more information.

Posted: 10 February 2015

The Triple Helix Science in Society Review

Lego helix

Credit: Michael Knowles

The Triple Helix is one of the science societies in Cambridge. Each term, it publishes the Science in Society Review, with articles spanning a range of scientific disciplines but with a common focus on the interactions between science and society.

You may be interested to look at some of the previous issues:

If you are considering an application to study science at Cambridge, you may find Science in Society Review 6 from Lent term 2009 particularly useful: This was a special issue about Cambridge's rich history of science and discovery, produced for the University's 800th anniversary.

Would you like to get a short article published in the next issue of Science in Society Review? The society is running a science writing competition for sixth form students in the UK and will publish the winning entries. If you would like to take part, please read the competition details and submission form. The deadline for submissions is 21 February 2015.

Posted: 5 February 2015

King's Year 12 Link Area Accommodation Scheme

King's College

Credit: Shane Global (cropped)

If you go to a state school in one of the King's link areas (much of North East England and the West Berkshire area), do read about our Year 12 Link Area Accommodation Scheme. We may be able to help you to attend events in Cambridge such as a Saturday subject masterclass, a department open day, a science festival event, or any college open day by offering you free B&B accommodation in King's College the night before.

Posted: 5 February 2015

The Cambridge Science Festival programme is published

Hands-on activity

Science Saturday - a hands-on Engineering activity assisted by Cambridge undergraduates

Bookings open on Monday 9 February at 10.30am for the large 2015 Cambridge Science Festival running from 9 - 22 March 2015

There is a Cambridge Science Festival app, which you can search for on iTunes or Google Play.

Examples of talks:

  • Mon 9 March (17:30 - 18:30) - There's no business like flow business (age 15+)
    Inreasingly cells are providing us with answers. Scientists at the Babraham Institute carry out vital research on cells and cellular processes to learn how the body works and how it changes as we age. In this lecture, Rachel Walker and Becky Newman explain flow cytometry and how how it takes us a step further in understanding cells and cell populations.
    (Booking required)
  • Tues 10 March (17:00 - 18:00) - Colour, new dimensions, and the geometry of physics (age 15+)
    Professor Frank Wilczek from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the leading theoretical physicists of our time. Known for his discovery of asymptotic freedom, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 2004, his research ranges across particle physics, astrophysics and condensed matter physics.
    (booking required)
  • Thurs 12 March (18:00 - 19:00) - Melioidosis:biothreat infection and paddy-field disease (age 15+)
    Professor Sharon Peacock is a clinical microbiologist in the Department of Medicine, and works closely with Public Health England and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Intitute. In this talk, Professor Peacock shows how sequencing techniques can be applied to to study of Melioidosis, an infectious disease of tropical climates.
    (booking required)
  • Fri 13  March (18:00 - 19:00) - Searching for intelligence in the legs: robots that walk, run and dance (age 15+)
    Although there is enormous success in the use of robotic arms for the automation industry, robotic legs are very challenging to be engineered and used in our daily lives. Dr Fumiya Lida discusses why legs are so special, and whether we will see robots running around in the near future.
    (booking required)

Posted: 31 January 2015

Year 11 and Year 12 Subject Taster events at Newcastle University

Newcastle University

Newcastle University. Credit: Chris Thomson

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.

Posted: 31 January 2015

Teesside University Psychology Sixth Form Conference

Neurological studiesImage credit: Tim Sheerman-Chase
 

Teesside University is holding a Psychology Sixth Form Conference next Wednesday (4 February). Teesside staff and students will introduce you to diverse and topical aspects of psychology, including forensic psychology, counselling, educational psychology, and sports psychology. Year 12s and 13s (and mature students) can sign up online now, either as individuals or in school groups.

