Skip to main content

Applications for the Academic Attainment Programme 2023-24 are now closed. To keep updated with future events and opportunities from Lucy Cavendish College and the wider University of Cambridge, sign-up for our prospective applicant newsletter here:

Lucy Cavendish College is the most diverse College in Cambridge, admitting over 90% of our UK students from state schools. As part of our commitment to widening participation, we are delighted to launch our flagship virtual outreach programme, the Lucy Cavendish College Academic Attainment Programme, for the third year running. The programme will provide over 700 high-achieving state school students with comprehensive supplementary academic support tailored to their stage in the curriculum, giving them the best chance of achieving their full potential. 

Following last year's Programme, 90% of participants feel that the AEP has provided them with the resources and support to achieve the grades they want to at A-Level (Scottish Highers/IB), and 98% of participants feel confident that they now know how to make a competitive application to Cambridge and other top universities.

The Programme was recently featured on ITV news - watch here!


What does the programme involve?

Students will participate in regular subject-specific enrichment classes in each of their core A-Level (or equivalent) subjects, with the aim of strengthening students' skills and knowledge and raising attainment and confidence in their current studies. Monthly Peer Discussion Groups will also offer students the opportunity to continuously develop their oracy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

A range of additional subject taster sessions, alongside the completion of a Supracurricular Exploration Project in May, will allow students to explore their subject interests further and think more seriously about possible degree choices. Throughout, students will also receive advice from our Admissions Team on every stage of the application process so that they can make their university applications as competitive as possible.

Find out more about each aspect of the programme by exploring the dropdown boxes below.

An Enrichment Curriculum is a series of four, linked, 90-minute academic sessions on a particular subject area. Each Enrichment Curriculum is carefully designed and delivered by a subject pedagogic expert to strengthen students' skills and knowledge, and to enrich and extend A-Level (or equivalent) content. The specific aim of these sessions is to provide students with additional support to achieve top grades in their current studies. 

Students will be enrolled on Enrichment Curriculums relevant to their A-Level subjects, which may include the following subjects: 

Maths English Literature
Further Maths History
Biology Economics
Chemistry Politics
Physics Geography
Computer Science Philosophy
Psychology Languages (French, German, Spanish)
  Religious Studies
  English Language

Students will complete preparatory work for each session and will also have the chance to do follow-up extension work after the session.

These sessions will take place from November to March, and students can expect to have approximately one Enrichment Curriculum session each month for each of their A-Level (or equivalent) subjects that is listed above. 

Alongside these subject-specific sessions, students will also attend monthly peer discussion groups from November to March. In these sessions, students will be asked to think about one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and share their ideas with a multidisciplinary group. These sessions aim to provide students with the opportunity to build confidence, sample the discussion-based teaching which is at the heart of Cambridge, and develop their problem-solving and enquiring mindset. 

Students will be set some information to read before the session, on which they will share their ideas with the group.

Students' academic enrichment will be supplemented by monthly practical university readiness sessions from November to March, which will provide information and guidance on how to make a competitive application to Cambridge and other top universities.

This will then culminate in an intensive university application 'bootcamp' over the Summer holidays, where students will be able to work on making their university applications as competitive as possible with the guidance of the Lucy Cavendish College Admissions team. Students will benefit from comprehensive guidance on writing a competitive personal statement, preparing for interviews, and preparing for admissions assessments.

During the February half-terms, students will be able to take part in taster sessions in a range of subjects, to explore the wide range of subjects and careers available and to start thinking more seriously about their future university choices. Subject-specific sessions may include:

Architecture Anthropology
Computer Science Classics
Engineering Linguistics
Medicine Law
Psychology Philosophy
Veterinary Medicine Sociology

From May half-term to the beginning of the summer holidays, students will complete a Project relating to their subject interests. The Supracurricular Exploration Project aims to offer students the opportunity to consolidate and present their independent subject exploration, develop key skills necessary to achieve the top grades at A-Level (Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers/IB), boost their university applications, and share ideas with other students who share aspirations and subject interests. Students will choose between writing an essay, preparing and delivering a presentation, or preparing and sharing an academic poster. 

A wide range of skills and guidance sessions will take place over May half-term to support students through this process. Students who submit essays will receive individual feedback, and students who submit presentations and academic posters will attend Presentation and Discussion Sessions where they can share their research with other students. 


Important Practical Information

Academic commitment

The Programme will usually involve at least one 90-minute session each week from November 2023 to March 2024. For some sessions, students will need to complete preparatory work so they are able to make the most of the session. There will also be an option to complete some extension follow-up work if students wish to deepen their knowledge of a particular subject after the live online session has taken place. This independent work will usually take around 30 minutes.

