Year 12

Mary Renault essay competition (Years 12 & 13)

Credit: Giovanni

St Hugh's College, Oxford is running an essay competition in memory of author Mary Renault (best known for her novels set in ancient Greece) for sixth form students who are not studying Greek or Latin to A level or equivalent.

Essays can be from any subject area and should be on a topic relating to the reception of classical antiquity. This includes Greek and Roman literature, history, political thought, philosophy, and material remains in any period from the Middle Ages to the present.

For full information, please see the Mary Renault prize flyer. The deadline for submissions is 16 January 2016.

Date posted: 

Friday 16 October 2015


Nautilus – Science, connected

Spiral staircase from above Credit: Marc Cornelis

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

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

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

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

Date posted: 

Friday 9 October 2015


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.

Date posted: 

Tuesday 6 October 2015


CUSU Shadowing Scheme

The CUSU Shadowing Scheme brings UK students from schools without a tradition of top university entry to Cambridge for three days in January or February. Prospective students come to Cambridge on the Thursday afternoon and stay until Saturday lunchtime. In that time you will spend time with a current undergraduate, studying a subject that you are interested in, who you 'shadow'.

As a 'shadow’, you'll see everything students can get up to on a day-to-day basis: lectures, supervisions, getting involved with student societies, clubs and sports teams, socialising and so on. You will also be given a lot of information about the application process by both students and Admissions Tutors. The scheme is open to Year 12 (England and Wales)/ S5 (Scotland)/ Year 13 (NI) students - click here for the appliction pages. For the last two years (2014 and 2015), the Scheme has been also open to mature student applicants, i.e. those who will be 21 or over at the time they start their course.

The idea is to give people with little or no experience of university a taste of student life at Cambridge, in real time, with real people. The Shadowing Scheme is specifically for students with little or no history of university in their family, students who have great reservations about applying to Cambridge or students whose school rarely sends students to University. The whole trip is funded by Cambridge University Student Union, the University, and the Colleges – all accommodation and food is free, and travel costs to and from Cambridge may be reimbursed on a needs basis. The Scheme is really popular; we receive more applications than places. As such, we ask that standard-age applicants are on track to achieve As and A*s in your A-Levels (or equivalent). If you already know that you want to apply to Cambridge or Oxford, or you have friends or relatives who have studied at Cambridge or Oxford, please come on an Open Day or other Cambridge scheme for which you are eligible instead.

The 2016 Shadowing Scheme will take place on:

  • Thursday 21 - Saturday 23 January 2016
  • Thursday 28 January - Saturday 30 January 2016
  • Thursday 4 - Saturday 6 February 2016 (also open to mature student applicants)

If you have any questions about the Shadowing Scheme, please contact the CUSU Access Officer.

Date posted: 

Monday 5 October 2015


Social Science Bites

magnetic words on a board

In this series of illuminating podcasts, you can hear leading social scientists present their perspectives on how our social world is created, and how social science can help us understand people and how they behave. Each podcast includes a downloadable written transcript of the conversation.

Here are just a few suggestions by subject:

There are also Philosophy bites arranged by theme, on everything from Plato’s Cave to Free Will and Morality without God.

Date posted: 

Friday 2 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.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 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.

• 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.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 30 September 2015


Essay Writing - Where To Begin?

tapping a pencil on a black writing pad

Credit:Rennett Stowe

Getting those first words on the page when you’ve got an essay to write can seem daunting. There are a few useful tools and guides online that can help you get started and even develop your essay writing skills.

Essay Map is a very straightforward tool for mapping out your key ideas before you begin writing and helps you to create a structured plan from introduction to conclusion.

And if you find graphic plans useful when it comes to mapping out essays, there are lots of different designs online that you can use to organise your ideas.

For something more advanced, Harvard College Writing Centre provides various guides to essay writing. Their guides to writing in different academic disciplines are especially useful if you’re starting to study a subject in greater depth than you ever have before (History? Philosophy? English Literature?).

Date posted: 

Friday 25 September 2015


Space Biology


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

Date posted: 

Thursday 17 September 2015


What does an Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic dissertation look like?

manuscript in anglo saxonLucinda, an Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic student at Christ’s College, Cambridge, shares her thoughts on her undergraduate dissertation which asks: To what extent did the Anglo-Saxon Church condemn contemporary medical practices, and for what reasons?

She writes that “Although very niche, the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic degree (or Tripos as it’s known in Cambridge) allows very flexible study in the range of papers it offers. Students can choose to focus on purely literature and language or on history, or as is most popular, they can mix the two together. Students have two opportunities to write a dissertation: it is optional in Second Year (Part I of the Tripos), and compulsory in Third (Part II). The beauty of the dissertation is that it allows you to either expand on an area you've already studied or to tackle something new which isn't covered in lectures or supervisions. For my Part II dissertation I chose the route of challenging myself with something I knew nothing about: Anglo-Saxon medicine.”

You can read more about Lucinda’s dissertation here.

Image: Tim Ellis

Date posted: 

Thursday 17 September 2015



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