Posted: 26 January 2015

Cambridge GCSE Computing Online

A raspberry piImage credit: Teardown Central

The OCR Exam Board, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and Cambridge University Press offer a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) based on the Cambridge GCSE Computing curriculum. The course is free, open to all, and offers an introduction to how computers work, how they are used, and develops computer programming and problem-solving skills. Whilst completion of the course does not lead to a GCSE qualification, you will receive a 'Statement of Participation' to record your achievement. Find out more on the Cambridge GCSE Computing Online website, beginning with their FAQs.

Posted: 26 January 2015

VetCam 2015: introduction to Veterinary Science at Cambridge University

HorsesImage credit: Krysten Newby

The Department of Veterinary Science is running  a two-day residential course for year 12 students from Monday 30 - Tuesday 31 March in Cambridge. It is intended to provide an insight into both the preclinical and clinical courses and will include a mix of lectures, discussions, demonstrations and tours. Please see the Department website for more information.

The course costs £160, but there are a limited number of bursaries available for students from backgrounds with little or no experience of higher education, which will cover both the cost of the course and transport to and from Cambridge. Please email asap for more information as the deadline for applying for bursaries is 30 January.

Posted: 22 January 2015

Year 12 Residential visits at Robinson and Trinity Hall Colleges

Robinson College

Robinson College

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.
 

  • 7-8 April 2015: Robinson College Arts and Humanities Student Residential
    Information and booking
    For further details please email Katie Vernon at slo@robinson.cam.ac.uk
     
  • 29-30 June 2015: Robinson College Science and Maths Student Residential
    Information and booking
    For further details please email Katie Vernon at slo@robinson.cam.ac.uk
     
  • 16-17 September 2015: Trinity Hall College 'Small Subjects' Student Residential
    For students interested in studying Philosophy, History of Art, Theology, or Land Economy.
    Information and booking
    For further details please email Katie Vernon at .

Posted: 21 January 2015

Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools

Bodley's Court lawn

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!

Posted: 15 January 2015

Year 12 Subject Masterclasses in Cambridge

Chemistry test tubes

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:

  • Classics
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine
  • Chemistry
  • Genetics and Biochemistry
  • Modern and Medieval Languages
  • History
  • 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.

Posted: 5 January 2015

Going deeper into Mathematics

Lines and curves on an athletics track

Lines and curves.
Credit: See-Ming Lee

If you like (or dislike!) mathematics, what is it about the subject that makes you feel this way? What does studying mathematics at unviersity level involve, and how can you work out if you will enjoy it?

We advise students who are curious about maths (and subjects related to maths) to read the following explanation of rich mathematics:

If the kind of maths that makes you think and encourages you to go deeper inside the subject appeals to you, make sure you explore the NRICH Mathematics website:

  • Stage 5 material is for students in the last two years of school (normally aged 16-18).
  • Stage 4 material is for students in Year 10 and Year 11 (normally aged 14-16)
  • If you have a particular interest, you may also find the curriculum content section helpful
  • Or have a go at some of the live problems and see if you can get your solution published!

Posted: 12 December 2014

Year 12 Science / Medicine Essay Competition

Moon

Credit: OliBac

  • How has astronomy benefited society?
  • Suppose you could create a new checmical element. What physical and chemical properties would you ascribe to it, and what uses could this element be put to?
  • If you could take one item, which must fit in your pocket, back to the year 1800 with the goal of advancing science or medicine, what would it be and what would you do with it?
  • Is it more important to save tropical forests or the world's oceans? Why?
  • How far is it to the moon?
  • "Free health care at the point of delivery trivialises the service." Discuss. 

These are the questions that Peterhouse College is asking Year 12 students to think about for this year's Kelvin Science Prize. If you are interested in researching and writing one of these essays, please read the information carefully on the Peterhouse College website (see especially the Kelvin Science Prize pdf here, which contains full details of the questions and how to enter). The deadline is 20 March 2015.

Posted: 9 December 2014

Can science make a cyclist faster?

Theo Bos

Credit: jonthescone

Prof Tony Purnell will be giving the next lecture in the Cambridge Physics Lecture Series for Year 12 and Year 13 students at 6pm on Tuesday 2 December. 