We do not expect students to be able to attend every session, but we do hope that students will commit to attending the programme as fully as they are able to. 

From May 2024, students will also be required to produce an essay, presentation or academic poster as part of the Supracurricular Exploration Project. This must be submitted and presented during the summer holidays of 2024 (exact date TBC). 

Accessing the online programme

All live sessions will be taking place over Zoom. Session recordings and resources for all sessions will be uploaded to a webpage, which will be made accessible to students on the programme. Students will therefore need a reliable internet connection, a working webcam and microphone, and a pen/paper to take notes with and complete work. 


Who is eligible for the programme?

In order to be eligible for the programme students need to be:

  • In Year 12 in England or Wales, S5 in Scotland, or Year 13 in Northern Ireland in the academic year 2023/24
  • Attending a non-fee paying school in the United Kingdom
  • Achieved at least 5 grades 8-9 in their GCSEs (or equivalent, such as A grades in National 5s)
  • Studying post-16 academic qualifications (A-Levels, International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, or equivalent)
  • Aiming to achieve at least A*AA in their A-Levels (A1, A2, A2 in Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers/42 points with 776 at HL in the IB/equivalent)

We hope to support as many eligible students as possible through the programme. However, if the programme is oversubscribed, we will prioritise students based on a combination of academic merit and the following Widening Participation priority criteria:

  • Are in care or care-experienced
  • Are eligible for Free School Meals
  • Belong to an underrepresented ethnic group:
    • Black British African or Black British Caribbean
    • British Bangladeshi/Bengali, Pakistani or Arab
    • Roma, Gypsy or Traveller
  • Have experienced disruption in their education such as:
    • Medical/health issues (including mental health), particularly those that have resulted in long or extended periods of absence (over 8 weeks) from school in the last 6 years
    • Bereavement of a close family member (e.g. parent/carer) in the last 6 years
    • Being a young carer
    • Becoming a parent
    • Being an asylum seeker or refugee
    • Becoming estranged from close family members (e.g. parents/carers)
    • Moving schools two or more times in the last 6 years
    • Other (to be specified)
  • Have a disability or Special Educational Needs
  • Attend a school with low progression to Oxbridge
  • Attend a school with low attainment
  • Are resident in an underrepresented UK region
  • Are resident in areas with relatively low participation in higher education (using POLAR4) or in areas with less advantaged socioeconomic characteristics (using IMD)


How do I apply?

The application deadline is 9am on 9th October 2023.


Students who participated in the Summer Preparation Programme will automatically be invited to participate in the Academic Attainment Programme, and should not apply through the above link.

Please take a look at the drop-down boxes for detailed guidance on the application.

In the form, we will ask you for the following:

  • ​​​​​Your basic details: first name and surname, date of birth, postcode, school/college
  • Name and contact details of your referee teacher
  • Your GCSE (or equivalent) grades
  • Your A-Level (or equivalent) subjects
  • The degree courses in which you are currently interested
  • Short personal statement in support of your application
  • Further contextual information related to our Widening Participation criteria
  • Information about making any adjustments should you attend the event
  • Your parents'/guardians' permission to attend this event
  • An opportunity to sign up to our prospective applicant mailing list

You must provide us with the contact details of a teacher referee, who we will contact to verify the following:

  • Your eligibility for the programme
  • Your postcode
  • Your achieved GCSE grades

We will also ask if they believe that you will benefit from the Academic Attainment Programme, and be able to manage the Programme's academic commitment alongside their current studies.

You must discuss this opportunity with your teacher so they are aware of what information they need to verify and provide by the relevant deadline. You must also ensure that they are happy for you to include their contact details on the form.

Your teacher should automatically receive a link to the verification form when you submit your application form. If they do not receive this email (and they have checked their spam box), then please ensure they get in contact with us as soon as possible at

The deadline for completed teacher verification forms is 5pm on 13th October 2023.

The personal statement is useful for us in order to understand a bit more about whether the programme would be a good fit for you academically. You might like to explore the following:

  • Why you chose to apply to this programme
  • How you think this programme would benefit you academically
  • How you think this programme would help you achieve your goals in relation to University 
  • Anything else you think we should know

The character limit is 3000 (around 500 words). 

Please try not to worry too much about writing this; it is just one piece of information that is useful to us when shortlisting applicants.


Contact us

Please do not hesitate to contact our Outreach Officer, Hayley Hilson, at should you have any questions or concerns.

Access and Outreach

Further opportunities for prospective applicants and their teachers