Year 12

HE+ resources

Vellacott Essay Prize (Year 12)

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

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

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

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

Date posted: 

Tuesday 19 January 2016


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.

Date posted: 

Monday 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

Date posted: 

Tuesday 5 January 2016


Competition: Communicating the Ancient World through film

Credit: Giovanni

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

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

How to take part

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

Good Luck and we look forward to watching your film!

Date posted: 

Sunday 3 January 2016


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.

Date posted: 

Sunday 3 January 2016


Cambridge interviews


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

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

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

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

Date posted: 

Wednesday 18 November 2015


Physics lectures


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.

Date posted: 

Sunday 15 November 2015


Interested in languages? literature? politics? history?

If you are studying a language and are also interested in the world (i.e. you enjoy subjects such as politics, history, or literature, for example), then one exciting course that is worth looking at is Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. It's a very flexible course which can be tailored to your interests, so you can study areas from Japan in the East to Morocco in the West, and everything from classical times to the present day.

Studying an asian or middle eastern culture through its language enables you to develop a set of practical skills and knowledge that can be used later in many different ways (graduates go onto some very interesting careers indeed after this course!), and intellectually, you will engage with different ways of understanding our shared world.

There are no specific subject requirements for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, though we will obviously be very interested in your aptitude for language learning. Most applicants study a foreign language at school. Many applicants have studied social sciences such as Economics or History, but it is also possible to apply and do well with a background in maths and sciences.

There's a very good opportunity to explore this course further if you can get to Cambridge on Saturday 21 November - do book a place on the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Masterclass, which will include two taster lectures, an opportunity to hear about what studying at Cambridge is like from current students, a introduction to the Cambridge admisisons process, and chance to ask questions.

Date posted: 

Friday 13 November 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.

Date posted: 

Tuesday 20 October 2015



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