Please see the details and directions.

The lecture will provide an overview of how science and engineering contribute to the raw speed of all Olympic cycling disciplines.

No need to book - just turn up!

Related resources:

Posted: 24 November 2014

Earth Sciences

Punakaiki Rocks

Punakaiki Rocks, West Coast of New Zealand. Credit: Jocelyn Kinghorn

What is the Earth made of? What processes shape and change it? What's happened to it in the past 4.5 billion years, and how do we know? What will happen to the Earth's climate in the future? The Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences has released a very useful introductory film:

If you'd like to find out more about physical and biological aspects of the Earth, here are two books that provide a good way into the subject:

Earth Sciences is just one of the many options available in the Cambridge Natural Sciences course, and no previous knowledge in geology or geography is required. You can combine it with your interests in other sciences, and you can specialise in it if you later choose to. Do explore the Department of Earth Sciences website for more detail.

Posted: 22 November 2014

Excellence Hub for Yorkshire and Humberside

York Campus

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.

Priority criteria:

  • 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.

Posted: 13 November 2014

Year 12 STEP Correspondence Project

 Golden Rhombic Hexecontahedron

Credit: Eric S.

Cambridge (funded by the Department for Education) is offering a pilot correspondence course to Year 12 prospective mathematicians from UK state schools. This course is designed for students who would not normally receive much support for STEP Mathematics exams in Year 13.

In order to be eligible to take part, you must be:

  • studying at a state-maintained school or academy in the UK
  • taking, or about to take, Further Mathematics at A-level (or equivalent).

Please see the STEP Correspondence Project webpage for full details and the application forms.

The deadline for applications is Monday 1st December 2014
Both the student application form and the teacher support statement must be submitted by this date.

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Posted: 7 November 2014

Preparing for interviews

How Stuff Works magazine

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.

Posted: 4 November 2014

Cambridge Subject Films

Marking on a map

Geography fieldwork. Credit: Richard Allaway

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?

Posted: 30 October 2014

Competition: Engineering in Sport

Tennis racquet

Credit: Basheer Tome

Have you thought carefully about the role of Engineering in sports that you enjoy?

EngineerGirl (a US National Academy of Engineering website) is running a competition asking you to describe the technology used in a sport of your choice. The competition is open to male and female school students both in the US / Canada and beyond.

You may also enjoy reading the rest of the EngineerGirl website.

Posted: 29 October 2014

Headstart: Try Before You Apply

Container ships in the Port of SouthamptonContainer Terminal, Port of Southampton. Image credit: Garth Burgess

Are you a student who loves science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and is currently in Year 12, Scottish S5? Are you thinking about what you might like to study at university, but find it difficult to make up your mind?

Headstart provides engineering taster courses to encourage young people into technology-based careers. You could try Marine Engineering and Nautical Science at Southampton, Computer Science at DurhamElectrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle, or Material Science here in Cambridge.

Posted: 28 October 2014

Hot air balloon problem

Hot air balloon

Credit: Brent Myers

A hot air balloon of mass 350 kg is carrying 5 people each of mass 70kg. The total volume of the baloon is 2800m3.

The balloon flies horizontally in dry air 1km above sea level. The atmopheric pressure at this altitude is 89.9kPa and the surrounding temperature is 9ºC. Given that the molar mass of dry air is 28.97g/mol, work out the temperature of the heated air inside the balloon. (You can take gas constant R=8.31J/mol K and you may assume that air behaves as an ideal gas).

General and problem-specific hints are available.

This is one of the problems on I-want-to-study-engineering.org, a resource from Cambridge University Engineering Department with more than 200 problems to help you to practice problem solving skills relevant to Engineering. The website also provides general advice such as how to get onto a good Engineering course (whether at Cambridge or elsewhere).

Posted: 21 October 2014

Where is the Art in Science?

