Social Sciences

Freshers' reading groups

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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?

Date posted: 

Friday 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.

Date posted: 

Thursday 2 October 2014


Social Sciences at Cambridge Festival of Ideas

Open Cambridge

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:

Date posted: 

Wednesday 10 September 2014


Law in Action

Leicester Magistrates Court

Leicester Magistrates' Court. Credit: Steve Cadman

If you are interested in studying Law at university, it can be helpful to get some feel for the law in action, for example by observing a local court in session. You could visit your local Magistrates' and/or County Courts (or regional equivalent, such as the Sheriff Court in Scotland).

Even the very highest and grandest courts, such as the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand and the Supreme Court (Parliament Square), are open to the public.

Date posted: 

Friday 5 September 2014


Economic Success Drives Language Extinction

Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia, named by the local Pitjantjatjara people. The Pitjantjatjara language is classified as vulnerable by UNESCO. Image credit: Sjoerd van Oosten.

Thriving economies are the biggest factor in the disappearance of minority languages and conservation should focus on the most developed countries where languages are vanishing the fastest, finds a new study. - See more at:

A new study has revealed that economic growth and globalisation are driving the loss of minority languages.

The researchers, including Cambridge Zoologist Tatsuya Amano, used the criteria for defining endangered species (as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to measure the rate and extent of language loss. They then analysed the geographical distribution of the endangered languages in order to draw conclusions about how and why they have gone into decline. Dr. Amano explained that:

As economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation's political and educational spheres. People are forced to adopt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold - economically and politically.

The researchers argue that conservation efforts should therefore be focused on minority languages in more economically developed regions, such as northwestern North America and northern Australia.

Read the researchers' findings in full in Tatsuya Amano et al, 'Global Distribution and Drivers of Language Extinction Risk,' Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281 (October 2014).

Consult the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

Look into the conservation efforts of the Endangered Language Alliance in New York City and the online Endangered Languages Project. National Geographic's  Enduring Voices project has produced eight online talking dictionaries in an effort to conserve minority languages.

  • What are the benefits / risks of applying the criteria for defining endangered species to minority languages?
  • How best can minority languages be protected?  Or should they be protected at all?
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - See more at:
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at:
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at:
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at:

Date posted: 

Wednesday 3 September 2014


Philosophy Bites

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.

Date posted: 

Friday 15 August 2014


Young Geographer of the Year Competition

Glacial outwash river

A glacial river. Credit: Mike Beauregard

The annual Young Geographer of the Year Competition is run by the Royal Geographical Society in conjunction with Geographical Magazine. There are four categories for different age groups including 14-16 (Years 10 and 11) and 16-18 (Years 12 and 13), as well as younger pupils.

This year's question is: How can Geography help you?

  • Students in Years 10 and 11 are asked to produce an annotated diagram or map to answer the question
  • Students in Years 12 and 13 are asked for a 1,500 word essay, which can include illustrations, maps or graphs.

The deadline for entries is Friday 24 October 2014.

If you might like to enter, please read the full information on the Royal Geographical Society website.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 13 August 2014



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