Julia Lohmann, Co-Existence (2009): an art work made of petri dishes commissioned and exhibited by the Wellcome Trust.Julia Lohmann, Co-Existence (2009). An art work made of petri dishes commissioned and exhibited by the Wellcome Trust. Credit: gwire

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.

Posted: 16 October 2014

Physics. You work it out.

Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi (1995) on the British Library PlazaNewton in Bronze, by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1995) on the British Library's Plaza. Inspired by Newton, by William Blake (1795) at Tate Britain. Image credit: Chris Beckett

The Rutherford Physics Partnership runs an online platform for prospective Physicists, Engineers, and Mathematicians called Isaac Physics. It will help you to bridge the gap between your A Level and undergraduate studies by working through problems online.

Get started:

Posted: 14 October 2014

Film competition

King's Chapel

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.

Posted: 10 October 2014

Celebrate Science with Durham University, 28 - 30 October

Durham Palace GreenThe Celebrate Science marquee will again be pitched on Durham Palace Green (seen here with the University Library in the background). Image credit: Lawrence OP

Durham University's fifth annual Celebrate Science festival will take place this half-term from Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 October:

View the full programme of events.

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Posted: 9 October 2014

Cambridge Physics Lectures

Juggling balls

How would you describe the patterns of juggling? Credit: Richard Leonard

The Cambridge Physics department runs a series of lectures through the year for Year 12 and Year 13 students. These are free to attend and you can just turn up (no need to book).

The first lecture this year is on Tues 14 October 2014, when Dr Colin Wright will speak on the Physics of Juggling. For further information about this and future lectures, please see the details on the department website:

If you live within range of a University, why not go on their website to see if there are any public lectures or lectures for sixth formers that might be interesting?

Posted: 7 October 2014

Chemnet

Chemicals

Credit: Horia Varlan

If you're aged 14-18 and you enjoy Chemistry, why not join the Royal Society of Chemistry's Chemnet? It offers free support and advice for all Chemistry students including:

The link to join Chemnet is here.

Posted: 6 October 2014

Freshers' reading groups

Welcome - letters displayed in a window

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?

Book cover

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?

Posted: 3 October 2014

Year 12 Shadowing Scheme 2015

Chetwynd Court

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.

Posted: 2 October 2014

Choosing school subjects

The river in King's

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

Maths / Physics lectures

Einstein statue

Einstein statue at the US National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. Credit: Mark Fischer (cropped)

The Millenium Maths Project has put films of some recent lectures for sixth form students up online. These were given at an event for 16 and 17 year olds, which took place at Cambridge University on 27 June this year.

If you enjoy maths and would like to receive notification of Millenium Maths Project events and resources, you might like to register to be on their mailing list or follow them on Twitter/Facebook.

Posted: 6 September 2014

Language and spatial conceptions of time

Watch

Credit: epSos.de

In most languages time is talked about in spatial terms, with the future presented as being 'in front' of the person experiencing it. For example, in English we speak about 'looking forward' to doing something.

A recent study in Psychology looked at the conceptualisation of time in Moroccan speakers of Arabic. Although in linguistic terms, the future is 'ahead' in Arabic just as it is in English, Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues found that Moroccan Arabic speakers went against this convention in their hand gestures, with implications for how we understand space-time mappings. (1)

Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues also mention Aymara, a language from the Andean region of western Bolivia. In Aymara, the relation between time and space does not seem to work in the same way. To quote a different article:

In Aymara, the basic word for FRONT (nayra, "eye/front/sight") is also a basic meaning PAST, and the basic word for BACK (qhipa, "back/behind") is a basic expression for FUTURE meaning. [...] Is it in fact an instance of the same mappings as we have seen in other languages, "reversed" in some way, or are there quite different metaphoric mappings involved? How would we know? (2)

How do you think that the differences between English and Aymara would be of interest to researchers in Linguistics and Psychology? Can you think of any research questions or hypotheses? How would you design an experiment to test your ideas?

You may be interested to look at:

(1) This British Psychology research digest post about the research by Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues.

(2) This difficult but interesting article about Aymara: Rafael Nunez and Eve Sweetser, 'With the Future Behind Them: Convergent Evidence from Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construsals of Time' in Cognitive Science 30 (2006), pp1-49

If you would like to keep yourself informed about research topics in Psychology, do keep an eye on the British Psychological Society Research Digest Blog.

Posted: 21 August 2014

The Year In Industry Scheme

hard hat

Credit: Terry Ross

The Year In Industry Scheme places talented students in degree-relevant, paid work placements in the UK during a gap year between school and a university degree in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

This opportunity would allow you to gain relevant work experience in your  intended field, add new skills and knowledge to your CV, and deepen your understanding for your chosen degree subject. The Year in Industry Scheme applies to companies on your behalf, helps to coordinate any interviews, and supports you during the placement. Additional Maths courses are available through the Year In Industry to ensure that you keep your maths skills sharp while away from the academic environment.

Information for all students interested in taking a gap year is on our gap year page.

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Posted: 21 August 2014

How Chemistry Changed the First World War (Cambridge, 11 September)

Experiment in lab

Credit: Ed Uthman

If you are interested in History and/or Chemistry and live close to Cambridge, you might be interested to attend Michael Freemantle's public lecture on how “The Great War” was a Chemists’ War.

The lecture will discuss how Chemistry underpinned military strategy and determined the shape, duration and outcome of the First World War. Chemistry was not only a destructive instrument of war but also protected troops, and healed the sick and wounded. From bullets to bombs, poison gases to anaesthetics, khaki to cordite, Chemistry played a pivotal role in the trenches, in the casualty clearing stations and military hospitals, in the tunnelling operations in the air, and at sea.

Michael Freemantle is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is the author of Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! How Chemistry Changed the First World War (History Press, 2014).

Details:

  • 7pm on 11 September 2014
  • Pfizer Lecture Theatre, Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, Cambridge (map)
  • Please see this website for further details.
     

Posted: 18 August 2014

Cambridge College Open Days for Year 13

Entrance to King's Porters' Lodge

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.
 

Posted: 15 August 2014

Cambridge Science Centre: Extreme Engineering

Ant hill

Have you ever thought about ant hills? Credit: Elroy Serrao

If you are visiting Cambridge, do look up the Public Extreme Engineering exhibition and activities at the Cambridge Science Centre (18 Jesus Lane, CB5 8BQ). This runs until March 2015.

As well as the exhibitions, there will be lots of opportunities to meet research engineers in Cambridge and get a feel for the projects that they are working on. For details, please see the Extreme Engineering website and twitter feed.

Coming up:

  • 24 August - Robogals (Engineers from Cambridge University) will be running a workshop about programming and robotics using Lego
  • 29 August - Find out more about the ingenious structures created by animals with the Museum of Zoology
     

Posted: 11 August 2014

STEP Mathematics

Cambridge Centre for Mathematical Sciences

Cambridge Centre for Mathematical Sciences

Students who apply to Cambridge for Mathematics or for Computer Science with the 50% Maths option are normally asked to sit STEP Mathematics exams.

Don't be discouraged if STEP material looks very difficult when you first look at it - the style is very different from A level, IB etc. STEP exams normally require plenty of preparation and practice in order to do well, and there are lots of online resources to help you with this. Your work on STEP will help you a lot with the transition to the kinds of mathematical problem-solving you will meet at Cambridge. Once you get into it, we hope that you will enjoy working on the material!

Here are some resources to help you with your work on STEP:

Posted: 9 August 2014

Thames Tideway Tunnel

London City Airport and the ThamesLondon City Airport and the Thames. Credit: pencefn

According to King’s Engineer Mark Ainslie, ‘engineers are people who apply Maths and Physics to solve problems … in a creative way.’

So try applying your own Maths and Physics to a real life engineering problem: how to tackle the problem of overflows from London's Victorian sewers.  Designed for up to 4 million people 150 years ago, the sewers are not big enough to serve 8 million Londoners today, causing 55 million tonnes of raw sewage to wash into the tidal Thames every year.

Thames Water's proposed solution is the Thames Tideway Tunnel, running for 25 kilometres, at a depth of up to 65 metres below the river.  Tunnelworks is an online resource put together by Thames Water, in which you are asked to apply your Mathematics and Physics to the project.

Taking place for the first time throughout September 2014, Totally Thames is an exciting new, month-long celebration of the river across its 42 London miles:

Posted: 8 August 2014

CREST Awards: for project work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

Making a pin-hole cameraMaking a pin-hole camera. Credit: Tess Watson

The British Science Association supports, assesses, and awards students undertaking project work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You can register and work towards one of their CREST Awards either through your school / college or independently. You could build a pin-hold camera, design a bespoke fitness regime and diet for an athlete, or investigate the effect of natural and chemical additives in bread.

Look at the British Science Association website to find:

Good luck and enjoy!

Posted: 5 August 2014

Women in Engineering

According to the Institute of Engineering and Technology's latest skills report

"the number of women in engineering remains very low at 6%, which has not significantly changed in all the years this survey has been carried out."

Why are there so few female engineers? Zoe Conway reported from the Crossrail 2 project on why engineering remains a male-dominated industry for Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

The WISE Campaign (Women into Science and Engineering) offers lots of online resources to young women thinking about studying and pursuing a career in Engineering, including:

The Women's Engineering Society was founded in 1919 by women engineers in the First World World War who wished to continue their work in peacetime. They support prospective women engineers in gaining the Advanced Leaders Award for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Here in Cambridge, the Department of Engineering holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, in recognition of its commitment to promoting and supporting the careers of women in engineering. Ann Dowling, Head of the Department, offers the following advice to young women engineers:

  1. try always to respond positively to opportunites that come your way;
  2. don't wait for the 'perfect time' before applying for things - sometimes you just have to have a go;
  3. find a field of resarch that really interests you and has scope to expand in the future.

Posted: 31 July 2014

Mathematical ways to spend your summer

Aloe

A spiral pattern in an aloe plant. Credit: Kai Schreiber

Here are some suggestions (suitable for students at all stages in maths) from Steve Hewson on the NRICH Mathematics website:

NB the 'stages' mentioned on the NRICH website correspond to UK Key stages. As a guide:

  • Stage 3 uses maths you would normally meet before the age of 14
  • Stage 4 uses maths you would normally meet before the age of 16
  • Stage 5 uses maths you would normally meet post 16.
     

Posted: 27 July 2014

On interviews

Woman reading

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!

Posted: 27 July 2014

Centre for Computing History

A Namco NeGcon controller

A Namco NeGcon controller for Playstation. Image credit: Blake Patterson

A Centre for Computing History opened in Cambridge earlier this year, which offers a fascinating exploration of the historical, social and cultural impact of developments in personal computing. It is open to visit Wed - Saturday each week, and there are also lots of workshops and talks over the summer that may be of interest. See full details on the website.

Online resources include:

For information about the history of computing at Cambridge, you may be interested in:

Posted: 26 July 2014

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.

Posted: 23 July 2014

The Rise, Rise, and Rise of Chemical Engineering

Everyday PlasticsEveryday Plastics. Art Exhibition in Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Credit: Geof Wilson

The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that the UK needs 100,000 graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) simply to sustain its existing industries. So Geoff Maitland, President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), is right to celebrate the rise in the numbers of applications for Engineering in general, and Chemical Engineering in particular.

Are you thinking of studying Engineering at university? Why not Chemical Engineering? IChemE explains:

Chemical engineering is all about changing raw materials into useful products you use everyday in a safe and cost effective way. For example petrol, plastics and synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon, all come from oil. Chemical engineers understand how to alter the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance, to create everything from face creams to fuels.

Posted: 23 July 2014

The Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

A Raspberry Pi. Photo credit: Teardown Central

The Raspberry Pi is a flexible low-cost computer. It is great for experimenting with programming and electronics.

The Raspberry Pi website includes an introduction, quick start guide, software downloads and lots of other information to help you get started on all kinds of projects.

There are three models:

  • Model A (15 British pounds / 25 US dollars)
  • Model B (22 British pounds / 35 US dollars)
  • Model B+ (22 British pounds / 35 US dollars)

There are lots of resources available online so if you have a particular interest, do search for it. Here are a few useful sites:


Posted: 19 July 2014

Summer Reading (and Writing)

Pile of booksCredit: Pam loves pie

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.

Posted: 15 July 2014

The Life Scientific

Julia Lohmann, Co-Existence (2009). An art work made of petri dishes commissioned and exhibited by the Wellcome Trust. Credit: gwire

In the Life Scientific on Radio 4, Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them. It is fascinating to hear how their academic interests were sparked and developed as they studied and how this led them to forge a career in science.

This morning's programme featured Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, Britain's largest medical research funding charity. Farrar reflected on how his undergraduate studies in Medicine at University College London took him away from medical practice and into clinical research:

The degree opened my eyes to the fact that you could dream a little bit beyond facts and you could ask questions and you could design things to try and answer them.

As a result of his experience as a junior doctor treating patients infected with HIV in the early 1980s, Farrar was inspired to take a PhD in immunology. For sixteen years he was Director of Oxford University's Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he researched the outbreak of SARS and avian influenza in the region.

If you wish to pursue a career in clinical research, like Farrar, there is the possibility of combining your clinical studies with a PhD. You can read about the MB/PhD programme at Cambridge here.

The Wellcome Trust works to make inspiring, high-quality science education available to all young people. It publishes the Big Picture, an online journal exploring the implications of cutting-edge science. Its June issue includes a feature on citizen science and makes suggestions of how to get involved in scientific research yourself over the summer vacation.

 

Posted: 15 July 2014

BODY WORLDS Vital - the exhibition of real human bodies (Newcastle, 17 May - 2 November)

Life Science Centre

The Life Science Centre in Newcastle. Credit: Samuel Mann

If you are interested in anatomy, physiology and health, there's a fascinating exhibition of real human bodies, specimens, organs and body slices at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. The exhibits have been preserved through Plastination (which you can learn more about at the exhibition).

If you can get to Newcastle, it's easy to visit as the Life Science Centre is very close to Newcastle train station. You do have to pay for tickets (see ticket prices).

Posted: 13 July 2014

Wrexham Science Festival (17 - 25 July, North Wales)

St Giles Church, Wrexham

St Giles Church, Wrexham.
Image credit: Alan Myers

Do check the list of public events at the Wrexham Science Festival in North Wales on 17-25 July, and book your tickets if you live close enough!

Talks include:

  • Climate Change: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but… what the world’s top climate scientists agree upon
  • Black Holes — What are they and why are they so weird?
  • Heavy Metal Marine Biology - A Rocking Guide to the Seas
  • How well do renewable energy technologies pay back the carbon and energy that is initially invested in them?
     

Posted: 10 July 2014

Engineering - how to prepare for an application

A bulk superconductor

A bulk superconductor over a magnet

King's Electrical Engineer, Mark Ainslie, is looking at how superconductors can make electric motors work better, and is part of a team that has just broken the world record for the strongest trapped magnetic field in a bulk high-temperature superconductor:

Listen to Mark Ainslie giving advice about how to prepare for your application to study Engineering, and what to expect in your interviews.

 

Finally, do read about the maths and physics that you need to make a competitive application.

Posted: 9 July 2014

What makes a good question in mathematics?

Question marks

Credit: Roland O'Daniel

What sorts of questions do you enjoy working on in maths and physics? Read Marianne Freiberger's article on mathematical questions in +plus Magazine.

Here are some questions that +plus Magazine has explored:

...and here are some puzzle questions (and links to solutions):

Posted: 3 July 2014

James Dyson Foundation Challenge: Geodesic Domes

Geodesic dome

Biosphere in Montreal. Credit: Nic Redhead (cropped)

Do you know what a geodesic dome is? It is a structure named in 1949 by an American Engineer called Richard Burkminster Fuller. Amongst the interesting features of geodesic domes is their structural strength and that they are relatively easy to construct.

To build your own geodesic dome out of jelly sweets and cocktail sticks and explore the structure, see this challenge designed by Neil, an electronics engineer at Dyson. Can you describe in as much detail as possible why the geodesic dome is a strong structure?

Posted: 28 June 2014

Precision: the Measure of All Things

Big Ben

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:

Posted: 26 June 2014

Medicine essay competition (Year 12)

Laptop and notebook

'I have three supervisions every two weeks, requiring me to write an essay for each.' Shedeh (Medicine).
Photo credit: rhodesj

Are you interested in studying Medicine? As well as needing a strong grounding in your sciences/maths subjects (which is likely to need most of your focus), it's worth remembering that the course requires you to write regular short essays for supervisions. Robinson College is holding an essay competition for prospective Medicine students. The deadline for entries is 1 August 2014, and you can choose between three essay titles.

Posted: 25 June 2014

Tails You Win: The Science of Chance

There is another opportunity to watch David Spiegelhalter's Tails You Win: The Science of Chance documentary on the BBC iPlayer. David Spiegelhalter is "Professor Risk," or more properly Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He shows us how to use (or how not to use!) statistics to understand the risks we face in everyday life.

Read more of David Spiegelhalter's work on his Understanding Uncertainty website and in the archive of his columns for Plus magazine.

Posted: 18 June 2014

The 2014 Cambridge Open Days Programme is published!

Cambridge Open Days programme cover

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.

Posted: 18 June 2014

Summer Science Exhibition in London (1-6 July)

What do you know about the evolution of butterflies?
Credit: Dennis Jarvis (cropped)

The Royal Society has an annual display of the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology in the UK, including everything from artifical intelligence and car crash investigation to tropical storms, ultrasonic waves, and immune-bacterial interactions

Do make a note if you live close enough to visit. The dates are 1-6 July this year, and the exhibition will take place at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG (near Charring Cross tube station).

See the exhibition website, which includes details of the events and exhibits.

Posted: 13 June 2014

'Eugene' Passes the Turing Test

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Sixty-five years ago, King's mathematician and pioneer computer scientist Alan Turing famously asked 'Can Machines Think?' To answer his own question, he conceived a test in which questions would be put to both a human and a machine, in an attempt to distinguish one from another.  On Saturday, the Turing Test was passed for the very first time by supercomputer 'Eugene Goostman,' which convinced some of the judges that it was a thirteen year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine.

  • Is 'Eugene' really thinking?
  • What are the limits to artificial intelligence?

Find out more about the successful Turing Test 2014, organised by the University of Reading and hosted by the Royal Society.

Talk to 'Eugene' yourself (you may have difficulty accessing this site due to the extent of public interest at the moment!)

Read more about the sixty-five year history of the Turing Test in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Posted: 9 June 2014

Treating MS - science and clinical trials

When a patient has MS (Multiple Sclerosis), the immune system begins to attack the body's own healthy nerve cells. The disease strips away their protective sheath, and prevents electrical signals from moving effectively between the brain and the body.

Researchers at Cambridge have been working on a treatment for MS for some time, and the drug that they have developed was recently approved for use in people with MS. The following film explains the science and clinical trials behind this:

Posted: 8 June 2014

Problem-solving website for Engineering

Connel Bridge

Connel Bridge in Scotland
Credit: artq55

When you're doing exercises in maths and physics, how much do you feel like you're relying on previous examples that you have memorised, and how much time do you spend problem solving, or working on a kind of question that requires more thought?

Cambridge University Engineering Department has a website designed for developing and practicing problem solving in many contexts - do explore this resource:

Further information

Posted: 6 June 2014

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.

Posted: 5 June 2014